'Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.'- Angela Carter

Monday, 29 April 2013

Book series vs. Stand alone novel

Book series vs. Stand alone novel


I've been doing a bit of thinking about the books I read, and I've noticed that I definitely read a lot more books that are part of are are going to become a series over stand alone novels. It's made me think about it quite a lot, I mean, why do I read these? Another thing I'm terrible for is picking up another the follow up book in the series even though the first wasn't actually all that great! It's like I can't let go or something - which is probably where the reading habit stems from.

imageEver since I was a child I have always read series'. Whether it was The Babysitters Club, The Princess Diaries or Harry Potter. I always loved reading about the same characters and reading about the adventures they'd go on in each new novel. I never got bored of them and not much has changed now. Take for example The Blackdagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward. In roughly two years I have devoured all 11 of  her books (which includes waiting for #10 and #11) and am still not bored of the books despite them taking on similar aspects of the previous books. I crave them, and the same goes for the majority of other series.
I think it lies fully in the connection to a character. It feels like they become your friend. I just want to know what is going to happen to them. I care and couldn't even fathom stopping mid series. When Kelley Armstrong announced Thirteen as the last in the Women of the Otherworld series I was absolutely devastated. Apart from Harry Potter, they were my first introduction into the supernatural and I remember being completely lost as to where to go next. What author is similar? Is there one similar? Who is going to replace her? I used to have this absolute fear that I'd never find another book that would captivate me in such a way.

Then I became a blogger.

Before becoming a blogger, I was lost when it came to picking up books. Where do I even start? That was a question I often asked myself in Waterstones. There were so many books and all I had was the fantasy, paranormal and science fiction section to help. This didn't exactly narrow it down. I remember picking up so many books, putting them down, buying a book, hating it. Then I discovered this massive community of book bloggers, where reviews point you in the right direction and Goodreads saves your life. Again, I searched for book series' to read. Never a stand alone. I could probably count on one hand the amount of stand alone books that I have read/own (not counting course books - I didn't want to read those!). 

I think a few were Memoirs of a Geisha, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Mad Scientist's Daughter. Luckily I loved each of these books but they always make me sad that there is no more to the story. I am still praying that Cassandra Rose Clarke will write more to The Mad Scientist's Daughter but to be honest, she has tied the story up nicely. I don't see how there is any need for expansion. I'm not slamming stand alone books at all, I just wonder why it is that I don't read them! I think I get too attached to the fictional world built by the authors. It's always a nice comfort blanket to know that there is another book coming; that this isn't the end. That we get more of these wonderful characters. Harry Potter was heartbreaking for me - thankfully I can't imagine another series which will leave me feeling so saddened by its ending as that series.

 There are benefits to a stand alone. It's cheaper for one, haha. The ones I have read are wonderful and in my opinion, to be able to build a creative and believable world and characters that we can sympathise all within one book is amazing. Where a series allows the author to expand and develop, the stand alone allows the reader to constrict their story to one and to pour the entirety of their emotion into it. I'm just not the kind of reader that can let go, I need more from the characters. I like collecting the books for my shelves. There is the fear of a series getting boring or dragging, the danger of repetition, but thankfully I have yet to discover a series which has made me just mehhhh everywhere.

Enough about me.

What do you guys think? Are you a fan of reading a series of books, or stand alones? 



12 comments:

  1. I prefer stand alone novels. I think, like you said, the author always runs the risk of taking the story too far. There has to be a stopping point, and too often it's carried on unnecessarily and it taints the whole series by follow-up novels just not being as good.

    The absolute exception to this is Harry Potter (of course). I understand what you mean regarding the connection to characters. They become almost like friends.

    I think this is why I like to read slowly. I take the story with me and I can always remember the time of my life and what I was doing at the time I read a particular book.

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    1. I agree that there has to be a stopping point, it can always carry on too far. I find reading slowly so difficult, especially if I'm in love with the book! I remember reading Deathly Hallows in a day! 6 hours to be precise haha.

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  2. I've never really had a preference. To me both have pros and cons. With a series, you can get bored but feel obliged to continue, and also having to wait for the next in the series is hugely annoying! But with a stand-alone I'm occasionally left wanting more, I want to know how the story pans out in the coming months, years. But I also enjoy letting my imagination run wild coming up with different scenarios for the characters myself.

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    1. Sounds like we have some pretty similar views on it :). Totally get what you mean with feeling obliged to continue with it. It's a feeling I've had with the Jeaniene Frost books.

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  3. I was the same as you, I've been reading series since I was a toddler and my mom introduced me to Lars the Polar Bear :)
    I cannot imagine books not being series, I need more storied from characters I love.
    I've read a few stand-alones and what I thought were stand-alones because we don't have other books translated but I always needed more. Maybe I got spoiled with series and all but I prefer series, the story lasts longer.
    But after you're done, it takes a bigger piece of you with it I suppose.

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    1. Aww no. That's a pain. I can always try find some for you :). We actually are twins! Hahaha x

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  4. Honestly since I run a book club on goodreads I am sick of starting up new series where the other books in it don't come out for a few years. I get so excited when the group picks a stand alone book. I guess because I have to keep up with the group I just feel like series gets me behind!!! ughh!


    Angie

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    1. Aww, yeah I guess for a book club it would be easier to get stand alone books in :). Can totally sympathise with that one. Love series though, I think trilogies are happy mediums!

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  5. I am a series addict, but as a blogger, I have found it necessary to let go of the ones that are less than stellar. So I have read a few first books, and never bothered to grab book two. I also have whole series that I bought and haven't read them..LOL I am a book addict..its confusing!

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    1. Hahaha! Sounds familiar! I have too many books and with continuing to buy them the pile is never going to go on. Might have to try with the letting go - if it's possible haha!

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  6. I prefer series. I get so invested in the worlds that I just want to stay there. For example, I am pretty sure I will never get tired of the BDB novels. However, stand alone titles have their place and are amazing. The problem is when sequels are made for that stand alone that are completely unnecessary and end up dragging the whole mess down.

    Samantha @ Reading-AndCoffee

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    1. Know that feeling! I can't ever imagine being bored of reading about what the Brothers are up to :).

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