Friday, May 17, 2019

Making The Most of Read-a-thons

Over the past several years, as I've been away from library work longer and longer and therefore not interacting daily with a large community of readers anymore, I have become fond of read-a-thons hosted on blogs and social media. Read-a-thon hosts select a focus and time period for the event, and often they encourage participants to reach a particular goal, seek out a particular type of book, and/or interact with one another through challenges and chats. Read-a-thons are a wonderful way to feel connected to other readers on a larger scale than may be possible for you locally, and to make strides in your reading goals alongside others doing the same thing.

Why Join a Read-a-Thon?

The biggest reason to join a read-a-thon is that it adds a social element to a hobby that is often solitary. Read-a-thon participants have the chance to check in on each other's progress, share reading suggestions, and feel a sense of camaraderie as they work toward the same goals. Read-a-thons also hold you accountable to someone other than yourself. If you announce to a community that you're planning to read a certain number of books, or to read for a certain number of hours, you often feel more inclined to follow through on that plan.

The other reason to participate in read-a-thons is motivation. There are a lot of distractions in everyday life that can keep you from accomplishing all the reading you might like to do: games on your smartphone, television shows on Netflix, texting with friends, etc. Because a read-a-thon typically runs for a short period of time, it can motivate you to set those things aside just for that brief window and accomplish more reading. It is also often easier to give yourself permission to let go of a few tasks for a few days in order to focus on reading if there is an "official" event taking place. Knowing that others are making the same sacrifices for reading makes you more inclined to make them yourself.

Having a Successful Read-a-Thon

Though a read-a-thon will often challenge participants to meet a certain reading goal, achieving this target is not the only way to get something out of a read-a-thon experience. There are always some read-a-thons where I don't quite attain the end goal, but it is rare that one of these ends up being a waste of time. Even read-a-thons where you don't read as much as you hoped present opportunities to find new bookish blogs and social media accounts to follow, to discover interesting books previously unknown to you that others might be reading, and to talk with fellow readers about reading-related topics.

To get the most out of your next read-a-thon, try some of these suggestions:
  • Create a TBR stack (or at least a "possibilities pile") ahead of time. This way you won't spend valuable reading time looking for books you want to read, and if one book doesn't work for you, you can quickly move on to another. 
  • Join in on any Twitter chats or other interactive events hosted by the organizers. Chats and challenges that encourage interaction are a great way to make new bookish connections and to renew your enthusiasm for reading if you hit a slump.
  • Use audiobooks to get some reading time in while you clean, drive, exercise, or do other tasks that make it impossible to hold a book. 
  • To prevent distractions, avoid screens and read physical books. I try not to watch any YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu during read-a-thons and, if the temptation to watch videos or scroll social media is distracting me from reading, I'll also avoid reading e-books and put the devices away. 
  • Get your family involved. You don't have to neglect your family to participate in a read-a-thon! You can read aloud to your younger kids, and encourage your older ones (and your spouse!) to read independently toward the read-a-thon goal. 

My Favorite Read-a-Thons

I have been doing read-a-thons for several years. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Seasons of Reading
    Michelle at Seasons of Reading hosts month-long seasonal read-a-thons per year. Though some of them have themes, there are very few rules about sticking to the assigned theme for every single book. There is a Facebook group for reporting your progress, and Michelle also gives away some pretty generous prizes at the end of each read-a-thon. 
  • 25 In Five
    This read-a-thon is hosted by @katiebiblio and @kaitbattista on Instagram. Every few months, they challenge participants to read for 25 hours over the course of 5 days. Occasionally, they also offer shorter "8 in two" read-a-thons over  a weekend. I have never met the time goal since I've started participating, but attempting to get there always motivates me to read a ton. It's also been a fun way to feel more connected to the #bookstagram community.
  • Bout of Books
    This laidback week-long read-a-thon is hosted three times a year, in January, May, and August. There are group Twitter chats, Instagram and blog challenges, and an opportunity to win a grand prize. The best thing about this read-a-thon is you set your own goals so you can plan to read as much or as little as your schedule allows! 
  • Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon
    I will never be able to read around the clock as some people do for this read-a-thon, but I do sometimes like to join in on some of the pre-readathon challenges in the Goodreads group. (Last year, they did one where the goal was to read 1000 pages in a week. I really liked keeping track of pages!)

Do you participate in read-a-thons? Which ones do you enjoy most?

1 comment:

  1. I used to do Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Challenge, but pretty much stopped after my daughter was born. These days, having to read on someone else's schedule feels like pressure to me. But I do have weekends when my husband and daughter go away, and I quietly read on my own pretty much all day. I love those weekends!