October 2016 Readathon Wrap-Up

Well, I’ve finished my second readathon, and it was everything I expected it to be and more.

I learned so many things. Here are some of them:

•Audiobooks are my friend.

I took two one-hour walks yesterday. They really helped both my mood and my body, and because I had my audiobook, I was still making progress on my reading goals.

Start early and stay late.

This year it worked out that I had Friday afternoon and evening to read, too. This allowed me to spread the twenty-four hours out a little, which I guess kind of defeats the purpose, but does allow me to get some sleep. I got in 5 hours and 48 minutes of reading/listening on Friday, then read from 8am-1am on Saturday/Sunday, minus about 2.5 hours for playing around on the Dewey’s Goodreads discussions and talking to my family on the phone. So, with some rounding, I got in 6 + (17-2.5) = 20.5 hours of reading this weekend, and I still got a good thirteen hours of sleep over two nights, rather than staying up all night Saturday which would have had me headachy and nauseated and cranky and almost entirely unable to enjoy my reading.

I’ve got a couple more hours of free-ish time today, so I’m going to do a little bonus reading and see if I can’t finish up at least one of the books I started.

Snack in moderation.

If I feel sick to my stomach while I’m reading, I associate the nausea with the book. The Clan of the Cave Bear series got me through morning sickness with my first pregnancy, during which I read all but the last book in the series, which wasn’t out at the time. By now, the last book in the series has been out for years, but I still can’t bring myself to read it. Just thinking about it plunges me into that feeling of unending nausea, and it’s totally not Jean Auel’s fault. During Readathon last April, I had lots of yummy, high-fat snacky things to munch while reading, which were delicious but left me feeling a bit queasy. This year, I kept the mindless eating to a minimum, and my belly thanked me for it. I should not have had that afternoon coffee, though. Ugh.

Pick fewer books.

I get all excited when I get to make up a to-read stack, but my eyes are always bigger than my reading time. I would have done better this year to have two novels, one graphic novel (or two shorter ones), and one audiobook (or two if they’re short). The nine-book sprint I did early on was fun, but having fewer books would have allowed me to dig deeper quicker and feel like I was making more progress. My page-per-minute pace for fiction is about 1 ppm (probably slower for Ulysses or Moby Dick, but I’m unlikely to choose those for a readathon). My graphic novel/graphic memoir pace, at least based on how I did this year with The Complete Persepolis, is about 1.7 ppm. I can use that data to help me choose a realistic TBR for the April 2017 readathon.

Draw a picture.

wp_20161023_08_43_27_proOr, a chart. I tracked my day in my bullet journal, but I felt like having a visual representation of how much I’d read. So, I did end up drawing a chart and coloring it with my son’s colored pencils. This brought me more pleasure than I could have imagined it would have. I might need to do something similar to track my reading during non-readathon times, too.

•Pick more scary stuff.

I forgot how much I enjoy spooky stories, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman really hit the spot on Friday afternoon/evening. Straight-up genre horror doesn’t really do it for me, but myth-based, literary horror really satisfies. I’ll need to find myself some more of that for April.

•Kick out my family.

Or at least find them somewhere else to be while I’m reading. I could kick myself out, I suppose, but I find that I really, really like being in my house and reading when it’s so deliciously quiet. I miss them and can’t wait to huggle them all, but oh, how I love the quiet! Not to mention that I cleaned the house on Friday, and it’s still clean! I wonder if it’s really the readathon I love or just the extended alone time.

I participated more online this time than I did last April, mostly on the Dewey’s Goodreads Group, and while that provided a diversion and a pleasant break from reading, I’m not sure how much it enhanced the experience. I know there are a lot of people who seem to feel deep connections through the interactions they have online, but I just don’t really feel it.

I did enjoy the discussion topics, and those that highlighted similarities and connections between readers, like the questions about childhood favorites and about our favorite reading weather, were fun for me to answer and somewhat satisfying, but they still didn’t feel like “community.” I suspect that I would need a paradigm shift to find satisfying community online.

So, bottom line: Readathons are awesome, and I definitely plan to participate again in April 2017!

11 comments

  1. Pingback: 2016: My Year in Books | Imperfect Happiness
  2. Lori · November 3

    Yes, think about it! I do have a seed of an idea, but it’s not really novel-plot size. That never held me back before though 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Bookends: October 2016 | Imperfect Happiness
  4. Lori · October 24

    Sounds like you accomplished a lot. 20 hours of reading almost non-stop! I think I should try it just as an exercise in fending off distractions and focusing on one thing for longer periods of time. I don’t know if I’m able to do that anymore.
    And a big YAY for having you as a buddy lover of literary horror!

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    • Charity · October 26

      Yay, indeed! I’ve been trying to find other literary and scary titles. Have you read Grange House by Sarah Blake? I see mixed reviews for it, but is seems to be a gothic-style ghost story.

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      • Lori · October 27

        Haven’t read it. Anything with a house at the center of it sounds good to me. I’ll put it on my list too.I wished I had other recommendations for you, but really most everything I read lately falls short. Have you read The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon? That was a good one.

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      • Charity · October 27

        I hadn’t heard of The Winter People, but it’s on my TBR now. One of the comments says it’s like a book I loved in childhood (Richard Peck’s The Ghost Belonged to Me), and that in addition to your recommendation has intrigued me. It really is difficult to find a high quality, literary scary story, isn’t it? Neil Gaiman’s got some good stuff, very grounded in myth, which is satisfying to me. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger was pretty good, too. The ending disappointed me, but there are very few endings I find satisfactory.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lori · November 2

        It is difficult, right? I heard some commentary somewhere that one of the reasons could be that the horror genre is not suited very well for novel length but does much better in short stories. I don’t know if I agree with that, but anyway, yes, litterary horror is a rare gem. I am getting Her Fearful Symmetry from the library. Never read it. I guess the reviews were not too good when it came out and I was so in love with the Time Traveller’s Wife that I couldn’t imagine anything even getting close to that. But I am going to try it now, since you reminded me of it. I can’t read Neil Gaiman, though, because of my reading only women rule. It’s still working for me, although my dedication is starting to waver a bit.

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      • Charity · November 2

        After reading a Book Riot list yesterday, I added a couple of scary novels by women writers. The one seems like pretty simple genre horror (and published by Harlequin Teen, to boot: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics) but the other one seems promising as a literary horror novel. It’s The Good House by Tananarive Due. I don’t know that horror isn’t suited to the novel length, but I do think it takes considerable skill to maintain tension for the duration of a long work without resorting to cheesy tricks. I’m hopeful that, now that I’m looking with more purpose, I’ll be able to unearth more literary horror. Working together, we’re sure to find some! (And if we can’t, maybe we can write them ourselves.) Oh, and I picked up the new Shirley Jackson biography. Once I’m done with Tana French’s In the Woods, I’ll start that one.

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      • Lori · November 3

        Okay, you asked for it, I challenge you to write some horror. I am actually working on some scary short stories right now, but it’s nanowrimo anyway, we can start some novels. What do you say?

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      • Charity · November 3

        I walked right into that one. I did think about doing nanowrimo again this year, but I’m not sure I have the time, if I want to sleep this month. And if I write horror, chances are I’ll sleep even less. But who needs sleep? The limiting factor for me is the same as it always is: a complete absence of plot ideas. I can think of scary scenes, images, and situations, but a novel really needs at least a little bit of plot. That said, I’ll mull it over.

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