Admit it. You’ve done it. I’ll bet 90% of my readers have done it. You’ve stayed up too late reading. Or you’ve neglected your job or housework or other obligations to read just one more chapter.
As a writer, it is the greatest compliment I can receive to have someone tell me they couldn’t put my book down, they had to find out what happened, they read until 2:00am. I grin every time I hear someone say that, and I’ve been privileged to hear people tell me that my novels are page-turners.
As a reader, I’ve done it all too often, and regretted it the next day.
What makes a book a page turner? I’m sure the answer is unique to each reader. And WikiHow doesn’t provide any guidance on this question.
My tastes are eclectic—I’ve binged on thrillers, mysteries, romance novels, and literary fiction. I rarely binge on non-fiction, though Unbroken came close. I want interesting characters I care about, accessible writing, and bad things happening to good people that make me want to know how they will survive. I want to feel with the characters about their predicaments.
I started binging in childhood. I could check out six books at a time at the public library in Richland, Washington. I began reading in the car in the way home (which I regretted because of motion sickness, but usually couldn’t stop myself). I often had one book finished by the time we reached our house.
I continued reading straight through my six books, and then move on to my brother’s. That all took a day or two in the summer time, and then I’d beg my mother to take us back to the library again. My favorites at the time were Phyllis Whitney’s mysteries for kids and Nancy Drew mysteries, though I’d binge on my brother’s Hardy Boys and Robert Heinlein books also.
As an adult, I remember one fateful night in Mobile, Alabama, in the early to mid-1990s. Another attorney and I were there taking depositions, and the depositions ended a day early. We couldn’t get a flight home to Kansas City until the next morning.
I had discovered that the paralegal traveling with us had the newest Mary Higgins Clark novel. Mary Higgins Clark in her prime was the perfect binge author, because her villains were sadistically vile, but the nice women they attacked always survived after suffering multiple incidents of significant terror. And the heroines got the guy as well.
I borrowed the paralegal’s book and read well into the night. I knew I shouldn’t, but all I would be doing the next day was sitting on an airplane. After making our connection, we would get back to Kansas City too late to make it worth going into the office. So I read until I finished . . . around 3:00am. I staggered to make our morning flight.
I don’t even remember which Mary Higgins Clark book it was. But it was worth it.
What books have you binge-read?