Love of Literature Takes the Long Way in English Club's Marathon ReadingFebruary 27, 2015

For more than 20 years, the English Club at Rockhurst has had a unique annual tradition, one that combines the traditions of formal literary readings, endurance tests, theatrical table readings, and maybe a little bit of spectator sports.

Jason Arthur, Ph.D., Rockhurst associate professor of English, said the club’s annual marathon reading has been going on more than two decades — for most, if not all, of the history of the club itself.

“It’s one of the things that has kind of become a boiler place for the English Club here,” he said.

The idea is a simple one — each year, the members of the club decide together what book they will read together. In one sitting. From cover to cover.

“We just read until we’re done,” said English Club President Kayla Frey, summing up the idea.

In years past, the club has taken on everything from Shakespeare to Thomas Pynchon. For the 2015 reading on Thursday, they tackled Douglas Adams’ 220-page 1979 sci-fi novel Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

On average, it takes about six hours to get through a reading, Arthur said. With the amount of time required, Frey said the readers are encouraged to spice up the proceedings. Frey said in the past, readers have taken on roles or adopted unique accents for the reading. Costumes are not unheard of.

“By the end of it, you’ll have read about 200 pages, so if you read it robotically, it’s going to feel a lot longer,” she said. “So everyone tries to have some fun with it.”

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