Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to Win a Read-a-thon


Originally posted on The University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. Visit it here: How to Win a Read-a-thon
Sometimes it’s just really, really hard to fit reading into my week. I get home late and want to go straight to sleep or I want to watch an entire series in a weekend, so I ignore my books. It was especially bad during my first semester at the iSchool. Unlike a job that ends when you go home, school doesn’t have set hours—when class ends, assignments begin.
Then I stumbled upon Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon, a biannual event. For someone having trouble just reading whenever, I had found a goal to help get me back on track. For one day, I would read as much as I possibly could. For one day, I would schedule my reading instead of hoping I had time for it. And it was fun! One of the great things about it is that it is a very social read-a-thon (you can follow @readathon on Twitter). They host hourly challenges and have volunteer cheerleaders to encourage you to keep going all day, sending messages to you via Twitter, Instagram or your blog, so make sure you sign up and include one of your handles.
The next read-a-thon is on October 22nd and I’ll be tweeting along from the ALA/TLA student chapter Twitter account (@ALATLAstudent). Since I hope at least a few of you will join me, I thought I’d share my best tips for getting the most out of a read-a-thon.


1. Set attainable goals.

Honestly, reading for 24 hours straight doesn’t sound like fun to me, but this doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Try thinking of a read-a-thon as a day to read more than you normally would. Ignore your television, your laptop and your phone and spend a little extra time reading—that’s it.

2. Prep your reading pile.

For me, this means stocking up on graphic novels like a squirrel storing nuts for winter, but I’d also suggest collections of essays, stories or poetry. Just because you know you could finish (whichever classic is sitting on your shelf) in as many hours as you plan on reading doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You’ll want a break, so plan things you can switch to that keep you reading and not looking for other distractions. If you know you need frequent breaks, you can also sign up as a cheerleader and send encouraging notes to other readers to help them keep going.

3. Don’t read anything that you don’t love.

This is my goal in general, but it’s even more important during a read-a-thon. Reading something that drags or something you feel you should read will make for a miserable experience. It’s completely fine to recognize that a book—even a great, wonderful, masterpiece like (some book everyone says is just life-changing)—isn’t for you. If we had all the time in the world, maybe you should slog through that book for your own edification, but we don’t, so be done with it. No regrets, no judgment.

4. Include time for stretch breaks.

Even your favorite chair will be uncomfortable after a few hours, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop reading. A quick search for reading stretches brought me multiple yoga-inspired lists of poses that don’t include putting down your book (I like this Book Riot one). Or take it to audio and go on a walk. Audiobooks totally count as reading!

5. Drink plenty of water and have some snacks on hand.

Sometimes I use this need for a snack as a reason to leave the house, but it’s also a good idea to have things you like within easy reach. Just remember that drippy/crumbly things might get in your book, so keep that in mind when making your selections.

6. Recognize your achievement!

Did you read more than you did all week? All month? All year? Go you! Tell your friends, brag about your mad reading skills, tweet it at us! You did great!

I’m really excited about Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon and I hope that you’ll join me on October 22nd. Just because you don’t need an excuse to block off some time for reading doesn’t mean that this isn’t a great one!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Short Stack: September Favorites (Texas Teen Book Festival Edition)


Originally posted on The University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. You can find it here: The Short Stack: September

We are right in the thick of things school-wise, so I took it easy on myself this last month and only read one book.

Totally kidding—I just didn’t sleep!

But this month you get September’s Short Stack AND Texas Teen Book Festival wrap-up. The festival made this month the best of times and the worst of times. It was the best because most of the books I read were incredibly good; it was the worst because the author panels made me want to read about 50 more books. Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo both gave excellent keynotes and I was in the same room as Mindy Kaling, so that is a win.

Waiting to see Mindy Kaling

Laini Taylor's newest book is about a LIBRARIAN

Adriana Mather

1.  How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather: 

Samantha Mather is a fictional descendant of Cotton Mather, but the author is a real one. After Sam’s father slips into a coma, she and her step-mother move back into the Mather family home in Salem for financial reasons. As soon as they arrive, people start dying in accidents and tragedies. With the help of a ghost and notes her grandmother left behind, Sam starts investigating the possible connection alongside the Descendants, living relatives of the Salem witches. I loved this book because it was fun and not too dark, plus it really captured the Salem experience. Salem is a spooky place that is drenched in history and commercialism and where text messages only half send or don’t send at all.



2.  Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:

I made Leigh Bardugo laugh!
The best part of this book is that the second of this duology just came out, so I don’t have to wait a year to see what happens! Set in the same world as her Grisha Trilogy, Six of Crows is the story of how six criminals band together to bust out a scientist from an impenetrable ice castle full of Grisha-hunters. The scientist has created a drug that gives Grisha powers beyond what they can normally do, but is incredibly addictive and burns the life out of them. This story is so well-told that I cared enough about all of the characters and had panic-attack-level anxiety towards the end. That said, I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of Crooked Kingdom even if it does me in.


3. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Pointing out our false teeth!
 Not only was Roshani incredibly lovely, but her fun fact was that she has a false tooth that doesn’t show up under black lights. Fun fact- we have false teeth in the same spot! That’s what we’re pointing at in the photo on the right because we are, as she put it, false tooth sisters. As for the Star-Touched Queen, it has a dreamy quality about it that makes it good for when you have time to really absorb it. Maya is one of the Raja’s many daughters, but it’s her star-based fate that makes her an outsider: Maya is partnered with death, which everyone interprets as death for those who associate with her. With a rebellion against her father forming, he offers her up as a bride to leaders of the angry opposition, but gives her poison to drink after she makes her choice. It will look like murder and give him just cause to go to war. Instead, the suitors lead an ambush of their own and in the midst of it, one of the men offers her an escape. Maya goes with him and becomes his bride, even though her new kingdom is full of secrets, closed doors and no one can tell her why until the full moon.

I had such a good time at the Texas Teen Book Festival. The panels were interesting and the authors are incredibly nice to one another and their fans. I will absolutely go again and, if you’re a YA fan, it’s definitely worth a trip.
Be on the lookout for more information about a read-a-thon later this month! I’m going to try and get some sleep (read until I pass out).