Choosing to Read a Stand-Alone Novel  

In a previous post, I pondered over my joy in reading a series of books, and determined that a series is probably my reading preference.

I do, however, read a fair number of stand-alone novels with equal enjoyment.   They have a lot going for them.   I am not talking about books within a series that could be read separately.  I am talking about books that have no relation to any other book, where no characters from this book will spread their wings and fly to another book written by this or any other author.  These characters will stay forever within the pages of this one book, for example 1984 by George Orwell or The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  The characters may stay with us for a long time, but they don’t carry on to other books.

         “The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.”                         – Isabel Allende

A stand-alone book can be read, enjoyed, and put away.   You are done.   You are satisfied.   You move on.   Except when you can’t.   Apparently a stand-alone novel can actually be deceiving.  I recently read a book,  and the last page read “End of Part 1”.   What????   That was just cruel.  But too late, I’m hooked.

There are also times when I need to get out of my comfort zone.   I am bored.   I am tired.  I am lost.  I will read an autobiography, or a romance novel, or something else that isn’t normally my cup of tea.   I am usually surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the experience, and it can get me out of my funk. 

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” 
 – C.S. Lewis

I am now receiving a number of books directly from publishers, and sometimes directly from the author.   These books are usually stand-alone novels,  and they generally make it to the top of my pile (okay, not always).    However, I did recently receive two books that are in a series, and they are numbered 7 and 9 respectively.   This was annoying.   I did not ask for either one of them, and they will only be reviewed if I ever read number 1 through 6 and 8 (respectively).   Actually, this was more than annoying!  

               “It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read.”                                                                                      – Lemony Snicket

There are times that I just need a break between series, even between books within a series.  I need something totally different.  That’s where the stand-alone novel often comes in for me.  When I need something to take my mind off my “family” of characters. 

                              “I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”                                         – Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I have read a lot of really great novels, so although my preference is for a series, I could never discount a stand-alone book altogether.  I have also “met” some really wonderful new authors by reading “unconnected”  novels.  Sometimes you have to take a chance!

Bottom line, I love to read (a shampoo bottle will do in a pinch).   

So, do you prefer stand-alone books, or a series?    

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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?

 

Reading Concerns

 

I have loved reading since I was a child.    All those mysteries to solve, all those worlds to travel in,  all those characters to love or hate.    Throughout my life, books have been the one constant.   Now, in my retirement, I have time to fully enjoy them.   But now,  I have a few problems.

First, there are too many  books.  Way too many books.  There are those I’ve already read, but which deserve to be re-read,  or re-re-read….   Then,  there are all these new books to read, and some genres which I haven’t even tried (yet).  

Second, there are too many authors.   There are my favorites, which of course deserve constant re-reading of their old books, and  of course, all their new books.  Then there are brand new authors…a whole world of new authors, more born every day!   How do I choose?

Third,  I found that I have a real appreciation for books in a “series” — imagine the same characters in every book — they are like a new family!   I can’t wait for the next book to come out, but then the dilemma arises — should I read the last one to remind myself where we are?  Should I start over at Book One again?   Do I plunge into the new one praying I’ll remember everything from books one through 598?  Oh, the quandary. 

Then, there’s the fear that I’ll die before I’ve read that special book one more time,  or that the series will live longer than I will,  or that my favorite authors will out-live me.   OMG, what if I’m in the middle of a good book?

{sigh}

It is a little over-whelming.

Think I’ll go find something to read.

 

First blog post — About Me

WOW, my first blog post.  What do I say about me.

First and foremost, and the reason we are here.  I LOVE books, and I love reviewing books.  I blame my mom.  Over 50 years ago, she started taking me to used book stores.  I could walk, but I was just barely reading on my own.  Later we went to the library.   I grew up loving the smell of old books, and new ones.  I grew up loving to read.  I remember The Jungle Book, and then The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  After that it was Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle.  Then Stephen King  (he will always stand alone).  Eventually I expanded my reading list to include a wide range of fiction, mysteries, horror and thrillers, with the occasional autobiography thrown in.

I have been reviewing books on Goodreads, enjoying it immensely,  and found I have more to say, so I thought…how about my own blog.

Be forewarned,  I will not be publishing spoilers.  I just want to provide a quick synopsis of each book I read, and whether or not I enjoyed it.  You will have your own opinion, and it may be different than mine.  I can live with that.

Also, if I review books within a series, I will assume that you have read the previous books before reading my review, as there may be information  from the ending of the previous one that could be viewed as a spoiler if you had not read it !!!!

Just so you know, I may occasionally blog about something other than books,  but don’t worry,  it won’t be often.

So if you enjoy books as much as I do, welcome, and Happy Reading!

 

p.s.  I’ve moved on to e-readers