I require a stack of readathon books if I’m to go the distance in the Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-Thon tomorrow. After participating in several Dewey’s and a couple of readathons put on by The Classics Club, I realize that a plan and strategy for choosing the readathon books will help ensure success. Take a look at these tips.
Where to find readathon books
While bookstores are an obvious choice, there are a few more places where you can find readathon books, many of them free.
Personal library – Most avid readers have a pretty good personal library. While mine may not reach the scope of the Wren library above, it hasn’t deteriorated to that of the stacks of decayed books pictured from New Orleans. With about 20 bookcases, I do have an over-abundance of books. How about you?
Local library – Unless you’re one of those book-hoarding unable-to-return-a-book on time no matter what — like me, the local library is a perfect place to find readathon books. The majority of marathon reading challenges fit within the lending period and the variety of books available will allow you to spread your bookish wings and sample new authors and genres.
Goodwill, garage sales, and thrift shops – Books are turned in daily by the truckloads to local thrift shops and they are readily available for a good price. Garage sales also provide books for mere pennies.
Friends – Book lovers tend to flock together so a friend is a great resource for that special recommended book.
Free online book resources – I’d be remiss if I didn’t add all these wonderful resources to the list. They’re quick, fast, and free. Today readathon books are readily available at a moment’s notice. Check out Amazon’s free popular classics list. For free access to historical collections, try the Internet archive. Go to the online American libraries, too. The open library has over a million free titles and let’s not forget the great resource of free ebooks called Project Gutenberg.
ARCs – Booksellers and book reviewers also have their ARC TBR stacks to delve into if they want to add a bit of business to the pleasure of a reading marathon. ARCs are those advanced reading copies sent out by publishers to push the handselling and book promotion. TBRs are those tall, leaning to-be-read stacks of books on the floor and tables in any reader’s home.
Tips for choosing readathon books
Go short – A good strategy for readathon books is to bank in opportunities for success. With a 24-hour reading marathon, you want to make sure you can go the distance. An early reading success will provide the a big motivating boost. I like to start with a short book. Maybe a short story or novella, one like Xingu by Edith Wharton or Edgar Allan Poe’s story The Tell-Tale Heart. Novellas like Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Agatha Christie’s Three Blind Mice, or Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are also good short reads.
Mix-up genres – If you’re participating in a long 24-hour readathon like Dewey’s, then you might want to mix it up a bit. Give yourself a variety. I plan to read Alice Hoffman’s recently published short memoir Survival Lessons. Picture books like Bat Jamboree by Kathi Appelt are terrific to read, too. They’re fun and fast. For writers, they contain a lot of how-to-write lessons. Story anthologies like The Best American Mystery Stories 2013 and nonfiction travel narratives such as Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago offer a great change of pace, even humor.
Pull from reading challenges – If you participate in reading challenges like the The Classics Club or the annual TBR Pile challenge or even readalongs like the current Count of Monte Cristo Read-Along, you might want to add a book or two from these lists. Commit to a full read or simply turn the pages for a chapter or two to make progress, or do double-duty and join a challenge and read your first book.
Try different formats – When your eyes tire from the printed page, switch to an e-book or pick up an audio book. One of my readathon books is the audio version of Jill Bolte’s My Stroke of Insight.
Now that you have all these ideas at your disposal it shouldn’t be long before your readathon books are selected. Then it’s simply a matter of either allowing the muse to strike or arranging your books in a reading order that will lead to a day of pleasure and success.
By now you also have an inkling of some of the books that will appear on my final reading list tomorrow. My strategy? I’ll start with a short book to get that motivation going and then switch on and off during the day between genres, styles, and authors. Do use the comment section below. I’d love to hear your books, tips, and strategies for a successful readathon.