Reading 101: How to Survive a Read-A-Thon

If you’re an avid reader, chances are that you’ve participated in a Read-A-Thon or two (or twenty-seven).  I’ve participated in quite a few myself, and I’ve started compiling some tips and tricks that will come in handy whether you’ve never participated in a read-a-thon before or you’re practically a pro.


  • Books, obviously.  No read-a-thon is complete without a large pile of books for you to choose from.
  • Optional: ereader charger.  If you’ve decided to go the ebook route for the read-a-thon, don’t forget to charge your device!  Allowing the battery to die could be a major setback.
  • A comfortable environment, whether this be your bed, an armchair, in front of a fireplace, with a dog in your lap, etc.
  • A trusty bookmark
  • Snacks – remember to include some healthy ones!
  • Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.  Particularly for work the next morning.

Tips & Tricks

Setting Goals

Before the read-a-thon even starts, set a goal for yourself, whether this entails reading 300 pages per day, reading 5 books for the duration of the read-a-thon, etc.  Make sure these goals are realistic – if they aren’t, you’re only going to end up disappointing and frustrating yourself.  Additionally, create a list of books that fit the read-a-thon requirements that you would like to read throughout the allotted time period.  These will allow you to remain focused and driven, even at 4am when you’re contemplating whether you should start a new book or go to bed and get a whopping two hours of sleep.  Posting your read-a-thon goals and book list on you blog, twitter, goodreads, etc. will also serve as a motivating factor.

Choosing Books

Try to select short books.  I learned fairly quickly that 700 page classics were not ideal for completing my read-a-thon goals.  Also be sure to identify books from a variety of genres so you don’t burn yourself out reading solely fantasy or mystery.  Trust me, you don’t want to be reading the same genre, even if it’s your favorite, for the entire read-a-thon.  Also be wary of the number of books you are challenging yourself to read.  Again, be realistic, and don’t try to out-read other participants.  I generally select 5-6 books maximum for a 24-hour read-a-thon and 12-15 for a week-long read-a-thon.  These numbers tend to vary depending upon what else I have scheduled during the day/week, so remember to take that into consideration as well.

Technology Isn’t Always Your Friend

Share your progress with other participants, but know when to put down the phone or laptop.  Social media can be fairly distracting and will easily cut into your reading time.  Therefore, set aside ten minutes every two hours, for example, in which you will permit yourself to respond to texts and emails, tweet about the amazing new book you just started, etc.  Set a timer for a designated period so that you don’t lose track of time, and then get back to reading the second the timer goes off!  Facebook can wait.


Stock up on snacks and meals ahead of time, whenever possible.  You don’t want to be repeatedly making trips to the grocery store during the read-a-thon and taking away from precious reading time.  You can also prepare or purchase meals in advance that simply require you to pop them in the oven or microwave for a few minutes.  This can be a huge time saver, so you may want to look into it for future read-a-thons.


Naps are your best friend, particularly for 24-hour read-a-thons.  A sleep-deprived reader is never a happy one, and exhaustion can actually slow you down considerably.  Therefore, don’t skimp on the beauty rest!

Having Fun

And most importantly, have fun!  Remember that your progress throughout the read-a-thon does not define you.  Yes, there will be individuals that will complete 18 books in a 24 hour time period, but there is no requirement or expectation that you must fall into this category.  Read at your own pace, and don’t succumb to the overwhelming pressure that tends to accompany read-a-thons.  If you’re ultimately disappointed with the number of books you read or your pacing, you’ll get ’em next time.  There’s always going to be another opportunity that will allow you to attain your reading goals or to simply improve from your previous read-a-thon, so don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t work out as planned.

Now go kill your next read-a-thon!

If you have any additional tips or suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
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I am a senior in high school and an avid reader/reviewer, horseback rider, and graphic designer.  Since a young age, I have fostered a love of reading, beginning with my forays into the Nancy Drew series.  I’ve branched out significantly in my reading tastes since then, and my favorite genres include young adult, romance, mystery, and thriller.  I’m constantly trying to expand my horizons, however, so I do dabble in other genres.  While I’m not reading, I volunteer at a hippotherapy center and a veterinary clinic, practice agility with my dogs, play piano, and sketch.
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