I’m currently free from school for the next few weeks, so last week I decided to attempt a 24-hour readathon, trying to read 6 books, equaling about 2,000 pages. I’ve seen a lot of videos on YouTube of this challenge and really wanted to try one myself. You can probably tell by my title that it didn’t go quite as I expected. I filmed this as a vlog style video over on my YouTube channel, if you are curious to see my updates of the day in the moment.
I was planning to start the readathon at 7 AM in the morning and go to 7 the next morning, but I ended up waking up at 4 AM and just deciding to begin then. Thus my day began.
I started reading Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. Published in the 70’s, it’s considered one of the great early fantasy series, and my family has all read it. It follows a young woman Lessa who seeks to gain revenge on the man who killed her family, only to find out she is a dragon rider with the help of another dragon rider, F’lar.
By 6 AM, I had finished this book. I ended up really enjoying it. There is this weird, slightly rapey scene, and I didn’t care that much about the romance, but I loved the world and the action!
I stopped briefly at this point and went to get some tea and a quick snack, as I was starting to get a bit hungry. But quickly I returned with sustenance in hand and started on my second book.
The second book I started was Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict. This book came out at the beginning of 2020, and my boyfriend gave it to me in January as a birthday present. I really wanted to finish it before the New Year. Thus why I added it to my challenge.
It follows the married life of Clementine Churchill, wife of Winston Churchill, from their marriage in 1906 to the end of the WWII in 1945. It tells a probably familiar story to many from a perspective most probably don’t know, of the woman who advised and cared for Churchill as his political career grew. Clementine was an incredible woman!
Again, I read this book in about 2 hours, finishing it just before 8 AM in the morning. I really adored it, and gave it 5 stars!
I took a quick coffee and breakfast break after that, and then got back to my third book, Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, a Martyr in Mao’s China by Lian Xi. This nonfiction historical book tells of poet Lin Zhao, from her birth to execution, as she strove to find her voice in the changing climate of China and ended up being executed for writing out against Mao’s regime in 1968.
In yet another 2 hours, I had finished this book. At this point I was pretty sure this challenge would turn into 12 hours instead of 24, as I had already completed three books in six hours.
But I loved this book, even if it is incredibly serious! Lin Zhao became a Communist in college and followed Mao until she began to realize how harmful his beliefs were and started writing against him, at which point she was arrested and imprisoned for 8 years before she was executed. Also, the blood letters in the title comes from that, when she was in prison, she would prick her finger and use blood to write poems and letters to family. Pretty sad.
It was currently almost 10 AM, and I started my fourth book, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This follows two sisters from Ghana, one who remains in Africa and the other who is sold as a slave to America in the 1700s. It then follows their successive generations all the way until the modern era.
I finished this book in about 1 hour (I confess I starting skimming a bit by the end), and it was the first book I didn’t enjoy. I still gave it 3 stars, because I loved the historical context and how it documents different experiences of African people from the 1700s to the modern day. But my main problem with this book was that each chapter follows a new character in the next generation from the previous one. I would just be getting to know an whole new set of characters and then be thrown to another set. It really made me lack connection with any of the characters, which in turn made me distanced from the emotional impact of the story.
It was just after 11 AM at this point, and I started White Fang by Jack London. After getting a hundred pages in, I took a break for lunch. A half hour, I came back to finish this book.
I think at this point I was suffering from reader burnout a little bit, so I turned on some Christmas ambiance on YouTube to get me invigorated. I finished this book just after one.
White Fang tells the tale of a half wolf, half dog, who must survive in the wilderness and then endure human abuse before finding happiness. It is kind of the opposite story of Call of the Wild, which came out a three years before this book. I loved that book, but this one felt like a repeat of that one. I still enjoyed it, but I wanted a little bit more uniqueness.
Finally, I started my last of the six books. City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underground of Old Shanghai by Paul French tells of two white men who came to power in Shanghai prior to the Japanese invasion in ’37. This is the second book I read by Paul French, as I also read Midnight in Peking, about a white woman’s death in Peking (modern Beijing) in the early 20th century.
I finished this book at 2:30, making this challenge completed in a total of 10.5 hours. I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t like how French didn’t cite any of his sources. That’s a big red flag for me in a nonfiction historical book. Anyways, besides that, it was interesting and I enjoyed all the pictures.
I was kind of floored with how many books I read in such a short time. Usually my attention span is not that great, but it really taught me how much I can push myself and how I can keep my concentration for a long time.
I really enjoyed this challenge, and I’m planning to do a week long readathon in early January too (which won’t be quite as hard), which I’m looking forward too. More on that later.
Do you enjoy doing readathons of any kind? Have you read any of these books or do any of them look interesting? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,