Immersed in Stories: From Binge-Watching to Marathon Reading

Thanks to the entire-season-at-once release of House Of Cards, the new pastime of binge-viewing is being widely discussed. I must take issue with the term "binge", because what's so bad about really throwing yourself into someone's creative endeavor for awhile? It's the way I've always read…

A few months ago, I read all 544 pages of The Art Of Fielding in 24 hours. I started reading Saturday evening, continued until 4a.m., got up the next morning and read over breakfast, headed to the gym, then read in the sun in the park for many more blissful hours. (Perhaps it goes without saying that I live alone. Reading is not nearly the social activity that tv-watching can be.) In January I read The Night Circus in one weekend, pausing only to swim and go for a few walks. A few years ago I read the first two books of the His Dark Materials trilogy in one rainy Portland weekend, then counted down the workdays until I could dive into the third. I can't imagine what it was like for people who were reading them as they were being written. No, I can: the wait for each new Harry Potter seemed interminable. When a young friend received his first Harry Potter for Christmas, I told him, "You have no idea how lucky you are."

Technically, I guess this could be called binge-reading, but like the television executives in The New York Times story on this subject, "marathoning" seems more accurate. If you lead a generally active life, I can't think of a problem with devoting a day or two to a book or show. In fact, I have to periodically get out of the house and moving, no matter how involved in the story I am. Stretching is also key!

I think of reading a book all at once, or watching a show all at once, as a tribute to the creator's vision. For those 24 or 48 hours, I'm living with their characters, immersed in their lives, aware of every detail — truly paying attention to this world they've made. Writing that just now, I realize how escapist that sounds, but hey — as long as it's only once in a while, right? Overindulgence in moderation.

(Image: Ashley Poskin/Samuel's I <3 Denver Loft)

15 Comments