Jun 6 2014 8:30am

Reading the Next Book in a Series After a Hiatus?

The latest book in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling book, Shield of Winter, was released earlier this week, while Harry Dresden returned in Skin Game, a new book in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series.

With these two examples in double digits, there's a lot of history to recall, and because you're an avid reader, you've read many books since you read the prior book in the series. How do you prepare to read the latest entry in a long-running series? Do you jump right in? Or reread the previous books? Or find a wiki type of primer to remind you of what you might have forgotten?

How do you read the next book in a series after a hiatus?

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1. Scarlettleigh
This is probably not the answer you are looking for, but here goes . . .

I only read a couple of long running series, and in those books the previous characters have only walk on parts- -- you know the type -- my husband and I are blissfully happy, etc, so it doesn't matter if I recember the who's, where's and why's.

I have never been a long term series fan. . .I think the max amount of books that I have read in a series is 12 and that was before I got burned-- after waiting five years for a character's story arc. That dramatically decreased even more my desire to be invested in continuing characters and or plots-- so now I rarely read them.

In my perfect world, books would be three to four in a series, and then end, with everything nicely tied up. Of course many, many people would be upset. . .
2. Sooz H
With the Harry Potter series, I would re-read the previous ones right before the next one came out so I could recall the little details.
I have never re-read a series (at least not all of them) that has more than 10 books. I might read a book or two just to relive that moment in time.
Jennifer Proffitt
3. JenniferProffitt
I usually just reread my favorites. I tried rereading the full series with the Harry Potter books and with Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark and it just gets me too mentally exhausted--and sometimes more aware of the flaws in the book if I'm reading them back to back.

Same thing with the adaptations of books to film. If I read the book too close to watching the movie, I can't appreciate it for what it is. To me, the book should be the book, and the movie should be the movie. I'll never forget finishing rereading Ella Enchanted in the movie theater parking lot and walking into the theater. Two hours later I walk out and I don't think I had ever been so pissed off in my young life (I was like 14 or 15 at the time!).
Myretta Robens
4. Myretta
I usually choose time shifting. I'll start reading a series after it has a sizable backlist. For example, I'm on #7 of 16 of the Dresden Files so I can just move on to the next when I'm finished. I realize that at the rate I'm going I'm eventually going to catch up. (I'm doing these on audio book - narrator highly recommended).

Harry Potter - I also started late but had to wait for the last two or three. I also listened to these in my car and re-listened in prep for the next book. You can't beat Jim Dale's narration.

The other series I read is J. D. Robb's In Death, which is no problem as she publishes these twice a year.
Lege Artis
5. LegeArtis
I reread the favorites... But for example, when I started reading SoW i got back all the way to the first book in series, bcs I wanted to remind myself of the effects Silence had on E-Psy (Sascha),so it made it more interesting to read now how all those emapths who were belived were broken all their life, are supposed to become salvation of the Psy race.
I also tend to do a reread of entire series if next book in series is pivotal (like HoO was or next Kate Daniels where we finally get to see Roland), or before final book in series.
Megan Frampton
6. MFrampton
I am currently reading Skin Game, and I just leapt right in, confident that I would remember enough to make this book make sense. So far, it does. I don't reread books often, and I don't think I'd have the patience to read all 14 of the books in the series prior to this. I do wish there was an appendix where I could see a synopsis of the important events in each book, just in case I need a reminder.
Jennifer Proffitt
7. JenniferProffitt
@MFrampton, to me it's always the mark of a good author that you can just jump in without remembering the finer details. Sure, you may appreciate the journey a little more if you had reread and could remember the intricacies of the plot, but a good author doesn't make that necessary.

I talked about this with someone recently, in regards to reading books out of order. Most famously, for me, was when I read The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James --it was the first time I read the Four Sisters series and I think if I had read in order I would have not wanted to pick up Imogen's book. Going back I could appreciate her journey, but I think if I had read in order, or reread the first two books before diving into hers, I would have been very hesitant to begin her story.
8. Kahintenn
If it's been a long time since the last book, I generally re-read the last book and then dive into the new one. I'm about to re-read An Echo in the Bone in preparation for next weeks release of WRitten in My Own Heart's Blood.

When I started reading romance I quickly found that if I didn't take notes, the books all ran together. So I have an Excel spreadsheet with a brief entry for each book and I update it faithfully as I finish a book. Each blurb has just enough detail to remind me of the salient plot points. I read a lot of historical romance, where series are common, and I would never be able to keep my characters straight without some reference guide. This has the added bonus of preventing me from buying or re-buying books I have already read. That's important because I use my library ebook system and I have a Nook and the Kindle app on my iPad, so I get books from everywhere. It also reminds me which authors to watch for, and which to avoid.
Elizabeth Halliday
9. Ibbitts
I much prefer a series to stand-alone books.
The length of the series is irrelevant.
It probably started when I was very young with Agatha Christie. She and Daphne duMaurier taught me to love mysteries. Then I found the brilliant and prolific Rex Stout. He wrote the Nero Wolfe books - there were 83 full-length novels in that series, starting in 1934 and ending with his death in 1975, the last 3 books in the series were published posthumously in 1985 - and not a dog in the bunch.
I read many current series and I never seem to have a problem with timelines or continuity. The same is true if I should happen to read something out of order: like finding out later there was a novella sandwiched in a few books back.
I don’t know why, but my mind just seems to line everything up properly.
Carmen Pinzon
10. bungluna
For some series, it really doesn't mater, I can just jump right in.

In the case of the Dresden Files, the author has done such a meticulous job of ploting the overall arc of the story, that I get more out of it if I re-read it periodicaly throughout the year, culminating in the last book right before the new one comes along.

In other instances, it's enough for me to re-read the previous one or just my favorite bits before jumping into the latest. Kate Daniels fits this category.

For the paranormal series I read, I really don't care since the current couple really has nothing much to do with the previous couple, most of the time.
11. Kareni
I read J. D. Robb's ... in Death series until there were some thirty books, and I would reread the series fairly often. I haven't continued with the series in the past two or three years; I don't know if that's because the length of the series became too daunting to reread or whether it's a case of too many books, too little time!
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