Reflections on 2016 Readathon

Yesterday I participated in Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon for the first time since 2010.

It was a last minute decision. Less than 24 hours before the official start time, I reviewed my Saturday agenda and realized I was free most of the day. I’ve talked for months about reading more fiction, but fail to follow through. This seemed the perfect opportunity to jump-start a new reading routine.

I originally selected eight possible books, a combination of Halloween and Christmas, short stories and full-length novels. Obviously I was in the mood for thematic literature, just uncertain as to which holiday.

I set my alarm for 6:00am, but indulged myself another ninety minutes sleep. I began reading at 8:15 … about an hour after the official start time. I decided to begin with a collection of Victorian Ghost Stories and focused on that genre for the entire day.

I knew I wouldn’t read for the full 24 hours. I am simply too old to pull an all-nighter anymore. Back in the day, I would set a goal of reading 24 hours throughout the weekend… but I’m too out-of-shape for that kind of reading rigor. I set the goal to read six hours on Saturday, and a stretch goal to read twelve hours throughout the weekend.

In the end, when I retired for the night at 12:15am, I logged the following results:

  • Total minutes read: 355
  • Total pages read: 210
  • Total ghost stories: 13 (fitting number… don’t you think?)

 Not impressive, but a good showing.

I also discovered a few personal insights:

1. I need to allow myself to read for pleasure. Yes, writers are readers and I do read a lot. But I read to study. Even when I read fiction, I read as a writer, trying to learn how to develop character, tension, riveting plot. I constantly have a pencil in hand, and make frequent markings. Yesterday I refused to pick up a pencil. I read to escape… and I loved it!

2. I’m not a speed reader, and that’s ok. I like to savor the words and sink into the setting. I like prolonging the suspense and anticipating the resolution. This slower pace may not allow me to read as many books as I’d like, but I will thoroughly enjoy each one.

3. I prefer novels, but short stories are enjoyable. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I don’t read short stories. I mean, I read those assigned in high school, but that’s about it. I decided I would stretch myself this readathon and try a new genre. While I feel I can more easily escape into a full-length novel, I like the fact that I complete a short story in about a half hour. A perfect before-bed alternative.

4. Social Media adds a fun dimension. In the past, I would share my reading progress via this blog. I didn’t mind that, per se, but it took too much time to write post and then visit other bloggers to read their updates. This year I posted to Instagram every hour or so. It took less than five minutes to take the shot, and with the #readathon hashtag, I could easily connect with others before returning to my book.

5. My Bullet Journal is a good place to document my reading progress. I’ve admired many of you who have kept lifetime records of your reading progress. What a wonderful literary heritage you can review and share with others. I’ve wanted to create a reading log, where I keep a list of the books I’ve read along with a brief review, but I’ve never followed through.

Yesterday I decided to use my Bullet Journal (a system I started six weeks ago and LOVE)… I wanted to keep track of time and pages read. I kept it on the table next to my reading spot, and took just a few minutes after each story to document the stats. I love looking at yesterday’s progress, and I know when I review these pages months and years from now, it will bring back fond memories of a relaxing day.

All-in-all, the readathon was a success. I became reacquainted with my love of fiction, my need for literary escape, and my desire to broaden my reading interests. I look forward to taking part in the next readathon in April, 2017. Will you join me?


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