It’s discussion time again! One of the side effects of blogging is that I’m becoming more and more aware that other people have vastly different reading habits from myself. What a weird concept. One thing I’ve realised is the fact that everyone reads series in a different way.
Me? I have a tendency to start a series and never finish it. In fact, I used to never finish series as a rule. Why? I’m not really sure. I think I unknowingly had the attitude that each book was a contained story and a contained world — I didn’t get sucked in with cliffhangers and my attention tends to wander when I finish a book (I’m actually often the same way with episodes of TV shows). These days I am much better about finishing series (kind of), however I can only think of a very small number that I’ve actually completed.
One of the reasons for this is that I just have too many books to read! I really struggle with the idea of binge reading one series of books from one author, particularly if I don’t already own or have immediate access to the next installment. What about all the other glorious books I have on my shelf that are gathering dust? When will I get to them? I can’t just neglect them, books have feelings too.
I was also an extremely dedicated adult fantasy reader for years. Adult fantasy is leaning more toward trilogies these days, but the epically long series is a staple of the genre. Wheel of Time (14 books plus a prequel), A Song of Ice and Fire (7 books, if the series is ever complete), the Shannarah books (over 30 books in total, but divided into trilogies and duologies), the Sword of Truth books (15 books) — I think you get the picture. Finishing a series was just never really something I focused on when I was younger because reading 10,000+ pages was so daunting.
However, I think the main reason I don’t tend to finish series is that I just cannot read them back to back. Story time:
When I was in high school, I saw Fellowship of the Ring in theaters and became completely obsessed. Naturally I turned to the book and I devoured it. I’m not kidding — I read it in a single evening. I immediately hopped into The Two Towers and then The Return on the King, and I basically destroyed my brain. I remember absolutely nothing from Two Towers — it was like reading a brand new book when I returned to the series years later — and I put Return of the King down after 20 pages. Now, you guys may know that Lord of the Rings is my all-time favourite series. Knowing that fact, this is pretty shocking! But I burnt out on the series and the world so quickly by reading them back to back. I must space out a series with other books or I really struggle.
I’ve tested this out a couple of times since the Epic LotR Burnout of 2001. Most recently, I tried to read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology back to back. I nearly put Crooked Kingdom down because I had finished Six of Crows only a few days prior. Despite the fact that I loved these two books, the burnout nearly made me quit.
Of course, the problem with not reading series back to back is I’ll read start another book, which is inevitably the first book in another series. Then another. And another. And I get to where I am today: having started many series and finished almost none of them.