Why We Should Start Binge-Reading Right Now

We’ve talked about what books we love reading, but now I’m curious: How do you read those books? For years, my evenings would go like this…

…head home from work, eat some quesadillas, play a card game with the boys, brush their teeth, tickle their backs, tell them no more talking, remind them no more talking, flop down on the sofa, chat with Alex, turn my brain off with a TV show (one winter, I watched the entire series of Frasier), maaaaaybe wash my face but probably not wash my face, put on pajamas, read a few pages of a book and pass out.

Although I love books, they were getting the last gasp of my attention. They were fun to read but not the most fun since nothing is the most fun when you are 99% asleep with your eyes open.

So, when my sister sent me the recent New York Times article Why You Should Start Binge-Reading Right Now by Ben Dolnick, I devoured it and wanted to share. Here’s what he wrote:

One night a couple of summers ago, the power went out and, unable to watch Netflix or engage in my customary internet fugue, I lit a candle and picked up a thriller by Ruth Rendell. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my sole source of entertainment for an evening was going to be a book.

And yes, yes, just as you’d expect, it was wonderful, it was cozy, the internet is terrible. But what struck me more than the night’s general delightfulness, was how much my experience of reading the book was influenced by the speed with which I was suddenly moving through it. To that point, I’d been reading the book the way I usually read books, which is to say in five- or 10-minute snatches before bed. And I’d been more or less enjoying it — watching Rendell’s criminal protagonist get out of prison, following along as he searched for his victim — but I’d been enjoying it the way a person enjoys hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party. Those cheese puffs are delicious; I just wish I could sit down with a plate of them. Now, by reading for an hour or two straight, I’d found my way into the caterer’s tent. I could savor the particular tart flavor of the author’s voice. I could admire the elegance of the trap she was setting for her doomed criminal.”

Fascinating and true, don’t you think? Over the past couple months, I’ve also been changing my reading habits: getting into bed earlier (around 9:30 p.m.) and reading without distraction. I’ve gulped down There There and Conversations With Friends, and Caroline’s recent fave, Southern Lady Code, is next on my list. And I’ve been thinking about the characters all day, like they’re friends, and feeling a little bit like I live in their world, too.

Thoughts? How do you read books? Would (or do) you binge-read?

This is part of a series called “What We’re Reading” — featuring interesting articles on different topics we find during the week. We know many of you are big readers. Hope you like it!

P.S. Trying out slow parenting, and single-tasking is the new multi-tasking.

(Illustration by Gabriel Alcala for the New York Times.)