Choosing to Read a Book Series

I think everyone who blogs about books, will at some point scrutinize their decision to get involved with a book series.

A quick examination of my blog reveals that many of the books I read are part of a series, but after some analysis, my reasons for choosing a series seem to be a contradiction in logic.  

Sort of a love/hate relationship.

There are a lot of reasons against getting immersed in a series.  They are really time-consuming.  I dread starting a new series, because what if I like it?  How many more books have already been written in this series, how many more to come?  How far behind am I?  What if I can’t find one of the installments?  What if I hate the series, am I going to continue anyway, because the next book might be better?  What if I get bored with them? Is this going to become a chore just to get to the end?  Either way, will it ever end?  What will I do when it does end?    OMG!!!!  Okay, deep breath. {sigh}  To be honest, I’ve had every one of the above experiences and survived.  So I just plod along.

“A Series of books is really one book separated into several.”  – Maribel C. Pagan

Another problem with a series is the fear that the author stops being truly interested in his/her characters, both the main and supporting cast.  All characters must continue to grow, learn new things, meet new people, expand their horizons.   There’s nothing worse than realizing that the young detective you rooted for when he started out is still 30 years old and living at home with his parents – 10 books later.  Or that one of the favorite side-kicks disappeared with no explanation.  The characters must grow with the books.   In a series there is always more than just the plot.  Character development and continuity is the key.

Then there is the waiting…..part of the reason I will start an older series is because I don’t have to wait for the next book.  It’s already out there, just waiting for me to pick it up.  With a new series you run the risk of having to wait for the author to come out with the next installment – what if the author goes on to a different series, or dies before it gets written???  Again, deep breath. 

“I hate it when I have to wait the next book in a series to come out. ”  – Patrick Rothfuss

Part of the appeal to the series is the genre.  I read a lot of mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, and apocalyptic tales, all which lend themselves well to the series model. 

Yes, a series of books is truly my favorite.   I like getting more involved, more familiar, more in-tune with the characters over time.  You get attached, okay I get attached.   They grow and become like family – not necessarily a family I need, and not always one I want.  Then there is the fact that I’m not really good with endings.  I want more.

Let’s not get me started on cliff-hangers.

Speaking of endings,  there is a point when every series must end.  Some authors have a hard time finding it  – James Patterson’s Alex Cross series comes to mind, as I’m in the middle of it and there seems to be no end in sight (it’s starting to drag).   Some endings I hate – I love Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series, really hate that ending, but still re-read it every year or two.   Some series I wish would go on forever – love JK Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, but know she ended that well.  Although to be honest she has come out with a few little add-ons to the series.  Yes, every series must end…..it’s the letting go I have problems with….hence the re-reading.

“A good book has no ending.”  – Robert Frost

Yet I always return to the series, because I know what I am getting.  I am getting more.  A series promises more.  More familiarity.  More of the same characters.   More of the same writing style.   More books.   And that’s it….more.  I love more.

What about you?

 

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4 thoughts on “Choosing to Read a Book Series

  1. Adam says:

    I also tend to prefer a series that’s been completed. Among other things I think you can infer a lot from how many volumes there are, and how long they are. Three often seems like a stable number, and 5 or 7 can work, if the story is heavily “journey” focused. Beyond 7, I tend to grow skeptical.
    I also think there’s a distinction between a series that has a long arc, and one that keeps revisiting the same world and characters, introducing new problems. The former works great, but the later often feels lacking to me. I find that I prefer a “reset to 0” series when each adventure is shorter, like Sherlock Holmes or the original Conan short stories.

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    • KatD59 says:

      I agree that a series with a lower number of books works well. I particularly enjoyed The Passage Series by Justin Cronin. The length was perfect. I also feel that it really depends on the genre. A series in the mystery category with the same set of detectives works wonderfully for a longer series, as long as the characters grow, and the “cases” remain fresh — but there has to be an end to those as well. Love Arthur Conan Doyle !

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  2. Wendy says:

    Oh I too love the Dark Tower series. I’ve even read some of the graphic novels, not normally my thing, but they are good. (unless you count Sandman, by Neil Gaiman, I will read that graphic novel series over and over.) I don’t know why but for the past year or so I haven’t been able to really get into a series, or non fiction books in general. I haven’t been reading as much, and that makes me sad. I used to read voraciously! I couldn’t get enough. Now….eh. I don’t know what’s wrong. 😦

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    • KatD59 says:

      LOL Wendy, maybe you are “read out”…hope not. Maybe you just need to explore something else for a while. The Dark Tower will always be a favorite (mind you, so will Stephen King). I must admit I am not a fan of graphic novels since reading the Odd Thomas (Dean Koontz) graphic novels. I was sadly disappointed, and have not pursued that avenue again.

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