Kris recently wrote a Five Fandom Friday post titled Late-to-the-Game TV Binge Watching Pros, which of course outlines our collective propensities for diving all in on a TV show and watching the entire thing in much too short a time. This is actually one of my favourite ways to experience pretty well anything on television because it means you are just all in on the story and the world that is unfolding in front of you. But last night, while spending my Friday evening binge watching Making A Murderer on Netflix, I started to think about how I actually prefer to experience most things in a bingeing scenario. For example, playing a video game small piece by small piece is not near as much fun as diving in for hours at a time and really following along with the story. And binge reading… I was doing this long before I had ever binged a TV show.
When I was young, I would often spend weekends curled up in bed until dinner time, reading a Nancy Drew mystery. I was 7 or 8 years old, so the fact that I could finish one of these in a day was pretty impressive, I think. My parents would try to haul me upstairs in the afternoon to “do something” with my day, but I always powered through the end of the book before I emerged. In order to thoroughly revisit my binge reading tendencies as a child, I asked my mom to provide a quote on how she felt about it:
I had no issue spending money on the books… the problem was identifying what counted as antisocial behaviour. Reprimanding her for reading a book at the corner of the couch when we were talking or had company over? Having said that, these days I’d much rather be telling a kid to put away their phone and open up a book!
When Kristin was 10 or so I remember her doing dishes after dinner… with a book open beside her.
As I grew older, I found I liked to binge anything I was reading. I swear I couldn’t leave a book unfinished, often forgoing sleep at night to just keep reading. I remember my mom popping into my room at night to make sure I had put my book away. I read often, and I read fast, which means I powered through most typical children’s novels quickly. My mom soon learned to turn me on to a new series to keep me occupied for longer… but this just meant that I would be even more deeply engulfed, plowing through the series as quickly as possible and always wanting more. I read many famous children’s novels over the years from the Canadian classic Anne of Green Gables to every book by Madeleine L’Engle and Tamora Pierce.
I loved the books about magical worlds the very best… this was why Pierce appealed to me specifically. I loved getting lost in Tortall or Emelan for as long as I possibly could in either of her well-known book series, dreaming of being a famous mage or a lady knight. It was so easy to become totally immersed in a story about a different world, and I loved following along on these types of adventures.
When I was 10 or 11, I discovered Harry Potter. In fact, I read the American version the first time around despite being Canadian, so Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was my first brush with J.K. Rowling’s magical world. And from the earliest pages, I could not get enough. I remember being at my grandparents’ place that summer, and after I had quickly devoured that first book which had been loaned by a friend, my grandma went out and bought me the box set of the first 3 books. I probably read them all within a span of 2 days, and I was left to wait for the release of the next novel (which is always the second most excruciating part… right behind when the series actually finishes and you realize you’ll never have a new book). Harry Potter became probably one of the most engrossing book series of my reading career – and this continues every time I decide to pull out the books and read them again.
I continued through high school, reading pretty well everything I could get my hands on, though I had much less time to spend reading during this time in life between school, and figure skating and playing volleyball competitively. Still, I would often curl up at home on a Friday evening with a good book rather than be out doing things I shouldn’t with my peer group… and that book would more often than not be finished by morning.
In university, it became even more difficult to find time to read for pleasure. Between classes, studying, course reading, dodgeball (obviously), drinking, event planning, and my (extremely demanding?ﾟﾏﾼ) social schedule, I only managed to find a weekend here or there to read for fun. That being said, I do remember finding time to power through both Twilight and the Hunger Games books during my time at school, and those were things I certainly got pulled right into.
Since I graduated from university, I have had moments where I could sink into reading in ways I’d rarely been able to since I was a child. I remember powering through every single one of Jane Austen’s novels in about a week at one point, which was a little different for me since it wasn’t a magical land. I also discovered Cassandra Clare’s series – both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. Clare’s books were absolute magic and drew me in more deeply than I immersed myself in years, except for each time I read Harry Potter (which has obviously happened many, many times).
The only other thing that has captured me as completely happened last December, when I finally decided to pick up A Game of Thrones. This was something that I had known that I wanted to read for quite some time, but I had held out because I knew the giant volumes and tiny print in the 5 A Song of Ice and Fire books would make for a bit of a commitment. I started the first book in early December and was done all 5 in less than a month… and by then I was obsessed. Any of you who have been following this blog may remember how much Game of Thrones writing I did in the early part of last year. It was my attempt to lengthen the experience of reading the books for as long as possible. Though I was finished the actual canon story as released to that point, I spent my spare time reading all the Game of Thrones theories on the internet (seriously, all), thinking about the future of Westeros, and dreaming of ways that Jon & Dany could end up together (because I Ship That, hard).
So basically, binge reading is totally a thing, and something that I have been doing for my entire life. Do you like binge reading? What are your favourite books or book series to power through? Do you binge anything other than TV shows? Share in the comments!