As glorious as a good readathon can be, there are also so many reasons not to do one. Weekend plans. Spring cleaning. Your next Netflix marathon. Gardening. Every minute in the day — every hour that goes by — something pops up to bump reading to the bottom of your list of priorities.
Now, when we do our Feminist Book Club Readathon, we obviously don’t expect people to read for 72 hours straight. Or even for all of their waking hours. Rather, we invite people to dip in and out of reading when they can, in a way that feels good to them. The Readathon is just that extra push you might need to carve out time for yourself and connect with your fellow readers.
But if you find that all of life is conspiring to keep you from your book stack, allow me to make some suggestions.
Roadblock No. 1: A Needy Partner
It can be difficult for partners to connect during the workweek. My husband and I both work from home and yet we’re still like two ships passing. We spend our days at opposite corners of the house, buried in work tasks and meetings. In the evenings, desperate to decompress from both work and parenting, we spend our free time apart.
So when the weekends arrive, there’s this obligation to do things together, whether that be watching a movie or going for a family walk or, I don’t know, sexy time? What do normal couples do?
If your partner is aching for some couple time but you’re desperate to have a very special date with that book on your nightstand, there are a few things ways you can play this:
- Set them up on a playdate with that person with whom they’ve been meaning to hang out. Encourage them to go mountain biking with their friend across the street or to have their other friend over for drinks and chit-chat on your back deck or whatever it is that makes them happy. With that to look forward to, they won’t give a crap how you spend your time.
- Promise to make it up to them the following weekend with a very special outing or a movie marathon or, I don’t know, sexy time?
- Schedule a date night during the workweek. That way, there won’t be the same level of urgency to maintain your intimate connection on the weekends alone.
- Batch tasks. Block off time for reading and time for togetherness. Talk about it ahead of time, so you can manage expectations.
Roadblock No. 2: A Needy Child
I don’t know about you but, as a work-at-home mom, it’s tough to set boundaries between my work life and my personal life. And so, my daughter is forever bursting into my home office, begging me to play pretend with her or watch a show with her or make a fairy garden with her. Sometimes, she plants a walkie-talkie right inside my doorway and then attempts to communicate with me from the living room.
If I had a dime (or even a penny) for every time I’ve said, “Not now, sweetie. I’m working,” I wouldn’t have to work anymore.
So, on the weekends, there’s this expectation that all the barriers to togetherness are gone, and that we can now do ALL THE THINGS in ALL THE TIME that exists. Because, obviously, “me time” is not a thing anymore.
How to find time to read?
- Consider reading together. If your offspring is in the optimal age range, you may be able to find a chapter book that’s entertaining for the both of you. For example, our town does this district-wide reading thing every year, where everyone reads the same book together over the course of a month. This past year, it was The Creature of the Pines from the Unicorn Rescue Society series. Every night, my daughter and I took turns reading a chapter to each other and, even though it was a middle-grade book, I still found it to be delightful. Consider doing something similar during the Readathon to fulfill your kid’s togetherness desires until they grow bored and wander off to do something on their own.
- Let the screen be your babysitter. Once they’re in front of it, the entire house could be coming down around them and they wouldn’t care.
- Hide in the bathroom with your book. Say you’re pooping. Don’t forget to lock the door.
- Competely betray your partner by telling your child to ask them about going to the swim club or playing video games or going bike riding. Lean into your partner’s guilt over the fact that they’re such a workaholic, they spend even less time with your child than you do.
- Do Quiet Reading TimeTM in the evening. This is a thing I do when my child wants to spend more time with me but we’ve already made it through her entire bedtime routine and all I want to do is read a book until I pass out. I have her pick out her own book and then we sit side by side in bed together and quietly read. Sometimes we share a bowl of popcorn.
Roadblock No. 3: Beach Weather
It is gorgeous out and, well, shouldn’t you take advantage of the weather and go on a day trip down the shore or spend a few hours at your town swim club or stroll through a farmer’s market? As an indoorsy person who struggles with underboob sweat, to that I say: Fuck no. (Am I allowed to swear on here?)
If you’re anything like me, I recommend pulling a chair over by the window so you can enjoy nature from afar and enjoy sunshine filtered through glass and enjoy the air conditioning in all its refreshing glory. Hell, if the A/C is high enough, you may even need to cozy up with a blanket and a cup of coffee. Then just put your feet up on the windowsill and read with the knowledge that you’re doing what makes you happiest. That’s what I’d do.
If you think I’m a monster and love frolicking about in the hot soup of summer, may I remind you that, as Stephen King once pointed out, “books are a uniquely portable magic.” Bring them to the beach. The park. The hanging chaise longe in your backyard. Read it at the playground while your child runs feral. You can totes enjoy the weather and your book.
Roadblock No. 4: The Dust Bunnies Under Your Bed (and Other Chores)
Household chores and outside-of-the-house errands are another one of those things that often get shunted to the weekend. The thing about chores, though, is that they’ll always be there. You’re never done.
The Readathon, however, will not always be there. In fact, the Readathon happens only once a year. Treat it like the rare treasure it is and also maybe don’t look under your bed.
You deserve this.
Roadblock No. 5: A Reading Slump
Do any of you ever go through those periods where every single book you pick up feels meh? And so, you go through, like, 20 books where you only read the first 20 pages before giving up? And then you don’t know what to do with yourself because, apparently, all books are terrible?
There are a few tactics I’ve found to be successful to knock me out of a reading slump:
- Try a genre you’ve never tried before. Google “reading challenges.” Pick up a pack of TBR Cards. Push yourself outside of your reading comfort zone and you may find yourself to be pleasantly surprised.
- Read something fast and light. When I’m going through a slump, I speed through a bunch of graphic novels or turn to my go-to genre: horror.
- Hit up the library or your local indie and load up on a book for every possible mood you might find yourself in. (I like to do this even when I’m not in a reading slump.)
Roadblock No. 6: The Belief That You Need to Be “Productive”
All the best things in my life — reading, yoga, playing my ukulele — often fall by the wayside because I constantly carry around this belief that there’s something else I should be doing, whether for my household, my husband, my child, or my career.
But as a yoga instructor/friend once said to me: “Don’t should on yourself.”
This roadblock obviously ties back to Roadblock No. 4, but it’s important to reiterate this. If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself and do the things that light you up, you won’t have anything left inside of you to give to anyone or anything else.
So give yourself permission to readathon the hell out of this one long weekend.
You deserve it.