The reports are in, and the results will have you second guessing your decision to click "Yes" when Netflix asks you if you’re still watching: New studies show that binge-watching is linked to depression and loneliness. (Did you know that the questionable term recently added to the Oxford Dictionary? We've come so far as a society.) In other words, those of us counting down the days until the House of Cards February 27 release might have to reexamine our life choices.
We could get up and slowly step away for the TV, or we could spring for a healthier form of binging: binge-reading. After all, science has praised the many health benefits of reading. Researchers have shown that reading is one of the best ways to overcome stress, keep your brain sharpened, and relax for a better night’s sleep. On a less scientific note, reading can simply change your life. It has the capacity to show you empathy, humility, and a sense of connectedness. And okay, maybe Friends has taught you a life lesson or two in your 10-season binge session, but it’s a lot harder to eat an entire package of Oreos when both hands are holding a book.
Whether you like mysteries and thrillers or fantasy and romance, these 12 authors have enough books to keep you binging through your next snow day, or at least until Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comes to Netflix in March. So, snuggle up in your blankets and get your tea kettle ready, because it’s going to be the perfect guilt-free weekend of binging and books.
Tell me you weren’t thrilled to find out there would be another book about Lisbeth Salander. The Millennium series written by Stieg Larsson is the perfect mix of mystery and thriller, and each book will have you reaching for the next. The series was cut short by the death of its creator, but author David Lagercrantz will be picking up where Larsson left off and continuing the adventures of rogue journalist Mikael Blomkvist and tech-punk goddess Lisbeth, so now is the perfect time to start binging.
No matter what kind of books you like – mystery, horror, science fiction, fantasy – Stephen King has something to offer. Many of his stories, settings, and characters from across his fictional universe overlap, so when your binge-reading King’s work, you’re sure to appreciate the next book even more than the last. Not sure where to start? Try the Dark Tower series, an eight-book series that combines fantasy, western, and science fiction. Many of the characters and concepts in series can be found throughout King’s work.
Considered the master of science fiction, Isaac Asimov has you covered if you want to spend the weekend roaming the Galactic Empire with your robot bestie. With hundreds of books to choose from, it might be hard to know where to begin your journey to the future, but you can never go wrong with Asimov’s three classic series: Galactic Empire, Robot, and Foundation.
George R. R. Martin
Admit it: You used your parents' HBOGo login and binge-watched all of Game of Thrones . Hey, I don’t judge you for it. Why don’t you grab a blanket and snuggle up on your own iron throne and read the books that started it all. With around 4,000 pages of epic fantasy spread out across five books, you might be able to catch up before Martin releases the next installment… whenever that may be.
Get lost in the English countryside in a world of big hair and even bigger ball gowns with all of your favorite Jane Austen heroines. If you’re a sucker for romance and miscommunication, put Austen’s six novels in your literary queue and get ready to laugh, swoon, and cry your eyes out.
Life doesn’t always have to be so serious. Just ask Kilgore Trout, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s many reoccurring characters across his 14 novels. Hilarious, outlandish, and fantastical, Vonnegut’s mash up of science fiction and political satire are as addicting as they are outrageous.
Everyone enjoys a good family drama story, but there is no literary master like William Faulkner when it comes to dysfunction, deception, and disappointment in the home. His fictional Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi, where nearly all of his novels are set, is a hotbed for family secrets and lovers’ betrayals. Get caught up in the family drama of the Sutpens, the Compsons, the Snopes, and the Sartoris families that extend over 19 novels and 125 short stories, and I promise, it will make the series finale of Parenthood that much more bearable.
If you are in need of a weekend full of laughter and self-deprecation, look no further than the nine collections of David Sedaris. Though some are a mix of short stories and essays, like Barrel Fever , Sedaris’s best-selling books are largely autobiographical, and by the end, you feel like you’ve had dinner next to his underwear-clad father. Hyperbolic and uproariously funny, I don’t recommend binge-reading Sedaris around anyone, lest you interrupt them with your constant LOLing.
Joyce Carol Oates
If you are the type to binge-watch 20 minute sitcoms over two hour Sherlock episodes, then binging short stories could be your new thing, and what better to binge on than the almost 40 collections from Joyce Carol Oates. There are pages and pages of heartache and nostalgia to keep you firmly planted on the couch.
Maybe you’ve never been a big poetry reader, but you’d be hard-pressed not to keep turning page after page of Alice Walker’s incredible verse. Touching upon everything from identity, loss, race, sexuality, fear, and love, Walker’s nine poetry collections will make you feel all the feels. Get the tissues ready.
The 11 novels of Toni Morrison are vivid and rich in both character and detail. Her novels deal with heavier themes of race, sex, identity and the struggles that go along with those categorizations, but her flawless presentation makes reading one book to the next seamless. If you want to get lost in the lyrical prose of a true American master, Morrison has plenty to keep you busy through the brunch, dinner, and drink plans you wanted to avoid.
J. K. Rowling
If you’re a fan of kid lit, fantasy, adventure, or, well, anything really, the Harry Potter series is a given. Escape to the halls of Hogwarts and join familiar faces for seven books of magic and friendship. And don’t try to pretend you haven’t already reread them all at least once.