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2022 TBR Masterpiece Challenge

Our next readathon will be happening in October. Between now and then, we have a new challenge to keep us busy. But, by this part of the year many of us are already knee-deep in potential or ongoing TBR-related projects. So many books, so little time! A well-crafted readathon TBR can go a long way towards getting us closer to finishing our many reading goals.

Phase 1: Assembly

Step 1- Gather up all the books you have already started or that you are ‘currently reading’ for this year. Part of your mind has already been involved with those books, so just finishing some of them may help you feel less stressed. I often include at least one of the books I have been ‘currently reading’ for long enough that they have stalled out. Even if I just get a few more chapters done during sprints, that is often a worthy enough accomplishment

Step 2- Gather up all the books you have borrowed from the library or from friends/family that you are supposed to be reading soon. If you have a LOT of borrowed books, you may need to stick to library books, or just books you’ve been borrowing for the longest, or that you took custody of most recently. Just as with books you’ve stalled on, borrowed books can be great for sprints. They may also be a lure to get whoever you borrowed them from to participate in the readathon with you.

Step 3- List all the reading challenges and book clubs/groups you are involved with this year. Many of us try the Read Harder, 52 Books annual challenge, PopSugar, Book Bingo, etc. Many of us try to keep up with online or in-person book clubs, too. By this part of the year it can seem impossible to even come close to reading all the books for all the prompts in our challenges, and many of our book club books languish unread for months or longer after their official month is past.

Step 4- Decide how many books to include in your pre-readathon and readathon day TBRs. Do you find it stressful looking at a large TBR stack? Does the idea that you can’t get to them all keep you awake at night? Than be more sparing in your stack making. Think about how many days it usually takes you to finish a typical 200pg novel, and for the pre-readathon TBR work out how many days you have til the readathon. Based on these guestimated averages, set your pre-readathon TBR to be at most 1-3 books more than your guestimates would suggest (#days til the readathon/#days it takes you to read a 200pg novel = pre-readathon TBR).

Some of us are mood readers too much for a small TBR to work out. We can make a small stack, and even stick to it for a little while, but even in a 24hr readathon we wander off and read pretty much everything but what is on our TBR stacks. I am often in this group. I often choose a couple genres, plus borrowed books, challenge/club books, and ones I am ‘currently reading’. In each genre I pick about 5-10 books to be in my TBR stack, especially for pre-readathon weeks. When I get close to the actual readathon, I usually choose about 10-15 books from what is left on my original pre-readathon TBR. I might add a few random extra books, but I try to limit my TBR to no more than 20 books for a readathon. That usually gives me enough variety that I stick to my stack (mostly) during the readathon.

Step 5- Make your TBR. Post a photo of your TBR on social media so we can all admire your selections and be inspired to add new titles to our own stacks.

Phase 2: Reading

Now that you have a shiny new TBR, it is time to dive in. If you, like me, read every day anyway, you may simply ease into your TBR by continuing whatever book you were ‘currently reading’ last. Here are some ideas if that doesn’t seem satisfying enough, though….

Buddy Reads- If other people are also reading a book you are reading, you get people who can chat with you about your book, and you all might be more likely to finish it. The trick to these, if you feel like you have too many commitments already, is to choose a book you already have or want to have on your TBR for this event, probably a book you actually have on hand so that there is no need to wait for holds or shipping while everyone else finishes the book and moves on.

Reading Sprints- These don’t have to be official, or shared, though we do occasionally have ‘official’ hour long sprints during our readathons, and we often have sprints that one of us posts on social media. These are an easy way to focus on reading during a busy schedule. They also make it easier sometimes to focus on boring or difficult books. To do a reading sprint all you need to do is decide how long your reading sprint will be- 15min, 30min, an hour, etc.- and start reading when the sprint time starts. It works better when you silence your phone and ignore all distractions during the sprint, of course, but if this doesn’t work out don’t worry. Try again when you can, and after a while you may find it easier to focus on your reading when you want to or need to.

Reading Relays- These are a bit like reading sprints, but are usually a series of sprints, based on either time or page numbers/chapters. Set up a small stack of books for the number of sprints you have time for. For sprint 1, read the first book in the stack. At the end of that sprint, switch to the second book for sprint 2. Book 3 is for sprint 3, book 4 is for sprint 4, etc.

I like this game for rainy weekend days or sick days when I have nothing to do but read and relax (and do housework, I suppose). I set up 3-5 categories, with 2-3 books in each category. If I have 3 categories, I go back to book 1 for the 4th sprint, and cycle through the first 3 books til I finish them. If I finish book 1 during its second round, in sprint 4, then the next time that category gets its turn I move to the next book in that category. If by the end I have completely finished one of the categories but barely made a dent in others, that is a great indication that my actual reading appetite may require more books from that category for a while(really helpful when I am in a reading rut). If whole books are a bit much for the time you have, I’ve also played this game using different short story collections for each ‘category’.

Fall Pre-Readathon Reading Challenge

  1. A non-fiction book.
  2. A book with more than one poem in it.
  3. A play written by a woman.
  4. 5 books with autumn colored spines or covers.
  5. A short story collection by an author who did not publish a full-length novel.
  6. A book by Stephen King, John Grisham, Clive Cussler, Louis L’Amour, James Michener, Michael Crochton, or Robert Ludlum.
  7. A book by Anita Shreve, Jane Smiley, Barbara Kingsolver, Jan Karon, Pearl S. Buck, Jane Austen, or Edith Wharton.
  8. A book set on each continent (7 total- North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica/Oceania)
  9. A book about the future, published before 1960.
  10. A book from a series of more than 3 books.

This list would have us reading 20 books to finish all the prompts, though if you wish you can of course combine some of them to read fewer books. If you run out of books to read before the readathon and need a few more prompts…

A. A book that was mentioned by, or being read by a character from one of the books you read for the first 10 prompts.

B. A non-fiction book about a place or subject that featured in one of the books you read for the first 10 prompts.

C. 5 books by one of these authors- Georgette Heyer, Arthur B. Upfield, Ngaio Marsh, Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Sue Grafton, Alexander McCall Smith, Susan Wittig Albert, Boris Akunin

D. 3-5 books by one of these authors- Andre Norton, Julian May, Joan D. Vinge, Michael Moorcock, Ben Bova, J.D. Robb, Larry Niven, Robin Hobb, Jack McDevitt, Mercedes Lackey, Kim Stanley Robinson, Octavia Butler

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Book Report Challenge, Part 6

We’re in the final 4 hours of this readathon, so it is time for the last segment of the Book Report Challenge. For this last assignment you’ll be making something, and sharing it on social media.

Option 1: Make movie posters for each of the books you finished/read during this readathon.

Option 2: Make bookmarks for each of the books you finished/read during this readathon.

Option 3: Make a mobile illustrating a favorite scene from one of the books you read during this readathon.

Option 4: Prepare a food or drink inspired by or mentioned in one of the books you read. This could be from a recipe included in the book, but does not have to be. If you choose this option, tell us what you made, how it relates to the book, and provide at least a basic idea of the recipe. A photo of what you made would also be lovely.

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Book Report Challenge, Part 5

Getting to know the characters:

Pick one or more characters in your current book. For each one, answer the following questions.

  1. What book(s) would this character have on their readathon TBR stack?
  2. What would they choose as their readathon snacks?
  3. Who or what would their reading buddies be?
  4. Would they complete the full 24 hours, or modify the hours to suit them? Would they only read a couple hours and get bored or busy?
  5. What distractions might pop up for this character during the readathon?
  6. Where and how would this character keep track of their readathon? Would they be posting on facebook? Writing in a cute molesking notebook? Broadcasting live on their own video media channel?
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Book Report Challenge, Part 4

What happened next?

Have you finished a book yet during this readathon? This challenge works best with a book you have finished, or that you are nearly finished with. Your assignment is to write, chart, or draw the next chapter(s). Tell us what happens next in the main plotline, or to one of the characters, etc.

For example, if your report is on Hamlet, you might focus on what poor Horatio did after the last curtain. Now that the king and queen and Hamlet are all dead, and the Norwegian king, Fortinbras has turned up, does Horatio stick around to help? Does he leave Denmark? Is he going to be haunted for the rest of his life by the mess that the royal family of Denmark made of things? Does he write off Denmark entirely, move to Sweden or someplace nice and warm like Spain or Algeria where he can marry and settle into a career of some kind? Does Fortinbras stick around to sort out Denmark himself, or does he send his annoying cousin to manage Denmark? Or maybe one of Ophelia’s companions happens to be Hamlet’s cousin and is now the woman to marry to become the new king. There are so many next chapters possible, and you can tell your version in whatever direction you wish.

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Book Report Challenge, Part 3

Retelling the Story: For the book you are currently reading, imagine you have been hired to rewrite your book replacing all the human characters with something else (hedgehogs, robots, fish, gnomes, orcs, cats, etc.). Pick a scene from the book and rewrite it using these modified characters. OR … Draw out a series of cartoons to show this scene using the modified characters.

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Book Report Challenge, Part 2

Chart the structure of the book you are reading. Who are the important characters? What is the setting(time, place)? What is the basic plot? What problem(s) is central to the plot, and how is it resolved? Do the important characters get what they want/need?

There are some fun printable pages on Pinterest (and thus all over the Internet) for this sort of basic book report. Here’s one that might be helpful for this challenge, though if you browse Pinterest or some of the sites these graphics are posted on, you may find others you like better. Or, make your own version. Many of these printables are also designed to be colored, so pull out your crayons or markers and have fun decorating your book report.

This nifty printable comes from a site called Classroom Doodles, which has a lot of great book report graphics.
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Book Reports Challenge, Part 1- 2022 Reverse Readathon

When was the last time you had to write a book report? For this readathon we are heading back to grade school and completing some bookish activities to show off what we have been reading. There will be 6 parts to this challenge, spaced out every 4 hours throughout the official readathon. If you are starting at a different time or extending your readathon to 2 days (or any other modifications you’ve made to personalize your readathon) you can still do this challenge. Share your completed activities on whichever social media site you are using to post your readathon stuff.

If you are reading multiple books for this event, this first activity will be for the first book you read to kick off the readathon. If you are only reading one book, you may do all 6 activities on your one book. Your assignment for this first book: Draw a picture to show what your book is about.

October 2021, readathon

Hour 15 – Laughing with the Spoopy

I’m not a fan of scary stuff. There, I said it. I was the kid who had to leave the theater during Jurassic Park! I don’t handle scary stuff well.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" Scare Master (TV Episode 2015) - Photo  Gallery - IMDb

Over the past several years my SO has been working with me on being able to watch scary stuff. I’ve learned that I can handle scary stuff better when there’s a strong sense of humor with it. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” was the first scary movie I watched the whole way through because there were a lot of opportunities to laugh off the fear and paranoia. I can’t play scary games but I sure can watch them being played by funny people.

Resident Evil 7 speedrun has best scare of Games Done Quick - Polygon
Awesome Games Done Quick 2018

When I read scary books, it’s the same deal. World War Z left me with nightmares for a long time, but Tales From the Gas Station was so enjoyable I want to read the rest of the series. Basically, if you’re gonna scare me, let me laugh some of it off!

How about you? What’s your relationship to the spooky and scary? Not your for (which is perfectly fine)? Your lifeblood (which is perfectly fine)? Somewhere in between (also perfectly fine)?

Enter your finished books into the DATABASE here!

Cheer your fellow readers!

Join our Goodreads or Facebook or Reddit groups!

Watch for posts and stories on our Instagram!

Tag your posts with #Readathon on all your social channels 

October 2021, readathon

Hour 14 – Get up and Stretch

The past couple of years I’ve really been experiencing the importance of regular physical activity (i.e. I’m old!). This Readathon I’ve got a bunch of stretches from physical and occupational therapy to regularly work through to make sure I don’t cramp up mid-‘thon.

Crazy Night Time Leg Cramps with Hepatitis C – I Help C

Yeah, I know, sitting around for 24 hours just reading sounds like a dream! But reality does still have a say in these things. So take this opportunity to get up, walk around, stretch, whatever you need to remind your circulation system to keep going strong.

Jokes Yoga-na Love - GoComics

Mid Event Survey

Enter your finished books into the DATABASE here!

Cheer your fellow readers!

Join our Goodreads or Facebook or Reddit groups!

Watch for posts and stories on our Instagram!

Tag your posts with #Readathon on all your social channels 

October 2021, readathon

Hour 13 – Non-Book Hobbies

Do you have non-bookish hobbies that you incorporate into your readathon plans? I love to crochet, so when I assemble my TBR and snacks for a readathon I also choose a project or two to work on during audiobooks. If I manage to complete all 24 hours of the readathon, which I have done for the past couple years, I usually spend about 5-6 of those hours on audiobooks, sometimes more. In that much time I can finish several hats, or a scarf, or even a basic shawl. Realistically, I am also doing admin stuff and social media for some of that time while listening to my books, but it’s still a great opportunity to get some serious stitching done. Eventually the cats get annoyed at my not going to bed and they wander off to sleep without me, and I can actually finish an hour of crocheting without even once having to take a ball of yarn away from one of my furry helpers. I have been getting into cooking a bit, too, lately, so I also picked up ingredients to make a quiche and some baked Brussels sprouts, and in an hour or so I might make some healthy food while enjoying my audiobook. I could see this becoming a habit too, picking a recipe or two to try during the readathon. After all, while you are waiting for the oven timer to ring, that’s a great time for a short reading sprint. Mid Event Survey Enter your finished books into the DATABASE here! Cheer your fellow readers! Join our Goodreads or Facebook or Reddit groups! Watch for posts and stories on our Instagram! Tag your posts with #Readathon on all your social channels