Recipe for a Successful Readathon

Readathon is coming! You know me, I love participating in the event each time it rolls around. With it less than a week away I thought I would share a few tips for first timers (and maybe they’ll help a few veterans along the way? Who knows!) who are hesitant about jumping in at the last moment. Allow me to tell you — there’s no reason to fret. My first Readathon was a bit of a last minute decision, but a success, I think.

Other bloggers have done these types of lists before, but I thought I would compile my own list of things that have helped me survive a handful of Readathons. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments!

  1.  Water
    Before you hit the coffee, tea, soda, or whatever your caffeinated libation of choice is, reach for water and make sure you have it handy throughout the duration of Readathon. And if Readathon starts early in the morning for you it’s even better to get your day started off with a glass of water. Everyone promise at least this much — one glass. Seriously! And if you need more reasons to drink water, well, here you go.
  2. Timer/stopwatch
    It helps me to use a timer and read for a specified amount of time. Sometimes it’s 30 minutes (if I want to check in on a mini-challenge that hour) and sometimes it’s an hour (rarely more than that unless I am really, really into a book). Something about breaking it up in this manner keeps me from getting too  bored or discouraged with lack of progress — like that one year where I tried to read some non-fiction with teeny tiny typeface. Lesson learned. While I do advocate the use of a timer, I try to stay away from the presence of a clock. The only reason I check one during Readathon is to find out what hour we’re on. Clocks can be so discouraging to me. If you have to be somewhere at an appointed time that’s one thing, but I like to keep them out of the room where I am reading, or at least not in my line of sight.
  3. Snacks
    At first this was #1 on my list. Then I moved it so you wouldn’t think I was all about snacks. But the truth is — I am. I love snack foods. Almost as much as I love condiments. That’s another tale for another time though. Stock up on snacks to have around when you get munchy. I tend to not eat actual meals on this day and instead keep quick things around that are easy to consume while reading. Cut up fruits and veggies ahead of time and have them in plastic containers/bags that you can grab from the fridge quickly. Portioning out beforehand can keep you from crazy bingeing, which can happen easily in a situation like this. Not like I know or anything. Nooo. If you like items of a more carby persuasion it might be a good idea to portion them out a bit before Readathon starts. Like, let’s say, Cheez-Its. I love Cheez-Its. If memory serves, Ronnica loves Cheez-Its. Please raise your hands if you love Cheez-Its. Now keep your hand up if you know how easy it is to go through half a box of Cheez-Its before you know what happened. And how that’s even easier when you’re distracted by a good book. I know, right?! So portion those puppies out in little bags or something beforehand. You’ll thank me at the end of the 24 hours when you aren’t bloated and retaining water from ALL. THAT. SALT.
  4. Caffeine
    You’d think I started drinking this stuff before kindergarten or something, wouldn’t you? If you must, and eventually a lot of us must, find yourself some caffeine. Too much of it (which is admittedly quite a bit more than your average addict) makes me shaky and nuts, so I try to limit my intake on this day when I’m trying to focus and get as much reading done as possible. Each person knows his or her limit on this, just be smart. You don’t want to get yourself so hyped up that you can’t sit down. Have enough to keep you awake, but not so much that you make yourself miserable.
  5. Good light
    I am lucky that the room I do most of my reading in has excellent morning sunlight streaming through the windows that turns into gentle afternoon light as the sun creeps over to the other side of the house. Good light is imperative to having a successful Readathon, I think. Keeps you from hurting your eyes and helps to keep you awake. Once the sun goes down I like to use lamps rather than  a harsh overhead light. Overhead lights make me stabby. Just make sure your lighting is adequate and that you are not struggling through lights that are too bright or too dim.
  6. More than one “spot”
    Not everyone has this luxury, but if you can manage it try to find more than one spot in your house (or wherever you are going to be) to read. I spend the bulk of my time in the study in my little reading loveseat. Changing up the scenery and the position you’re sitting in can be very helpful.
  7. A good breakfast
    I’m going to sound like somebody’s mama here and I need to practice what I preach — eat a good breakfast! It will carry you through the morning hours (this really applies to the US participants only since we’re the ones starting in the morning — eat a good [whatever meal occurs before Readathon starts for you]!).
  8. Phone OFF
    Finally, turn that phone off! I try to let family members know before that weekend that I may be unreachable, but when all else fails just turn it off. Disconnect as much as you can and enjoy your books!

14 Replies to “Recipe for a Successful Readathon”

  1. Fantastic advice! I tend to read in spurts too, broken up by mini-challenges, cheering and tweeting. This time around I’m actually going to do Readathon with two blogger friends, so I won’t have to worry about ignoring my husband and pets. Dewey’s Readathon is the major reason I started book blogging, and I love the sense of community it builds!

    1. I feel the same! It’s nice that you’re getting to do it with other people. I’m a chatty person though, so I’m not sure I could get much done with other people around!

  2. I love the timer advice. It does seem a bit odd in a 24-hour event, but I think that would really help me chunk it up, reading more devotedly when I’m reading and taking real breaks, but short ones. Thanks!

  3. This is great advice, Elizabeth! I’m sad to be missing out this time around, since we already had plans to be out of town with friends (no internet access either) but good luck and have fun! 🙂

    1. Ah well, it happens. I didn’t find out until last minute that this weekend is the Footloose Festival in my hometown and a little bummed that I’m missing it, but it’s Readathon and I’d already planned for it 🙂 Have a great weekend!

      1. Followed a link on Twitter to this post, was reading through the comments and…

        Oh my gosh! Whoa, small world, I’m in Oklahoma City. I heard about the Footloose Festival on the radio today, and totally wanted to go until I realized what day it was.

        1. How funny! I’m glad you stopped by and I will be over to visit your blog soon. Readathon > Footloose Festival…at least more important to me since I’d already planned on it.

  4. A good breakfast is SO important! It helps that breakfast is my favourite meal, so I take advantage of the lazy readathon morning by taking my time getting through my eggs, toast, and a BIG mug of tea.

    I’ve been participating in the Readathon for a few years (I think this is going to be my 6th one), and I’ve never thought of using a timer before! I usually just note what times I start & stop reading, but using a timer totally makes sense. I’m going to try that out this time around. I can see it really helping me divide my time between reading & cheering. Comment until the time goes off, then switch back to reading!

  5. I do love Cheez-its! I don’t buy them anymore, though, as I can get them at work. I have a bag almost everyday (until they finally got pretzels).

    Great point about water. Nothing worse than the over-caffeinated/dehydrated feeling.

    I also like reading in chunks, posting updates every 2 hours.

  6. Sound tips! I hadn’t thought of keeping a timer (and must admit to being one of those who checks the clock when reading), it’s a good idea. A structured reading day is better than randomly going to eat etc. Having more than one place to read is important.

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