Monday, April 5, 2010

Tips for a Successful Read-a-Thon

April 10th is almost upon us and with that, the 24 Hour Readathon! I had just started blogging a few weeks before last October's readathon and I think it was one of the main reasons I fell in love with book blogging. I didn't know much of anything about book blogging and participating in the readathon helped me to discover the huge community book bloggers have. Also, it was great fun. And a fantastic excuse as to why my husband had to watch the kids. Of course, he ended up working that night, so I didn't get as involved as I would have liked and only read 22 hours. I see you rolling your eyes. I am one of those people who throws myself into something 192% so of course my goal was the entire 24 hours. I'm reading 18 hours this year because I'll be co-hosting the last leg of the readathon - 3am -8am EST, so I'll probably just be getting punchy. It'll be something to see. So less reading, but more time for cheerleading and otherwise interact with the rest of you joiners!

Being the overachiever than I am, before the last readathon I read every past post I could find on the event and attempted to map my game-plan as best as possible. Some tips were life-savers. Others, not really helpful. We all have different things that work for us. Some of the very best tips I came across include:

The TBR Pile
This is a must. You don't want to be wasting precious reading time searching for the next book to read. Pick a bunch (more than you would ever need) and stack them right next to where you'll be spending the majority of your time.

You may only be able to read 5 books in 24 hours, but you'll need double - or even triple- that in your pile. You may favor mysteries, but what if you're not in a mystery mood that day. Throw a little chick lit in there. Maybe some horror or science fiction. You never know what may strike your fancy.

Short books are key for most of us. Finishing three 200 page books feels like you're making more progress than finishing one 600 page book in the same amount of time. You want to keep motivated. A lot of readathoners focus primarily on YA. Others will read a lot of graphic novels. Have your heart set on that 600 page book? Throw it in the pile. Maybe you'll be on such a roll that it'll fly by. If not, read it on and off while also reading shorter, easier books.

The one thing you should stay away from during the readathon is review books. If the books were sent to you for review purposes, you should probably give them your full attention. The readathon is not really conducive to the focus review books require.

If you plan on reviewing the books you read during the readathon, take notes. I use post-it notes to jot down my thoughts after finishing each book. I did not do this last year and trying to recall details of the first book I finished, having read many books after that one, was insanely difficult.

You are going to want to post your progress on your blog throughout the readathon. You have to if you want the rest of us to come by and cheer you on. What to post? I like to keep a list of the books I've read so far, the amount of time I've spent reading, the number of pages read, how many other blogs I've visited and commented on and what mini-challenges I've participated in.

How often to post? This is tricky and you'll really have to figure out what will work best for you. Last year, I posted every hour. It sucked up a lot of reading time doing it this way. It probably also annoyed the 30 or so followers I had having me pop up in their readers all day long. This year I plan on having one post for ever 6 hour block of time. I'll just edit the post, probably every hour. This will save time since I won't have to write a whole new post every hour and I'll only be publishing 4 posts as opposed to 24.

I love comments. You love comments. We all love comments. So even if you don't sign up to be an official cheerleader, try to visit a few of your fellow readathoners and leave them a little note. Even if you only visit one blog an hour, that's still 24 bloggers you've helped motivate.

I wasn't using Twitter very much last your, but I know many others were. Using the hashtag #readathon, you'll be able to see everyone elses tweets and quickly share some of your own thoughts and progress. If you get stuck as to which book to pick next, ask twitter and have your answer in seconds.

This is way more important that you'd think. Of course you know you'll have to eat. But do you have a plan? Ready to eat food close at hand will save huge amounts of time. You're not going to want to get up and cook something every time you're hungry. You must plan ahead.

24 hours is a long time to stare at a book. You will eventually get sleepy. Some of us live and die by caffeine. Others chose sugary beverages to keep going. Some (crazy people as far as I can tell) gain energy by keeping it healthy. You already know what'll keep you alert, so make sure to be stocked up on your favorite energy-giving drinks.

Gather more than you think you'll need. You don't want to run out and you'll probably eat and drink more than usual camped out next to your stash.

Need a way to keep track of your reading? Check out Fyrefly's readathon tracking spreadsheet. I used it last year and it's awesome.

Dress comfortably. Like last year, I plan on wearing pajama pants and a tank top. Sitting for 24 hours can get uncomfortable, so choose something that is loose and won't annoy you.

Stuck without a babysitter or partner to watch the kids? Read to them if they're little or have them participate in the readathon if they're older.

Most importantly, have fun. Pace yourself. Take a break if you're feeling burnt out. This isn't a race or a contest, just an intensely pleasurable way to spend a Saturday.

What are your Read-a-Thon tips? Do you have any questions that I didn't discuss?


  1. great tips! this will be my first readathon, so i appreciate the summary of things that were helpful to you.

    i already have my TBR pile set up and am ready to go. see you then!

  2. As a first time participant this year...these are great tips!! I could use all the help I can get from seasoned readers.

    And thanks so much for the link to the spreadsheet. I use Fyrefly's reading "year of reading" spreadsheet to keep track of all my books that I read during the year. Gives wonderful stats and graphs. I am so glad she shared her read-a-thon graph!!!

    Good luck with the read-a-thon this year!!!!

  3. Thanks for the tips Jen, I won't be able to participate now, but I can't wait for the next opportunity, and then I'll sure take part! The Read-a-thon sounds so much fun and I always love the challenge! Good luck to everyone participating in the Read-a-thon!! :-)

  4. Thanks so much for the great post-a lot of lovely and useful tips :)

  5. This will be my second time doing the read-a-thon too and can't wait! I'll be sure to drop by your blog :-)

  6. This is my first Read-a-Thon and I was looking for someone to post tips/tricks, thanks very much, I will be using that spreadsheet for sure! See you then!!

  7. Those are some really great tips! My last readathon, all I had in the pile was middle grade, YA, and the Diary of A Wimpy Kid books which definitely all kept my attention. This readathon, I know for definite that my pile will have an audiobook on it, because I have chores and working out to be done, but will also have graphic novels/manga, and a few other fun books.

    I love the tip about not reading review books for the readathon. I think the readathon is all about the reader and some guilt-free reads.

  8. Thank you so much for the tips! This is my first time participating in the readathon so this will help a lot. Good luck!

  9. "Some (crazy people as far as I can tell) gain energy by keeping it healthy."

    Hehehe. I'm planning on stocking up on chips, but maybe I'll munch on a carrot or two at some point during the 24 hours.

    Thanks for posting all these great tips! Last October I was a cheerleader, but this time I'm going to attempt to read as well. These tips will come in very handy!

  10. I will be participating in this reading a thon for the first time! I'm so excited! Thanks for the tips! I think they are really gonna help!

  11. Thank you for the tips! I never participated and still can't (I've to study hard sigh), but I hope to be able next time!*-*

  12. Thank you so much for the tips, this is my first read-a-thon so this post is greatly appreciated. Have fun tomorrow :)

  13. Thanks! It's my first read-a-thon, and this tips are absolutely essential! <3

  14. THANK YOU so much for this post!
    It was very helpful, as I'm planning on participating in my first Read-a-Thon this October. We definitely should keep in touch and cheer eachother on :)

    Greetings from Poland,