By request here are some tips to a successful readathon.
Before I get started, I should point out that there are different kinds of readathons. The most down and dirty, in my opinion, is the 24 Hour Readathon, like the Dewey's Readathon that happens every 6 months. There are also 48 hour readathons and week long readathons or even longer. These tips are mostly geared toward the 24-hour ones, but can be adapted to longer readathons as needed.
Define "Success" - Very few people can read for a whole 24 hours. I have seen vlogs of people going for the whole thing, but they are generally considered the real hardcore readathoners. And they are young and don't have to be anywhere. Decide what it is you're aiming for. 12 hours? A certain number of books read? A certain number of pages read? How are you going to measure your progress? This is an important part of the process. Setting personal goals based on your available time and sleep needs is how you keep from feeling overwhelmed.
Pre-plan - Organize your time. If you know you have chores you have to get done, think about moving those things to another day. Or think of ways to maximize your reading time. If you're planning a run, load up an audiobook. If you have to provide meals for other people, plan things that take less prep time, or things that can be delivered. But also know you can't mitigate every eventuality. Stuff happens. Also, try out reading places. And have several options for places to read. That way, if you find out the light is wrong or you're under an overactive air conditioner vent or your dog has decided that is his spot that day, you have plenty of choices for comfy reading nooks.
Prepare a TBR - I find it easiest to pile up smaller books to read for readathons. It's hard to focus on one book for 12 straight hours. If you pick books that only take 3 or 4 hours to get through, you feel more accomplished when you knock out a whole book quickly. This is just my opinion, though. Some people like to focus on one book for the whole thing. Also, think about the topic and the way it's written. For example, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is only 152 pages, but it's super dense and your eyes might be crossing within 30 minutes. I recommend light, fun books for this endeavor. Also, chose lots of books. You don't want to have three books picked out and then find out you hate one. Leave yourself lots of options. Unless you're the kind of person who would feel that you have failed if you don't finish the whole stack.
Have Snacks - A lot of people don't realize that mental exertion requires caloric intake. Make sure you have good snacks on hand. But make sure they are snacks you can eat without looking at it. Ice cream and chocolate cake are not good ideas because a)they are messy and might slop all over the place and b)too much sugar at this time is a bad thing. You can have a sugar high, making you lose concentration, then crash and fall asleep while reading. Also, no cheetos. Unless you don't care about the state of your pages. Dried fruits, pretzels, etc. are good choices. Remember: chocolate melts.
Take Breaks - Remember in college when all the study gurus told you to take a break every hour? It's so hard! Especially when you are really into a book! Also, when I take a break to update to Twitter or something, I get sucked into the threads and forget to go back to reading. Definitely don't turn on notifications. Too much distraction! Maybe you want to take the dog around the block to get some exercise, or make a cup of tea, or whatever gets you off the couch for a bit.
Be Flexible - If you start a book and it's just not working, put it down. You can read that one when you're not doing a readathon. The last time I did the 24 hour readathon, I had a migraine. I read for an hour and a half and fell asleep. Then, my husband's car broke down and I spent most of the day driving around dealing with that situation. I had a much higher goal for the day, but life had other plans. In the end I was just happy that I got to participate at all.
Okay, so there are some things I wish I knew before I did my first readathon. If you have any questions, let me know. If you want links to some of the various readathons, I can hook you up with those as well. Happy reading!!