Tips to having a great read-a-thon

With Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon coming up this Saturday, I thought it might be helpful to write yet another read-a-thon tips post. Some of these tips are the same while others are things I’ve learned since April’s read-a-thon.

Plan Ahead

  1. Figure out what you want your read-a-thon experience to be like. Some people join the read-a-thon strictly for the reading part. Others join to read and the social aspects such as the conversations on Twitter and Facebook. Figure out what you want to do during the event so when Sunday morning rolls around, you’re not disappointed and wishing you did things differently. At first, I thought about joining the event just to read but decided that I wanted to be more involved in the event, so I plan to read, cheer, and maybe even host a mini-challenge. The Twitter conversations are great opportunities to “meet” other readers.
  2. Go grocery shopping before the event. There’s nothing worse than looking up from your current read, starving, and realizing that there’s nothing in the house to eat.
  3. Let your friends and family know in advance that you’re participating. Even if they don’t understand why anyone would spend a Saturday reading, they’ll know not to call you. If they do call, don’t pick up the phone. My family knows that read-a-thon Saturday is my day. It’s Christmas, Easter, my birthday, and the last day of school rolled up into 24 hours. If my family bothers me for more than the occasional question, they’re sure to pay for it later on.

The Stack

  1. Start putting a stack of books together days before the event. For me, there’s no better feeling than having my stack ready. That doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind throughout the day, but it’s nice to not have go to the library or bookstore for a new read.
  2. Keep your books short and no fuss. It’s crazy to try and read The Brothers Karamazov or Midnight’s Children from start to finish during the 24 hours you have. Unless you like that kind of stuff. Some people do devote the read-a-thon to reading a chunkster. I don’t think that’s bad but you might get tired of what you’re reading. This brings me to my next tip.
  3. Variety is your friend. Make sure the books in your read-a-thon stack are a variety of genres, formats, and sizes. In my stack you can usually find a collection of short stories and essays, a volume of poetry, a few novellas and graphic novels, picture books, and a novel or two or three. Some of my books will be review copies while others will be library books and some I’ve own for a while now. I don’t expect to read a whole collection of essays or volume of poetry in a day but when I need a break from whatever book I’m in, reading something really different helps.  I also have several interesting books on my Nook, just in case I want to stretch my legs and read at the park or at Starbucks or some other outside place.
  4. Make sure you have a few books in your stack that are fast-pace. The read-a-thon is not the time to start reading something like Marianne Robinson’s Housekeeping. Not that it’s a bad book but time is going to crawl by in a way that you don’t want it to, making you feel like you’re been reading the same page for a few hours.

The Food

  1. The only thing as important as your reading stack is what you’re eating! It doesn’t matter if you’re joining the read-a-thon for two hours or all twenty-four, you’re not going to be able to enjoy yourself if all you’re doing is eating junk food. I learned this the hard way. It’s good to have some cut up fruits and vegetables at your disposal. My house will be stocked with sliced fruits and vegetables along with any other healthy foods that I can think of.

Everything else

  1. Never underestimate the power of a nap. I always take a nap during the read-a-thon. When I first participated in the read-a-thon many moons ago, I used to hate that. Now, I’ve come to love and expect to take a nap.
  2. Please turn comment moderation and Captcha off during the event. You can turn it back on after it’s over. When you have comment moderation on, the people who cheer you on have no way of knowing if you’re receiving comments or not. After awhile, cheerleaders will move on to other blogs. Plus, consider updating your read-a-thon post every now and then. If you started the read-a-thon and you haven’t updated the post after ten hours, cheerleaders don’t know if you’re still reading. A quick update saying that’s you’re still in or you’re out, helps us a lot. You don’t have to update every hour or so but once or twice during the event really helps.
  3. Make sure to have fun. That’s what this is event is about; it’s a day to do something that you really enjoy. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to read x amount of books. If you finish two books, that’s great. If you end up talking on Twitter the whole time and making a ton of new friends, that’s great too. Take pictures of the books you’re reading, or your current reading spot. Go cheer other readers on or thank the cheerleaders who’ve been cheering you on. Take a walk. Stretch. Whatever makes this a great experience for you, do it. Dewey, the late blogger who started this event, wanted the read-a-thon to be fun.

Are there any tips that you would add to this list? Are you joining Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon? 

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35 thoughts on “Tips to having a great read-a-thon

  1. Thanks for this post! This will be my first time participating and I needed those tips! :D I’m so excited!!

  2. These are great tips, and I am planning on joining again this year. Last year was so much fun, but I had to go out to the bookstore for graphic novels in the midst of reading, and this year I am all prepared. Great job with this list. I didn’t even think about some of these things, and now I will be all prepared! Awesome post today!

  3. I would agree with all of your tips! This will be my 4th read-a-thon and I’ve grown to look forward to a mid-afternoon nap too. I love switching between YA books, graphic novels and other short novels. I don’t do well with chunksters during a read-a-thon.

  4. I’ll cheer for you! I have a crazy schedule planned for the weekend and will not be able to participate to the level I would wish otherwise.

  5. Good tips. I especially agree on the food thing. It’s important to eat some healthy food in the mix. I always get pizza for dinner, but I’m planning to have lots of fruits, veggies, and tea for the day. So far I don’t have anything scheduled for Saturday, and I’m hoping to keep it that way!

  6. I’m joining again after 2 and a half years! Super excited! I’m SO planning ahead what the children and I are eating throughout the day. Plus I’ll time my naps ’cause previously I would sleep longer than intended and that really bummed me out. Thank you for all the tips, Vasilly! “See” you on Saturday!

  7. I have been participating for three or four years now. I lose track. Anyway, great tips! The one thing I would add is an audiobook. I like to turn on an audiobook while I am posting my updates and such during the event. That way I feel like I am constantly reading. I would say that if I am lucky, I read 45 minutes out of every hour (because I am majorly into the social aspect), so having on an audiobook helps me feel like even though I am posting a cheer on someone else’s blog, I am still reading.

    Best of luck to you.

    1. Kate, that is such a great idea! Sometimes when I’m participating in the read-a-thon, it feels like I’m only reading 15 minutes every hour because I’m on Twitter or cheerleading. I’m going to find an audiobook to listen to. Thanks for the tip.

  8. Great tips, Vasilly! I’m unofficially participating in the readathon on Saturday. I didn’t sign up and I won’t be posting on my blog during the event, but I’m joining you all quietly and using Goodreads and SJ’s blog to post updates.

  9. That is some a great advice Vasilly! Especially your tips on food and grocery shopping. Not many would think about the food, we get so caught up in what to read. It’s important to have healthy snacks and food available.
    Happy read-a-thon. I can’t wait to get started. I was perusing my bookshelves yesterday actually, trying to pick what to read this weekend :)

  10. Terrific ideas: I’ve got to work on the snacks. Even the run that I made to the bakery last year was “wasting precious reading time” because I wanted the treats right away, when my brain was still fresh and should have been reading instead while the reading day was young and tender. I’ll be cheering for a couple of hours, but am hoping to squeeze in more reading than last time! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

  11. Thanks so much for posting this! It will actually be my first read-a-thon. My goal was to read at least one book beginning to end, and at least 500-750 pages. I think I may opt for some shorter reads, and I have a verse novel as well. I’m going to put my stack together in the next day or so. (Is it wrong to hope my husband works in the morning, so I will be 100% distraction free?)

  12. Great tips! I especially agree with the prepared snacks thing…nothing is better than getting hungry during the readathon when you’re kind of tired and realizing you have FOOD ALREADY READY FOR YOU. Ohhh I love it. ;)

  13. Great tips, thank you. I quoted you on my blog and linked back to you, I hope that’s ok. If not, let me know and I will alter my post. Have fun reading!

    1. Cathy, thanks for linking to my blog! Can you allow Open ID on your blog so that read-a-thon cheerleaders can cheer for you via comments tomorrow? Please? ;-)

  14. This is my third read-a-thon, but I haven’t clicked into the comment moderation issue before. Thanks for that tip, and for the rest!

  15. I think your first tip is the most important — make it whatever you want it to be! I know that I don’t want to get up at 5am so I’m not going to get through the full 24 hours ever … but that’s okay! See you tomorrow. :)

  16. These are great tips! One tip that I would add is that audiobooks are your friend. Like, if you need to shower or cook some food or do a few chores — put an audiobook on and you can read AND get things done.

  17. These are wonderful tips! Thank you! This is my first time participating so I’ll keep these in mind throughout the day. :)

  18. Great post! I agree with everything you just said :) And best of luck with the readathon!

  19. Good morning! Happy readathon! Grab that sexy book from the shelf. She has been waiting for you way too long. Take her, touch her, smell her. It’s all yours today. Only today. Make her happy. Make yourself happy. Enjoy!

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