Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Confessions of a binge reader

Since this is Tempting Tuesday, the day we talk about the books we're reading, I figured this was a good time to make a confession. I am a binge reader. I have what I'm afraid could be a serious addiction.

Now, I don't mean that I just read for a few hours every night, or that I have to have to have a book with me at all times. (I consider that normal and harmless behavior.) What I mean by binging is that when I find a book that has an emotional pull, one that gives me a sort of "rush," I read it over and over (and over!). Back to back readings, three or four times in a row. Sometimes I'll stop in the middle of the book and even read a particular page multiple times.

After a few readings, of course, the impact has lessened enough that I can finally put the book aside (although as with any addiction, I continue to think about it a lot). Invariably, though, I pick it up again several months later for another few readings. I have books on my keeper shelf that I have literally read dozens of times.

Sometimes this is a stray book I've discovered. Other times, I read everything a particular author has written. Right now, for example, I have a serious addiction to Jennifer Crusie novels. I can't count how many times I've read Bet Me, Manhunting, and Anyone but You. I've done the same thing with the older Amanda Quick and Kathleen Woodiwiss stories, just to name a few.

I have other books on my keeper shelf, of course, ones with plots or characters I particularly admire, various mystery series, books written by friends, and so on. And I do pick them up occasionally and reread them. But those aren't my binge books. They don't give me that same emotional rush. When I'm in the middle of a binge book I can't wait to get back to it. Like a true addict, I'm just passing the hours until I can read it again.

Can anyone relate to this? Am I weird and dysfunctional? I have to admit that I'm not seeking help. I actually like this addiction, so please don't offer a cure. But since I've always got room on my shelves for another binge book, if you have any to recommend, I'd love to hear about them.


Nancy Morse said...

Well, it beats binge eating. At least you won't put on unwanted pounds. Dysfunctional? Nah. I've been known to watch the same movies over and over again until I have all the dialogue memorized.

Lois Winston said...

I have to admit there are very few books I've read more than once, although there are many I would like to if I had the time. The trouble is, there are too many books I want to read and haven't had time to read yet. So it's hard to justify taking the time to reread a book -- even a favorite.

What I find, though, is that if I'm reading a book that really, really excites me, I can't stop reading until I'm finished with it. That often means staying up nearly all night. And that wreaks havoc on the next day!

gailbarrett said...

Lois, you are probably a normal and healthy person:))) I doubt many people reread books like I do. And you're right -- it does limit the quantity that I read. But since I'm a fast reader, I do read a lot of different books as well. That's one of the good things about going to the RWA national conference -- all those free books force me out of my binging for awhile and get me to read a variety of books I wouldn't normally pick up.
And Nancy, I do have a couple of movies I watch multiple times as well (such as Love Actually), although my husband tends to do that more than I do. I guess I just like to cuddle in bed at night and read.

L. Faye Hughes said...

Fascinating post, Gail. There are some books that I will reread again and again, though usually not back to back. lol. Anything by P.G. Wodehouse comes to mind. I love the Bertie Wooster and Jeeves stories.

Now, there are movies that I can see over and over again. The most recent one that I saw, maybe five times over the course of a weekend when the DVD came out, was Signs by M. Night Shamaylan. I *LOVED* that movie.


Alexis Morgan said...

It's always exciting to find a kindred spirit! My most recent binge reading was J. R. Ward's Lover Awakened. I enjoyed the first two books in the series, too, but it was the character Zsadist whom I found riveting enough to reread the book more times than I care to admit. I even asked two writer friends read the books so I could have someone to discuss the books with.

I also keep other books on my shelf that I reach for when I'm in one of those moods when I can't find anything new to satisfy me. I know I can count on my "old friends."


gailbarrett said...

Yes, Alexis. I think that's it. You know for sure that you are going to get your "fix" with that particular book, so that keeps bringing you back to it. Very clever to enlist your friends, too:))). You've become a "pusher!"
And how interesting that so many people do this with movies! Thanks for the suggestion, Faye. I will check it out.

Gail Dayton said...

Gail! I knew we had more in common than just the name. ;) I too am a binge reader, of many varieties. I go on binges where I will read 3 or 4 books a day, for two or three days in a row. I go on binges where I read everything an author has written in one of those 3-days-in-a-row things. And I also binge like you, where I read the book three times in a row. I think the first one that hit me like that was Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi, but since then, it's happened several times.

Oddly, sometimes the books with very intense emotional impact are the ones I can't read again immediately. I need a bit of space and insulation from those emotions. THEN I go back and read them again. Others--I read the last page, and turn back to the beginning immediately to start again. But it really doesn't stop me from reading all the other books in my TBR pile. Which grows apace, despite my frantic reading speed... Ah well.

The Other Gail (Dayton)

Alyssa Day said...

I do author binges. I discover an author then must read everything she's written immediately. I'm currently on a Margaret George binge, just finished HELEN OF TROY AND HENRY VIII and getting ready to start MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS. I read her CLEOPATRA first and it hooked me so much that I'm reading about a period that has never particularly interested me (Tudor England) just because she wrote it.

Kalen Hughes said...

I go on comfort-read binges a few times a year. Curl up in bed with five or six old favs and spend the whole day reading. Sometimes I only reread key scenes, then move on to the next book. So I don't think your "dysfunction" is any odder than mine.

Terry Z McDermid said...

I have books I'll read over and over, especially if it's part of a series. I read the first one, then read one and two when two comes out, then one, two and three, etc. Right now, I'm rereading Eloisa James' Essex sisters series, since book four is out.

And my son has inherited some of that habit. He'll read the same book over and over, sometimes just pages (which I do, too). Maybe it goes back to our childhood, the comfort level of hearing the same story over and over. What I loved about teaching kindergarten was sharing the same stories over and over. . . and watching their faces as they wondered if the green eggs and ham would ever be tasted, even though the last ten times he did try them!

(And I keep Love Actually by the kitchen TV and pop it in whenever I'm working on dinner. Just a few scenes can feed the addiction.)

gailbarrett said...

Thank you, everyone. I don't feel nearly as dysfunctional now:)))). And I've made a list of your suggestions. Gracias!