Reading by sunset

Binging with Books

binge-read [binj-rēd]

verb

  1. The act of reading large amounts of text in a short amount of time
  2. The reason you haven’t eaten, bathed, slept, or absorbed sunlight in the twenty-four hours following the release of the conclusion to your favorite series[i]

[i] “binge-read.” the EpicReads.com [glos-uh-ree]. Accessed February 24, 2020. https://www.epicreads.com/blog/epic-reads-glossary/

Used in a sentence: I stayed up through the night to binge-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after buying it at the midnight release party because I didn’t want to encounter any spoilers out in the world.

My joy of reading was first established as a child, racing through books after lights out with a flashlight under the bedcovers (I soon tired of the ever-present crick in my neck and convinced my parents to put a nightlight in my room that was bright enough to read by). Books that I refused to put down for breakfast as a child included Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, and Bridge to Terabithia.

As an adult, there have been plenty of books over the years that I did not want to put down to eat, sleep, shower, or work – whose characters stuck in my head to the point of distraction. I admit to having binge-read every HP title the moment they were released, I raced through The Hunger Games trilogy, and every new Sookie Stackhouse book (guilty indulgence, indeed), but these days, I rarely find myself sitting for hours by the nightlight in my room reading with that same kind of joy. Probably because I no longer have a nightlight. When I have taken hours out of my day to finish a book, it has been because I had to meet a deadline, but in those forced reading sessions, I discovered that same joy, quiet, comfort, and focus that reading, and binge-reading, has provided since I first picked up a book.

If you’re like me, you may have supplanted your binge-reading for binge-watching. I will admit that I have burned through the likes of Friday Night Lights, Weeds, and most recently, Amazon Prime’s Fleabag, so I’m not arguing against binge-watching, but I am making an argument to replace a television show binge with a book binge, at least once a month. Although it might be an indulgence, I think it would bring great joy to readers to carve out one afternoon a month to lose themselves in a book. Forget the dishes, the vacuuming, and the loads of laundry, just for one day, curl up in a cozy chair, and tackle that tsundoku. It is an indulgence I don’t think you’ll regret.

To get you started, here are five page-turners I could not put down this past year:

Cover of Rebecca Makkai's "The Great Believers"

The Great Believers

Author: Rebecca Makkai

One of the library’s Tough Topics Book Club titles in 2019, Makkai’s hard-hitting story about the AIDS epidemic’s devastating effect on a group of young friends in Chicago in the 1980’s has characters that will never leave me.

Cover of Ruth Ware's "The Turn of the Key"

The Turn of the Key

Author: Ruth Ware

Ware is an author whose books I’ve been binge-reading since her first title was released in 2015. She has been releasing a dark mystery every year since, and this 2019 title gave me physical goose-flesh.

Cover of Hank Green's "An Absolutely Remarkable True Thing"

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Author: Hank Green

This was a title recommendation from a fellow staff member, (thank you, Michaela!), that traces the story of a young woman who becomes an overnight media sensation. The circumstances surrounding her trappings were mind-blowing enough that I drained the battery on my device and gladly lost a bit of sleep reading it through the night.

Cover of Amor Towle's "A Gentleman in Moscow"

A Gentleman in Moscow

Author: Amor Towles

Every sentence and every scene in Towles’ 2016 is crafted with such beauty and grace, I was swept off my feet emotionally. The character development is rich and layered and it is a truly unique story that unfolds during a very turbulent period in Russian history.

Cover of Ann Rule's "The Stranger Beside Me"

The Stranger Beside Me

Author: Ann Rule

As a Murderino whose first foray into true crime was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, I knew I had to read Rule’s story about her personal connection to Ted Bundy after episode 61 (I am binge-listening to the podcast, and am catching up as quickly as possible). If you have the opportunity, listen to Ann Rule narrate the book on Libby or Overdrive.

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