SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!
If you haven’t guessed: book series are kinda my thing.
It goes with the territory of running a blog that reviews entire book series. In order to generate content, I need to read a lot of book series and sequels. And it can become difficult to read and keep track of everything. As I write this post, I have 113 series on the go. (How do I know that? I’m an avid fan of Microsoft Excel and its ability to create formulas for me to whip out stats like that on a whim.)
But when you have that many series in progress, some are bound to get left behind. It can take me a long time to get around to sequels. Sometimes it’s months between; other times it’s years. Sometimes that my fault; sometimes its the publishing schedule. Regardless, things fall through the cracks as life goes on.
There is a phenomenon about humans inability to forget things we leave unfinished:
According to the “Zeigarnik Effect,” you are much more likely to recall uncompleted tasks than one you completed. In a 1927 study, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik asked subjects to complete a set of tasks. During some of the tasks, the subjects were interrupted before they could finish. When asked later about the tasks, they recalled the tasks during which they were interrupted at a much higher rate than those they were able to complete.
It turns out that the brain has a powerful need to finish what it starts. When it can’t complete something, it gets stuck on it. […] This can include getting closure to issues (James and Kendell, 1997).” Why We Hate Not Finishing What We Start ” Psychology Today, Mar 31, 2014
I always think about the series I’ve left in the dust. Ok, maybe not as often as I should or else they wouldn’t have been collecting dust…but the fact is: I want to finish series I started because I’ve dedicated time to them and I want to know how things will finish.
In the last few years, I’ve made concerted efforts to wrap-up those lingering series. I’ve introduced “Sequel Months” where I only read sequels throughout the month. I pick up the audiobook instead of the paperback to get to the sequel faster. I also usually try to make one of my annual reading challenges series based to keep my focus on my TBR backlog. And with all those combined efforts, I’ve definitely noticed improvements when it comes to my series numbers!
But I’ve also had some mixed results about my enjoyment of those series sequels.
Sometimes, it’s like I never left the world I’ve reentered. There are some authors out there who seamlessly transport you back into their worlds within the first few chapters. Other times, I feel like an outcast returning after a revolution. To prevent this, I try to keep summary notes on all the book series I read but I’m not always as proactive about it as I should be for one reason or another.
Which leads me to this discussion question:
When is it time to give up on a series?
1) Before you even start it!
A little negative I know, but that’s the whole premise of my blog! I remember finishing Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Series and being so angry at the way it wrapped up that I had wished I had never started the series in the first place! That series is what inspired me to write my blog and focus on reviewing the entire book series to see if it was worth picking up in the first place.
And that isn’t to say that my opinion is the gold standard. Clearly we all have different tastes when it comes to reading but I think sometimes reading someone else’s thoughts can help make a final decision.
2) When Your Gut Tells You To
After reading many romance series over the years, I can usually tell if I am going to enjoy a series based on how I feel after book one. I start to get a hunch about where the series is going to go and if I like that trajectory, I keep with it. But sometimes I know as soon as I read a synopsis (and maybe a couple reviews on Goodreads), that my gut instinct to stop this series now pushes through. Example: the More Than Series.
3) How Long Has it Been Between Sequels?
Sometimes the time between sequels just can’t be helped. One series I really enjoyed was the Nevermore Series but the publishing time between sequels was 2 and 3 years respectively. Even if I wanted to read the sequel right away I couldn’t! Other times my library is slow to get new titles or it isn’t available at my preferred retailer right away.
I used to reread books all the time before picking up the sequels but not so much anymore. I’ve found that as I get older, if I could have picked up a sequel right away and didn’t, chances are I probably won’t ever. Or, I won’t enjoy it if I do because my reading tastes have evolved. A prime example of that is the Fallen Series by Lauren Kate: I just didn’t care for angsty teenaged angels when I attempted to finish the series a few years later.
4) What About Those Series Without Any Confirmed Sequels?
When I was updating my Series Tracking worksheet I started to notice how many series (26 series to be exact) I had started but had unknown sequel release dates. Some of these titles are listed on Goodreads; some I wrote down because they were listed in the back of the book. I started to ask myself the question: do I continue to have hope that these titles would ever be published?
I get it, things happen! Books are dropped by the publishers (ex. Book #3 in the Lovegrove Legacy); authors may have personal/health issues that prevent them from writing; indie authors may have other jobs or didn’t have a successful debut so they don’t write the sequels right away; some author’s just don’t enjoy writing anymore or are pursuing other passions.
But as a reader, it can be hard to let those stories and characters go unfinished. I know I try to subscribe to author newsletters to see if I can find any more info. And every couple of months, I go through all the series and see if I can search for any updates (on Google, Twitter or author’s webpage/blog).
5) When You Didn’t Enjoy the Last Book
I know for me, it’s hard to give up on something I’ve put the time into. Before I started blogging (and even for the first two years), I used to just push through book series even if I didn’t love them just to say I finished them. But as I got older and–dare I say–wiser, I started to realize that wasn’t a good thing for me. It would lead to negative reflections on the series and progress into reading slumps. (Case and Point: The Throne of Glass Series)
I’ve worked really hard the last few years on becoming more comfortable with DNFing books. With saying goodbye to series that just aren’t working for my any more and being ok with leaving things unfinished. Sometimes, I will Google the spoilers or spoiler-filled reviews or see if there is a Wikipedia Page to get some closer. Other times I flip through the book to get a feel for what happens. But lots of the time, I just stop reading and successfully walk away without thinking about it ever again.
By no means are these hard and fast rules. There are lots of series where I’ve gone back to read the sequels years later and enjoyed them (like my most recent review of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side). But at the same time, there are series that I haven’t thought about in years that I’m content to keep that way. Reading is such a personal thing that the only thing you really can do is follow your instincts and your tastes at the time to maintain a positive reading experience.