Reading Versus Binge Watching

I love to read. I have devoured murder mysteries, science fiction, and horror novels since high school by such authors as John Sanford, J.A. Jance, the late Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Dean Koontz and Stephen King. Four years ago, I retired from the pharmaceutical industry, began writing murder mysteries and found a publisher for PLEASURIA: Take As Directed (Koehler Books, November, 2018). So, I am now an author myself. Get the book at

With the rise of streaming TV services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime came the phenomenon of binge watching. I personally use Hulu TV for all my television needs. I must confess, I have binge watched several murder mystery series. I like many of the ones on the BBC that are staged in places like the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Norway. I get to see great scenery, learn about new cultures, and solve a murder mystery all in the same package.

I often struggle with deciding how to spend my allotted entertainment time, thus the question of reading versus binge watching. Which do I enjoy the most? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Reading (and writing) books allows me to use my imagination. A good novelist can tell a story and describe the plot, characters and scenery, while still leaving a great deal to the imagination of the reader. In a good murder mystery, I can form a picture of the detective and his/her personality in my mind based partly on the author’s description and partly on my own experiences and imagination. The same goes for the villain and other characters in the book. However, when I watch a show on TV, I can see the actors portraying the characters, their actions, and the settings for each part of the story, so not as much is left to my imagination.

For example, I have read One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich. I really enjoy the character of Stephanie Plum, with all her eccentricities. I had a picture of her in my mind, and with each new adventure it was fun to predict how she might handle the situation. Then I saw the movie, starring Katherine Heigl, and in my mind Stephanie Plum now looks and acts like this actress whenever I read another one of Evanovich’s books. I enjoyed the movie, but in some ways it has lessened my enjoyment of the latest books in the series. So, because of this aspect of reading versus binge watching, or watching a movie in this case, I prefer reading.

Then, there’s the issue of the energy required. With reading, the understanding of the words and use of the imagination requires some thought and energy. There’s also the holding of the book and the turning of the pages.

With binge watching, all I have to do is lay back, turn on the TV and keep my eyes open, and I’m good to go. There’s no particular effort required to understand what’s going on, no imagination needed. The advantage here is that with binge-watching I don’t have to think, and my hands are free to eat popcorn. (I have been known to attempt to eat popcorn while reading, but my buttery fingers muck up the pages).

Then, there’s the issue of location, location, location. If I’m at the beach or in the bathtub, I would rather read a regular old book. I know some of the younger generation will read their Kindle or watch something on their cell phone or tablet, but take care not to drop your electronic device in the bathtub. Plus, the salt and sand of the ocean quickly takes its toll on electronics.

I do a lot of bathtub and beach reading, and give me a good old paperback anytime. I must confess though, that I’ve had to dry out more than one paperback that I’ve dropped in the tub, especially if I fall asleep while reading. I save my most interesting books for the tub to make sure I stay awake.

I’m fairly confident that my ramblings here have done nothing to further the serious quandary of reading versus binge watching. I can say that I prefer reading, and writing. I got tremendous joy from writing PLEASURIA, as well as my Guardian Angel series. But, in all fairness, there’s nothing wrong with binge watching, and I do love me some popcorn:)