Kernels of Nonsense: Readathons or Stressathons?

Kernels of Nonsense (2)Kernels of Nonsense is a bimonthly discussion feature where I discuss a variety of bookish or blogging related topics. This week I want to talk about readathons and how, for my very own peace of mind, I’ve been avoiding them.

The ever-popular Bout of Books happened last month and every time it comes up, I contemplate joining. I’ve never participated in this readathon before (I’ve only ever participated in a single readathon since joining the book blogging community), despite its popularity; but ultimately, I decided to pass up the opportunity because, as I reminded myself, I equate readathons with stress.

The idea behind readathons (or at least in this blogger’s mind) is to try to read more books than you would usually read within a given allotted time. For example, if a readathon takes place over the course of a week and you usually read two books in a week, you’d set a goal to complete three or more books. The question that always enters my mind when thinking about these kind of scenarios is what if I can’t accomplish my goal? What if life gets in the way and I don’t have extra time to devote to reading? When do I have time to stop and review these books if I’m thinking about the next book I have to finish before the week is through?

Now I know many of you are going to tell me that I don’t have to set a high goal for a readathon, that I can shoot for my regular two books in a week and still take part. This would make things so simple for me, but I like to make things difficult. My question would be why take part in a readathon at all if I’m not trying to accomplish a goal that pushes me to do more than I would normally do? What is the point of a readathon or “reading sprint” if I do nothing different?

What I’m quickly learning about myself is that I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to these readathons. I’ve only taken part in one readathon. I read four books in a span of a week and was so stressed about it. My goal was four books and nothing, absolutely nothing, was going to stop me. Out of the four books, I only managed to write two reviews which made me feel awful at the end of the week. I really don’t feel that I got anything out of it except for a whole lot of unnecessary stress.

Am I the only one who finds readathons to be a special kind of stressful? Do you join readathons on a regular basis? Do you make an effort to read more than you would normally or do you aim low? Which way is better? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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16 thoughts on “Kernels of Nonsense: Readathons or Stressathons?

  1. It sounds like readthons are really not enjoyable for you, at least the way you see them at the moment. I really like readathons. But not because I push myself to read more, I love the bookish chat and seeing what others read. I will read during that time. But if I don’t read anymore than usual its not a big deal because I enjoy the readathons for what I set out for, and that is the communication. I guess people see them differently, and get out of them what they want. If you see them as stress, I wouldn’t take part until you can devote all your time to one, maybe a 12 or 24 hour one.
    Amanda.
    ps. it will be interesting to see how other people comment about this, good discussion post.

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    • I’m glad you’ve been able to find a nice balance when it comes to readathons and I really wish I could do the same. I definitely think there’s something to enjoy about readathons when it comes to chats and other interactive features, so maybe it would be better to call them readalongs rather than readathons (at least then I’d be more likely to join). Can’t wait to hear what other bloggers think too, thanks for commenting!

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  2. Pingback: Kernels of Nonsense: Readathons or Stressathons? – cherylanne57

  3. If I joined a readathon, I think my family would be without a wife/mom for that duration and likely go hungry. Once I set a goal, I will accomplish it no matter the cost. The family will just have to eat out. 🙂 It’s my internal sense of accomplishment that drives me. Though, I’m also a practical person and would take into consideration all of my priorities. I would likely set a goal that I can achieve, and hopefully no one would go hungry. Readathon sounds a bit stressful when you put it in your perspective. I can see your reasoning for setting a highly standard because what is the point of joining if you read the same volume. You bring up very good points. Great kernels of nonsense!

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    • Yes, Lonna, see, you totally get me! If I set a goal, I’m going to meet it no matter what when it comes to things like this. I think I’m getting better at letting go, but boy is it hard (after all, who needs food when you have to finish a book?). Forget torture, stick me in a room by myself with a book and a timer counting down and I’ll torture myself. Thanks, Lonna!

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  4. I’ve never participated in a readathon before, but I’ve had similar misgivings about general reading goals when it comes to numbers. Goodreads has an annual challenge where its members can set the number of books they were aiming to read for a year. Goodreads then tracks your completion and posts on your behalf when you are done. Last year was my first attempt at really getting back into the reading lifestyle. I figured I could go for 52 (new-to-me, so rereading didn’t count) books. One book a week seemed ambitious enough to keep me engaged (I’m very competitive, probably with myself more than with anyone else). Well, I exceeded the goal by a fair amount and still reread my favorites. This year I thought it would be a great idea to double my goal, making it 104 new-to-me books.

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    • Ack! Posted early. To continue… 104 books is starting to stress me out! I joined an additional book club that reads two books a month and one of my book clubs from last year has started adding an alt read every month (my idea, only have myself I blame). I’m now in 4 book clubs, reading 6 or so “assigned” books a month, and still trying to read all the other books that interest me. Perhaps this is all too much… Given your description of readathons, my penchant to overcommit, and my competitive nature, perhaps I should stay away from them. Great post! Makes for interesting discussion :).

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      • Haha, it happens. I know exactly what you mean with the Goodreads challenge. A few years ago I had this fantastic idea that I’d read 100 books in a year and while I ended up succeeding, I really didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would because I could never pause long between books if I wanted to make my goal. You sound very ambitious with all these book clubs, so I can’t fault you for that. I’m trying to put less stress on myself when it comes to reading challenges and the blog because I tend to drive myself crazy when it comes to these things. Thank you!

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  5. I enjoy the Bout of Books readathon because it’s an entire week, which to me feels less stressful than a one day readathon. I tried the Dewey one, and failed epically. With BoB, I do try to read more than normal for the week, but I set my goals low so as not to stress myself out. If I read more than my norm, than great! I typically do end up reading more because I’m making a real effort to read in every spare moment, lunch breaks, etc. I enjoy it, for the most part. The thing that can stress me out sometimes is all of the challenges and blog hopping that takes up reading time. Depends on my mood that week – sometimes I skip all of that and just focus on reading whenever I can.

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    • I see the Dewey readathon all the time and people are like “Yeah, I just read two books today!” and I’m just like “How…?” That’s a great point, having to blog hop and participate in challenges would take away from reading time and I’m already stressing just thinking about it trying to do it all.

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  6. I think it all depends on how you approach a readathon. Given what you said, I think it will end up stressing you out :p I personally only tried the Dewey one and I had a lot of fun. I went in on it with a goal of finishing 1 book and ended up reading 800 pages (2 books and a graphic novel). I also tried a lot of the challenges and found that I enjoyed that more than reading itself, lol. So yeah, those 24 hours went by quickly and I guess in a way it’s stressful because there were lots going on…but I don’t know, I never really looked at reading as something that gives me stress. 🙂

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  7. I’ve only participated in one readathon since I started blogging and, even though I really enjoyed it at the time, I’ve had little interest in participating in another one. I think that’s because it felt like I didn’t have ANY time to do anything but read. My blog itself was mostly ignored, I recall, and I didn’t watch hardly any TV. Also, I find socializing on twitter utterly exhausting – and I felt like I had to to fully get the readathon effect. While I did read what I set out to, I only really liked one of those books – so that wasn’t the best experience for my first readathon. Every time I see Bout of Books come up again, I feel like I have an interest in it but still haven’t tried again.

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    • Everything else has got to take a hit, right? You can’t possibly do extra reading without it taking away time from something else. Twitter can be so time-consuming! I find myself taking a step back from it because it takes so much effort to keep up to date with everything and sometimes I’d rather spend my free time reading. I’m always tempted too whenever this particular readathon comes up. I might give it a shot in the future just to say that I did.

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  8. Pingback: Monthly Wrap-Up: February ’16 | A Kernel of Nonsense

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