24 Hour Readathon: Choose Your Own Adventure

My (potentially quite audacious) reading stack


Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is this Saturday — less than a week away! Almost 600 people have already signed up (and there’s still time, if you’d like to join in!) I’ve participated in four or five of these 24 hour book parties, and I’ve found that what you do the week before the readathon directly affects your success during the readathon. So let’s talk for a minute about preparing for your readathon!

1. Decide what you want to get out of the readathon.

Know your priorities. Do you want to want to read as many books as possible? Or do you have one monster of a book you’ve been really wanting to finish? Choose your own adventure! And, please, for your sanity, don’t compare your experience to others. Some people will be ripping through as many novels as they can, and their progress may cause a certain panicked tremble in your knees. Don’t worry about them. Focus on enjoying yourself.

Another question to ask: do you want to spend the whole time reading, or do you want to participate in the readathon’s online community? Because during the readathon, there will be games, discussions, blog posts; you could spend all day just jumping between good reads groups and twitter feeds, talking about books! The online community is infectious and fun, but if you’re really trying to focus on reading, it can also be very distracting. Figure out what kind of a balance you want, and make plans for it. For example, plan to spend 15 minutes every hour with the community online, and set a timer to tell you when to get back to your book!

2. Assemble your bookstack in advance.

By no means does this mean you have to read these and only these books during the readathon, but it is nice to have a plan in place, so that if you finish one book, you’re not scrambling to figure out what to read next. Pick books that are high-interest, that you’ve been excited to read. Include a graphic novel or two, to get you through hours where your brain feels melty, and for later in the night, be sure to have books with larger, easy-to-read font.

3. Plan your meals.

Set out a basket of snacks the night before, have plenty of bottles of water at the ready, and be sure to plan for something substantial—maybe pack a lunch the night before, something you can grab easily from the fridge. Crockpot meals are also great for readathon days. You have to keep your energy up, and while guzzling coffee may work for some people, there’s nothing better than a good, healthy meal.

4. Set alarms.

I’ve found this really helpful in the past, because I tend to fall asleep while I read! Set an alarm to go off every one or two hours, just in case you doze off.

5. Decide where you’re going to blog.

I’ve tried to stretch myself over several social media platforms before on readathon day, and it can be really exhausting. You want to post your books to Instagram, but your submissions to contests and mini-games to your blog, and then there’s Twitter for all your minute-by-minute updates. Then there’s your GoodReads feed to consider, and Facebook, and and and—

I would advise picking no more than 3 websites to deluge with your readathon progress. My favorites are Twitter, for quick updates, tumblr or your blog of choice for the hourly wrap-ups and mini-games, and an occasional pic to Instagram. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, though, and feel like you’re spending most of your reading time updating a million different websites.

6. Plan to move around while you read.

This is SO IMPORTANT. Frankly, if I read in bed, I’m going to fall asleep. So I like to move around hour by hour—I read on the front porch, then on a bench out in the yard, then in an armchair, then the living room couch, then for an hour on my stationary bike—Changing up your location will keep you awake. (And, sure, you can count that walk from the bed to the couch as the day’s exercise … no one will tell.)

7. Finally, my biggest, biggest. biggest suggestion: Read as much as you can before the big day.

It’s no secret that it can take a few chapters to get into a book. I think some people say to give a book 25 pages before you put it down? I’ve also heard that it can take 90 pages for a reader to get into the author’s state of mind and get fully engaged with the story. Starting new books, getting through that first hump of a story when all the characters are being introduced and the plot is only beginning to move, is—I’ve found—the number 1 killer of my readathon momentum. After the flush of victory in finishing one book, jumping into another only to be bored by overlong descriptions and confused by a plot that I don’t care about yet can feel like a splash of icy cold water. I’m more likely to drop the book aside and get distracted by something else.

So, what I like to do is, in the week leading up to the readathon, read as much as I can of the books I want to read on Saturday. I like to get at least 50 pages in. I want to be at the point where I care about the characters and understand the plot, so I can jump right in. (This also gives you the chance to weed out the books that aren’t going to be interesting or engaging enough to hold your interest during the readathon.) You want a stack of books in which you’re dying to know what happens—it’s the only way to keep yourself reading!

Anyway, I hope these little tips helped. Are there any readathon vets (or newbies!) out there? What do you guys do to prepare for the big day?


4 thoughts on “24 Hour Readathon: Choose Your Own Adventure

  1. #7 is a really great piece of advice. I looked over my updates from the last time I did the readathon (too long ago!) and realized the the biggest thing that slowed me down was not putting aside a slow book quickly enough. “Pre-reading” isn’t a bad idea!


    1. yellowhairedrobot

      Thanks! I hope it works for you; looking back at my readathons, I always lose steam because of a mediocre book leaving a bad taste in my mouth. It happens in regular life too: I could be plowing through 2-3 books a week, but one bad novel could derail me to the point where I don’t read for months. So, for readathons especially, it’s important to make sure you’re going to ENJOY your books!

      Good luck tomorrow!!


  2. Brona

    Thanks for the tip about reading a few chapters before hand.
    I wasn’t sure if was cheating because all the books on my list are ones I’ve already started in the past couple of weeks!


    1. yellowhairedrobot

      Definitely not cheating! (Or … probably not cheating?) I’m not sure the official rules, actually. But I think Dewey’s is a pretty flexible, read what you like, how you like sort of an event. So pre-reading should be just fine!


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