Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summertime, and the binge-ing is easy...

I Googled the word binge and this was the top result:

"a short period devoted to indulging in an activity to excess, especially drinking alcohol or eating.

"he went on a binge and was in no shape to drive"

synonyms:drinking bout, debauch

In my lexicon, binge-ing almost always refers to a binge of reading. I read all the time, but there's something especially enjoyable and relaxing about reading in summer. I remember when I was a teenager, sprawling in the grass in our background, soaking up the heat as I devoured book after book. 

As I've gotten older, bingeing has come to mean focusing on the entire booklist of an author, starting at book one and not stopping until I've read them all. This has always been my preferred way of reading. The luxury of reading ALL the books is a thrill that never grows old. When I was young and first fell in love with Nancy Drew, Bess, George, Ned Nickerson, Hannah Gruen et al, I got through every edition in our small library within a few months. I occasionally received books as gifts, and nearly every time I visited my Aunt Em she gave me a Nancy Drew book for my own personal collection. That was long before the internet, so I was never really sure how many books I hadn't read yet. I don't think I ever did read them all.

As a teenager, I discovered Agatha Christie. I lovely woman who hired me to babysit for her boys noticed that I was reading a paperback Christie when she came home one night. She hauled out a cardboard box filled with vintage Christie paperbacks and gave it to me as a gift. I still consider that one of the best gifts I have ever received. I read them all, and gradually added the newer books as well as British editions. I've read them all and re-read them all more times than I can count. Now when I have a Christie binge, I'll narrow it down. Last year I did a binge read of all the Miss Marple books. One of these days I'll reread all the Poirots.

It's always been my habit to seek out all the books by any author I enjoy. The first authors I binge-read, in addition to Carolyn Keene and Agatha Christie, were Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, Susan Howatch, Anya Seton, Mary Stewart, Helen MacInnes, Evelyn Anthony, Mignon G. Eberhart, Velda Johnston, Paul Gallico, Robert Ludlum, Dick Francis, G.K. Chesterton, John Dickson Carr, Patricia Wentworth, Ngaio Marsh, J.J. Marric - and so on and so on. In more recent years I've added the books by Deborah Crombie, Charles Todd, Louise Penney, Alan Bradley, Peter Robinson, Carolyn Hart, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Brad Parks, the Inspector Felse books by Ellis Peters, 

It's now become a sort of summer tradition for me to binge read a particular author. Some time back I added romance authors to the mix. I've read every book Nora Roberts has ever written, and nearly everything by Danielle Steel. Add Suzanne Brockmann, Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster, Julie James, Anna Campbell, Eloisa James, Shana Abe, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, Kristan Higgins, Linda Howard, Charlotte Lamb, Jill Shalvis, Janet Dailey, Sarah Addison Allen, Sophie Kinsella, J.R. Ward, Thea Harrison, Loretta Chase, Monica Burns, Anne Stuart, Lisa Kleypas, Julie Ann Long - honestly, I can't even scratch the surface here!

Last year I sought out all the Last Detective books featuring Dangerous Davies by Leslie Thomas and read them from start to finish. This year I added the Grantchester mysteries and I reread all of my beloved Mary Stewart novels, up to the Arthurian series (which I reread only a year or two ago). 

My mom died in the spring of this year, and I brought home several boxes of her mystery books. One box was filled with the Gideon of the Yard paperbacks by J.J. Marric. I'd read them all but it had been probably 40 years or so, and I'm not sure I'd ever read them all. So I sorted my mom's books and read them in chronological order. She was missing two, and I found used copies of those. That was binge number two, following Mary Stewart.

Now I'm reading Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries from book one onwards. I'd read one or two of them years ago, but I'm enjoying following the series from its inception. I'm only on book 4 and there are, I think, 21 in the series. I'll have to scour used book sales to fill in the blanks in my collection. 

This week my annual, highly predictable summer cold struck, and I spent several days dosing myself with cold medicine, drinking lemon tea with ginger and honey and burrowing under the quilt with a stack of mysteries. I recommend this as a cold cure - it's been less than a week, and my cold is nearly gone. 

Binge reading is a luxury - a guilty pleasure. Now that I've nearly shaken off the cold, it will be hard to justify another binge. But it's supposed to get up to 100 degrees tomorrow. And, really, when it's that hot, there's not much better than a cold drink, a lime popsicle and a good book. 

Enjoy your summer - and happy reading!


Becke Davis said...

P.S. Happy Birthday to my son Jonathan! I posted this on his 29th birthday. :-)