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Series or Stand-Alones

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Series? Or stand-alone books?

It doesn’t matter, although I have almost read only stand-alone books. I rather enjoy the notion of stumbling upon a good read, be it stand-alone or part of a series. Series makes up a substantial portion of mystery, true crime, and YA books, because the stories revolve around a key personality, usually a detective, who will reappear in subsequent cases, like Poirot in Agatha Christie’s mysteries. That said, I do love a good series, most commendably the recent Stieg Larsson series, which sent me to the edge of the seat. A very rare series that reads like literature (is this what literary thrillers mean?) is the Michael Cox duo The Meaning of Night and The Glass of Time, which have to read in order because the second book is a sequel. Like almost any series, there’s the problem of spoilers. The Glass of Time would reinforce happenings and secrets from The Meaning of Night. As for the Stieg Larsson trilogy, it’s almost impossible to put a book’s content into context without reading the series in order. Even Poirot from Agatha Christie imposes a slight problem. When I re-read The Murder of Roger Acroyd and watched the adaptation on television, I couldn’t recall when Poirot had retired from being a private detective. Even the Poirot mysteries have to be read in the order of their publications. The same pre-requisite seems to hold for Laura King’s bee series, which I’m looking forward to peruse.

8 Responses

  1. Aha, you liked the series-based nature of The Girl Who… books too! I shall check out the Michael Cox pair on your recommendation.

  2. As long as the story is good I’ll read it whether it’s a stand-alone or a series. I really have to read the Stieg Larsson books.

  3. I’ve got a handful of series that I follow pretty loyally, and each time I pick up the next installment, it is like old home week. I know these guys and all their personalities. That is ALL I used to read before blogging but have expanded my horizons.

    • I’ve been intrigued by Sue Grafton’s “alphabet” series. Have you ever read those? They look pretty amazing. Has she finished all the letters?

  4. It’s not so clear as all that to me. Read my response here.

  5. I would love stand alones. And I guess if accessing books is a problem one would prefer stand alones. What sadness is it when one reads a book he just comes across only to realise that it is part of a series and the others cannot be found. I have had a bad time with books in a series.

    My first book I read, perhaps, that’s part of a series was the Titus trilogy and the one I read was book two: Gormenghast. I have searched for the first and third book to no avail.

    Then I read the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I couldn’t get the second and third, so I watched the movies. Now that I have all the three, thanks to Book Trust – a local book importing organisation – I find it hard to read and has been sitting on my shelf for about two years.

    I also have a book that i purchased in 2009 which i have not read because it is a second part of a trilogy by Ben Okri. I have Infinite Riches but have been told that I should read the first book Famished Road (Booker winner) first. Thus, I should read it in that order and because I have not yet found it I have not read that book.

    Then there is the famous Harry Potter series. I have read up to The Order of Phoenix. Not the Half-blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows.

    So I don’t want series.

  6. Discovering that the book I am reading is the second or third in a trilogy is an infuriating experience. I have on several occasions been tempted to write rude letters to publishers who don’t bother to indicate on a book’s cover that it’s part of an ongoing story.

    As a rule I prefer for all the books in a trilogy or series where a single story is spread over several books to be already published when I start reading them, because I need to know I will be able to read all the books and finish the story. The Harry Potter books is one of only a handful of such series that I have started reading before the series was complete.

    I have enjoyed books from within series that work as stand-alones, but I still find it better to read them in order of publication, so as to keep the background story straight. The In Death books by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) are a good example. You can read and enjoy them as stand-alones, but you will enjoy them even more if you read them in order, because you will better understand and appreciate the often complex character development and background story arcs that stretch over many books, as well as references to incidents in previous books.

  7. I absolutely loved the Michael Cox books. I was saddened to find out he passed away not long ago so there will be no more books to wait for.

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