My First Readathon

[Forgive the cheesy title. It’s descriptive, if nothing else!]

In recent months, I’ve become fascinated by the world of Booktube and Bookstagram, which are – for those who find the terms as baffling as I once would have done – essentially just posts about books and reading on YouTube and Instagram. There’s something strangely hypnotic about watching someone stand in front of a camera and just review a book, or show you the paperbooks they’ve recently bought, one by one. There’s also something calming about scrolling through pictures of books (or at least there is for me, and I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one), and of course it can be a great way to find recommendations.

What I love most of all, though, is how enthusiastic all these video-makers and photographers are about books – just good old, no nonsense books – and reading, and sharing their finds. That passion is incredibly satisfying to come across when you’re a reader yourself, living in a world that so often puts more money, time and effort into every other entertainment and educational medium imaginable.

This, then, brings us to the Readathon. A readathon is, at its most basic, an organised online event, during which the participants read as many books as possible, or perhaps try to do nothing but read (particularly when the event is over a short period, like 24 hours). This last weekend saw one of the year’s two Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, which is a particularly popular event, and seemed to me as good a place to start as any.

It’s an interesting experience, spending 24 hours reading as much as possible, made even more interesting by the fact you’re doing it at the same time as hundreds, even thousands, of other people. There’s lots of chat about the event on social media, lots of people sharing what they’re reading, and a general sense of camaraderie similar to what I’ve found with NaNoWriMo – essentially, we’re all doing this slightly ridiculous thing, because we all share the same love! That connection is a powerful thing, and when everyone is engaged in something as simple as reading, all other boundaries cease to matter.

As a means to simply read more books, I also found it quite successful. I wasn’t particularly strict with my time, spending an hour here or there doing something else, and stopping to eat/sleep (which not everyone does!). This particular readathon also fell over two days for a UK time zone, and I was much more successful at reading during the afternoon and evening of the first day than I was the morning of the second. Even so, I read something like 220 pages of a couple of paperbacks (finishing one and starting another), plus about a third each of two ebooks. That isn’t much, perhaps, by the standards of a fast reader, but I’ve gone whole weeks in the past without turning so many pages.

Would I, then, recommend readathons to other readers out there? If you either want an excuse to really focus on reading for a set period, or to meet other readers, it’s a definite ‘yes’. I realise the 24 hour structure of this particular event won’t work for everyone (I just got lucky that it didn’t coincide with work hours), but there are a whole range of other readathons discussed online. Some last a day, others a week, but all share the purpose of getting people to read more books, and bringing passionate readers together – and with aims like that, you’ll hear very little complaint from me!

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