Good afternoon bookish mateys! I know that it’s been a while since I have taken the time to post a non-reviewish bit of rambling, and you have my sincerest apologies for that. Truthfully, I have found myself swimming in one hell of a reading mode! I have been finishing one book only to find myself immediately thrust into another. Delightful would be the perfect word to describe it, but it has turned me into a bit of a hermit. But hey, when you have books, lots of tea, and kitties, is there really anything else that matters?
A very distinct reason behind the bibliophilic madness is that I have recently discovered bookish events called read-a-thons (aka RATs). You’re probably chuckling at my naiveté for just now finding out about these community-type of events. I had seen a few posts about them on the social site, GoodReads, but I had unthinkingly assumed that it was strictly for people who’re professionally involved in the bookish world, such as authors and publishers. I know, how silly of me. Well, I found two of these RATs very recently and jumped right into them head first! I decided to write about my experiences with it—the good, the bad, the hideous—in case if there are some folks out there who, like me, have heard of them but haven’t partaken as of yet. Maybe my tips and experiences can help nudge you toward one. I definitely think they’re worth trying out, especially if you’re looking to improve or gauge your current reading skills. So, without further ado, let the ramblings begin!
The first read-a-thon that I participated in was called Genrethon. It was run by four fellow booktubing ladies, (Brittany, Joce, Kristyn, and Lauren), who did a fantastic job. The RAT ran for an entire week, from April 10th until April 17th. The goal was to read as many books as we could with a couple of rules. The first rule was you had to read at least three books total; the second was that we had to read from three separate genres. The intention for such an event was to help readers expand their reading repertoire and to check out books that were generally out of their comfort zone.
I ended up reading six books total from four separate genres. Two of those genres definitely shoved me out of my familiar and comfy space as they were things that I almost never find myself being interested in at all. The titles consist of:
- Klaw: The First Cycle by Antoine Ozenam: Graphic Novel.
- Golem by Lorenzo Ceccoti: Graphic Novel.
- Goosebumps #3: Monster Blood by R.L. Stine: Middle-Grade.
- Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami: Magical Realism & Japanese Literature.
- Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemy’s Table by Ted Dekker & Carl Medearis: Religious Non-Fiction.
- Umrao Jan Ada by Umrao Jan & Mirza Hadi Ruswa: Memoir & Urdu Literature
If you couldn’t guess from the list, the two novels that tossed me into awkward central were Tea with Hezbollah and Umrao Jan Ada. I actually can’t remember the last time I picked up a book that was religious non-fiction. It’s exceptionally rare for me to find a non-fiction book that genuinely peaks my interest. So, when I told my roommate and best friend about this reading challenge, he immediately handed me the title. I was extremely skeptical at first, but when I began reading it, I found it engrossing (to an extent). There were some issues that I had with the writing style, as well as the overall content, but all in all I did realize that I’m not as opposed to religious texts, or even non-fiction ones, as I originally believed.
As far as Umrao Jan Ada is concerned, it was my first memoir (also non-fiction, ha!). The simple reason for why I don’t read biographies and the like is due to the fact that I just don’t have a lot of people, famous people mind you, that I find to be exciting enough to devote time and energy towards learning about. The reason I chose this particular treat to be my first had a lot to do with my cultural upbringing. I had to learn Urdu as a child so I could communicate with my grandparents, who had a huge hand in raising me, and I’m absolutely obsessed with learning more about my roots, my background and heritage, and I had never come across an Urdu novel that had been translated into English! I also remember watching the movie for this memoir a very long time, so naturally, that was a bonus.
Genrethon was out to make you discover new realms for reading pleasure and it totally succeeded where I’m concerned. I’ve been researching some religious non-fictions that I think (hope, really) won’t bore me, or offend me to the point that I’ll toss it against a wall. I’ve also looked up a few Indian celebrities that I admire in search for more memoirs to devour. Luckily, I came across a relatively new one from an actor name Emran Hashmi where he sits down and talks about helping his son fight cancer. I’m going to need a few hundred boxes of tissue; I just know it. The feels will sucker-punch me for sure.
I feel that many of you bookish people may already know about this particular event, as there was a massive amount of tweets and Instagram posts about it prior-to and during. But it’s quite straight forward: everyone started reading at the same exact time around the world and we all read for 24 hours straight, stopping at the same exact time as well. What’s neat about Dewey’s is that they list time zones for all of the major cities on their website. So, for example, if you live in Australia you’d be starting at 10pm and readers in California would be starting at 5am. This event was relatively more focused on the community side of a RAT.
I visited the website and I signed up to be a reader. You had a few options as to what role you wanted to play when you signed up. You could choose from being a reader (you sit down and read and read), or something called a cheerleader (a list of readers’ social media contacts was provided and you went around cheering them on with personalized messages). There were a couple more, but alas I can’t remember them. Now, you didn’t have to sign up to participate. I’m sure there were tons of silent readers around the world. Signing up just kicks you into the social sphere of the whole shindig. There is a new event coming up in October and if this sounds like your gig, check out the website here!
I shall confess with complete honesty that I didn’t get around to reading nearly as many books as I wanted during this RAT. An ugly combination of exhaustion and having a nasty little cold made it difficult for me to focus, which totally blew because I was extremely excited for it! I only managed to read one book. However, I will definitely be participating again in October as it takes place two days before my birthday. It can be a mini-pre-birthday-celebration, and I intend to kick some ass this time around!
By doing these two bookish events, I came to understand a lot about myself as a bibliophile! I tend to read slower than most people, but if I really sit down and focus, I mean like seriously sit down and just give in to the book wholeheartedly, I read a bit faster than I’m used to. It doesn’t feel exhausting or overwhelming because at that point it’s truly natural and rather relaxing. Usually when I read, on any other day, I always keep one ear out for whatever life may toss my way while I’m divulging. But these fantastic sprints gave me a reason to just not care for a little while.
Because I’m English is my third language, I mentally translate certain phrases that I don’t comprehend on the first try into a language I do understand (like Hindi) so I can get the whole picture and plot. When I just let myself fall into the title, the need to translate diminishes quite a bit. I suppose that’s due to the fact that I’m enthusiastically absorbed and not needing to reiterate certain details.
There are a few elements that I will take into consideration and practice the next time I hightail it into a RAT, mostly because I feel it will only assist me in being that much more efficient with my time, getting as many novels onto my belt as I can muster. These are listed below! J
- Create a realistic TBR (To Be Read) list. The reading lists that I created for the RATs became over-ambitious and in the end I felt it weighed me down. I wasn’t getting through all of the books and it was making me depressed, sucking the motivation out of me. It’s okay to have a smaller TBR. If I complete it, even surpass it, it will leave me feeling that much better about myself and the event.
- Write up some motivational sticky notes. Having a few notes around to glance up at when I start to feel my energy waning, or if I start to second-guess myself will be a great picker-upper. It’s also useful to have around in case if someone else is going through a bit of a drab in regards to the event. A few nice words can go a very long way, whether for myself or a friend.
- Create a stock of ready-made snacks and foods. I kept forgetting to eat, which led to some bitching headaches. Having some packages of chips, dried fruit, cookies, or whatever snacks that you find re-energizing is always a fantastic idea. Also, investing in some fast meals (frozen pizzas, or pasta with ready-made sauce) will cut down on the time I’ll spend on cooking, which will cut into my booky-time.
- Take frequent breaks, especially to hydrate. It’s okay to take a break every thirty minutes to an hour. It will be less straining on the eyes and provides a great opportunity to get replenished. Keeping hydrated will also help prevent headaches, or other icky sicky feelings. Whenever I forgot to gulp some liquids I remember getting rather queasy. No bueno.
- IT’S OKAY TO DNF (Did not finish) AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT BOOK. I was reading a book that I absolutely could not get into, but I felt bad putting it down. I felt that I was cheating somehow. But Joce (squibblesreads on YT) gave me fantastic advice. The entire point of a RAT is to have fun while you’re reading. If you find yourself with a title that is just not clicking with you, close it up and set it aside. Move on to something new. You’ll feel less stressed about it and it will prevent you from getting discouraged. JUST HAVE FUN! If the book is sapping your happy vibes, chuck that sucker. IT’S ALL GRAVY!
Alright friends, I know that I have prattled on for about three days by this point. Yet, I sincerely hope that this dangerously looooong account of my read-a-thon experiences and realizations can help you in your future RAT escapades, or even motivate you to join along. They are great ways to meet new people with similar interests and to amp up your reading game. I have a few friends who generally get so busy with work and school that RATs are their only means for personal reading time. Whatever floats your boat, as long as you’re having a grand ol’ time.
Thank you for tolerating this article the size of Canada. I’ll work on shrinking my future bumblings. 😉 Until next time mates, happy reading!