Monday, July 14, 2014

There Is No Wrong Way to Read a Series

I think we've been over the fact that I am a binge reader (I read 5 books in the last 7 days), but I am not a series binger. I realized this on Saturday when I finished THE WARLOCK, the 5th installment of Michael Scott's Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flammel saga and had no desire to sprint to the library for the sixth and final book. Not because I didn't enjoy the book I'd just finished but because I needed to digest it a little. I wanted to think about what had happened and maybe even think about what might happen in the next one.

As I was ruminating on The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flammel books, I realized that I had done the same thing with another series book a few days earlier (one I've actually already talked about here) BORN WICKED, the first book of Jessica Spotswood's Cahill Witch Chronicles. This book has a serious cliffhanger ending and I want to know what happens, but I don't want to know right now.

Two examples in a week felt like more than a coincidence so I took a look back on other series books I've read. I read DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS (the last book in Laini Taylor's Smoke and Bone Trilogy) but that was the last book so it doesn't count. Or, at least that was what I thought until I looked at how I had read the whole series. I read the first book after the second had come out but I still waited over six months before reading it and I waited again for the last one.

I asked myself, was this a trend?

I thought of UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Brennan the sequel to which I still haven't gone near (although I want to). Then I remembered I just read HOLLOW CITY by Ransom Riggs, the second book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Series, 20 months after I read the first one and 6 months after it was released. I haven't read the sequel to PEACHES by Jodi Lynn Anderson even though I know it will be the perfect summer read. Or, the rest of published Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

The list grew and grew as I fell backwards through the rabbit hole of my reading. I couldn't find a single series that I binge read in the last five years. Not a single one.

So I had identified my pattern, now I wanted to know why. Which turned out to be a really easy question to answer.

The reason: Harry Potter.

I will never be ashamed of the impact that the entire Harry Potter phenomenon had on my existence. However, I am often shocked to find evidence of just how much it has effected me. Being a true member of the Potter Generation, I grew up waiting for the next book. I devoured the first three books the summer before sixth grade and then went to my first midnight book release at Media Play for Goblet of Fire. Which I read until I was done, without sleep or nourishment. Then I promptly had to wait until the summer after eighth grade for Order of the Phoenix to come out. I got to dwell on the first four books and the return of Voldemort. I reread them several times. I had numerous discussions about what might happen next. I read some fanfiction.

When Order of the Phoenix came out, I was so engrossed in reading that I missed a friend's birthday party. And, of course, the sobbing and throwing things when it ended. But then 2 more years of waiting for Snape to go all traitorous in Half Blood Prince. I will never forget how much my best friend defended him while I was staunchly with Harry that he'd been a traitor all along. Or discussing what we thought the rest of the horcruxes might be. Then finally we got Deathly Hallows in 2007 and found out what happened.

The process of binging then waiting and speculating and hoping was horrible and wonderful. It was imposed on me but I loved it anyway. Even though I was dying for the next book, the waiting made me love the characters and the stories even more because I got to spend time with them rather than of rushing all the way through on the first go.

It seems that the process has become ingrained. I no longer want to read the next book in a series immediately after finishing the first. I want to stew with the characters. I want to analyze and think about the story, then I want to read the next one.

How do you read a series? (Bonus points if you tell me how you read Harry Potter the first time)

No comments:

Post a Comment

bitty word #15

March, April, May, June. Four months of occasional late night encounters. Food poisoning, movies in bed, melty man, new sheets, forgotten j...