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Five Tips for Readathon Success

readathon tips

The spring edition of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is just around the corner on Saturday, April 23. The Readathon is truly one of my favorite reading/blogging events since my first one in spring 2009.

I feel like I’m even more psyched than normal for this year’s Readathon. No joke, I’ve been scoping out books and thinking about snacks since the beginning of the month. In honor of all that excitement, here are some of my best practical tips and strategies for a successful Readathon.

1. Short books, big fonts.

Everyone has different strategies for picking books for their Readathon stack. In the past, I’ve focused on books that were already on my TBR pile in some way, without limiting too much based on length. This spring, I am really feeling quantity — I want to finish a bunch of books during the event. To increase my chances of finishing four books (my Readathon history suggests this is possible, but difficult), I’ve decided to focus my stack on books that are less than 300 pages long and don’t have a tiny font. I’m hoping that this way I can feel like I’m moving through books briskly and keep my momentum going through the day.

2. Start small.

I find it really satisfying to finish a book within the first four hours of the Readathon. This means I need to start with a book that’s less than 250 pages (or has a really big typeface). My current front-runner for first book is The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson — memoir/true crime, 224 pages, decent font size. Winner!

3. Mix genres and formats.

I love to have a mix of fiction and nonfiction in my stack, as well as a good variety of reading formats. This means also having comics, ebooks, and audio books at my disposal. Last spring I took a break in the late afternoon for a long walk outside listening to an book from Audible — it was great and gave me a ton of energy going into the evening.

4. Mostly healthy snacks.

It is super tempting to stock up on a ton of junky snacks to fuel your Readathon. In my experience, that’s not a great idea. I always have gummi bears and crackers, but also need to make sure to have fruits and veggies, proteins, and lots of good things to drink so I don’t crash after dinner.

5. Friday night clean up.

Taking some time on Friday night to get our house in order has become one of my best lifehacks. It’s especially great before the Readathon so there aren’t any piles of dishes or laundry or random papers sitting around being distracting while I’m trying to read. I also make an effort to get my morning reading nook set up (books, computer, notebook, pens) so I don’t have to scramble on Saturday morning.

Other than that, the most important thing (obviously) is to just have fun. Whether you read half a book or six books, the point is to set aside a little bit of time for books and have a fun day connecting with other readers.

Fellow readers, what are some of your best Readathon tips? I’d love to hear more in the comments.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

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  • Alex (Sleepless Reader) April 12, 2016, 8:12 am

    I always try to make it and fail miserable, mostly because some plan or other gets in the way. It’s more complicated for Europeans because of the time difference. Need tips for doing the Readathon with a toddler around (lock myself in a room?).

    • Shelley April 14, 2016, 3:51 pm

      Tips for doing the readathon with a toddler around – I told my husband I’m going out of town for the weekend. A friend is hosting a Readathon slumber party at her place Saturday night, and I got a hotel room near her house for Friday night (she lives about an hour and a half away from me, and our start time here is 7 am, so it’s justified… sort of!) ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Kim April 15, 2016, 7:55 pm

        That sounds so great! I’ve sometimes considered renting a hotel room and just holing up there for the day even though I don’t have kids to distract me ๐Ÿ™‚ I would love a nearby friend to do a Readathon slumber party with — so fun!

  • Isi April 12, 2016, 1:53 pm

    Thanks for the tips!
    I’m super excited this time because I apply to be a cheerleader for the frist time in my life! I realized I loved to be on twitter chatting with the other readathoners, so… I suppose I’ll be good at it.
    I don’t read much because I get distracted with the mini-challenges – it stoles you time for reading, but I have to say that I have won many times haha!
    Alex is right regarding the time difference, but it’s OK, because it starts just at lunch time and leaves me time in the morning to do all the housework that needs to be done. I also like to bake something the previous day ๐Ÿ™‚ A cake between pages doesn’t hurt anyone!

    • Kim April 15, 2016, 8:00 pm

      Yum, cake, yes. Last year I did chocolate chip cookies, which was amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lisa April 12, 2016, 5:04 pm

    I “strongly suggest” to my husband that he should go to his friend’s house for the night!

    • Kim April 15, 2016, 7:59 pm

      LOL! I’ll have to see if I can get the boyfriend out of the house for the evening ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kristen M. April 12, 2016, 7:15 pm

    Great tips! Even though I want to read through a series this year, I’m still going to grab a couple of little books/graphic novels to break up the day. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kim April 15, 2016, 7:59 pm

      I was contemplating doing a reread of the Magicians series for the Readathon, but ultimately decided to save those for my summer vacation instead.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading April 12, 2016, 8:05 pm

    Perfect tips! I’ve definitely had much more success when I’ve gone with short books – it just feels better to get through several short books for some reason ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Tasha (heidenkind) April 12, 2016, 9:15 pm

    My tip is, if you’re a night owl, DO NOT wake up early to start the Readathon. You’ll just be grumpy and tired and resentful all day. Wake up when you want to and enjoy staying up later that night!

    • Kim April 15, 2016, 7:58 pm

      That is a really good tip! I’m usually more of a morning person, so I’m ok with a 7 a.m. start time (if I got to bed on time the night before!).

  • Lindsey April 13, 2016, 9:12 am

    Love these tips! I try to start with a short book too. It really motivates the rest of the day when you already have one book down!

  • Jennine G April 13, 2016, 10:45 am

    These are great tips! Did I miss the sign up for the read-a-thon? I am so out of it with all the house buying and selling – so much paperwork and running errands. Ugh. But the 23rd I have clear! I plan on joining,officially or not. Lol

    • Kim April 15, 2016, 7:57 pm

      I think you can still sign up? I hope so anyway, I still haven’t done that!

  • Leah @ Books Speak Volumes April 13, 2016, 1:48 pm

    Great tips! I tend to stick to shorter books, as well; feeling like I’m making actual progress helps keep the momentum going.

  • Masanobu April 14, 2016, 2:18 am

    You readathon pretty much as I do! And I’ve also been thinking about snacks and books for a couple of weeks now. Plus, the RAT this year is during World Book Day. It feels like a nerdy holiday! I’m loving it so much.

    I’m sure I’ll start with a short comic to give myself momentum, but I also plan to hit the book fair, so I might start with a book I don’t yet own.

    • Kim April 15, 2016, 7:56 pm

      Starting with a comic is a good idea! I tend to save those for the afternoon when I need a little break, but maybe they’d be good as a starting point. It’ll depend on my mood next weekend I suppose.

  • Isi April 20, 2016, 4:27 am

    In my case, I’ve also told my boyfriend he is in charge of dinner on Saturday. I make something for lunch the day before, plus a cake (including fruit in it, super healthy hahaha), and I’m done until Sunday.
    I don’t read much, I confess, but I try to do a lot of mini-challenges ๐Ÿ™‚