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Guest Post: How do you approach reading a series?

Please welcome my friend Abigail Sharpe to the blog today. Abigail writes stories of love and laughter and happily ever afters (great tag line, huh?). She’s had several short stories published around the web and is a 2010 Golden Heart finalist. She also blogs at http://chicksinthekitchen.wordpress.com/ and http://abigailsharpe.com/.

From Abigail….

Reading Towers of Midnight. The 12th book of a 13-book series. Long awaited. Highly anticipated. Shout out to Robert Jordan here. I was sad to hear of your passing. You are a great storyteller, sir, and have given me many hours of entertainment and enjoyment.

The Eye of the World series started in 1990 (I think). I picked up the first book around 1993 and bought them faithfully when they were released for the next 18 years. But the problem is I don’t remember half of what was in the stories written in 1993 to 2009. There are people. They do things. Stuff happens. This happened to me with C.L. Wilson’s Lord of the Fading Lands series. But I got smart with those – I bought them but didn’t read them. (Except for the first two. I couldn’t help myself.) Now that they’re all out, I can read without the dreaded release break. And let’s not even get started with Diana Gabaldon. 

Does this happen to you? Do you ever NOT start a book because it is part of the series and instead wait for the series to be complete? Or do you devour the books as soon as they’re released, then wait a year or two for the next one?

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25 thoughts on “Guest Post: How do you approach reading a series?

  1. Thanks for having me, Charlie. I’m halfway through Towers of Midnight, and the author is doing a pretty good job of putting in little reminders of what happened earlier. Sometimes authors can do that to the point of intrusion, but this is done in a nice, subtle way.

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    • Always a pleasure, Abigail.

      I think it depends on the genre and type of series. Epic fantasy always seems to be one big story broken up by page count, rather than any real story break. That drives me crazy. Something like JD Robb’s Eve Dallas series gives you a case per book with character stuff that runs from book to book. That is much more palatable for me.

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  2. There is nothing better than finding a great story that continues on. I’m always attracted to series for that reason. Hunger Games, The Chaos Trilogy, the Beautiful series, come to mind.

    When I bond with characters/story, I don’t want it to end, and for some reason, it seems to me that series books are better written. Maybe it’s because the author has to flesh everyone out and come up with a compelling enough plot to carry a series.

    I love getting to know the characters and watching their story arcs–it’s actually a lot like watching a TV series, and having that question of what will happen next.

    My only real complaint is that series books are often released at least 1 year apart. I hates that! I’m hoping with the advent of e-publishing, books will be released at a faster clip.

    Like Inigo Montoya–I hate waiting! 🙂

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    • Bella, I’m with you! You get to know the characters so much better, and yet how much of it do you forget between books? So frustrating!

      and I have to admit – even with a Kindle, I’m still more likely to buy the actual book. 🙂

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  3. I really resent the 1 year separations between books [even if I understand the author may be frantically finishing that installment!] Some writers I will wait for – JR Ward, Jayne Anne Krentz/Jayne Castle in her latest trilogy. Others I’ve lost track of, such as CJ Cherryh and her incredible alien words BECAUSE of the length of time between books. Others, like Laurell K Hamilton have books that are so easy to follow that I can be on book 26 and not care that there’s an inconsistency with the 6th book or that a villain has become a hero.

    For me, much depends on the writer’s style and how intricate the plots and vivid the world building.

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    • I know the authors want the next one done just as much as we do. Doesn’t make the wait any easier. *laugh*

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      • Why can’t we just lock the authors up in airless rooms–giving them coffee laced with booze and unlimited Twinkies, in order to encourage them to get the sequels done faster?

        Must.Find. Out. What. Happens. Next.

        LOL

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  4. I tried to read this series. I bought the first book (in TPB form, no less) back in 1989 (I think it was ’89… Key Largo K-Mart, mile marker 103… Yes, I even remember where I bought the book!)

    I couldn’t get into it. It was dry and boring, and I quickly succumbed to other books that were far better, in my opinion.

    However, to answer your question about buying books and then not reading them until the series is complete, I can honestly say that this has not bothered me… perhaps because the authors I read have a tendency to actually wrap up what is going on in the storyline with each book sufficiently that I am not looking for the next page….wait… this actually JUST happened to me with a book I read on Sunday… I can’t complain about that one though, since I did get the book for free via Amazon/Kindle…

    Other series that I have read… well, there is always the Potter universe, but those books always began and end at a very specific point, and they seemed to be properly wrapped up. Terry Goodkind is probably the closest parallel I have to Robert Jordan’s series, and even those I found to have a beginning, middle, and end, and no real cliff-hanger that made me wish there were more to the book, or that the next book in the series was waiting for me to pick up.

    So to summarize, yes, I will pretty much read the book as it comes out, then wait for the next one to be written.

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    • Hi Jon. Welcome to the blog! I’m with you on leaning toward series that wrap up the story problem for each book. But I wouldn’t let it stop me from reading if a series is awesome.

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      • Oh, I agree… I’m not going to let it stop me… but in the case of this particular series, I just could not get into it.

        What is a bit boggling to me is that I really enjoyed reading the Conan books that Jordan wrote prior to this series, which is why I picked up the first one…

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    • I’m okay waiting for stories that wrap up for each book. But the ones that continue for years and years and years and years… I’m going to wait for them all to come out next time. Or maybe half of them, if I can’t stand the anticipation.

      I’m curious how far you got in Eye of the World. Because once they leave their hometown, it pick up.
      (Like in Outlander, I tell folks to read to the chapter after she walks through the stones. If they still don’t like it, then they can put it down. 🙂

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      • Uhhhh… hrm. Well, seeing as it has been over twenty years since I tried to read it, I am going to say that I got to the point where they had left town, and perhaps even got a bit further beyond that, but then gave up on it.

        I may have to try and find my old copy of it. I am pretty sure I know where it is hiding… but that is 400 miles from here… next time I am down at the family house, I’ll dig it out.

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  5. I devour. I have a favorite author that does a release every March/April just in time for Romantic Times convention. I tear through the book. I want to read it slow yet I never can.

    Also, I start reading the books leading up to the new release to finish just in time for the new book. It was somewhat easier when it was like the third book in the series coming out. Of course they are all written as stand alone single title books. Now we are way into the series and that plan is getting harder to carry out each year.

    I do love immersing myself in her world. Yet, sometimes there is a nagging feeling that we may have gone on too long, too far. Do you reach a saturation point even on your favorite authors?

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    • I think authors grow and change and when a series goes on a long time, they aren’t the same person or the same writer they were when it started. Sometimes that leads them to take things in a direction that doesn’t work for the original series fans. On the other hand, if the characters don’t grow and change in the series then it becomes stale and old. A fine line for authors to walk, I guess.

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  6. An epic fantasy series is tough, especially when you have to wait a long time between installments. Sometimes, as with Robert Jordan, I do lose interest. I haven’t with George R.R. Martin’s series, A Song of Fire and Ice. Unfortunately I have lost interest in Sookie Stackhouse – which is really sad because I was so into the series at first. I guess an author must really hook a reader, keep us invested so we’ll hang in there!

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    • Well, each Sookie story is mostly contained. I’m being smart with GRRM and not reading Song of Fire and Ice until the series is done. My hubby read them and now he’s waiting and waiting and waiting. I AM, however, watching the HBO series. So we’ll see how long my restraint lasts after the series ends. Heh.

      As for Robert Jordan – I JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS ALREADY!!!

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  7. Oh my another Diana Gabaldon and Robert Jordan fan! Nice to meet you Abigail and thanks Charlie for introducing us to Ms. Sharpe and having her guest blog today..

    My series reading started way back in the late 70’s as a young adult with The Australians by William Stuart Long one of the AKA’s used by author Vivian Stuart… At the time I read the books most of them had already released so there was very little waiting…

    However now I have learned with some of the authors I love to read that you buy every book in the series and then read them back to back because of the cliffhanger endings, Gabaldon, Jordan and George RR Martin are my main exceptions because their books are worth waiting for in between each release… I too am sad Mr Jordan passed but very happy that his last installment was able to be published in the last two books because after spending years following Rand Al Thor and the rest of the characters it would have been a real shame not to find out what finally happened!

    So my answer is mixed, I wait for a few series to have the next book be released and others I just wait for the whole series and buy all the books at once to read in order one at a time… This week am finally reading Rachel Caines Morganville Vampire series, even though I have as yet to get the last 2 books that are out…

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    • Yay Jackie B! At a conference recently, the guest speaker asked how many folks in the audience had read Wheel of Time. I was the ONLY ONE! I couldn’t believe it! I bet if she asked about Outlander she would have gotten more responses. Hehe.

      So many series to read and so long between books!

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  8. I am so clueless about current books that I usually don’t find a series until a few books are out, so I get to read the first ones all at once. I don’t mind waiting for authors I love, like C. L. Wilson and Tad Williams.

    But I always pay close attention to the second book in the series–for me, it’s the most important one. If it’s weak, or it ‘jumps the shark’, I know the author is a one book wonder and I shouldn’t waste my time.

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  9. Hi, Abigail!

    It really depends on whether or not I connect with the characters. I absolutely *adored* the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. Each of the players were well drawn and intriguing. I’m so glad I waited till all four books were available before starting on book 1. They’re so darn juicy and quick reads, too. I’m also eagerly awaiting the next instalment in Hope Ramsay’s Last Chance series.

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Vanessa!

      I haven’t heard of the Luxe series but I think I’m going to check it out! And since all the books are out, I won’t have to worry about the wait. Hee. 🙂

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  10. It depends on the series. If I know they’re going to be released in relatively short order, I’ll start right in. If there’s going to be years between them….well, I might wait until the final book comes out to get the rest of the series when the final book is immeninent. Provided I fell in love with book one to begin with.

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