23 September 2011

FRIDAY RAMBLINGS: Series Reading Order, Is it Helpful or Detrimental


Several weeks ago, I was on Twitter having a conversation with someone reference a very popular author and the first book in her contemporary erotic series. This author is one of my favorite authors and the person I was talking to didn't like the how a plot point in this book seemed to come out of nowhere. She didn't get all the hype about the author and was considering not reading the rest of the books. I understood this person's reasoning as I had the same problem with this book, though I was trying to convince her to continue this series because the second book was one of my favorites by this author.

This conversation got me thinking about reading order and its importance. I became aware of this author because I won her second book in a contest (the one I loved) and then went out and started buying all the rest of her books. I wonder if I happened to come across the first book in this series and the issues I had with it, if I, like my Twitter buddy if I would've read the next book, or anything else by her. Knowing me, I probably wouldn't have. And I would have missed out, because overall, I love this author's books, not just this series but other series she writes.

My question is are you a person who must read books in order? Of course, I understand that in some series, you really have to; paranormal and urban fantasy series comes to mind. Yet, even as I am typing this, a popular PNR/UF author comes to my mind. Years ago, I had read the first book in her series and in that book, her heroine was mixed. While reading I was bothered by how the author dealt with the heroine's heritage, but what really bothered me was after the heroine got turned into a vampire one of the secondary characters (who I assumed was going to have his own book) commented at how much better the heroine looked as a vampire because her skin was now lighter. WTF. As a black woman, I was serious pissed. As a black woman married to a white man and having 'mixed' kids, steam rose from my ears and I threw the book across the room from that one sentence. I've never picked up that author again. I mean really, didn't that author have any black friends that could've proof read that book for her? Not that she needed it, because like I said she's a very successful author. I mean really, I couldn't have been the only one who noticed that and was offended. I could be really missing out on a great author, but I was so turned off that I never picked her up again.

Has anything like that happened to you? Have you ever benefited from reading a series out of order? Have you ever done it? Why and what series? Is it hard for you to read anything out of order? What if you read something out of order and didn't like the first book, do you give the author the benefit of the doubt and try again? How many chances do you give an author before you just stop reading them. And most importantly, WTF, why aren't there more stand-alone books! Does everything have to be a series?


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9 people posted their 2 cents:

zbft said...

Since series started getting popular, I find I like them better especially for well written books, I find myself wondering about the secondary characters and would want to see what happened to these.
However, I got into series because I read one of them and not exactly the first one so I don't think reading in order does much for me.
As for the thrown book, I must be lucky not to read that book because I would have done the same thing.

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

I like to read books in order but never do because I don't realize I'm reading a series until after I've started. Once I start, I finish. This could be bad if the book contains spoilers because then, I won't start from the beginning of a series to read it.

I'm pretty loyal if I'm invested from the beginning (as in I love the series from the beginning) I won't abandon it. If I haven't been sold, I'll give the author two books before I give up.

Lynette said...

@Zbft
Has reading a series out of order affected your love for the series? I recently read the end of a book to see if a character who I hated was redeemed and now find that it's slowing down my reading of the book, because I'm still not liking the characters. Of course, I might not have continued reading the book at all if I didn't jump to the end. Is it the same for you if you read a series out of order? Does it affect your love for that series?

Lynette said...

@Alexis
I find I still read series I used to love out of habit instead of real enjoyment. But I don't buy them and read them if I come across them at the library.

zbft said...

Lol Lynette. My husband and sister-in-law laughs at me because often I read the end of the book to see if it's worth reading.
But back to series, no. Reading out of order is never a problem to me since I am more interested on characters and their current trouble/story. If I like the story, like Ms. Singh's Kiss of Snow drew me in to read the whole series.
My trouble would be when the stories/plot in the series starts to feel/read like they are all cut from the same mold, then I lost interest.
Which reminds me why I did not like the latest book on the Dark Series.
And yes, now that you mention it, I read series mostly out of habit.

Lynette said...

@zbft
I'm impressed that you actually do that. I find that I can but not with paranormals, because they often have an overreaching arc. I'm impressed that you can. I don't really care about reading out of order in other genres or even skipping a book if one of the h/h doesn't appeal to me.

I read out of habit too and I'm trying to break myself out of that habit!

Twimom227 said...

I am a self-professed series lover. I enjoy going back book after book. And if it's a series I'm really into, I read in order (unless I accidentally started with the "wrong" book.) With that said, a series has to have a strong start, or a great recommendation of follow up books if I am going to invest my time and keep reading. I have read the first book of a series and not gone back. It's not that the book was bad, but I just wasn't hooked.

I have never been so offended by a book that I have stopped reading the author all together. That would be a tough spot to be in.

Thanks for the fun post!

Julianne said...

I like to read series in order, if I can. Sometimes it just gets really confusing to start in the second or third book. But I got used to it. There is one particular series that book two ended on a cliffhanger (thirteen years ago!) and if someone tried to start at book three (which still isn't written), I'd tell them to get all three books. Otherwise I think someone might be thoroughly confused--well, book three hasn't emerged yet, but given how book two ended, I'm making a leap of judgment here. ;) Suffice it to say, sometimes I can get the gist without the others, but usually, yes, I'd like to read the whole series if possible.

Lynette said...

@TwiMom
Yeah, I haven't read that author since. That's never happened to me before either, but those two lines totally killed the book, series, author for me.

@Julianne
Now you've got me totally curious to see what series you're talking about!

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