Readathon – Our experience of the reading challenge

Who has time to read a book nowadays? Next to university and working we barely have time to sit down and relax. It is even harder to find some quiet time when you can truly dedicate yourself to get lost in a book, without the distractions of the world. So we decided to forcefully create a time like that. We challenged ourselves to spend a whole day reading, and this is how it went.

Written by: Annamária Rátki, Nóra Balog, Réka Márton

Fantasy and the hammock in the sun – Annamari

The idea of reading all day sounded like an absolute dream to me. Although spending it exclusively JUST reading, made me a bit worried. Sometimes I get distracted and without noticing it my phone is in my hand. So my main goal for the day was to keep my focus on my books.

I started my day with Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising; this is the last book of her fantasy series Shadow and Bone. I’ve already started the book so a tuned in on page 132. Honestly, it was a perfect way to get completely emerged in the Grishaverse, as she calls the fantasy universe she created. The Shadow and Bone trilogy is about Alina Starkov, who discovers a power inside herself, like no other. She is destined to save her world but it will test her love and place in the world.

I finished the book around 3 p.m. I did like it, but it won’t be my favourite fantasy series sadly. To avoid spoilers I will just say that I wasn’t fully satisfied with the ending, and how the main conflict got resolved. Alina is not my favourite but I absolutely adore the side characters in this series and I feel we could have seen more of them, but alas this book was exciting and enjoyable.

After finishing that book I quickly decided on my next read, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I’ve read American Gods by him before, which is one of my favourite books ever, so I went in with high hopes. And god it did not disappoint. It is an urban fantasy set in London, or I should say two Londons. Our hero Richard gets from London Above to London Below and he has to do his best to survive in a world full of magic, intrigue and danger. I only read the first 100 pages but I can’t wait to continue, and I would highly recommend it.

Overall, I loved this day. It was sponsored by 3 cups of tea and a snack break. I would definitely do it again. I strongly suggest finding a comfortable place to read at. Personally, I changed places 3 times, settling for a hammock in the garden, which was the best thing ever. I propped up my head with a pillow and flew far away on the back of those pages. I was once scared out of my mind by a cat sneaking up on me but otherwise, 10/10 would recommend.

A well organized day – Nóri

I used this challenge to read a novel and study those readings I have skipped recently. I was so relieved to think: oh my god, I will have a whole day that is dedicated to books, just like when I was 9 years old.

So I started to read the third part of the Kirov Saga trilogy. The trilogy tells the story of the fictional Kirov family through the brutal history of Imperial Russia in the 19th and early 20th century. It caused me a joyful excitement as it always does when entering the world of an unknown story. Later, I read short stories from Lu Hszin’s The True Story of Ah Q for my literature classes too. They were kind of little “snacks” during the challenge.

The day was marked by a special excitement. I was determined. My book had to be returned so I couldn’t get distracted by my phone or some unimportant thing. I was focused and it made my time more organized. I was tired too and sometimes lost my concentration. When that happened I went for a short walk to refresh myself. It definitely helped and I was motivated to continue reading. I feel it helped me to figure out how to give my free time real value, forget my problems and give up my bad habits. At least for one day.

The day I got lost in the 19th century – Réka

Let’s start with the technical part: I loved that I didn’t have to plan my day. I got to focus on one thing and I didn’t have to worry about my not-always-so-good time management skills. When I finished a chapter and started to think: „What should I do next?” I realized that this day is about reading, nothing else. So I got back to the story and enjoyed the book.

I started my day with A gyanú (The Doubt) by Zoltán Ambrus – a book about a lawyer who loses his mind because he couldn’t trust his wife who was his protegee before. I won’t spoil it for you but it has a shocking ending. It’s a short story so I finished it soon enough to have time for another reading, A délibábok hőse (The Hero of the Mirage) by László Arany. The main character is a man who always gets excited, sets huge goals then calms down and nothing happens. Needless to say, he didn’t achieve much of the things he planned during the story.

Both stories I read were written in the 19th century. I wouldn’t say I ’chose’ them because I had to read these for school but I’m glad I selected these from my list. My reading challenge day became a time travel day. Maybe we can say I got even further away from reality.

Concentrating for a long time is a little bit hard but once you get lost in a good book it gets easier. However reading all day is tiring for your eyes, your brain and some muscles – since you sit for the whole day. So if you want to try this challenge at home I definitely recommend having some breaks. I changed places too and went outdoors once the afternoon turned sunny. The fresh air is good to get the brain cells working. Meanwhile, the good weather can cheer you up, which is especially necessary if you choose a depressing book.

I think I would do this again. I managed to get far with my planned reading and felt really productive. Also, reading can get you out of your head: no worrying, just an interesting storyline. You think about the characters’ dilemmas instead of yours and stop overthinking your everyday things. You can feel relieved after you put the focus on something other than your actual problems and you get the energy to feel motivated again. It’s like a day off – something we deserve every now and then.