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Reader Confessions – Book Binges

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It starts with this urge…a strong urge, but then I indulge, and it becomes an obsession. Feeding it doesn’t seem to sate it until I’m so far past normal consumption. While this could easily be a reference to my love affair with brownies, it’s not. It’s about books…and my book binges.

It’s not just reading itself that justifies the term “binge” though, when I go on a book bender, there’s a lot of reading that occurs; it’s the nature of my reading choices. I crave certain books–by genre, by subject, by author, and sometimes by trope. Reading outside of what I want, doesn’t satisfy me–it feels like work, rather than an escape. It’s like eating a roll when the person next to you is eating cake. (Annnnnd now I want cake. Dang it.) I have to force myself to read outside of what my heart really wants.

When I’m in a serious binge, reading a book that is lousy–makes me need to read a dozen more to remove the sour taste that book left behind. Eventually, typically, I max out, and I can move on, but until then the obsession drives me.

For the past few months, my binge of choice has been flawed characters–characters with more to overcome than most. Romances with characters with disabilities or mental illnesses. I’ve read three books about agoraphobic characters alone. Dozens are scarred in some way. Many are Beauty and the Beast retellings. Characters with Asperger’s. Characters who are blind or deaf or mute. I think it’s my recent struggles with OCD that have me craving stories I can connect to–love stories that require a lot of work. I just did a rough count and I’m 50 books in…and I have about another dozen or so on my Kindle still to read, and I’m still looking for more. I can feel the momentum slowing slightly. The intensity fading. I might be out of this binge soon.

Past binges have been: suspenses, gothics, Mid-grades, Fairy-tale retellings–not just Beauty and the Beast, amnesia stories, body-language books, writing-craft books, werewolf stories, Regency-era romances, Agatha Christie mysteries, books set in New Orleans, forced-to-marry stories, sociology stories, classic Sci-fi, Christmas anthologies, Halloween anthologies, and YA princess stories. However, I think this is the longest binge I’ve been in.

Do other readers do this? Not just a reading binge, but like this? I’ve never known if it was the nature of my OCD to obsess about this as much as other things or not. It feels like an obsession. It’s a rolling boulder with too much momentum to stop. I have the same unnatural and not quite healthy feeling like when I write obsessively and write fourteen hours a day for a week and a half. It feels so wrong…and yet so right.

How about you? Do you binge on books?

(If anyone is interested in the books I’ve been reading, I can post a list including the love story’s obstacle to overcome and which I recommend. They’re all romance thus far and mostly historical.)

9 Responses so far.

  1. Truthfully? Yes, I’ve binged, though not quite to your extent. When I was younger, I.e. living at home and before kids, I would occasionally find myself reading 8-10 books in a specific genre or by a certain author. At one time I whipped through all my mother’s Barbara Cartland’ s (at that point there were only 126 of them). So, yeah, I know what it feels like. I haven’t been able to indulge much over the past (cough) years, although I did just finish up a short binge (only about 6 books) on Victorian/Edwardian servants: some memoir, some non-fiction, and a few novels.

    Just go with it, Wendy. ;-)

    • I’ve read some Barbara Cartlands when I was a teenager. I read them aloud to my great grandmother to make cassette tapes for her to listen to. (Macular degeneration and thus blindness runs in our family.) I remember finding them formulaic back then…but I also remember running across the character name…what was it? Geez, now I can’t remember. Something unintentionally immature and inappropriate and I filled one minute of her cassette tape with hysterical laughing over the name and then I giggled every time I was forced to say it. Thankfully, it was a secondary character. I heard my great grandmother enjoyed my reading of that book. I think the character name was the most interesting part of it if I remember right…they were fairly…silly and simple, but maybe I was just pretentious and snooty. *shrugs* I should read a Barbara Cartland now just to test that theory.

      • Suzanne Lucero says:

        Yes, they were/are very formulaic: virtuous female falls for (choose any adjective or combination of adjectives and include the word “handsome”) cold/snobbish/rakish/scandalous/heroic/emotionally-scarred male. But within that formula, the details for the specific time and place each story was set in was different. It was sort-of like a mini-history lesson. (If only all history lessons could be given like that!)

  2. Talia says:

    I binge. Likewise I have long periods when I’m very narrowly focused (I went three years only reading Sci Fi, then about 2 years of almost only paranormal books). Suzanne – the Victorian/Edwardian servant books sound WONDERFUL – who wrote them?

    And Wendy – have you read the Ruby Project? Because that’s a wonderful story with flawed characters….

    • Are you remembering the name correctly? I went looking for the Ruby Project and couldn’t find it in books. Can you toss me a link?

    • Suzanne Lucero says:

      Talia, I did a quick check and these are the books I read and who wrote them:

      Below Stairs: the classic kitchen maid’s memoir that inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey; Margaret Powell.

      Servant’s Hall: a real life Upstairs, Downstairs romance; Margaret Powell.

      Upstairs and Downstairs: the illustrated guide to the real world of Downton Abbey; Sarah.Warwick,

      Life Below Stairs: true lives of Edwardian Servants; Alison Maloney.

      Daily Life in Victorian England; Sally Mitchell

      (The two novels I read immediately after reading the above books actually take place a little past the Edwardian period, but I was able to understand the servant’s mindset better.)

      The Mysterious Affair at Styles; Agatha Christi

      The Remains of the Day; Kazuo Ishiguro

      Hope that helps. ;-)

      • My friend read one of those, but I don’t remember which. I read the Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie during my…phase. It was good. Of course nearly all of her books were.

  3. I want your list! I’ll need new things to read during my recovery!

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