My binge reading habit started a long time ago. More accurately, it began when I first fell in love with the Canadian author, L.M. Montgomery. The habit resurfaced recently when I discovered the amazing author, Elizabeth Strout. I’ve written about her and why I love her writing here.
Definitions of binge reading include ‘the act of reading large amounts of text in a short amount of time‘. People whose reading fits this definition skim-read, read all night, read instead of doing all (or any) things they should do.
But my sort of binge reading doesn’t fit that definition.Read more
My definition of binge reading
The reading that I describe as bingeing involves discovering a new-to-me author and reading everything they’ve written that I can get my hands on. Except when reading for information (work, study, research) I read slowly and savour words, images and ideas. Literature demands that I honour the art and craft of the author.
Learning to read
My parents set a reading example to their children from an early age. I heard my father’s voice in utero. He read to my mother while she knitted as they sat by the fire. They told me he read Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell, 1936) while she knitted a whole layette for me, their new baby born at the end of 1937.
Dad binge read to me. He read every word that AA Milne wrote for children. Poetry, stories, series. He read it all and could recite much of what he read without the benefit of books. That handy skill stood him in good stead as the driver of the family car when he entertained us on country holidays. .
My mother read to her children more selectively. But she also binge read single authors such as Agatha Christie, who wrote at least 70 books, and Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote 84 stories featuring Perry Mason alone. I’m not sure how many Mum read but she always had a book at hand.
With role models like that, its no wonder I learned to read early.
My binge reading history
I fell in love with some authors when very young. I still fall in love with writers (or their writing) regularly.
My first serious foray into binge reading came about when I was 12. My paternal grandmother gave me a copy of Anne of Green Gables by Canadian L.M. Montgomery (published 1908) for Christmas. I think I have read all 20 of the novels by this author, who wrote series about young women who were role models.
I can’t remember how I discovered most of the writers. Probably not through school! My formal education finished when I turned 15, because, they said, ‘Girls don’t need an education. They get married and education is such a waste.
It was a sad day when I moved after we married into the house John lived in. He had an extensive library. So did I. We decided to let many of our books go. Letting the books I loved, especially when I had large collections of writing by single authors felt like cutting part of my brain away.
When we moved into our much smaller apartment, it was easier to let books go.
I discovered there are books that I cannot live without, and over the years, I’ve replaced some of those.
A random list
Here’s a list of some of the writers that have attracted my prolonged interest
- Australian Patrick White. I fell head over heals in love with White’s writing when I read Voss (1957). Voss wasWhite’s fifth novel, and I read backwards and forwards across the whole list.
- South African Doris Lessing. Her feminism took my breath away. I loved her earlier books, but felt disappointed when she wrote science fiction.
- British Faye Weldon. A prolific writer of feminist novels that were fun, frivolous and feisty.
- French Simone de Beauvoir. A philosopher and writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her book, The Second Sex, was among the first feminist writing I encountered. The open relationship she shared with Jean Paul Sartre, also a French philosopher, intrigued me.
- Australian Alex Miller. The bookclub members with whom I went to Perth Writers Festivals accused me of being a Miller ‘groupie’. I’m delighted he has published a new book, still to read.
- Australian Helen Garner. Writer of fiction and later non-fiction, my favourite writer.
- Australian Tim Winton. A Western Australian and four times winner of the Miles Franklin Award, Winton has also been twice short listed for the Booker Prize. I wrote a blog about our Cloudstreet River Christmas.
- Australian Tony Birch. A much awarded Victorian writer and First Nations man, Tony Birch has written three novels, and five collections of short stories as well as mny articles. I’ve reviewed several of Tony Birch’s books including Common People. The Promise and Ghost River
There are more. Looking over the list, it’s difficult to believe that it is so top-heavy with men.
If asked, I always tell people that by preference I read books by Australian women writers. Perhaps my list of authors I’ve binge read is top heavy with men writers because, on the whole, women writers are less prolific than men for a number of reasons. Binge-reading requires a large body of work.
I’d love to hear if my readers also binge-read and who are their favourite writers. Please share your favourites in a comment. (Like all bloggers, I really love reading comments from readers.)