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The Sunday Salon: Reflections on the Read-a-Thon

The Sunday Salon.comIt’s Sunday morning, I’ve got some tea, and I am going to spend the day binging on The West Wing and recovering from reading 1,420 pages over an 18-hour span during the April 2011 Read-a-Thon.

Yesterday’s Read-a-Thon was the first time I made a concerted effort to participate for the entire event. Last October I was a reader, but I was also in Iowa hanging out with my sister and spent a lot of time not reading. And I don’t think I ever tried to read before that.

I had a great reading day yesterday. Here are my end of the day stats:

Pages Read: 1,420
Total Time Reading: 8 hours, 52 minutes
Comments Left: 100-ish
Total Books Read: 6

  • I’m Sorry You Feel that Way by Diana Joseph
  • Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
  • Nothing Left to Burn by Jay Varner
  • Fables: Sons of Empire by Bill Willingham
  • Fables: The Good Prince by Bill Willingham
  • Fables: War and Pieces by Bill Willingham.

Overall, I think my strategy for the Read-a-Thon went well. Over the course of the day, I switched off from reading for about an hour to cheering/commenting for about 30 minutes. I also took a break to watch TV during lunch, and to take a 45 minute walk later in the day. Those breaks were huge.

I also kept track of fewer stats than I tried last time which was good. I felt like last year I spent more time trying to add up minutes than I did actually reading anything.

As for books chosen, the comics were huge. I loved being able to take a break with Fables in the middle of the day and to end with that when I was tired. Next year I am going to be sure to have a lot of comics on my pile. Otherwise, I read exclusively memoirs, which was good and bad. Memoirs are great — they’re like the literature of nonfiction — but I did want something different midday. Next year I’ll try to have some more short fiction to my pile.

The other thing that was great was having a friend around to keep me company. My friend Erin came over in the morning and spent the day working on a paper (she’s a journalism student). We didn’t spend a lot of time talking, but the passive company was really nice. I hope I can have a friend join me for the next Read-a-Thon I participate in.

That’s about all I can think of this morning. My brain is still feeling tired from yesterday and I just want to watch television today. So I’ll just finish up with the End of Event meme and go back to The West Wing. Happy Read-a-Thon everyone, and back to regularly scheduled blogging tomorrow.

Update #13: After Event, 10:00 a.m. CST

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Right around hours 9 and 10. I was feeling tired, my brain was fuzzy, and I wasn’t sure what to read next.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I loved the Fables comics this year. They kept me engaged after I finished a couple longer books and were a nice break.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I think the cheerleading roles could have been a little more clear. I was a bit unclear who I was assigned to be cheering for during my requisite cheer hours.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I thought Twitter was a lot of fun this year — I liked when people shared update posts and gave ideas during the day.

5. How many books did you read? Six total, which is awesome!

6. What were the names of the books you read? I’m Sorry You Feel that Way by Diana Joseph, Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart, Fables: Sons of Empire by Bill Willingham, Fables: The Good Prince by Bill Willingham, Nothing Left to Burn by Jay Varner, and Fables: War and Pieces by Bill Willingham.

7. Which book did you enjoy most? I’m Sorry You Feel that Way by Diana Joseph was a great way to start, and Fables: War and Pieces by Bill Willingham was a great way to end.

8. Which did you enjoy least? I liked all of them, but if pressed I’d probably pick Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart if only because if I’d read it outside the Read-a-Thon I’m not sure I’d have liked it as much.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Just stay positive and do your best! Cheerleading is a lot of work without much reward.

On the other hand, I didn’t think it was productive for people to complain about not having any comments. Just like regular blogging, you have to reach out to build a community. In my experience, the more you reach out to others the more they’ll reach back to you. Just sitting around during the Read-a-Thon, writing update posts and reading books without reaching out yourself isn’t going to generate comments. The Cheerleaders can only do so much, and I don’t think it’s productive to feel bad about comments or lack-thereof.

The Read-a-Thon is only a community event if you participate. </time on the soapbox>

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-Thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I’m definitely going to do it again, probably as a reader and a part-time cheerleader. I loved the Read-a-Thon!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tracy April 10, 2011, 9:28 am

    I agree with you about the cheerleaders and posting. There are so many participants that they have to get around it must be a really big job. Anyway, at the end of the day I was doing it to enjoy reading and for the challenge, rather than to get a whole lot of comments. This was my first time and I really didnt get around to checking out much, but was very happy for the few comments I got. My daughter did it with me and she got quite a few which she was happy about. Well done for taking part and for cheerleading too!

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 4:56 pm

      Tracy: Yes — there are many more readers than cheerleaders, which makes it so very hard! The comments are nice to get, definitely, but I agree with you that its more about the challenge of reading than the comments you get. Its so cool that you and your daughter were able to do the Read-a-Thon together!

  • Ash April 10, 2011, 9:42 am

    I almost read Summer at Tiffany during the readathon! This time around I spent a lot more time reading and a lot less time looking at blogs. I think that was good for me, although in the wee hours I felt like I just wanted to look at blogs the whole time. I didn’t try to participate for the whole time yesterday since I was at my parents’ house, but I still managed to finish four books! Looks like you had a great time.

    Interested to hear what you think of Sorry You Feel that Way. I read it last year.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 4:59 pm

      Ash: I’m glad I read Summer at Tiffany during the Read-a-Thon. It was nice and light, which was just what I needed. And it’s so easy to get sucked into blog reading and being on Twitter during the day, but I was happy to get a lot of reading done.

  • Caitie F April 10, 2011, 9:43 am

    Kudos for a great reading experience! Sounds like you balanced everything extraordinarily well!

    Now go enjoy the best television show ever!

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 4:59 pm

      Caitie: I felt happy with the way things were balanced. I might have liked to spend a little more time reading, but I also think my brain might have gone mushy sooner if I had!

  • Lenore April 10, 2011, 10:00 am

    Great job! Reading AND cheering is quite a big undertaking!

    I noticed that the cheerleaders seemed to be spread too thin – or at least it seemed that way to me in comparison to events past. Not a complaint though – just an observation 😉

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:00 pm

      Lenore: You know, I like having cheerleading as a break from reading — it’s nice! And I heard the same thing about cheerleaders, just not having a ton of people signed up. That makes it tough to visit everyone.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) April 10, 2011, 10:26 am

    Wow, you had a fantastic read-a-thon!

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:01 pm

      bermudaonion: Yeah, I did. It was a lot of fun!

  • Unruly Reader April 10, 2011, 10:36 am

    Good job! Sounds like the way you structured the day worked really well. Enjoy your day today. (If you get a chance, please tell Josh Lyman that Unruly Reader says hi. [oh… he’s fictional, isn’t he?])

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:08 pm

      Unruly Reader: I think it did. It really helps me to shut down the computer in order to focus. And I’ll wave to Josh when he pops on the screen next!

  • Meghan April 10, 2011, 11:26 am

    Looks like you had an amazing Read-a-thon! I need to remember the graphic novel advice for next time. I could have used a few comics around to speed through while I was dragging in the middle.

    I actually had more comments this time than last time, I think, but I updated less frequently and also visited others. I had at least one Read-a-thon where I read and didn’t visit much and it definitely lessened the community feel, so I made sure I did both this time. It’s just like starting off blogging – if no one knows you’re there, no one is going to comment. So I 100% agree with your advice.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:10 pm

      Meghan: I loved reading so many graphic novels — I didn’t realize how much I missed them from my reading!

      And yes, I agree. I think you have to be out there a bit in order for people to know you’re around and make an effort to reach out to you. I was more active this time than my last Read-a-Thon, and I think comments reflect that.

  • Holly April 10, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Holy crap! You racked up some serious page count.

    I appreciate the cheerleading you did for me. I’m thinking about signing up to help out next time. I agree, you gotta give to get. See you in October!

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:12 pm

      Holly: Graphic novels will do that 🙂 I think cheerleading is a lot of fun. I really like doing it for parts of the Read-a-Thon. I did mine in about 15-30 minute chunks and that seemed to work.

  • Diane@BibliophileBytheSea April 10, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Kim….It seems like this was a fun event for all who participated; you did terrific. Sorry I only had time for a few cheers.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:12 pm

      Diane: Yeah, I think it was a lot of fun — and any amount of cheering helps 🙂

  • Joy Weese Moll April 10, 2011, 12:43 pm

    Yay! Sounds like you had a great day. That was a big page count!

    I think you’re right about the cheering. I got about half of my comments from people who have commented on my blog before because I’ve been doing a bit of outreach prior to this.

    I notice that the new commenters came pretty quickly when I tweeted something even mildly interesting, so if people want more comments during Read-a-Thon, I’m thinking tweeting is a good strategy.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:14 pm

      Joy: Yeah, it was a fun day, and lots of pages!

      I haven’t looked at how many cheers were from regulars or new readers, but I think it was pretty split. I did get more comments after Tweeting posts, do I agree about Twitter as being a good outreach strategy.

  • Chrisbookarama April 10, 2011, 1:49 pm

    I didn’t spend a lot of time commenting since I really wanted to read and I’m not a fast reader. So the comments I did get were appreciated. I did make sure to drop into Twitter once in awhile and visited a few people that way. Having done cheerleading before, I know how overwhelming it can be. There are fewer cheerleaders now and more participants. Maybe I should do it again to ease the load.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:25 pm

      Chrisbookarama: I was reading back through previous Read-a-Thon posts and in one I was really excited about leaving a comment for every one of the 192 participants. Now that there are so many more people, the cheerleading can feel impossible!

  • Trisha April 10, 2011, 1:59 pm

    This is the first time I haven’t made an effort to really participate!!! It sounds like you had a good plan for your day, and you certainly were productive.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:25 pm

      Trisha: The plan just sort of came together, but as it worked in the morning I just kept doing it. I think it was awesome though, so will probably keep the same strategy for the next Read-a-Thon I do.

  • Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books April 10, 2011, 3:00 pm

    Congratulations on your success with the Readathon, Kim – I bet that nice long walk break really helped, as did having a friend for company.

    I haven’t yet been able to set aside the time for a Readthon … maybe in the Fall.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:27 pm

      Dawn: The big break was really helpful. I was much more energized after getting outside for a bit — it was a beautiful day!

  • Shelley (Book Clutter) April 10, 2011, 5:04 pm

    A day full of reading followed by a day of good television–sounds like a great weekend!

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:27 pm

      Shelley: It was a great weekend; I didn’t want it to end!

  • Lu April 10, 2011, 5:23 pm

    She, who blogs at A History of She, and I did the readathon together one here. It helped that we lived together 🙂 I really hope to find someone who can do the readathon with me in October too. Doing it alone is very, well, lonely.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:28 pm

      Lu: Yes, being roommates would help! My roommate is out of town, but she might have done it with me.

  • Trish April 10, 2011, 6:01 pm

    Holy cow girl you got a lot read!! What a fantastic day you had!

    And yes, I do agree with you on the comments. At times I felt sheepish knowing how many comments I was receiving on my update posts when others received so few, but…it’s the social nature of blogging. Who knows– with so many readers and so few cheerleaders I wonder if there is a good way to do it. Last October Jill seemed to have everyone pretty organized, but I think she also had a lot more people to work with. Boo! 😉

    All in all, it’s still a fantastic event. And it was fun participating with you Kim.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:34 pm

      Trish: Well, reading lots of graphic novels helps 🙂

      I’m sure you got so many comments because you were out there so much. I don’t think that I hopped online without seeing you on Twitter being so active.

      But anyway, agreed, a fantastic event!

  • Florinda April 10, 2011, 10:27 pm

    The cheerleaders were spread a bit thin, and I know I didn’t get as many comments as I have in past Readathons – hopefully, that will all go more smoothly next time! Quite a few people in my “assigned” section of the list didn’t have Readathon posts up, so I didn’t leave comments for them, but I did visit other people I knew were participating and comment for them instead.

    It sounds like you had a terrific Readathon overall. Looking forward to doing it all again in October!

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:35 pm

      Florinda: Yeah, there were a small number of cheerleaders. That doesn’t help at all. I wish there was more integration — people who read were expected to cheer a little bit or thought of the two things as being together rather than two different groups. But that’s ok — it’s so fun anyway.

  • Leeswammes (Judith) April 11, 2011, 2:36 am

    You got a lot of reading done! I also had a strategy, well, two: one was to change genre with every book and the other to only touch the computer for 15 minutes in every hour. It’s so easy to be carried away by what everyone else is doing rather than read for yourself!

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:35 pm

      Leeswammes: I did, it was great! I love the idea of switching genres with every book. I want to try and do that next time — I read a lot of memoirs this time!

  • Jen - Devourer of Books April 11, 2011, 8:21 am

    Almost 1500 pages AND you left 100 comments? WOW!

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:37 pm

      Jen: It was a pretty productive day 🙂

  • Erin April 11, 2011, 9:33 am

    Geez that’s a lot of pages! And books! I read so slowly when I get tired. I think next year I’ll have some short stories or something around that I can finish really quickly when needed.

    I had my husband around all day. He spent most of his time in another room on his computer, but it’s still nice to have another person nearby. I’m jealous of all the cat people, though! It’s during the readathon I miss having one most.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:38 pm

      Erin: Me too. I read the graphic novels when I was feeling tired and that helped a lot. And it is really nice to have someone around, even if it’s just a person. Hannah was fun to have around, but she also seemed to demand my attention a lot more than she normally does, like she knew I was busy!

  • Vasilly April 11, 2011, 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the comment about the lack of cheer-leading comments. It’s a huge job to get to as many people as possible. I know that I didn’t but I still ended up with a lot of hits yesterday. I’m hoping more people will volunteer as cheerleaders next time.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:39 pm

      Vasilly: Getting enough cheerleaders is soooo hard, and I’m not sure what’s a good way to fix that problem.

  • Jay April 11, 2011, 3:10 pm

    Thanks for including my book on the list! I hope you enjoy it.

    • Kim April 11, 2011, 5:39 pm

      Jay: I did enjoy it — I still trying to figure out how to review it 🙂

  • Joanna April 12, 2011, 6:28 am

    You’re so right about the community aspect, you do have to reach out. It’s more satisfying then too, you do feel like part of a community.

    My favorite read-a-thon to date was one when I made a concentrated effort to be a cheerleader as well as a reader. Can’t wait for the October one!

    • Kim April 13, 2011, 6:33 pm

      Joanna: I think it’s great to be both a cheerleader and a reader. In fact, I think it should almost be required 🙂 I’m excited for October as well!

  • Care April 13, 2011, 8:08 am

    It didn’t help that I couldn’t get to blogs on my iPad as fast if at all as I can on my Mac. SO Twitter was my cheering outlet almost exclusively. AND that I was unofficially cheering so I didn’t try to visit specific blogs. It is sad to see the lack of cheering issue pop up. I really REALLY want to do a readathon hidden away but weekends are family time and if weather is nice, BOATING time! We should do one in January.
    Congrats on so many pages! WELL DONE.

    • Kim April 13, 2011, 6:34 pm

      Care: Twitter is a great way to be involved — I loved following along with everything that way when I was online. I think it takes a perfect storm to make a Read-a-Thon work, and this one just happened to fall into place for me 🙂