Aug 1 2012 9:30am

Look Before You Leap: Series Hesitation

Fork in the Road image by David Paul Ohmer via FlickrI never thought I would delay in buying a book recommended by a friend (or this fine blog). But that day has come. It’s like realizing you are suddenly old.

Like most of you, I’m an avid reader. I buy books knowing I will get to them sometime and this has lead to a to-read pile requiring its own room. That doesn’t even count the e-books.

Here’s the thing, though: I have so many wonderful books stacked up waiting to be read that I find myself debating picking up a new book if it’s in a series.

One-off e-book buys happen all the time. If it can work as a standalone and a trusted friend advocates for it, it gets the immediate buy. But what do you do when the suggested single read turns into a promise of a series you’d love—one that already has five or more books available?

Me? I get nervous. I could fall into a delightful literary hole, gorging my mind on title after title of an addictive new series. I’ve done it before (J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy). And that means foregoing the books already waiting on me—the review reads, the friends’ books, all of it.

Is it going to be worth it? How do we, as avid readers, decide we’re willing to take on a new series? If it’s every bit as good as promised, it’s going to end up on the auto-buy list. You’ll devour the next and the next. The angst promised in Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series sounded right up my alley, but I had to wonder if I was ready to be wrapped up in the saga.

Really, you’re starting a relationship with the author. Are you ready to make a commitment to stick with these characters for a few years?

My answer is almost always yes. I spend time reading about the series. Does the blurb sound good? Well, Friend A says it’s fantastic. Hmm. Let’s see what my favorite bloggers thought of it. Sure enough Bloggers B, C, and D put it on their favorites lists.

Here’s the backward part. While all this hesitation on committing to a new series makes me waver and think about how I’m going to convince my husband we need to buy another round of bookshelves, I’m more likely to jump on board if all my friends call the series addictive. If it really is good enough to make me abandon the stacks of awesomeness I already own, then I’m willing to dive in.

I will then groan about how I’m so behind on my to-read pile. If it’s not enough to make me forget about everything else—even the great titles waiting to be read in the other room—then maybe we’re meant for a one-night stand. And if it does make me devour book after book, not such a bad thing.

Perhaps the truth here is if you’re really a reader, you’re always going to be behind on your reading list. There will never be a time when there aren’t new books you need to devour, when there isn’t something you must read.

What’s the last series you got addicted to?


Image courtesy of David Paul Ohmer via Flickr


While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. Her appreciation of Alexander Skarsgard is well documented. Bother her on Twitter - @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Anna Bowling
1. AnnaBowling
I remember my father once asking me when I will have read all the romance books. I told him "never." That was over twenty years ago, and true enough, the TBR shelves only get fuller, no matter how much I read. That's not going to change, and I like it that way.

With the plethora of series out these days, I have to be judicious in selecting new reads. For me, series must be read in order, and there are only so many hours in the day, so if a new book is too far down in an existing series, it's likely I'll pass. Nobody can read everything, and if I spend the whole book wondering who's this and where is that and what is everyone talking about, that takes away from the present story.

There are times I'll make exceptions, if it's a rarely used but favorite trope, for example, but for the most part, if the recommended book is in a series, I'll need to read the predecessors first. If the first one grabs me, I'll move forward.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
Chelsea, the last series that hooked me was one of your recommendations: Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent. I haven't read more in the series, but I know I will. I do feel the same series hesitation that you do, because of the towering TBR, and won't start if I hear the series ended badly (I did a Morning Coffee about that once). But there is NOTHING as exciting as starting a series where there are already a few books to it so you don't have to wait (for me, that was Moning's Fever series).
3. ChelseaMueller
@AnnaBowling - I want to read series in order, too. So I find myself wondering if a) the book will work as a standalone or b) am I really game to read 11 books in this series?

@MFrampton - Still super happy that you loved Blood Bound. You'll enjoy the second book, Shadow Bound, too, though it's much darker. You're right, though, about the thrill of being able to devour the next book in a new series immediately. When it's good, it's excellent not to have to wait for more.
Brie Clementine
4. Brie.Clem
When the series is new and there’s only one book out, I usually hesitate because I don’t want to get hooked on a series and have to wait god knows how long to read the next book, and the next, and the next… But if it’s a series that has lots of books out, then I’m all for it. Maybe I won’t like it, but if I do, I know I’ll have some more books to read and satisfy my need for instant gratification.

Also, I never worry about getting behind on my TBR pile, because I’m always behind so I’m used to it. And my huge TBR pile makes me feel safe because I know that if I hit a rough reading spot, I can always go back and pick one of the books waiting to be read.
5. ChelseaMueller
@Brie.Clem - Also, you can build a wicked fort with all those extra books. Not that I know...


That's a good point about holding off until the second or third book is out, just in case it ends up being one you devour.
white lily
6. white lily
I do love series and the more the better. Although it sounds odd but various series make the individual waiting easiet. As an example, I just finished Rhiannon's Law newest addition and feel I need the next one right now. Luckily after I finish my review and spend some last lingering thoughts in Saare's world, I'll enter Kate Daniels' world again awith Gunmetal which will lead me to Biting Cold and so on... ;-)

As for new series, I only started the Rachel Morgan series recently and am already in love with these books. For the near future the Iron Druid moved up on top of my TBR pile.

It might be worth to look for new series considering the publishing month. May is sooo full every year whereas November is basically a draught. Yes, I do keep an excelvfile to keep up with my series....*lol*
white lily
7. AmandaB
My TBR list on Goodreads reads like the list of books I'll never get around to reading...I have to look at it every so often to remind me what books I put on there!

The last series I got hooked on was MJ Scott's The Half-Light City books. There's only two out (Shadow Kin and Blood Kin) but I loved them. So many fun elements (shifters, vamps, steam punk, and in the first one, the main character is a frickin' wraith!) and I'm impatiently waiting on the next one...which probably won't be released for another year. Poop.
white lily
8. Sarah DF
I love reading series. I prefer them to stand alone books, actually. Lately, though I haven't wanted to start a series when only one book or even two books are out, especially if I know that it is a series that has a set number of books. For example, Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series. I love all of her stuff, but waited until the second book was out to read both of them. I like to find a series that is already in progress if possible.

Some series though, just go on for too long. I don't read a few of them anymore because they just aren't the same. Examples include, Charlaine Harris's Sookie books, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, and Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books. I prefer a series which is planned out from the begining with a set amount of books, or at least ones where the author can tell that it's time to stop writing. Rachel Vincent is good at this as well as Richelle Mead.
white lily
9. Vavita
The dark hunter series of sherrilyn kenyon drive me insane! And not only that the dark hunters r great but the related series dream hunters and were hunters r also incredibly addicting. They r althoguh confusing as some books take place in paralell and some in between others. Also lots of characters appear and dissapear and appear again after acouple of years. I had to craete a family tree and a timline because i kept forgetting what happened when and who married whom. But as the characters are amazing and the twists and turns spectacular, i just cannot stop reading them!
10. ChelseaMueller
@white lily - I don't think that's odd at all. I do the same thing. It's one of the upsides to reading so many series books -- there's always something new coming out.

@AmandaB - Those books are actually in my physical TBR. So, you're saying I should start? :)

@Sarah DF - You're so right about Richelle Mead. She's a favorite of mine, and the close to the Georgina Kincaid series was one of the most satisfying ones I've read.

@Vavita - It's such a large endeavor to take on the Dark-Hunters series, because the world is so vast. So many books!
white lily
11. MAK
I recently finished Kate Locke's God Save the Queen. I was surprised at how quickly I got wrapped up in that book, and now must wait for the next book in a new series. I also read Thea Harrison's Oracles Moon which is part of a series, but works as a stand alone. Now, however, I'm interested in this world she's created and have started reading the books in order. I'm on the second book in the Elder series. Very entertaining! Good luck on your reading. This way you always have something to look forward to reading!
white lily
12. Arthemise
I wish I had that problem. I tear through books so fast that I have to search for good new authors, especially authors that my library carries so I don't have to spend so much money. (Right now I'm only reading paranormal romance or urban fantasy, and the pickings are lean.) I always start with the first book in the series because I hate the confusion of coming in in the middle. If I absolutely hate the first book, the author will go on my do-not-read list. If the book is even passable, I'll get the rest of the books. Many series do get better. I rarely give up on a series -- I'm still reading a certain author that seems to have gone off the deep end!
Pamela Webb-Elliott
13. Spaz
This has happened to me with series that already have several books out, and when it does, I devour them all - I am a monster.
Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series I discovered 4 books in, Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series I discovered 3 books in, Rachel Vincent's Shifters series I discovered right before the final book came out! Another one that has kept me up reading the 3 that were already out are Caitlin Kittredge's Black London series, too. Oh, and omg the crackalicious books that were Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid series, I seriously did not eat or sleep for what felt like like dayyyyys readinug those books! Hubs was like ???? I LOVE jumping in to a series when I know there are several books I can read back to back. I enjoy being with an author from the beginning, and discovering a brand new series, but there is something to be said for being able to sit down and spend countless sleepless nights reading a series of books that are new to you!
FWIW Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac did this to me as well. I think the series was 4 books in when I discovered it, and I did not have the willpower to put them down. I hope you enjoy!
Great post!
14. wsl0612
Chelsea, like so many of us I have the TBR room (real and virtual) so I look for reasons NOT to start a new-to-me series. As MFrampton says if I hear it ended badly that's a good enough reason to avoid it. Also if I hear some negative tidbit that will bother me (i.e. there's a serial killer taking out the pets of the characters or the hero cheats on the heroine, and vice versa) then I can justify avoiding a series. OTOH, if there's so much fabulous discussion and excitement about the series, then I'm tempted. That's what got me hooked into the Black Dagger Brotherhood, damn all you "crack dealers" and "enablers"! ;-)
15. ChelseaMueller
I seriously did not eat or sleep for what felt like like dayyyyys readinug those books! Hubs was like ????
This is why I love you, Spaz.
Allison Brennan
16. Allison_Brennan
I suppose there are two types of series -- those with separate heroes and heroines within the same world and those with the same hero/heroine in every book. I read both.

I started Lee Child mid-series but went back to read earlier Reacher books and learned that I had really skipped around. It doesn't matter with his series as much as it does with someone like Tess Gerritsen where the characters grow and change over the series. You might be able to miss one, but not more without feeling lost. I started JD Robb around book 8 and never went back to the beginning. A common world with different heroes/heroines (like Jayne Castle) I can comfortably read as stand alones -- you don't really have to read them in order.

But for me, a good story is a good story and a good author will write a series title in such a way that the reader shouldn't get lost if they pick up mid-stream. Every book should stand alone in all the important ways, particularly in providing a complete story, whether or not you continue with the same h/h or have different leads.
white lily
17. Lashawn
The last series I became addicted to was the Iron Druid and Black Dagger Brotherhood. I love series! The best way to have a book move to the top of my TBR is if it is available on audiobook. I used to have an aversion to audio because I like to have a book in my hand, but my TBR is over 200 books. Plus I can listen during times I wouldn't be able to read, like when I'm cleaning or doing laundry or at work. I save the physical reading for waiting rooms, commuting on the bus, lunch breaks and bedtime.
white lily
18. SassyT
Usually, I am stuck waiting for new books to come out by authors I love. However, it seems they like to come out all at the same time so I now have a TBR pile. Also, I started reading YA fiction (I balked at reading it for a long time but my BFF....a teen librarian...finally wore me down and so I am now firmly on the bandwagon) which has caused me to not be able to read some of the adult romance/paranormal books that have come out. I have joined the ranks of the rest of you and have a growing pile of TBRs. Hello! My name is SassyT and I have a growing TBR

I find myself doing like most of you and waiting until a series has a few books out before starting it (nothing is worse than waiting for the next book to come out when the series is really exciting). I started BDB when there were 2 books out already and the 3 was coming out that next week. Then I had the agonizing wait for the rest of the books. I have now cooled on the series (I hate the switch from PR to UF...just my personal taste). Still, I keep reading because I'm invested in these guys. The same with the DH series (and the dream and were-hunters). I'm invested now and I can't

@Vavita: Can you send me that family tree because I am hopelessly lost and when a character shows up in a random book I'm like "Did I see this person before?" I know I've heard the name before but there have been so many I can't them all straight. It kind of takes away from the book when I can't remember who is who and where I remember them from.
white lily
19. Merida
Fifty Shades of Grey as well as Jayne Ann Krentz's Arcane Novels and Elizabeth Lowell Enchanted, Forbidden and Untamed book set.
white lily
20. parawriter
I can never read too many good books, especially books in a series! I love that my to-be-read pile grows faster than I can read them all. I feel there is so much to look forward to, and so many new storytellers' exciting worlds to journey through! I only wish I had more time to read them all!
Post a comment