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The 24-Hour Readathon That Makes Me Fall in Love With Reading On Repeat

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Steph Coelho

Staff Writer

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with a background in History and Leisure Studies. She's never without a book on her nightstand or in her purse. When she's not flipping through her latest read, she's chatting with her small online book club, running, cooking up a storm, or out in her front yard garden. Snuggling up next to her two dogs, Rosalie and Zoe, is her favorite way to enjoy a book.

If you’re a book lover and haven’t ever participated in a readathon, you’re missing out. Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is the most hardcore of them all. I have the fondest memories of my first time reading for a whole day. A grand total of 200 readers were involved that year. Little did anyone know how huge the affair would become.

Fast-forward nearly ten years later; I’m at a completely different place in my life, but I still block out time on the calendar to read like a kid again. The kid who devoured books left and right. The teen who couldn’t put books like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix down. The curious reader who would flip pages way past her bedtime. The young adult who always had a book in her bag on the bus.

Each year as I’ve gotten older, I realized that the things I loved tended to take up less and less space in my life. I didn’t visit the bookstore as often, and I wasn’t spending hours curled up reading. After that first readathon, life got busier. Writing term papers and studying for exams swallowed up my time. Class readings became more important than leisurely reading, and my reading-for-fun pace slowed to a crawl. I’d managed to only finish a handful of books when I was in university.

When my husband and I moved into our very first home and got married, I dreamt of bookshelves lining the wall and a reading nook. The reality was a bookshelf that broke under the weight of too many pages—mostly old textbooks—and that I had little time to devote to my once favorite hobby.

And then, I got wind once again of the 24 Hour Readathon. I organized a pile of books I had been meaning to pick up, mostly on my Kindle and some in paperback. The neat little stack was taunting me, almost seeming to know about my status as a lapsed bibliophile. When the day in October rolled around, I had very clearly announced to everyone I knew that I was unavailable. That I was going to be reading for almost the whole weekend and not to bother me. I managed to get through a few books but fell asleep before the clock struck 8 AM EST (the end of the readathon). Still, those hours reading sparked something in me. I’m a goal-oriented individual, so I like to tackle things with a hardcore spin. Challenges fuel me. Ticking items off a list gives me a rush. I ended up looking for more readathons to participate in and stumbled upon new reading challenges I had never heard of. As someone who spends chunks of her day online, it was a revelation to find that the part of the internet for book-lovers had grown and I had seemingly missed the boom.

All of a sudden, I felt lonely. I wanted to talk about books with others. I yearned for a pseudo-psychic bookish connection with someone else. So I started an online Facebook reading group. We’ve been at it for a little over a year, and we’ve struggled together to finish insanely boring books and excitedly worked together to vote for new reads. I’ve also made it a point to encourage the group’s members to participate in the readathon.

Last October, I participated again, and it became clear that my fiery love of reading was back. My bookish mojo had returned. I was determined to read for the full 24 hours, even though I knew that my older self was barely capable of staying up past 10:00 in the evening. I managed to knock out more than a handful of books (okay, one of them was only 40 pages) and I slapped myself awake at 3 AM while reading Stephen King’s short story collection Night Shift (there are a few stinkers in that one). I ate my carefully chosen snacks (chips and salsa) and flipped pages as I eyed the clock and wondered how it was possible that time could go any slower. I finally gave up at 5 AM. I let my confused dogs out to pee and snuggled up in bed satisfied that 2018 would be my best reading year yet.

I finished out the year surpassing my goal, and I owe a lot of that to the readathon. Whenever I’m in a book-related slump, somehow this reading marathon gets me back to where I belong.

I’m once again eager to participate in the 2019 24-Hour Readathon and highly recommend you do the same. Whether you have a sky high TBR pile or you’re raring to speedily gobble up prose, sitting down with a book for one hour or 24 knowing that others are reading along with you is infinitely rewarding.

A Few Readathon Related Tips

Tell everyone in your household about what you’re doing.

Block off the day. For 24 hours (or less if you choose) it’s your priority. Your favorite thing is number one.

Grab some snacks.

I make more of an occasion out of the readathon than I do my birthday, and on this special bookish day, I allow myself to eat treats I might otherwise find too indulgent.

Pre-plan dinner.

Ask someone else to cook for you, buy a frozen pizza, order in, or make something the night before. You don’t want to waste precious time watching over pots on the stove.

Get comfortable, but not too comfortable.

This is not the day to sit around in jeans. Grab your favorite PJs or leggings and a hoodie and settle in for a lazy weekend. Careful, though. Too many pillows and blankets will surely lull you to sleep. I suggest switching positions periodically. Move from the couch to a comfortable chair, but never, ever creep into bed.

Take breaks and use them wisely.

If you’re anything like me, you love to see what others are reading and record your progress. The 24-Hour-Readathon organizers and volunteers have plenty of fun stuff planned each time so check out challenges online, head to social media to post your reading pics, update Goodreads, and like other readers’ posts.

Make careful selections.

Choose the right books. Don’t tackle a 500-page behemoth on readathon day. I like to have a few novellas, one slightly longer book, and short story collections on hand to mix things up.

Find a buddy.

Is there a friend, family member, or online acquaintance who might want to participate, too? Check-in with each other during the event and cheer each other on.

Have fun.

Don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy the moment and savor each page as you try not to let your heavy eyelids win the battle being waged for sleep.

Find out more about Dewey’s  24 Hour Readathon and sign up to participate at

The next event will take place Saturday, October 26, 2019, at 8 AM EST.

Happy reading!