Not only am I a binge watcher, I am a binge reader. I have a habit of discovering an author and then deciding, for no good reason, to read everything that that author has written. Six years ago I assigned myself the task of reading all of Stephen King’s fiction, in the order in which it was published. Things were going very well until I hit Black House, his 2001 sequel to The Talisman. I have a problem with novels written in the present tense: It’s a showy technique that forces the reader to pay more attention to the writing than to the story. So my odyssey ended there, though I have enjoyed King’s recent story collection Just After Sunset and his short novel Joyland.
My experience of reading George R.R. Martin, which began when I bought an HBO tie-in copy of Game of Thrones at Penn Station in the spring of 2011, did not end until I had read all of A Song of Ice and Fire; his two-volume collection of short fiction; his vampire novel Fevre Dream; and his teleplay and novella collection Quartet. Copies of three other Martin novels are on my shelves, as is a used copy of the story-cycle Tuf Voyaging. A recent Waugh binge sent me from Scoop to The Loved One to Robbery Under Law to Vile Bodies to the Sword of Honour trilogy. The other day I finished Dan Simmons’s Ilium, a far-out sci-fi pastiche that takes characters from Homer and Shakespeare and puts them alongside humans and sentient robots. The sequel, Olympos, should have arrived at my house by the time you read this.
My binge reading is not limited to fiction. I have read every word of Joan Didion’s collected nonfiction (as well as two of her five novels). I found Richard Dawkins’s Magic of Reality so well written, so thought-provoking, that I have gone from River Out of Eden to The Selfish Gene to The Extended Phenotype. On my shelves, Dawkins’s books sit next to the complete Carl Sagan. Which is near the complete William F. Buckley Jr. Which is above the complete Charles Murray. Which is across the room from the complete Paul Krugman. The inhabitants of my library, I am happy to say, loathe one another.