When You Fancy An Author Binge…

As I was going through my book cull I was astounded by how many authors I didn’t realise I had rather a lot of works of. This is the problem with housing your books on doubled up shelves and in boxes. Admittedly some of them had been sent to me, yet I wouldn’t have kept a hoard of an authors work if I hadn’t read one of their books or didn’t think that they would be my cup of tea, would I? In many of the cases of these authors whose backlist I didn’t realise I owned lots and lots of I kept a note that I really should get a wriggle on and read some of their books. (I have started to wonder if I should try the whole book jar thing to make this happen more often!) In one case though as I looked at their books, and remembering what I have read of them before, I suddenly had the urge to have a complete book binge on one author.

This does not happen often. In fact I don’t think, apart from Discovering Daphne way back when or with the Sensation Season when I had a big Wilkie Collins binge, is it something I have done more than two or three times since I have started this blog seven and a bit years ago. Yet on rare occasions I have been tempted to just have a big old binge (mainly with crime series) and have held back. Why? I am not 100% sure, I think it is magpie syndrome and I simply always have a peak at all the other books I have to read between every few chapters, well when I am reading in bed anyway. I also don’t want to run out of reading material, which is why with Discovering Daphne I only selected a certain amount of books as I don’t think Du Maurier is going to publish anything else anytime soon being dead and all, though maybe some gems will suddenly be found.

This time though I am going to follow my gut instinct and see what happens as I head off into the world of Philip Hensher.


As you can see the binge urge took over so much I went to the library and got King of the Badgers and The Northern Clemency  from the library even though I had The Emperor Waltz, The Missing Ink and Scenes from Early Life on my shelves. You see I have actually read one and a quarter of his books before. The first was King of the Badgers which I got from the library, it was a huge hardback and some other so and so ordered it so I had to give it back and have always meant to re-read/finish off, the second was Scenes from Early Life which I read for The Green Carnation and we shortlisted. I haven’t reviewed it for that reason and actually fancy re-reading it without the judging pressure. I also want to read some new to me stuff and will be taking The Northern Clemency, a book that is actually on my draft 40 before 40 list I am recreating, to Newcastle with me next weekend when I need a nice long read or two.

I think I will restart The King of the Badgers tomorrow after I finish the new Kate Grenville. Whilst I say this is a binge, I will probably read something or some things in between the two though, and maybe if once I have discovered I love his writing (I am going for the positive because its in my nature and because of what I have read before) I want to save The Emporor’s Waltz for a rainy day that is fine too – I am getting better at no pressure.

Does that make this more of an author urge (which sounds filthy) than an actual binge? Either way I am following my gut. Have you read any of Philip Hensher’s work and what did you make of it? Which authors have you binged on and how did the binge go, or have you never binged at all?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

13 responses to “When You Fancy An Author Binge…

  1. I used to go through such binges – back in the days when I had a reliable library nearby to indulge in all the books by a certain author. In English. I suppose it’s much harder to do that in French (well, for me at least) – French authors are not only terribly prolific (a book a year seems to be the norm) but it also takes me far longer to read.
    I’ve got The Emperor Waltz as well, but am not sure: why did you decide to go full-pelt for Hensher?

  2. Annabel (gaskella)

    I binged on Beryl, but haven’t done that since – I tried, but I find that having a gap between books works better for me – I’m enjoying the Anthony Powell series one per month. Then I don’t feel so guilty when I have other books I need to read.

    • dirtmother

      I had a serious binge on Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time – at the rate of one and a half books a day. Fabulous.

  3. David

    Like you, Simon, I have quite a few Henshers – I’ve bought each of his novels since ‘The Mulberry Empire’ but only seem to read every other one, so I’ve read ‘Mulberry’, ‘The Northern Clemency’ and ‘Scenes from early life’ but not ‘The Fit’, ‘King of the Badgers’ or ‘The Emperor’s Waltz’. To be honest I’m not sure why I always buy his stuff (completism?) as of the three I’ve read I’ve only really loved one of them (‘Scenes…’) whereas the other tow I could take or leave.

    Actually it’s something I really must stop doing: buying books by authors I’m not overly fussed about just because I’ve read them before – Tim Parks (enjoyed ‘Cleaver’ but have been underwhelmed by everything else), Robert Edric (loved ‘Peacetime’ and ‘Gathering the Water’ but have grown more and more irritated by each subsequent book), Rose Tremain, Peter Carey… the list goes on!

    As for the author binges – I tend not to read them one after the other as authors often return to the same themes and preoccupations meaning the books can blend together, but when I find an author I really love I like to read several of their books over the course of a year or so – I’ve done that recently with Alex Miller and Christopher Koch and think I am starting on a Laurie Colwin binge.

  4. I recently discovered M.R. Hall’s crime series and read them all in about 2 weeks. They were excellent.

  5. Ann

    When I find an author that has a book I really like – I will go out and try to find the whole series- and read the whole series. I like reading book series in order but sometimes I have to read them as I find them.

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever really binged, well not intentionally anyway. I re-read The Chronicles of Narnia in one year once. That’s 7 books by C S Lewis in one year so I suppose that could be seen as a binge 🙂

    I’m afraid I have never read anything by Philip Hensher. Quite a few of those you’ve pictured are huge! Good luck and I hope you enjoy your binge 🙂

  7. I find myself having an author binge every so often. Most recently Margaret Atwood (lots of re-reads of older novel after reading Stone Mattress) and John Fowles. Will take a look at Philip Hensher. Enjoy your binge 🙂

  8. I have binged on Richard Yates, and it was glorious. Of all his books I’ve only been unable to read one, and I’m keeping it in case my mind ever changes. I’ve binged on other authors, but it doesn’t feel the same when they’ve only written 2/3 books. Oh, and there is always JK Rowling, I’ve read/I own almost everything she has written.

    I like the terms author urge over binge, it sounds a little naughty, but it is accurate.

    I’ve never read any Philip Hensher, maybe he’ll be my next.

  9. I’m bingeing on Arthur Conan Doyle because Audible released the Complete Sherlock Holmes as one book lasting 58 hours (so costing just one credit in my subscription). Simon Vance is the narrator, and is very good.

  10. OMG I’m so jealous of the Sweet Valley High books! I had so many of those and the Boxcar Children growing up and I wish I would have saved them, or at least a few.

  11. Can’t go wrong with Hensher. He does both plot and character so well. Highly entertaining yet super intelligent. Happy reading Simon.

  12. I’ve binged on series every so often, but I can’t think of a time I binged on unrelated books by the same author. I think they’re quite different things. Like you, there are certain authors I have multiple books by that I’ve not read (Daphne du Maurier, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Salman Rushdie) but I’d rather spread them out.

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