Whenever the Read-a-thon is on its way, I see people posting photos of their heaping stacks of books. I see reader advice telling people they must accumulate a pile of choices. And I feel a little out of step because more often than not, my Read-a-thon pile is small. Just one book.
I’ve always loved long, immersive novels. A book of seven hundred pages or more is no big deal. I can get lost in a book that long, and getting lost in a book is the very best reading experience. But how to find time to read these books when I’m snatching an hour here and an hour there? It can take weeks. What better way is there to make tremendous progress on a big book than to spend a day with it?
I’ve tried the more typical Read-a-thon approach of building a stack of books and getting through as many as possible, but it’s nowhere near as satisfying as spending the say immersed in one world. For me, it takes time to get absorbed in an author’s world, and making that transition several times during the day leaves me feeling scattered and unsettled.
Building a one-book Read-a-thon stack is not as simple as choosing a single book and sticking with it. You have to be thoughtful about your choices. So here are a few tips for choosing a good book to spend the day with.
- Stick with an author you like. Some of my best Read-a-thon experiences have been with favorite authors. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 was an especially good choice because he’s an author I almost always enjoy.
- Choose something with lots of plot. A long meandering character study may not have the forward momentum to keep you going. This is also probably not the time to finally get around to Infinite Jest.
- Be attentive to type size. The year I read The Count of Monte Cristo was tough because the book’s type was so small that my eyes tired out easily. Ever since, I’ve tried to select books with a nice large type and plenty of white space on the pages.
- Ignore “books read” totals. This is good advice for everyone, really. The first time I read a single book for the Read-a-thon, it was discouraging to see people knock out three short books when I’d barely read a fourth of mine. I had to constantly remind myself that my book 750-page classic with smallish type was the equivalent of 5 or 6 short YA novels with large type and generous white space.
- Have a back-up plan. Sometimes your one book just won’t work. Your eyes will get tired or your interest will flag. In that case, I generally avoid starting an entirely different novel, but I will sometimes take a break with a graphic novel or comic, a short story or essay, or perhaps a few poems. If the book is a total failure and I know I won’t finish it, then I feel free to start something else. So far, I haven’t had to do that, but I always have a back-up choice or two in mind.
Is there a nice, long book on your TBR list? Why not make it your Read-a-thon stack this year?
Thanks to Teresa from Shelf Love for this awesome post to kick us off!