There’s nothing like a good binge. We watched Season 3 of “Stranger Things” in about two days and it was glorious. But when I think of life’s most satisfying binges, reading has a slight edge over TV and movies, maybe because it existed for me long before Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, or even DVD box sets. For decades, if I wanted to curl up and really dive in, the options were limited to books.
I’d like to think that the books I write work as binge-by-the-pool kinds of reads, which aren’t necessarily light (though they can be) or long (though they can be), but are stories that for whatever reason draw you in, and allow you to read and read and read without becoming emotionally drained or bored or devastated. In a word, to binge.
When I started thinking about books I’ve binged recently or binge regularly, the list was weirdly eclectic. Some of it is great fiction, some of it is most definitely not great fiction, some are books I read in childhood and others were written for young adults. I thought I might as well share my favorite bingeable reads, with the comfort that no matter if the internet and TV go out, and even if my Kindle breaks, they’ll always be there just waiting to be picked up and enjoyed.
I’d like to think that the books I write work as binge-by-the-pool kinds of reads, which aren’t necessarily light (though they can be) or long (though they can be), but are stories that for whatever reason draw you in, and allow you to read and read and read without becoming emotionally drained or bored or devastated.
Only some of the books below are among my favorites, though all have been highly satisfying binges.
(A quick note on re-reading: I’m a re-reader. if I love a book, I read it repeatedly, even annually. Many people are not re-readers, and we’ll probably never fully understand each other. “But you know what happens, you’ve READ it,” they say. “But it’s so wonderful, I get something new out of it every time!” I say. We’re all absolutely right, since there’s no wrong way to read. I also read a lot of books just once, only certain titles become part of my re-reading library.)
“The Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien
I have to skip past the songs, especially in the first book, but by the time they get to Weathertop I’m HOOKED. Props to Peter Jackson for the incredible and also binge-worthy movies. And for casting Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn.
“Anne of Green Gables” series, including “Rilla of Ingleside,” by L.M. Montgomery
I climb headfirst into the whole beautiful life of Anne, start to finish, not forgetting “Anne of Windy Poplars,” which is oddly left out of most collections. (I confess, sometimes I do bypass “Rainbow Valley” and move straight to “Rilla” because it’s so so good and I can’t wait to start it.)
“His Dark Materials” trilogy, by Phillip Pullman
These are such magical, rich, fascinating stories, they never fail to intrigue and move me. I’m thrilled to have new binges arriving in the companion “Book of Dust” trilogy, as well as an HBO series starting soon.
“The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins
Dark, poignant, intelligent, authentic, exciting… The trilogy only gets better every time I tear through it. Great bingeable movies, too.
Anything by Robin McKinley
I recently discovered “Sunshine” on sale, tried a few other titles and became a devoted fan. “The Blue Sword,” “Deerskin,” “The Hero and the Crown”… McKinley writes gorgeous modern classics with courageous heroines that you just can’t put down.
“Twilight Saga” and “The Host,” by Stephenie Meyer
I don’t know why I so enjoyed the “Twilight” books, or why any of us do, but I still find the series wholly entertaining. “The Host” is another, and better, binge-worthy read.
“Harry Potter” series, by J.K. Rowling
There’s a reason these books are some of the most popular of all time around the world. It’s just a perfect experience every time I read them. My favorite is “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and I never fail to weep piteously when the house elves come charging out to battle.
“All Souls Trilogy,” by Deborah Harkness
Another recent discovery and instant binge. And then I got to binge Season 1 of the TV adaptation, and am waiting eagerly (impatiently) for Season 2 later this year.
“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Once I start this book, I don’t stop until I finish it, only pausing to eat, sleep, bathe and work under protest.
“Daddy Long Legs” and “Dear Enemy,” by Jean Webster
These two must be read together, and they must be read in binges.
“Enchanted April,” by Elizabeth von Arnim
The first I read, and my favorite, of her many beautiful and binge-worthy books, both fiction and non-fiction.
“The Selection Trilogy,” by Kiera Cass
I binged all three of these light reads over one Christmas and enjoyed every cheesy bit of it. (Fun fact: Kiera Cass started out as a self-published author.)
Friends and family members recommended binging on Janet Evanovich, Jaqueline Winspear, Julia Spencer Fleming, Deborah Crombie, Riley Sager, Martha Wells, Kristin Hannah and Louise Penny, as well as the “Grisha Trilogy” by Leigh Bardugo, the “Henry Gamadge” mystery series by Elizabeth Daly, and the books “The Dry” by Jane Harper and “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. Most of these are new to me and I can’t wait to check them out.
Because it’s at least another year before “Stranger Things” comes back, and in the meantime, few things in life are better than finding a delicious new stack of books to binge.