Confessions of a binge reader

Sometimes I’ll go for a week or two, or perhaps (gasp) even several weeks, without a book in progress. This sounds like very uncharacteristic behaviour for a self-confessed bibliophile.

Now, before you demand I relinquish my bibliophile status, it’s time I admitted something: I’m a binge reader.

Let’s take a look at the definition of ‘binge’ from the Oxford dictionary:

A period of excessive indulgence in an activity, especially drinking alcohol or eating.

In the context of books this means that when I read, I read. Yesterday I started a book around afternoon tea and finished it before I went to sleep at midnight (breaking for dinner and my son’s bedtime, because while I might binge read, I encourage responsible consumption of literature).

In fact, this last week the Reading Gods were kind. They understood that I’d been through something of a dry spell when it came to my reading. So they graced me with several afternoons of reading when I was on a short break with my family. They understood that daytime sightseeing was the ideal scenario to wear my son out and justify some quiet time on our return. Secondly, it wasn’t my house so I felt no desire to clean or do anything remotely domestic. Thirdly, it was freezing outside. Thank you Reading Gods, you are kind.

Binge reading is not an illness

We all returned from our short break sick (probably something to do with sightseeing with hundreds of other people in the freezing cold). Now, as a mother, having everyone home sick isn’t at the top of my wish list. Despite my blocked sinus and dull headache, I recognised it for what it was: another gift from the Reading Gods. My husband was suffering a bad case of man flu, while my son was over the worst of it and happy enough to keep himself amused (I won’t say quietly because that would be asking the Reading Gods for too much).

Two more days followed of sitting around the house with ample opportunity to read. Usually my son would be begging me to do something, and my husband would be impatient that we go out and do something. My husband also regularly gets frustrated when my head is in a book, but he was too sick to care. Or he might have been dying, I’m not sure. Provided I doled out reassuring sounds of sympathy in response to his occasional dying groan, we were good. And my son is currently on school holidays so hanging out at home feels like a novelty. Praise ye, Reading Gods, praise ye.

Binge reading has advantages:

  1. Efficiency. In the last week I have read six books. Four non-fiction (research for a new writing project), and two fiction (one thriller and a chick-lit title).
  2. No nasty heartburn or hangovers. Unlike binge drinking or eating, binge reading has far fewer side effects. Sure, my eyes are sore, but I’ve got a head cold, OK? No unwanted weight gain or nausea for me. I’ll admit there could be some tiredness if you stay up late reading, but it could be a lot worse…
  3. (Almost) guilt-free indulgence. Provided you time your binge reading right it’s relatively safe for you and those around you. If you’re clever, you can maintain the appearance of regular life. For example, during my binge reading spree I visited the supermarket and cooked chicken and vegetable soup for my dying husband. I did washing. My son was fed and cared for. As for my husband, I’m still not sure if he’ll make it, but I blame that on man flu, not my binge reading.

Within a few days, life will have returned to normal. By normal, I mean busy (where I usually only have time to justify reading a few quick pages while I have a bite to eat, for example).

But that’s OK. I’m good. My recent binge reading stint will see me through. Until the next time that is…

How about you? Do you read sensibly or are you a binge reader?


3 Replies to “Confessions of a binge reader”

  1. I found this incredibly relevant. I think I can safely classify myself as a binge reader as well. (Gasp!) I also have this problem where I only want to read Harry Potter and have no desire to read another book, even though I really enjoy reading other books once I force myself to do it. So weird, but I’m really hung up on it. Well-written post!

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