I don’t know about you but I always feel a little dissatisfied after binge-watching the latest boxset of a popular television series. Binge-watching is the name given to the practice of watching one episode after another without a break. Consumers have been known to watch over eight hours of television in one sitting. No longer do we have to wait for the weekly episode of our favourite drama when all are released at the same time for our televisual titilation. Some experts consider it unhealthy; that it can lead to cardiovascular problems and affect sleep. For me, that is not the issue. For me it comes down to satisfaction.
Now you may be wondering what has this got to do with literature and books? Have I drifted off into film and TV culture? Well, yes and no. You see there often is a connection between the two especially when a TV series is adapted from a well known book. Take for instance MGM Television’s serialisation of Joel Dicker’s excellent The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair. Now I first read this a few years ago after picking up a copy from a charity shop. Straight-away I was hooked. What I liked about it was that this was a crime/mystery written for writers. The main characters are writers, there’s tips for writers and is gives a realistic picture of what writers have to go through for their art, to the point of…actually if you’ve not read the book or seen the series I won’t spoil it for you.
So recently I decided to watch the TV series and in doing so, I binge-watched (mainly because I taken up an offer of a 7 day trial pass offered by NowTV). Did I enjoy it? Well yes I did but as is usual with these kind of things, I enjoyed the book more. It is a faithful telling of the novel and they’ve done a fantastic job of choosing the right actors for the roles. Patrick Dempsey plays Harry Quebert as I had imagined him. But, and this is where the issue lies, I should not have binge-watched. It is this that left me unsatisfied.
The great thing about books is that we rarely get chance to binge-read. Of course there will be those books that we just cannot put down (a recent book on glue and it’s uses is a recent example – sorry, my attempt at humour), books that grab us and refuse to let go until we’ve reached the last page. But these are rare and I doubt whether many readers have read a novel of considerable size in one sitting. Reading allows us to have breaks. I think that is the point in having chapters, to read a few then stop and contemplate what we have just read. It is at this moment, I believe, a book truly comes alive. Whatever we are doing we think about what we are reading, a thought may raise a smile or more questions and that leads to anticipation which builds up excitement for when we dive back into those pages we adore. I got that when I first read Harry Quebert but I didn’t get that feeling when I watched the TV series.
I come from a time when we had no choice but to wait for the next episode on television. And I think I am better off for it. It is my thinking that we would all be better off if we do less binging of television (or anything for that matter) and slow down a little. Think about what you have just watched, contemplate, built up the anticipation and excitement.
Or better still, read a book.
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair is published by Penguin Books and available at Amazon.