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Kelly Writers House is set to host their annual Marathon Reading Event in-person for the first time since 2019.

Credit: Derek Wong

Decorated paper cats and fish will adorn the Kelly Writers House this Thursday as students and faculty join together in person for the annual Marathon Reading Event for the first time since 2019. 

The event is being held to read Haruki Murakami's novel "Kafka on the Shore" at KWH’s annual Marathon Reading event. Beginning at 9 a.m., students and faculty who have signed up for 10-minute slots will take turns reading aloud until the book is finished. The all-day event will be open to the community and is estimated to end around midnight, according to College junior Kendall Owens — a work-study student at KWH who helped to create decorations.

To make the event more immersive, students, staff, and other KWH affiliates have worked together to create cutouts of cats and fish over the past few weeks. Japanese food referenced in the book — including ramen, coffee, and eel — will be served throughout the day. All who registered to read will receive a free T-shirt designed by first-year College student Devdyuti Paul.

“I’d encourage everyone to drop by and listen in, even if it is just for a few minutes or a study break. It’s a good book, and there’s always a sense of accomplishment when we finish,” KWH Director Jessica Lowenthal said.

While only a few slots are still open, Lowenthal added that having people around the house to jump in and read if needed always makes the process run more smoothly.

The Marathon Reading program was first established by Program Coordinator Erin Gautsche in 2007, and it has become an annual tradition. However, the event was held over Zoom for the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each year, the KWH planning committee selects a novel and designs ways to make the experience as immersive as possible. 

“Hearing your peers read one book out loud and then pass it on to the next person is an amazing form of community,” Paul, who first got involved in planning the event this winter, said.

Books chosen in the past include "Mrs. Dalloway," "Alice in Wonderland," and "The Great Gatsby." According to Lowenthal, the tradition connects different generations of writers, tying KWH to its history in new and creative ways.

“KWH is one of the most welcoming communities. It is a safe space away from more preprofessional culture, and everyone there is like family. It’s important to explore your creativity, even if that means conversing with friends on our famous green couch,” Owens said.