Monday, January 11, 2010

ON BOOKS ~ Seriesously?...


Photo courtesy bibicall @ Flikr


When I was a young reader I inhaled series of books. Nancy Drew and Narnia are two that come to mind immediately. I would find something I liked and then try to get my hands of every piece of writing that author had created for the series. And I would read it all until there was no more. And then sometimes I would start all over again from the beginning. Other times I would try to emulate them by writing stories of my own in their vein. I think it was because I was a big sponge, looking to learn everything I could about something all at once before moving on to something new.

These days, I have no interest in them. In fact, if I hear of an interesting sounding book and then learn that it is a part of a series, I go right on to something else. I am trying to figure out why that is.

I think it is because at this point in my life I am more interested in exposing myself to as many different characters, plots, genres and authors that I can get my hands on. I don't want to devote all that time to one set of ideas. I feel much the same way about movie sequels. The following installments are rarely as good as the original anyway.

There are exceptions to the rule. I have a strong desire to read the Dexter series. But I think this is because I have tested it out with the TV series first and know that I would like to spend a while walking around in that world - dark as it is. And I am curiously drawn to the epic Outlander books - though they represent a huge commitment. Seems like a world I'd like to get lost in during the long, cold winter months.

I have read Dan Brown's first two Robert Langdons. But I read them out of order unknowingly. Didn't seem to make much of a difference - they didn't really tie into each other like a true series does. And I read them a year or two apart from each other. I needed a break from head spinning symbols and secret religious sects.

I have never read or seen any Harry Potter. I may be the last book loving woman on Earth under 40 to say that. I have interest and the first is on my to read list. But I don't want to be a wizard forever. I just want to experience it for a little while and then move on to some non-fiction or something.

I feel like a series in general will set me up to be let down. The first one will be original and exciting and all I can think about. Then the author is encouraged to write another and it is pretty good too. Maybe even better. And then they realize they can get away with a third, a fourth, etc. And I keep reading because I have to. I have to know what happens next. And it goes downhill. And my memories of that character I fell in love with way back when get sullied. And then I become resentful of all those other great new books or timeless classics on my list that I could have been enjoying instead.

So I guess that's why I don't seek them out anymore. I'm going to try to dip back into one again this year. Step outside my curmudgeony old box and mix things up. But it had better be good, and not too involved. So what's your can't miss series recommendation?

17 comments:

stacybuckeye said...

Ah, great post! I just deleted a paragraph about why you need to read Harry Potter & Outlander. They are worth it. 'Nuff said.
This is a tough one for me because like you I read the Nancy Drew and Narnia books, but I do still enjoy time reading a great series. It's like spending time with an old friend. I need to work on giving up on a series once it turns. I'm stubborn and don't like to give up, but I am determined not to read the next Stephanie Plum book. We'll see how that goes. It is nice to know that the series has ended when you start reading (Harry for you) so you know the commitment up front.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I was just like you as a kid. Except I think I would have been better served to be obsessed with something more literary, NOT V.C. Andrews or Stephen King!

For many series, you are right. The first pulls you in, then after awhile, it all goes to hell (ahem - Twilight?). Not Harry Potter. In fact, they start out magical and fun, and progressively get better and better. More complex and dark. And you don't want it to end.

Outlander? This is a huge commitment. I have two more books to cover, which will take me to about 300 audio discs. Insane. I've been immensely entertained by them but nothing like HP.

Susan said...

Funny that you should write about this! I'm very anti-series at this point in my life, much for the same reasons as you. I used to love them when I was younger, but now I just don't want to invest that much time on one theme.

I've never been able to get into Harry Potter. My friend Laura tried every way in the world when the first one came out to get me to read it, but I just wasn't interested. Which is strange, because I loved the series on Merlin that Mary Stewart did in the early '60s.

Now Outlander is a whole different subject! Same friend introduced me to Jamie and Claire and I read all of the first four within a few months, which is no small feat. I literally was not without one of them in my hands day and night until I finished the last one. They were literally ALL I talked about, bored my non-Outlander reading friends to death with it. And then I had to wait a couple of years until The Fiery Cross came out, got it for Christmas, read about a third of it, and put it down. It's still on the bookshelf, unfinished, with the bookmark still in the place where I left it. I dunno why I can't go back to it. It was just as exciting as the first four...I guess I was just done. Haven't started a series since.

Beth F said...

I am in love with series! I guess I hate to say good-bye to characters I love.

Penny said...

Def. Harry Potter!!!
Or Twilight. Don't knock it till you try it ;)
It's a decent series.

Janet said...

Harry Potter is the opposite of what you fear.

It starts off wicked simple and gets better and better and more complex and ... ok, you get the picture :-)

LJ Ducharme said...

You can read the first book of a series and chose NOT to read more. Can't you? Or does it leave you with a feeling of incompleteness?
I tend to love to read anything. That is with the exception of what "everyone else" is reading. If "everyone" is on a certain bandwagon, I certainly like to beat my drum to a different tune. It's a rebellious streak in me. Don't tell me I "have to" read such-and-such - or I never will.

boliyou said...

I haven't gotten into Harry Potter (or Lord of the Rings) either. There was a time I obsessed over the books of Nora Roberts, and her trilogies, but those were short series. You make good points!

Wanda said...

Great post and great responses! My youngest is more into series than I was when I was a kid though I do confess to following V.C Andrews in my teens (Flowers in the Attic and Heavenly? series). I guess you can tell which one left more of an impression.

I had no intention of reading the HP books but my 1st born kept going on and on about them; insisting that I had to read them. I figured after all those years of pestering her to do her homework, reading a few books was the least I could do. A few turned out to be several but they were worth my time, glad to have read and enjoyed them.

Dave and Tami said...

I love series books, but I have a tendency to read them out of order - drives my more methodical friends up the wall. For humor I would recommdn the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich or the Spellman series by Lisa Lutz. For mystery, I like M.C. Beaton, the Burglar series by Lawrence Block, and any series by Robert B. Parker.

I will agree that sometimes they go downhill over time. Two of my favs, the Cat Who... series by Lilian Jackson Braun, and Diane Mott Davidson's catering series both fizzled. Ms. Braun due to her age (90's) and Ms. Davidson for reasons unknown.

Hope you find a series you love and can't wait for the next installment.

kaye said...

I still enjoy reading a series. right now I'm reading 3, Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson Series, The Rangers Apprentice and Fable Haven. All three will have new books out this year.

gracia said...

tHANKS FOR DROPPING BYMY SITE.. YOUR COMMENT HELP ME A LOT!

Matty said...

My entire life, I was never much of a reader. Oh sure, I've read books here and there, but I was not the reader type. Recently, I started reading again, more out of boredom than anything else. Last summer we were on vacation in Maine. We stayed in a rental house on a lake, with no TV. I started reading a book in the living room library and finished it. I then read another. When we got home, I went to the library and got more books and read them. I was on a roll. Then blogging got in my way, and I haven't read again now in months.

J. Kaye said...

If asked four years ago, I'd have said I didn't like series books. I think I even said that a couple of years back. Keeping track of my books has proved that was wrong!

My must read, just off the top of my head, would be the Plum series. It's too funny not to read.

lovesmukiwa said...

I Love reading more than just about anything in this world and I LOVE series. I read everything I could get my hands on by Enid Blyton in my youth - starting with The Faraway Tree and then Famous Five and Secret Seven. I am currently reading three different series at once, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel(which I am enjoying), The Books of Pellinor (which I am LOVING), and the dragon series of Chris d'Lacey's (which I am incredibly annoyed by and can't comprehend HOW he won an award for - and yet still I have completed the first three!) I would recommend the books of Pellinor if you are interested in fantasy. Another I would recommend is the series by Orson Scott Card's "Alvin Maker" series.

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

This is easy: Brandilyn Collins' Kanner Lake Series of suspense. I did some short book reviews on all four of these books because they were my favorite reads for April. Here is a link to them:
http://zemeks.blogspot.com/2009/04/our-best-reads-for-april.html

Catherine @ The Blonde Diaries said...

I recently got into series again. I just finished the Sookie Stackhouse series (well got up to date) and then the Stephanie Plum series (up to date again). Both were fun but I totally understand what you mean by the authors phoning it in after the first couple of books. I don't mind as long as it doesn't totally blow.