Sometimes it’s just really, really hard to fit reading into my week. I get home late and want to go straight to sleep or I want to watch an entire series in a weekend, so I ignore my books. It was especially bad during my first semester at the iSchool. Unlike a job that ends when you go home, school doesn’t have set hours—when class ends, assignments begin.
Then I stumbled upon Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon, a biannual event. For someone having trouble just reading whenever, I had found a goal to help get me back on track. For one day, I would read as much as I possibly could. For one day, I would schedule my reading instead of hoping I had time for it. And it was fun! One of the great things about it is that it is a very social read-a-thon (you can follow @readathon on Twitter). They host hourly challenges and have volunteer cheerleaders to encourage you to keep going all day, sending messages to you via Twitter, Instagram or your blog, so make sure you sign up and include one of your handles.
The next read-a-thon is on October 22nd and I’ll be tweeting along from the ALA/TLA student chapter Twitter account (@ALATLAstudent). Since I hope at least a few of you will join me, I thought I’d share my best tips for getting the most out of a read-a-thon.
1. Set attainable goals.
Honestly, reading for 24 hours straight doesn’t sound like fun to me, but this doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Try thinking of a read-a-thon as a day to read more than you normally would. Ignore your television, your laptop and your phone and spend a little extra time reading—that’s it.
2. Prep your reading pile.
For me, this means stocking up on graphic novels like a squirrel storing nuts for winter, but I’d also suggest collections of essays, stories or poetry. Just because you know you could finish (whichever classic is sitting on your shelf) in as many hours as you plan on reading doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You’ll want a break, so plan things you can switch to that keep you reading and not looking for other distractions. If you know you need frequent breaks, you can also sign up as a cheerleader and send encouraging notes to other readers to help them keep going.
3. Don’t read anything that you don’t love.
This is my goal in general, but it’s even more important during a read-a-thon. Reading something that drags or something you feel you should read will make for a miserable experience. It’s completely fine to recognize that a book—even a great, wonderful, masterpiece like (some book everyone says is just life-changing)—isn’t for you. If we had all the time in the world, maybe you should slog through that book for your own edification, but we don’t, so be done with it. No regrets, no judgment.
4. Include time for stretch breaks.
Even your favorite chair will be uncomfortable after a few hours, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop reading. A quick search for reading stretches brought me multiple yoga-inspired lists of poses that don’t include putting down your book (I like this Book Riot one). Or take it to audio and go on a walk. Audiobooks totally count as reading!
5. Drink plenty of water and have some snacks on hand.
Sometimes I use this need for a snack as a reason to leave the house, but it’s also a good idea to have things you like within easy reach. Just remember that drippy/crumbly things might get in your book, so keep that in mind when making your selections.
6. Recognize your achievement!
Did you read more than you did all week? All month? All year? Go you! Tell your friends, brag about your mad reading skills, tweet it at us! You did great!
I’m really excited about Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon and I hope that you’ll join me on October 22nd. Just because you don’t need an excuse to block off some time for reading doesn’t mean that this isn’t a great one!