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Binge Reading

The idea of a binge read or a binge watch or a rapid consumption of everything about a creator is very popular these days. I am guilty of it. I have discovered an author, read perhaps two books, like both, and decided I must read everything they have ever written.

Some authors that is simple enough maybe they have a library of ten or twelve books. Some authors that would be an epic undertaking as some of the great names of fantasy and science fiction have dozens or even nearly a hundred books to their name.

Should we do it though? Should we binge read? (Let’s separate it from should anyone binge watch TV which is I would argue very different.)

Authors would certainly appreciate the idea. It’s a dedicated reader, who will seek out everything they ever write and then follows them being sure to scoop up every morsel that falls as they go. That’s a vote in favor of it I suppose.

Can we burn out on an author? Can we read so much of one author in a row we start to see how they craft stories, predict something of what comes next and possibly even grow bored of their formula? It has happened to me before. I won’t name the author, but I read about ten of their books in a row and began to realize I could see the forest through the trees. I understood why they did what they did, and something about the books were lost. The wonder, or the ability to have the wool pulled over my eyes faded a little. Let’s call it a point against binge reading.

On the other hand, I have had the experience of discovering an author from a book written in the middle of their career. I then decided to binge read their books, and discovered their initial books were not as good! That shouldn’t be surprising really. Like all skills the more we do a thing the better we get at it. Still, it was so strange to see one of my favorite living science fiction authors write something so… bland? Not bad, certainly worthy of publication but not the standard my previous three reads had warranted. But then I kept reading their work up to the present day, in order, and found that within a handful of books the polish was there and then their newest pieces far exceeded my expectation. Maybe a point for binge reading to enjoy that journey of evolution?

Last if you read at a normal pace, even fast, and call it a book a week, binge reading an author might take up your entire reading profile for a year for some prolific writers. Are we leaving something behind by reading the one source so exclusively? Are we failing to identify other books we night have wanted to read by other people? Perhaps this is a point against such voracious single point consumption.

For now, I’ll admit I'll continue to binge read. I have a completionist streak in me. I like to know I’ve read everything from an author I like, but I wonder if perhaps I might be wrong.

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