How To

How to Last Through a 24 Hour Readathon!

Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

The readathon approacheth! Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, that is: a 24 hour readathon held every April and October.  Twice a year hundreds of readers hunker down and read as much as they can for a 24 hour period, participating in challenges, giveaways, and cheerleading for other readers along the way.

I look forward to the readathons every year. I’ve been doing them for 4 years now, so I thought I would share a few tips for participating. You’ve got your 5 Reasons To Participate and reading recommendations, so here are some tips for lasting the entire 24 hours.

1. Decide what success means to you.

Everyone approaches the readathon differently. Lots of people get a full night’s sleep somewhere in that 24 hours, and some people go to work during that time period as well! The readathon is just about reading as much as you can. It should be a fun experience. Do you want to finish a book that day? 10 books? Do you want to read a certain amount of pages or for a certain amount of time? Or do you want to focus on participating in the big reading party that’s happening? Decide what your priorities are.

I’ve stayed up the entire 24 hours before–and I’m planning on doing it this year–but I don’t always. I know that often the way I feel after pulling an all-nighter is not worth getting in a few more hours of reading. At the same time, staying up the whole 24 hours can feel like a big accomplishment, and it’s fun to finish the day with tons of other readers online!

2. Snacks, snacks, snacks.

If there’s anything that comes close to getting the spotlight that books get during the readathon, it’s food. Part of the fun of readathons for me is prepping delicious food beforehand. You want to minimize the time that you spend preparing food, so try to get meals ready that don’t take a lot of assembling or cooking time. Now might be a good time to indulge in some take out.

It’s also a lot easier to last through the readathon with delicious snacks at hand. My #1 advice for new readathoners is to make sure you balance your junk food with some healthy food, because although loading up on caffeine and sugar can seem like a great way to stay up 24 hours, it can also make you feel pretty awful. I definitely still stock up on sweet and salty snack foods, but I try to alternate them with real food, too. A few veggies can save you from getting a killer stomachache at hour 17.

3. Choose your books wisely.

Not everyone assembles a TBR before a readathon, and if you’re a mood reader, it might be easier just to pick off your shelf as you go, but I find it helpful to have some choices lined up. The key thing you want to keep in mind is to keep your reading light and your books short. This is flexible, of course. Some people like to try to tackle a mammoth book during the readathon, but you have to have a pretty impressive attention span to make that work.

Short books, comics, and easy reads all make ideal choices. I like to start the readathon with a book that I’m already reading, so I don’t have to try to learn about new characters and worlds at 5 am. Also keep in mind that you’ll probably have the longest attention span near the beginning of the readathon, and by the end you’ll be tired and maybe starting to get burned out on reading, so keep some of your easiest reads reserved for that time.

4. Take breaks.

I like to spend 10 minutes or so every hour logging my process, whether on Goodreads, a blog, or twitter (you can participate in the readathon so many different places online!) and seeing where other people are at. There are also challenges happening all throughout, and I like to take an hour or two out of my day to cheer on fellow readathoners. It’s easy to feel like if you’re doing the social aspect of the readathon, you’re missing out on reading time and vice versa, but I find that I usually enjoy it the most when I balance the two. Taking breaks to have a power nap, or chat with someone for a little while, or even go out (maybe to get more snacks!) can really improve the overall experience, and it makes you less likely to fall asleep before you meant to.

5. Stay flexible.

And as my final tip, don’t be afraid to change strategy. The readathon is not the time to slog through a book you’re not enjoying, so even if you planned on picking up a specific book, don’t be afraid to put it down if it’s not keeping your attention. Try switching formats, like listening to an audiobook, if you’re having trouble concentrating. Try reading in different places–maybe you’re somewhere where you can read outside for part of the day! Just keep in mind that this is supposed to be fun, so don’t do anything that makes it less enjoyable.

So those are my tips! Are you planning on participating? What are your tips for a 24 hour readathon?