Books

Why Now is the Perfect Time for a Readathon

An open book on a table showing a pop-up scene with grass, a dog, a child with an umbrella, birds, and a hot air balloon in the distance.

If you’re social distancing and have some time on your hands, now is the perfect time to conquer your to-be-read (TBR) pile. You’ve been staring at those books for weeks, maybe months (or years), and if you’re going to be spending some time inside, there’s no better way to do it than with a good book. So try doing a readathon!

What is a Readathon?

A readathon is exactly what it sounds like—a reading marathon. You choose a certain number of books or pages to read within a specific time frame and hit the books.

Some readathons have prompts that tell you which genres or subjects to read. For example, if you do a pandemic-themed readathon, you could choose books that have post-apocalyptic settings or books that have one setting throughout the story.

You can do readathons alone and choose prompts that work for you, or you can challenge yourself and do a group readathon where someone else comes up with the prompts.

You can read based on those prompts or mood read for a couple of weeks. It’s all up to you. The world—or at least your book pile—is your oyster.

Where Can I Find Readathons?

I discovered readathons on Twitter last year. I participated in a few, including a Harry Potter one and another called the Zodiacathon (#zodiacathon on Twitter), which gives you reading prompts based on your astrological signs. I’m a massive astrology nerd—don’t judge me.

So far, Twitter has been my favorite place to find readathons, but you can also look for them on Youtube and other online spaces. Booktubers and book bloggers make videos, share docs, and post about the prompts and activities they’re doing for their readathons so everyone can participate.

There are no rules with readathons. Well, unless you decide to make them. Even with organized readathons, I break the rules all the time and often end up reading whatever I feel like instead of following the prompts. The great thing is that no one cares—readathons exist to get you reading, so as long as you’re doing that, you’re doing it right.

Can I Join Someone Else’s Readathon?

Yes! In fact, joining an existing readathon that you found online can be an even more fun way to read and share your progress. 

Confession: I’ve never created my own readathon. Every single one I’ve done from the Harry Potter Magical Readathon (#magicalreadathon2020) to the Avatar: The Last Airbender readathon was started by someone I didn’t know on Twitter or Booktube.

My favorite so far has been the 2019 Harry Potter Magical Readathon, and I’m getting ready to start the one for 2020. The person organizing it used careers along with the O.W.L and N.E.W.T exams from the Harry Potter series to create reading prompts that ranged from “read a book with a green cover” to “read your friend’s favorite book.” 

For each career, you had to pass certain N.E.W.T subjects with certain grades. To achieve a grade (for example, E for Exceeds Expectations), you had to read a specific number of books. The lowest grade (Acceptable) required one book while to reach the highest (Outstanding), you had to read three books.

This readathon lasted a month, so it gave me more time than many other readathons (spoiler alert: I still didn’t finish). Some readathons last three days, some last a month, and the length all depends on the organizer.

Even when I don’t participate in the extra activities or record my reading progress with the rest of the participants, I love watching what other people do. I also gather book recommendations based on what everyone else reads, and I’ve discovered lots of new authors that way.

You could even create a readathon around books by small press or local authors. That’s a great way to support authors through this challenging economic time. 

Why Do a Readathon?

If loving books alone isn’t enough of a reason to start a readathon, I’ve got more for you. It’s great if you’re practicing social distancing or are in quarantine right now. After all, you’re literally going to be in a room with your books for a few weeks.

If your book pile is getting out of hand, now’s the time to whittle it down to something more manageable (because let’s face it, we all know you’re not going to get to the bottom of it). A readathon can also be a great way to discover new books, rediscover books you love, or read books you’ve been putting off picking up for years.

If you’re among those who are wildly busy working from home, you might not have time for a readathon, but your kids probably do. A readathon can be a fun way to get kids reading, learning, and participating in something beyond just reading for school.

Whether you create a readathon between siblings, organize a virtual community readathon, or have them follow prompts from one you find on Twitter, there are lots of ways to get them engaged with books. Have them set up their own TBR or set a goal for how much they want to read while they’re home.

Search Booktube, Twitter, and other online platforms for readathons or create one unique to you. There’s no wrong way to do it.

Have you done a readathon before? Do you have a favorite one? What’s your favorite place to find them? Let us know in the comments!

Sarah Wood

Sarah began their career as a full-time freelance content marketing writer in 2019, but they’ve been writing stories since they could spell. Sarah wouldn’t be writing now if it weren’t for anime fanfiction. Now, they write about mental health, pets, Japanese language and culture, and LGBTQ+ topics. Their work has appeared in The Conversationalist, Ikigai Connections, and bluntly. Visit their website at sarahwoodwrites.com.

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Sarah Wood

Sarah began their career as a full-time freelance content marketing writer in 2019, but they’ve been writing stories since they could spell. Sarah wouldn’t be writing now if it weren’t for anime fanfiction. Now, they write about mental health, pets, Japanese language and culture, and LGBTQ+ topics. Their work has appeared in The Conversationalist, Ikigai Connections, and bluntly. Visit their website at sarahwoodwrites.com.

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