10 Literary Holidays We Desperately Need

Take a look at the calendar. Come up with your top three complaints about it. 

Here are mine:

  1. The week starts on Sunday? That's dumb. Everybody knows the week starts on Monday. Ask anyone. Ask Garfield.
  2. Not enough holidays. We work MOST days. 5 out of 7? That's dumb. 
  3. DEFINITELY not enough literary holidays.

In fact, there might not be any literary holidays to speak of. President's Day? Lame. Spring Break? That's almost as anti-literature as it gets. Boxing Day (Canada)? For all I know, that may be book-based. But I'm fairly sure it's not. Thanksgiving? That's owned by the Three F's: Food, Football, and Family (arguments with). Even Christmas, it may have origins in a book, but it's got way more to do with Bezos Christ than Jesus Christ these days.

March 26th is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. Which I figure makes for a good excuse to right the calendar's wrongs and come up with some literary holidays. You can thank me later, astrologists, or old monks, or whoever came up with the calendar. 

Book-In-A-Day Day

I'm not above instituting a holiday just to prove a piece of folk wisdom wrong.

Reading a whole book start to finish in one day makes you feel so accomplished. You have this great, one-day experience of another world. And let's be honest, the best of books are usually consumed pretty quickly. You stay home from work, get some snacks, get some of the beer kind of snacks, and start and finish a read in the same day. The best part, it's only March and you've already finished a book this year. Go you. Keep the momentum rolling. 

I'm Totally Giving Up On 'Infinite Jest' Day

You can replace Infinite Jest with a title of your choice. That's the one I'm using.

We've all got that book we keep going all Brokeback Mountain on, all "I wish I knew how to quit you!" Take this day to say, fuck it. I'll never finish. Take this day to accept you're just not that person. Toss that book off your nightstand, move on with your life. 

Official Dress Like Frankenstein Day

In my never-ending quest to argue with my fellow English majors, this day is designed to see who we all see as "Frankenstein." Yeah, in the book, the doctor is Frankenstein. But in real life? Well, I guess we'll just have to see how many people walk around in big green monster costumes and how many are dressed as old-timey doctors. Let's settle it once and for all in the gladiatorial arena of festive dress-up. Bonus: pretty solid way to get double-mileage out of your Halloween getup. 

Buy Your Friend's Self-Published Book Day

We all mean to do it. It's not that hard. It's just, you know, "I don't have a Kindle," or "I never downloaded the app," or whatever.

This day is a lot like Valentine's Day. It's really not that hard to buy your girlfriend some flowers every so often. But some of us need a reminder, a date circled on the calendar. As soon as we do it, it's like, "I'm so stupid. That was pretty easy to do."

Just buy your friend's damn book. Even if it sucks. Who cares? You weren't doing anything with that two bucks anyway. Just buy it. 

Hunter S. Thompson Cannon Day

If you've never seen it, Thompson's funeral was pretty spectacular. He built a big-ass tower with his signature two-thumbed, red fist at the top. A cannon was hoisted up, and his ashes were blown out of it, scattering all over the valley where he lived.

Let's change gears for a moment. Recently, in my town's police blotter, I read that a local man had to be asked to stop shooting off a cannon in his backyard every time the Broncos scored a touchdown. This told me a couple things: 1) People possess cannons, 2) They are looking for an excuse to fire them off, 3) They seem to be incensed when you tell them that shooting off cannons in the middle of a residential area isn't a cool thing to do.

I think we might be looking at a great opportunity to bring the literary crowd together with the...let's call them cannon-firers. After all, in Thompson, they were one and the same.

The celebration is simple. Fire 'em if you've got 'em. In honor of a writer.

Touch All Your Books Day

This is the day when you go through your book collection, touch everything, and maybe decide to get rid of some shit. Let's face it, you probably don't need all of that. Whatever you don't want, give away, gift to someone. Or donate (responsibly)

If it truly is better to give, then this will be the best holiday ever.

You should know I have my doubts about the whole "better to give" thing, and I'm not above instituting a holiday just to prove a piece of folk wisdom wrong. 

Stay Up Late And Read Day

For the kids. Stay up as late as you want, so long as you're reading. Why not? Why not make reading into this fun, transgressive thing? Why not let reading occupy a space, the late part of the night, that it once ruled?

I've been asked by some parents about getting their kids interested in reading. And my answer is usually a form of reading as rule-breaking. Let them read something you wouldn't let them watch. Let them read in place of doing something they don't want to do. Let them read past their bedtime. 

Read-A-Thon Day

Do you remember this shit in school? You come dressed in your pajamas (or, in my case, a reasonable version of what I wore as pajamas that didn't rely on a simple fabric flap to obscure my middle school shame), sit around and read all day. 

We should do this shit at work. Why not? One work day to look forward to. Is that so much to ask? One day where I don't have to consider driving a MUCH longer route to work because that MUCH longer route has a bridge, and the advantage of driving over the bridge in a car that's almost 20 years old is you don't even have to make a decision to live or die, you just let go of the wheel? I say it's not a lot to ask. But maybe that's just me. 

Day Without A Writer

Okay, less a holiday. But imagine. No books. No text, period. No movies either. Sorry, no TV. No news. No speeches. No Facebook. No memes. Anything written can't happen.

Maybe next time someone's talking smack about an education in the arts, they'll think how boring their lives would be without writers. 

Read Edward Lee's 'Header' Day

It's like one of those programs where a city all reads the same book, but instead of being something uplifting or "tough but empowering" it's a book about people drilling holes in humans and...you know what? You'll have to check it out for yourself. This book is so super fucked up. I don't know how you talk about this thing in polite company. But I like the idea of coming out of the house on a Monday, looking around and wondering who else read it. 


Those are my ideas. My best ideas, in fact. I'm thinking you all have some better ones. If you had to institute a literary holiday, what would it be?

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Column by Peter Derk

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado.  He's a master of library science (which is a real thing) and considers himself a master of picking out the one functional treadmill in any gymnasium (which is not a real thing).  Buy him a drink sometime and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public library's restroom.

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