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A series decision

Published August 31, 2020

Books and cactus

I’ve been reading a lot recently, and trying to broaden my range of subject matters too - fiction and non-fiction, short and long books, as well as catching up on some books I’ve read before but for some reason not reviewed on here.

One of the things I’ve always thought slightly cumbersome is keeping track of series that you read, where you are in them, which books you own but haven’t read yet, etc. I used to use FictFact a long time ago but have learned that has since shut down, so that’s not an option anymore. However, in the last few days, I’ve been wondering more about the fundamental decisions behind reading a book series, ie. whether you should or not and when’s the best time to start.

The questions were put in my mind after listening to a recent episode of Robot or Not? that focused on what a reader is owed when a book series doesn’t finish. Of course, the answer is absolutely nothing. As a reader, you are only owed the book you have bought.

But what struck me as interesting in that short converstion between John and Jason is the thought that different types of readers might have different ideas about starting a book series - based on the fact that they are scared it wouldn’t finish and they’d be left dangling. Some people might want to wait to make sure the series is finished and complete before diving in. Others would be more likely to dive straight in, as better to read some than none.

It’s never really occurred to me before to not read something just because it’s part of an unfinished series, but this podcast really got me thinking. I own the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones), but do I want to read it if the end hasn’t been written yet? We know it didn’t go well on the TV show and I’m very curious to know what Mr Martin’s version of the endgame is… if he gets around to writing it.

Also, I can never quite shake from my head that I was really keen on Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, (A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc) but the author very sadly died having finished up to Y. There’ll never be a Z. Her daughter said: “As far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.” Which is, of course, totally understandable. Readers are not owed a Z. I’ve already started this series, because if I’m honest, I never really expected it to get as far as Y. But now there’s only one missing and that just feels too painful.

In the end, it surely is a decision you have to take based on how much you want to read and be on top of a particular set of books. In the Harry Potter days, you couldn’t have stopped people from reading the latest book the minute it came out, usually at midnight. But maybe if there’s one you’re only mildly interested in, you can wait to see if the collection gets completed before testing it out.

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