Books in a series

As a lover of mystery and crime thrillers, I find myself following myriad ‘series’.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the aspect of following a set of characters over numerous books.  When I was ‘just’ a reader, I would religiously follow a series – being quite anal about reading the series in order, even going so far as to collect the series in hardcover and praying that the publisher would make the books in the series’ dustjackets match in some way.  Yup! I’m a former library cataloger and I’m proud of my AR tendencies. LOL

Then… this happened: so many not time

I am a voracious reader and I just couldn’t keep up!

Elizabeth George 1-6

Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series

Then I became a full-time book blogger/book reviewer and became inundated with more and more titles to choose from.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining).

Louise's books

Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series

It has reached the point where the tenth book in a favorite series is coming out and I have only read four of them!  Yikes!  And, to rub salt in the wound, I found that it was SO long since I read the first few titles that I don’t remember them the way I should.  And WHO has time to go back and reread them all?reread-or-not

Then a few times I inadvertently chose a title from NetGalley or Edelweiss that was part of a series I hadn’t even started.  For instance I reviewed “The Forgotten Girls” by Sara Blaedel and it was the 7th title in the Louise Rick series and it was the first book I read by that author.  And… GULP…. the sky didn’t fall, the world didn’t end, AND I loved it!

I found it is NOT necessary to read each and every book in a beloved seriesthough it is wonderful if you can – but with busy lives, even the most fervent of series followers might just not be able to read them all.

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series

Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford series

Stephen Booth's Ben Cooper and Diane Fry police procedural mysteries

Stephen Booth’s Ben Cooper and Diane Fry police procedural mysteries

and these series are only the very tip of the iceburg!

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series

At present, I have over one hundred titles that I have committed to reading then reviewing.  Unfortunately only about three of this number are books in series I am following…  Will I ever get to persue my beloved series?  I sure hope I live long enough…

And don’t get me started on my favorite trilogies:

Denise Mina's Garnethill trilogy

Denise Mina’s Garnethill trilogy

And… series that have been translated from another language.  Often, the latest book in the series or the one that has proven to be the most popular in its native country gets translated first.  This leaves English speaking readers with no choice but to read the series out of order…gone reading

I’d love to hear from other series readers.

Do you HAVE to read the series in order?  Why? Why not?

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About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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29 Responses to Books in a series

  1. I much prefer series books because one is never enough. I do have to read them in order though because I absolutely hate knowing a plot and almost never reread books. So if I have to skip a book in a series, the skipped are never read.

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    • Fictionophile says:

      You are not alone in your thinking. I remember from my many years working in the library as a cataloger how important it was to trace series for our patrons.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. madbooklove says:

    Like you, pre-NetGalley I was very rigid about reading series in order. Then I got approved for a couple of books that were in a series I was not familiar with (#6 or higher in a series), and…it was fine! Authors of series often seem to do a good job of inserting pertinent background and details, so the books work just fine as stand-alones, particularly if they are thriller/suspense/mystery. There are always exceptions, I think especially in trilogies, which tend to read like one big book split into threes, but more often than not, a series is about repeating characters and themes, not the long continuation of one story.
    Of course, when it comes to my own books and beloved series, I still read them in order (when I can read them at all!), but now I feel less reticent requesting a middle of the series book for reviewing purposes, and might even be willing to pick up the newest release of a thriller/suspense/mystery series that I’ve never read before rather than starting at the beginning.

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  4. Jasmine says:

    I feel the same way. So many books and so little time! 🙂

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    • Fictionophile says:

      Skye and Jasmine,

      Jorge Luis Borges said “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” I hope that A) I’ll go to heaven AND B) that he is right so that I can work on my TBR when I get there.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. skyecaitlin says:

    I also agree that it’s impossible to be so stringent with reading sequels and often time and also beloved authors lose their magic touch over time.

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  6. skyecaitlin says:

    Thank you SO much for this list, and it is another keeper and one that I will pass along to my friend. I have read most of the authors, too, and the Outlander is staring me in the face right now from the other room. I did begin that series YEARS ago.

    Ok, to answer your question—I read Sue Grafton’s series in order, and I am so glad I did, too. I have read Sunny Frazier’s books in order, and I wish I had read Michael Connelly’s books in sequence, but I didn’t.
    Other authors I read in sequence follow:

    Lisa Gardner
    Patricia Cornwell
    Phillippa Carr ( Daughters of England)
    Joy Fielding
    Mary Higgins-Clark
    ( The last two wrote mainly ‘stand alones)
    James Patterson

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  7. Emma says:

    I do like a series and I like to start at the beginning but to commit I have to love the characters not just like them. It has to be compelling. Otherwise, I can’t keep up. I rarely read a book in a series that is halfway or more than a few books in, though the sky – like you say – hasn’t fallen in when I have,.

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  8. Andrew Joyce says:

    I’m a big fan of Baldacci, Lee Child, Westlake among other series writers. They know how to do it. Even though their books are part of a series, one can read them in any order. I think the trick is to write each book as a standalone using the characters from previous books. Sometimes, the author has to allude to things that have taken place in his or her earlier novels, but a good writer knows how to inject that information into the story without making the reader ask, “What is that all about.”

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  9. Angie says:

    I need to read them in order because of my OCD-ish tendencies, lol…😁

    And yes, since I started blogging about books, the choices I had in what to read increases exponentially. And just this May, I discovered goodreads (yep, I live under a rock,lol) and my TBR became unmanageable. But I just need to chill and just read and read and read.🙋

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  10. I absolutely LOVE series! Although, I agree that time can pass me by and I’ll have to re-read a series from the beginning… to me, not a bad thing. I know I’ll enjoy the book. Of course, now that I’ve started this book blog and using Netgalley, I haven’t had as much time for my series books.
    I read book 1 and then it takes me an age and a half before getting to anymore of the series :/ And I can’t read a book out of order (unless it is a .5 or something).
    I’m thinking I’ll need to make a change to my reading habits but, I’m keeping my series ^_^

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  11. novelgossip says:

    I love series and I’m a stickler about reading them in order but lately I’ve been finding myself in the same position as you. Book worm problems!

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  12. Hfineisen says:

    I I love to read a good series but I don’t freak out if I have missed a book or don’t read them in order as long as I can keep up with what’s going on.

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  13. It’s been a while since I last read a book series, but I used to love them when I was younger. As for the telly, I’m 100% into TV series, so I guess it’s a big yes from me — I have to see/read them in order so as to get a full experience from them.

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    • Fictionophile says:

      Yes, I agree with your comment about television series. I DO believe the same applies to book series, but time is an issue. A TV show usually takes only one hour, whereas a book can take 5-6 hours… It is optimum to read book series in order, but, as I have found recently, not compulsory. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What a great topic! I am staunchly against series, both in books and TV. I’ve found that it can eat up my time in a way that makes me feel out of control. If we’re talking books that exist in the same world but don’t necessarily follow one another, I’m all for it. Most of the books I read for Grab the Lapels aren’t from Net Galley, but sent by publishers or authors themselves, so those folks tend to check up on you if you’re taking too long! NO SERIES.

    I’ve abandoned two TV series recently: The Walking Dead and Orange is the New Black. I hate how I can’t keep up with the characters between seasons and feel forced to re-watch them (I won’t). Books I don’t even touch. Funny story, though: this summer I am reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series. It’s a thing I have to do from back in the early 90s for my Great Granny.

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    • Fictionophile says:

      I admire your strength. Staying away from series takes willpower. That being said, you might be cheating yourself by NOT reading series. There are some excellent series out there. The ones in this post are all excellent as are myriad more. Thanks SO much for commenting.
      P.S. – Enjoy Anne!

      Liked by 1 person

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