Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Binge Reading?

Gradually, over the last four or five years, I've starting watching television in "binge" mode.  That is, I hardly ever watch a series until it has been around for at least a couple of years, much preferring instead to watch the shows one after the other over a period of just a few weeks.  The chief benefit of binge-watching is that the storyline remains so fresh in the viewer's mind throughout the experience that it is much easier to appreciate the intricacies of plot and the evolution of characters over the span of the series than would otherwise be the case.


Right now, for instance, I'm working my way through the wonderful PBS series Downton Abbey (I'm half way through Season Three) and enjoying it immensely.  I really doubt that a weekly viewing of the shows, followed by a gap of several months between seasons, would have convinced me to watch much past the mid-point of the first season.

But I never expected to become the binge-reader that I am today.  When I discover a worthy series of novels that I've come late to the party for, I find myself reading the entire series (be it three books or a dozen books) in relatively short order.  That's how I read Timothy Hallinan's great Poke Rafferty series and his shorter Junior Bender series.  Now I'm in the waiting mode on those.  That's how I read Crag Johnson's whole Longmire series, and now it appears that will be the way that I read Elena Ferrante's four-book Neapolitan series. In Ferrante's case, I finished the first book in the series a couple of days ago, have the second one on order from a bookstore, and have placed holds on the last two at my public library.

I wonder if that type of reading is a trend among avid readers around the world.  It is, I suppose, another reflection of how technology has managed to alter past behavior and habits that have been entrenched for decades.  And this is a change that I like.

Anyone else out there doing this kind of reading/watching?

Post #2,557


6 comments:

  1. I definitely do binge-watching, but binge-reading is something I did more often when I was younger. I'd start a series and plow through huge chunks of it, sometimes to the point that it would ruin the series for me, like eating a particular food too many times in a row. I think that's part of the reason I don't do it as much anymore.

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    1. Good point. The only negative thing I've noticed about binge-reading is that it soon becomes easier for me to spot an author's little tricks of the trade - or when they start repeating themselves in thinly changed plots. I noticed that a bit with Johnson's Longmire series, in fact. But overall, I think I enjoy a series more when binge reading it and I've been tempted to go back and read some of the series that I have already read the more traditional way.

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  2. :) I, too, am a binge-watcher. My binge reading sometimes occurs with a series, but it also can include a topic, a location, or an individual!

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    1. I've done a bit of that type of binge reading, too, when a topic really grabs my attention and refuses to let go. I remember how when I first became interested in Civil War history I read close to twenty books in a row on the subject. Everything just seems so much clearer and relevant when binge watching or binge reading, I think.

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  3. This is a fascinating commentary. My own experience has included moments of binge watching and reading, but none that lasted very long. I caught up on the first few seasons of Downton Abbey that way, and watched the first four seasons of The Good Wife. Likewise I have seldom been able to binge on reading a series by any single author or topic. I remember devouring Stephen Donaldson's trilogy in my youth and had brief affairs with Thomas Hardy and Erle Stanley Gardner. In recent years I completed the cycle of Dickens' novels, but nothing else that compares. My reading style is too eclectic to accommodate more than that.
    While not in binge mode, one thing the years have abetted is my ability to gradually read most of the major works by my favorite authors.

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    1. You bring up a good point, James: binge reading of the classics. I hadn't thought of until you mentioned it, but I'm doing some of that, too, this year with John Steinbeck. I've already read five of his books this year and I'm about to finish In Dubious Battle. Reading (and re-reading) all the work of classic authors was one of my goals for the year and, honestly, I'm a little surprised that I'm actually doing it.

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