Readathons, Readalongs, & Reading Challenges: Love Them or Hate Them?
So I just participated in Bout of Books this past week, and before that, readathons were brought up for discussion in a Facebook group for book bloggers that I’m in. People talked about why they liked or loved readathons, or why they didn’t, and someone also mentioned readalongs. And it got me thinking about readathons and readalongs and reading challenges: Are these great ways to challenge ourselves to read more or more diversely, or are they just ways of setting ourselves up for failure?
I guess it all depends on how you approach these things. They each kind of have pros and cons. For me, I enjoy all three for different reasons, but I can see why each would be difficult for others.
For example, as a stay-at-home mom and SUPER SLOW reader, readathons are often a great time for me to get a lot of reading in. I let the hubs know ahead of time that I’m going to need to read most of the day/week/whatever, and that way I know I’ll get to read a lot. Sure, I usually have to read short stories or graphic novels during that time to make any kind of progress, but those are books that I want to read, and also want to get off of my TBR list. And most of the time, I also write reviews for those books, too, so it’s a win-win-win. But I often can’t participate in some of the readathons other than Dewey’s and Bout of Books, because I just don’t have the time. And I can see how others might not have time to do these kind of intensive readathons. (Related: Check out how I prepare for readathons. It’s a process, you guys.)
With readalongs, I enjoy reading a book at the same time as others. I was in an awesome book club before I moved and we met monthly, picking one book for us all to read each month. It was really fun to get together and discuss the book, because everyone would always have different points to make. So with readalongs online, I can still read a book at the same time as others, and discuss it with them as well. It’s not the same as having a local book club, but it’s still fun! But I can also see how readalongs might not be a great fit for others–maybe you’ve read the book but it’s been a while and you don’t have time to reread, or they’re reading a book you’re not interested in, etc. (Related: My best blogger friend, Jessie, and I have started an online book club on Goodreads and we want YOU to join! Find out more info here.)
Reading challenges, I think, can be the most rewarding and the biggest let down, as well. I love signing up for new reading challenges each year, and I sometimes want to participate in the monthly and seasonal ones, too, but I often find out about them late or don’t really have the time to change up my TBR pile for that time period. And when you complete those challenges, it makes you feel really great! You’ve accomplished this goal! You’ve read 50 of the books off your own shelves! You’ve read 30 books by diverse authors! You’ve read 100 books this year! But if you don’t complete the challenges, you often feel like you’ve let yourself down. Or at least, I do. But luckily when that happens the new year is right around the corner and I sign up for some more reading challenges, and I can decide not to participate in the ones that I feel will be harder for me to accomplish.
And then there’s the whole situation of comparing yourself to others who are also doing the readathon/readalong/reading challenge with you. It’s hour 6 and so-and-so is already on book 5! That other reader had such better insights on that readalong book! So-and-so has already read 200 books this year and it’s only July! This is the really hard part. With readathons and readalongs I try not to pay too much attention to comparing, but with year-long reading challenges, like the Goodreads challenge, it’s hard not to compare. Especially when you’re a slow reader like me, and you’ve never read 100 books a year in your life. But I just have to sit back and think, well, I can’t compare myself to others. They have a completely different life than I do, they might be super fast readers, and hey, they might be DNFing a quarter of those books, when I only DNF like 5% of the books I read, if even that much. But it’s still hard to not compare yourself to others.
So yeah, I think readathons, readalongs, and reading challenges can each be great for us to get a lot of reading in, or to challenge ourselves to read outside the box or whatever, but I do see how they can have their drawbacks. What do you think about readathons, readalongs, and reading challenges?