To Binge or Not to Binge?

Jessie: Trying to hear myself think over the chattering of my teeth in the frozen north.

Sometimes it is just too cold and dark to consider leaving the the house. Often in the depths of winter it can be a trial to pry oneself from the warmth of a comfy bed. Such times are custom made for Netflix or Hulu binge watching.

Diving headlong into other times, other lives and even other worlds is so appealing that it’s tempting to watch episode after episode until you’ve forgotten where you are and maybe even who. With all the exotic locations, lavish lifestyles and sumptuous costumes to enjoy why would you want to remember everyday life anyway?

The only problem is, just like that, you’ve reached the end of the available episodes. You’re left blinking and disoriented by the total lack of Vikings or Prohibition era gangsters in your living room. There are no bells to ring for white capped maids, no air raid shelters, no consultations at 221B Baker St.

So, readers, my question is this: is it better to binge or not to binge on your favorites? The pleasure of immersion vs. a more sedately paced building of Houses of Cards, visits to Lilyhammer and even family reunions with the Sons of Anarchy? Do you derive more pleasure from spreading out your preferred indulgences or do you race through one series and then go looking for a new passion? Do you do the same with book series or even favorite authors? And of you do prefer to binge, do you ever get tired of a series before you reach then end of it in a way you might not if you spread the watching out over more time?


38 Thoughts

  1. I have binge-read a few series when I was couch-bound after surgeries. I love starting at the beginning of a good mystery series, like Deb Crombie’s or Julia Spencer-Fleming’s, and just read my way through. You really get to see the character development and how relationships change. I can’t tolerate binge-watching for more than two episodes in a row, usually, but have done a bit of it to catch up on a series I like but that I missed the first season of, for example. Definitely good to stay indoors when it’s this cold out, though!

    1. I love finding an existing series I haven’t read and reading my way through the backlist. I’m always so disappointed when I get to the end. If I “love, loved” it, their new titles get on my very small “buy it in hardcover” list.

  2. I binge with DVDs all the time, working my way though a series from the beginning. Sometimes I’ve seen the episodes when they first ran and sometimes not. At the moment I’m up to season seven of Murdoch Mysteries. I watch two or three episodes at a time, usually before bed when my eyes are too tired to read, but not every day. I binge on book series less often, but I have read (or listened to) Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series more than once and I recently devoured a Regency spy/romance series (5 books) by Joanna Bourne.


    1. I like the Murdoch Mysteries too! I also have a habit of re-reading series I love like the Lucia books by E.F.Benson. I usually read all of those at just about this time each year.

  3. I’ve done it when I came into a series and I missed the first 5 books. If I came late to a series, like the 16th book, I would read the first and the previous 5.

    1. That sounds like a really interesting way to get a sense of a series’ beginning but to catch up to the current offerings. Sometimes starting a series late with so many titles in it feels a bit daunting and that seems a good strategy. I’ll have to give it a try!

  4. Not a binge watcher or reader. I don’t want to race through a series and then have to wait a year for the next one. It doesn’t even really tempt me even if I have the whole series sitting in the house.

  5. I’ve done both, especially when it’s cold. Binge-watching on Netflix is easier, because I’m already paying for it. It’s harder for me to binge-read when I don’t own the books (or can’t get them from the library) because the cost adds up. But no matter how slowly I try to read, I can’t and the book is always over faster than I want it to be.

      1. After I met Barb and her Death of an Ambitious Woman came out, I got it. I’m also a fast reader, and it was such a good story that I read it right through, probably in a day. I was working on a novel myself by then. I said, “This took her a year to write!” I felt terrible. And also wanted more from this author. Luckily, right now there’s no end in sight. ;^)

  6. I find if I read two books by an author two close together, I don’t enjoy the second as much. Same with a TV show. Two or three episodes a day is my limit.

    And back when 24 would start with a two hour Sunday night and two hour Monday night premier, I’d watch all four hours back to back on Monday, and be left shaking from adrenaline by the time it was all over. I don’t understand how people could watch that series in a week. I’d be a complete wreck. Rewatching something can work for me to binge watch a bit more, although I still find myself burning out after too many episodes in a row. But I can watch two a day for weeks until I’ve finished a season of the show.

    1. Mark, that is so funny. 24 was really the series that introduced my husband and me to binge-watching. We came late-ish to the series and for many years had a New Years tradition of “24 hours of 24,” wherein we would watch the whole series over the three or four day New Years weekend. I WAS a couple wreck–especially in the early years when they really stuck the the 24 hour clock–but in a good way.

    2. Mark, that sounds intense! Isn’t it interesting what everyone’s limits and enjoyment levels are for books and for movies. There are some authors and programs I feel as you do and can only enjoy one or two in a row but there are others that I just can’t seem to get enough of and am devastated to reach the end.

  7. Barb Ross here, binge watcher and binge reader. I think this is a continuation of my general perseveration, which has its good points and bad points. I only read one book at a time and I love reading a whole series in a row. Same with TV. Fortunately, my husband is the same way and we’ve worked our way through many at TV series.

      1. Pre-marital counseling should address binge watching. My husband can watch two episodes max with days of break in between. That’s not a binge. That’s compressing, a little.

  8. I binge watch some tv shows but don’t particularly like to. I don’t have Netflix or any premium channels so if I want to watch “House of Cards”, “Orange is the New Black” “Homeland”, “Newsroom”, “Nurse Jackie”, etc., my choice is illegal downloading or wait til the library gets the dvds. Same for series I get but didn’t know about when they aired/forgot about/didn’t have time to watch. Most series are long enough for me to have for 3 weeks but since multiple items tend to arrive from the library at the same time, I binge on one season of a series and then go on to the next series. Now that I’m caught up with “House of Cards” I’m considering getting my free Netflix trial when season 3 starts.

    1. I think House of Cards may have led to a whole lot on free Netflix trials, Elaine. I am happy to wait for most things at the library but that one might break me if we didn’t have Netflix already!

  9. I try and moderate binges though I have definite binge tendencies. My problem isn’t boredom; it’s the fear of running out of my supply. Such a terrible thing, the last book in the series. 🙁

  10. I am a binge reader, and a binge watcher. I love discovering new book series, and really falling in love. But I am far more of a binge watcher. LOVE watching a series, seeing the arc, and finding out what happens. I will even store shows up on my DVR. Over New Year’s it was Agents of Shield. LOVED binging on that. (BTW, the Marvel movies and shows are really good narrative and plotting lessons.)

    I am a cozy watcher–can’t take too much violence. That said, I loved 24 back in the day, but fast forwarded while bingeing.

    1. I’m a cozy watcher, too. Abandoned second season of House of Cards for its unredeeming characters and somebody getting pushed off a platform. Or maybe that’s unredeemable…

  11. I am a modified binge watcher. In that I like the have a show to ‘rely’ on, but I can only watch three, maybe four episodes in a row. I get sort of dazed if I watch more than that no matter how much I’m enjoying the show or need to know what happens next.

    I binge more with books though I try not to so I can avoiding waiting impatiently for the next in a series, but usually the best I can do it try to space things out. And fail. hee.

    1. I like to have one or two shows that are what you call “reliable” too. And I like them to be different in tone so I have something that suits my mood but is like visiting with friends.

  12. I’m also a cozy watcher, which is no surprise I’m sure since I’m a cozy reader.

    And it is so nice to see so many readers and writers talking about watching TV. For so long, I’ve felt like I couldn’t be a reader and a TV watcher. One or the other group would frown at me. Hey, a good story is a good story is a good story. I’ll go wherever the good story is.

    1. I agree with you, Mark. Good storytelling comes in a variety of aways and I like to partake of many of them. From graphic novels to films to songs with great lyrics there is so much to enjoy!

  13. I almost never binge. Even trade paperback comics collections I prefer to read about one story a week. The exception is when I borrow stuff from the library and have to get it back quickly.
    With books, reading more from an author than about one a month makes me too conscious of all their little ticks.

    1. Ticks in books jump out at me too when I am reading several in a row from an author. The same thing happens to me about my own work when I am working steadily on revisions. Sometimes I can’t believe how often I write the same phrases and expressions!

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