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?


  1. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    August 25, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I like the idea of readathons, readalongs and challenges more than I like doing them. I rarely follow through on doing them as planned. I've tried 3-4 different readalongs and they don't work for me because I HATE being told what to read and when to read it. (Sometimes I struggle with this for book club and end up just skipping the book all together because of it.)

    My first year I was obsessed with challenges and signed up for like 10, and I didn't fair so well, maybe completing one or two. I decided not to complete in any challenges last year, but picked up 3 this year and I will definitely be going back to not doing challenges in the future. I start off strong the beginning of the year, but then fall off, and at the end of the year I'm all "Oh well" so I don't see the point. And now that I've finally complete the one challenge that I've been trying to complete since well before I was a blogger (A -Z reading challenge) I could care less about any other yearly challenges.

    I still love readathons, but more for the interaction than the actual reading. I rarely do above average reading during Bout of Books (in fact, often times I do less reading) and I find it hard to have the patience for all day reading during Dewey's readathon. Plus there is so much other stuff going on during Dewey's and I'd rather do that.

    In conclusion, I read when I want to read, and don't when I don't, and no challenge, readathon or readalong will change that!

    (Sorry for the super long comment, but I guess I had lots to say!)

  2. Greg

    August 25, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    I agree with your points. I don't do many challenges, but I do like readathons and readalongs. I just started a re- reading of the latest Game of Thrones book, and anyone is welcome to join, but I know a lot of folks are still earlier in the books or don't have time.

    Readathons are fun, I've done the hoHoho one with Kimba and a few other- I don't always read the most as everyone else but I enjoy it. This is a great post, gets you thinking about all three. :)

  3. Brittany S.

    August 25, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    This is a great question and I am all over the place with it!
    Readathons: I can't join anymore because I will set myself up for failure. I just don't have that much time to sit and read!
    Readalongs: DEFINITELY depends. I usually will join ones for re-reads or a series I've been dying to read and it helps with motivation!
    Challenges: I tried again this year and totally failed. I just need to skip them forever and ever!

  4. The Reading Swimmer

    August 25, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I did my first reading challenge in July and my second last week. I think they have challenged me to read a bit more during that time. The think I have enjoyed most about these is the community of fellow readers.
    In terms of reading goals, I usually set one on Goodreads, but think it's important to be realistic about the goal versus the other things going on in your life and keep in mind that everyone is coming from a different place.
    I find that the goals are useful for me to keep myself on track and always make me feel a sense of accomplishment when I can add another book to the list. Ultimately, this is something that we should enjoy and shouldn't feel like a chore.

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