As the year comes to an end, I am already marking my calendar for all of the readathons I want to participate in next year. What are readathons? Well, readathons are basically sets of reading related challenges that you have to complete within a defined period of time. Beyond this, the “rules” can vary widely. There are readathons dedicated to reading as much as you can within a 24-hour period, there are genre-specific readathons, bingo-style readathons, Harry Potter inspired readathons, readathons for booktubers, readathons for reading graphic novel fans just to name a few. Some readathons have gained an enormous international participation base online and others are much smaller. Basically, whatever format, genre or reading goal you have there is likely a readathon for it and a community to go along with it.
Readathons are mostly created by and for readers and can be extremely creative and invite new reading experiences. There are also so many readathons happening all throughout the year that you are bound to find an upcoming one that works for you to try out with a quick search through bookish social media. If you are reading this and thinking, “reading is my self care, why would I make it more stressful by adding rules to it?” Well, I am hear to convince you the readathons can be the perfect activity for some bookish self care or shelf-care if you will.
1. Readathons Give You a Time to Dedicate to Reading
Work, school, family. Our daily responsibilities can sometimes make carving out space in our schedule for ourselves, let alone to read. Down time can seem like a luxury and it is, but also can sometimes be necessary. Readathons are times to focus on you and something you love to do; to recharge and prioritize yourself, even if it’s only a couple hours a week. That said, readathons don’t have to be solitary! Ask a friend, family member or partner to join you. One of my favorite readathon memories was hearing from a friend who ended up turning a readathon into a mother-daughter bonding experience with both of them participating.
2. Readathons can Connect you to a Bookish Community
Gone are the days when reading was a solitary activity! Now between bookstagram and book twitter, not to mention IRL book clubs and activities, reading has become a social activity. Reading and readathons, in particular are great ways to connect with other readers. Don’t get me wrong, readathons can be a great time to step away from social media and get some alone time with a book (or three, I won’t judge) but if you do want to be social online you can! Most readathons are organized online and will have a designated hashtag or social media page that you can check out to learn more about the readathon, follow along with what other participants are reading and share your own updates. Readathons can be a great way to build or join a bookish community.
3. Readathons Can Push You out of Your Reading Comfort Zone
We all have our favorites comfort reads or genres and sometimes a good form of bookish self care can be to revisit past favorites to pick a trope or genre that is a guaranteed hit for you. Some of my favorite books or reading moments however have come from the times I have stepped outside of my comfort zone and picked up I book I wouldn’t have on my own only to end up loving it! Some readathon have specific books or categories to complete that might prompt you to pick up a book you wouldn’t otherwise or look at the books that you already own in a way that might surprise you. Selfcare can also be about being open to trying new experiences, who knows, you might find a new favorite read!
4. Readathons Can Help You Make a Dent in Your TBR
Readathons can also be great ways to really put a dent in that TBR of yours. Prompts or challenges such as “read a book that you’ve had on your shelf for over a year” may be just the push you’ve been meaning to finally get to that book. You know the one. It’s okay, I’ve been meaning to get to it too. Finding books that are already on your shelf to fit the prompts of a readathon is both a budget friendly way to participate in a readathon and a good way to re-discover some backlist gems too. Plus, there’s no better feeling than finally reading a book that has been on your TBR for a while, or is that just me?
5. There’s No Pressure to Complete the Challenges-No, Really.
If the thought of participating in a readathon is making you have flashback to homework deadlines, let me assure you that there is no pressure to complete a readathon. How seriously you want to take each challenge or how much time you actually end up having to read varies by person. Some readathons have prizes for completion or fundraise for a cause, but ultimately how and how much you participate is up to you. I have tried and failed to “complete” many readathons but had a blast each time and I keep participating in some of my favorites year after year. To paraphrase a pirate, the rules are more like guidelines.
Readathons can be an incredibly fun bookish activity to participate in. What is particularly great is that you can really customize your readathon experience or choose the one that is right for you because there are so many out there! If you want to try reading only books over 500 pages, or just books you already own, or cozy mysteries, for a month, there is a readathon for you, and if there isn’t chances are someone is coming up with one or you can create your own and rope some reading buddies into participating. Whether you read one book or ten, go at it alone or interacting with fellow participants, there is no wrong way to participate. Ultimately the goal is just to make time in our lives for reading in a new and creative way.
What to try out a readathon? Try some of these to get you started!
- Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon
- Tome Topple
- 24-in-48 Readathon
- OWLs/NEWTs readathon
- Queer Lit Readathon
Good luck and happy reading, everyone!