Stop Binge-Watching, Start Binge-Reading...

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I'm sure most of you have binge-watched back-to-back episodes of Lewis, Suits, The Crown and Designated Survivor. But what are your favourite binge reads? I've just finished reading all five (so far) of Mick Herron's Jackson Lamb spy thrillers, with only minor literary interruptions from Joseph Roth and Julian Barnes. If you haven't read them yet, you should. They're funny, dark, scary and addictive, with a central anti-hero who's everything George Smiley isn't, as well as quite a lot of what he is. Gayle is currently immersed in Rachel Cusk's 'Kudos' trilogy which concludes in May this year with the eponymous Kudos. It is impossible, I believe, to start reading Olivia Manning's first Guy and Harriet Pringle book without immediately following it with the other five. And Patrick O'Brian's 'Aubrey-Maturin' sequence, starting with Master and Commander, is pretty much the definitive binge read. The roman-fleuve genre is brilliantly suited to crime and adventure: think Hornblower, John Buchan, Kate Atkinson and Maigret. But it's by no means restricted to it, as Hilary Mantel, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Marcel Proust, Anthony Powell, Edward St Aubyn and the Old Testament attest. So put away that DVD box-set, temporarily forget your Netflix password, and settle down in your favourite armchair to enjoy one of the reading life's particular pleasures: a weeks-long immersion in the unique worlds created by literature's greatest binge-writers.

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