Reading in Series

One of the most frequent questions we are asked by our readers is “What’s next?” We hear the question so often that we know immediately what they are asking. They are not asking us to predict their future, foretell their fortune or forecast the weather.  They want to know the title of the next book in a series.

A book series is a sequence of books having certain characteristics in common that connect them as a group. They typically share a common setting, locale, cast of characters or timeline.  Series are especially common in fiction, fantasy, adventure, mystery and science fiction.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of book series. Think of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, theAlex Cross series by James Patterson or the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Series are especially popular and recurrent in children’s literature – The Wimpy Kid, Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter, the Boxcar Children – to name a few. The books may be written by the same author or a collaboration of authors and marketed as a series – 39 Clues is an example.

When deciding to read a series, the reader has three options. You can start at the beginning and read straight though. This is the most obvious and logical approach to reading a series, but it may demand patience as you wait for the next book to become available. The upside is that there’s no chance of being confused or feeling lost as you’re reading since you know the characters and the backstory.

You can begin at the end and read backwards. That way you’re sure to find books on the shelf since everyone else is reading the newest release. The downside is, of course, you’ll have read “spoilers”; you’ll always know what’s going to happen. You may also find that the later books are not as engaging as the first books in the series.

The third alternative to reading a series is that you can randomly select a book in the series without any thought to the order, and hope the author sprinkles in enough background to put you somewhat in the picture. There’s no hard and fast rule about which of these methods to employ. For some people reading a series from the beginning and in order is the only option. I think that it depends on the series.  You can certainly read M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth in any order, or the Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G. Wodehouse. You’ll enjoy Precious Ramatswe’s adventures in the No. I Ladies’ Detective Agency in any sequence, but you’ll get lost in the Outlander series if you don’t start at the beginning.

Enjoy reading series? We’ve pulled together dozens of the first book in popular series and placed them on display. Browse the display, make a selection and start at the beginning of a new and enthralling reading adventure.

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Posted in Readers

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