Participating in a 24 Hour Read-a-Thon

Logo for Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon featuring a stack of booksHave you ever spent all day reading a good book you just couldn’t put down? What about all night? What about doing both? Sounds pretty crazy, right?

Yes, reading and blogging for 24 hours straight is kind of crazy. But it’s also tremendous fun.

On April 27, book lovers and bloggers all over the world are going to spend the day reading as part of Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon. And I’m going to be one of them. I’ve cleared my day to do nothing but read, blog, and post about books on Twitter. And I can’t wait! Here in New York, the Read-a-Thon starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 27th. (Which makes me very glad I don’t live in Alaska, where things get rolling at 4 a.m. Yikes!)

A book blogger named Dewey started the Read-a-Thon in October of 2007, inspired by 24-Hour-Comics Day, when comic artists spend a full 24 hours drawing and writing comics.  Dewey’s 24-Hour-Read-a-Thon is  in April and October, when bloggers spend 24 hours reading good books, posting about them on blogs, and cheering each other on, with the crazy idea of pulling an all-nighter reading. Thirty-seven people signed up for the first event.  This April, more than 200 bloggers from all over the world have signed up.

I’ve participated in the Read-a-Thon twice, zooming through several books, making blogger and Twitter friends from as far away as South Africa and Australia, and discovering that hummus and celery is a pretty terrific midnight snack.  I have never stayed awake for the whole 24 hours, though I know a few bloggers who have. I like to read for most of the day, but I also like to make sure I get some sleep. That way, it’s a more like taking a literary spa vacation, and less like pulling an intense all-nighter for school.

Here are the supplies I recommend for a good Read-a-Thon:

A good stack of books you’ve been meaning to read, from all the genres you really like. Easy, fast reads are your best bet, as is a range of genres. I can zip through a short mystery in a matter of hours, and I’ll usually want to follow that with something completely different, like a foodie memoir. A read-a-thon is not the time to tackle long, weighty books by Tolstoy or Dickens. Especially not as the hour gets later.

A laptop, tablet or phone, so that you can read and post blogs and Tweets from wherever you are sprawling with your book. Checking in on the Read-a-Thon blog is one of the most fun parts. Every hour, the site posts a new question or contest, in case you need a break from your book. Some of my favorite past contests have included: pick a theme song for a character from your current book; arrange your stack of books so the spines  tell a story; and taking a picture of what you’re using as a bookmark.

Caffeine. I like to cycle from coffee to black to green tea, and make sure I have plenty of water in between.

Snacks. A supply of good snacks is essential. I’m a big fan of veggies and hummus, cheese, and chocolate covered almonds. Make a couple of sandwiches ahead of time, and cut them into quarters, so that it’s easy to munch as you read.

As much as I love treating myself to a day spent reading good books, my favorite part of the Read-a-Thon is the sense of community it fosters. Checking social media and blogs to see who else is participating and what they think about the books they’re reading starts conversations that continue throughout the year. Participants on Twitter use the hashtag #24hourreadathon to connect with one another.

Want to follow my reading adventures on Saturday?

Check in on my blog and on Twitter @ewillse for updates.

Earlier Posts:
Introducing AMACOM…Elizabeth

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