‘absorbing second mystery . . . stunning resolution.’ [Stage Fright]


The one-sitting read

51Spa3FCHhL._AC_US160_These I rarely read a book in one sitting. Maybe sometimes on holiday, but otherwise it tends to be when I am not very well. Such a day came last week – just a cold, but I didn’t feel up to much. I retired to bed with Ellie Griffith’s The Outcast Dead, which I’d been saving for when I wanted a treat. There was no-one at home so I read it straight through without interruptions, including over lunch, and I enjoyed it hugely.

I used often to read like that – for hours on end. I remember as a teenager that a favourite place to read was sitting on the stairs, back against the wall, feet against the bannisters, while the sunlight through the stained glass of the front door of our between-the-wars semi sent shifting patterns moving across the hall carpet.

The great thing about a one-sitting reading is that you don’t forget who characters are or mislay bits of the plot. You get completely immersed in the book, sinking into it, leaving your ordinary life behind. Of course not everything can be read like this. Proust or Tolstoy demand a greater expenditure of time – the reading has to be spread over days, weeks, or maybe months – and that sense of living in a parallel universe is part of the experience of reading the book. But I like a crime novel to be short enough to read in one sitting – and if the writer has done their job, I should want to read it in one sitting, drawn on and on until at last the final page is reached, it’s over, and with a sigh of satisfaction, I close the book (and go online to download the next in the series).



  1. moira @ClothesInBooks
    May 22, 2016

    Oh Chrissie I know exactly what you mean! Like you, I could do this much more in teens and 20s, and it is rare now, but such a treat when it happens. So glad you liked the Griffiths- as you know, one of my favourite series.
    I’m pretty sure that when you recommended Henrietta’s War I ended up reading it in one sitting – then immediately downloading the followup…

    • Christine Poulson
      May 23, 2016

      Having children has quite an impact on one’s reading habits, I have found! I might blog about that sometime. Of course it is easier if the book in question is short – like Henrietta’s War – and I do like a book that it is possible to read in, say, an evening. Naturally there are plenty of longer books that repay a longer investment of time – as long as they DO repay it. They don’t always.


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