Weekend Reads #79: Should We Stop Binge Reading?

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Weekend Reads post, but a recent article I read in The Atlantic made me want to return to the meme to discuss a topic relevant to us readers.

(Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.)

The article, “Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read: and the Movies and TV Shows We Watch” by Julie Beck, posits that our overconsumption of media and culture makes it harder for us to recall what we consume. I think most of us bloggers can relate to what Beck is saying here. Not many of us can remember the content of all the books we read in 2015, or even last year. Some of us forget the books we read shortly after completing them, which happened to me recently when I read Ursula K. Le Guin’s book of essays No Time to Spare.

According to the article, “people often shove more into their brains than they can possibly hold,” which is certainly true for me. I binge read sometimes, mostly read multiple books at once, and also read lots of articles and blog posts and text messages and status updates throughout the day, not to mention the reading I do at work. It’s as if I’m constantly reading. No wonder I forget some of these things throughout the year.

For me, books are usually easier to recall because I review on this blog all the books I read and my reviews are usually detailed, which helps to cement in my memory the book’s content. This works well if I write my review shortly after completing the book but if I wait, then I’ll forget most or all details of the book’s content, which is what happened with No Time to Spare. I procrastinated for about a month before sitting down to write my review.

But so much reading can lead to burnout — “a reading slump.” From what I’ve seen, book bloggers and vloggers often say they’re in a reading slump shortly after participating in a reading challenge where they force themselves to read or complete several books in a short time. Also, usually after such participating in such events, readers later (in a tag post or something) say they do not recall much of what they read.

I haven’t done any research to prove this; it’s just what I’ve observed as I interact with the online book community, but to me it supports the facts in Beck’s article. It also makes me realize that as much as we love to binge read and to have numerous books read in a year, doing so might not be good for us if our goal is to remember what we’ve read. Maybe these reading challenges and things, fun as they may be, aren’t that great if we later forget we read.

Anyway, let me know what you think: binge read or not.

I also encourage you all to read the article too.

What I’m currently reading:
Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

This is a historical fiction novel about the cursed bloodline of the Kintu Kidda clan in Uganda. It’s a thick book (with an awesome cover) and the story stretches from the 1750s to about 2004. It’s the cover that caught my attention and the mention of the curse that made me curious enough to borrow it from the library. The fact that Kintu is a character from a Ugandan creation myth makes me assume that the story will have some fantastical or magical realism elements in it, which makes me even more interested in it. I’m only 50 pages in, but I’m enjoying it so much that I already bought myself a copy. I needed to because I want to highlight things.

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

I received a review e-copy of this fantasy novel through NetGalley. I learned about it when checking out Tough Travels posts to get book recommendations. It’s about a half-orc guy who wants to unseat his ruler. So far, I’m pretty meh about it and Kintu has distracted me so I haven’t yet returned to it. I’m up to where he rescues the elf girl. Hopefully it gets more interesting. I’ve heard the story is really good.

1001 Islands by K.T. Munson

Another fantasy novel. This one was sent to me by the author and I decided to read it because it sounds interesting. It’s a high seas adventure story and so far, I like it. I just get a little confused sometimes because it jumps to different characters on different islands. Again, I’m distracted by Kintu, so I took a break from this too.

24 thoughts on “Weekend Reads #79: Should We Stop Binge Reading?

  1. Ah yes I reallly relate to shoving more into my brain than it can possibly hold. I do find when I review them they’re easier to recall as well, but if I don’t write notes I won’t review it, so it’s kind of dependent on the note taking sometimes. And I do really see how this leads to burnout- just trying to cram so much information in all the time is exhausting. Really like your discussion here.

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  2. It’s so true.. We’re consuming so much with so much television, books and media at tips of our fingers. At least with book blogging, it forces me to process what I’m reading, decide how I think and feel about it, and rant and rave with others.😊

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  3. I don’t “binge-read” because of time constraints and responsibilities, but binge-watching TV is all too easy. But I totally agree that we all absorb way too much information because of social media and what not. I’ve slowed down my reading pace deliberately this year, because I suffer from “book amnesia” too often. I am trying to focus on the quality experience of reading, not quantity. We’ll see how that goes! I know that right now I’m reading a short story collection by Sherman Alexie and I’m just reading one or two stories at a time and then turning to something else. It’s helping me to better remember each story instead of them all blurring together.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol yea, I love to binge on shows too. It makes it so much easier to get through them if your time is limited and mine usually is when it comes to sitting in one place to watch something.
      I believe it’s best to space out short stories. I read a short story collection last year but I was enjoying it so much that I sped through it and read the stories back to back and now I can’t remember them. I just recall really liking it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. binge reading is something I definitely do, especially on the weekends. but I so much agree that blogging about the book cements the details. + if I really love a book I usually reread it so that helps to!!! if it’s not worth rereading maybe it’s not worth remembering, but then again it would be awful to totally forget something you spent 2 hours on ❤ ❤
    interesting discussion!!!!! it's making me think properly on a Monday which is an actual miracle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, well I’m glad to help make your Monday a little better.
      And yea, revisiting what we read in some way – whether reviewing it or rereading it – certainly helps us to remember what we read.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I sort of don’t have the time or even the reading speed to do binge reading, but I do naturally prefer taking breaks in between books of a series. But man binge watching shows is whole other story though hahah It’s so much easier to do and get lost in! 😀

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    1. Lol! I’m with you there on bingeing on shows. I just can’t give that up. It’s nice to keep going, especially for shows like 24 that constantly ends on a cliffhanger. I hate being left at the edge of my seat at the end of show. I’m too impatient to wait to find out what happens next.
      Sometimes I take breaks between books if it’s too emotionally heavy or something like Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders books.

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  6. Hm, interesting article!

    I can’t say I agree on NOT binge reading. I feel like it’s the most fun i have when i like a series so much that i pick up the following parts immediately & run through them all. And mostly I don’t forget them because I loved them so much and am still thinking about them.

    I get reading slumps.. often after reading something awesome. Not due to the fact that I binge read, but due to the fact that nothing can live up to
    It now!!! 😀 so i mostly take a couple days until i start something new.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is nice to just jump into the next book in a series and keep going. I don’t think bingeing on books and shows is something I can give up since my free time for such things is sometimes limited so I try to pack in as much as I can.

      Yea, that does happen to me too. Nothing measures up to the greatness I just read and I become annoyed by the mediocrity. Lol. At those times, I take a break.

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  7. I completely agree that consuming a lot of material all at once, wether it be reading multiple books at the same time or watching TV shows, can disminish how much we remember about it. Spitting our time and focus, it makes sense. Ultimately though, I belive it comes down to wether or not they were memorable, regardless of how much else was consumed at the same time. If I gave a book a 5/5 rating, that means there was something about that book that I clearly loved and I will remember why. But can I remember the specific details about the plot and characters? Maybe, maybe not. That’s perfectly normal though. Memory is naturally gong to decline as time goes unless you constantly review the work every X days, then weeeks, then months, until it is set in your long term memory or – the much easier method – have something memorable that can be attached to it. Wether it be something in the story, where were you reading the book, or something happening in you life when you were reading the book. Little moments and experiences like that, are actually going to help you remember. Expecting to remembering everything about a book you read 3 years? Doesn’t matter if that was the only book you read, unless there something you can attached and hold to about it, it will be forgotten :/

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    1. Yea, and it also depends on how many times you call upon the memory of whatever it is you consumed. In a way, book tags are great for forcing us to recall details of books we’ve read. I realize that I hold onto details of books I often mention in tags though some aren’t that memorable. Sometimes it’s just the one detail that I keep mentioning that I’ll remember.

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  8. I don’t think the overconsumption of books could be a bad thing. Sometimes we are going to forget what we have read because that’s natural, but I also think that says more about the book than the person. If a book makes an impact on you in some way, you’ll remember it. But not all books do that. Besides, I’m all for people reading. I want more people to read, and if that means they binge read, then so be it.

    As for short term reading challenges, I can see why it leads to burnout, but I think most reading slumps (at least for me) come from reading books I don’t like. It’s never had anything to do with being tired of reading. It’s always been being bored with the content, which usually happens when I keep reading within the same genre for an extended period.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you there on the overconsumption of books. I don’t think it’s a bad thing and, as Jenn mentioned in a comment below, if we forget a book/movie, we can always revisit. I find reread/rewatching something to be quite rewarding since I often pick up on details I didn’t notice before, even if I do remember what I read/saw. However, I do think it’s good sometimes to take a little break from reading to do something else.

      I get into slumps from that too sometimes, but for me it’s mostly from reading too much at once too fast, even if all the things I’m reading are great.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think it’s probably true that we remember less when we binge read/watch stuff, but I’m okay with that. You can always re-read or re-watch something that leaves an impression on you, even if you don’t remember the details the first time around.

    I find that I end up in reading slumps more because I force myself through books I don’t like for the sake of saying I finished it; I imagine that happens more in reading challenges because they want to have something to show for their time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you there. I don’t mind revisiting things. I actually enjoy rereading and rewatching things because I often notice details that weren’t apparent to me before.

      Ah! That might be it too. That sometimes happens to me. But I also get into slumps sometimes because I’m reading too much at once too quickly.

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