On Series

Let’s chase away today’s rainy afternoon doldrums (that word always makes me think of The Phantom Tollbooth. just me?) with a teensy little exercise. Only a mental one, don’t worry no physical exertions necessary when you hang out with me! When in my company we’ll always be curled up on a couch in comfy sweatpants with chocolate on hand.

So, back to the exercise:

Quick, name 5 SERIES of books that first come to your mind…

Thought of ’em yet?

How bout now?

Like Stephanie Plum, Nancy Drew,  Sookie Stackhouse, Anne of Green Gables, The Saddle Club, Anita Blake, and Harry Potter….Just a few that popped in my head.

Not too hard, right? There are a plethora out there…old ones, new ones, unfinished ones, young adults, sci fi, romances, mysteries…

Notice anything about my list? Those are all REALLY LOOOONG series.

Looking at my bookshelves recently I noticed that I have a habit (I actually wrote that as a typo as “hobbit” first and almost left it that way) of getting into really loooo0ong series. I think Harry Potter is the shortest and 7 really ain’t all that short!

So that is when I quizzed myself to think about series…and again those above are the first ones I thought of.

I didn’t think of any trilogies or even quartets.

Upon further research looking for “short” series I found Lord of the Rings (some seem to disagree if this counts as a series), Jason Bourne by Robert Ludlum (although apparently with the hollywood success he is now writing more?) North and South trilogy by John Jakes, or His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass series, which didn’t really come to a conclusive end) or The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld (which I haven’t read) and Twilight I guess.

Why do I have to think so hard of trilogies or quartets? I mean I even had to google search for them. As a frequent, long-standing, and lusty reader book titles should have been springing to the forefront of my mind! Is it just me? Or are y’all having a hard time thinking of shorter series too? Is it because they’re not out there?

I would imagine for an author there are multiple reasons to write a long series, the characters keep developing in your imagination, new ideas come to you about conflicts in their world, and of course, if you have a cash cow, why not milk it?!

Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader wrote a great post a little while back about the advantages and disadvantages of being a reader or fan of a book series. I whole heartedly agree with her that I like to revisit a “world” and characters I’ve come to know and grow fond of, that I know what to expect (in terms of writing style, type of characters, etc.) and I also MUST MUST read a series in order. There is no point of starting one unless I can start at the first book. And I prefer the series to have been published a while ago so at least a few books are already released.

The idea I’m getting stuck on is series that are elongated for the point of…well past the point of reason in my opinion! 15 book for Stephanie Plum where she still bumbles around like an idiot in both her job and her love life? 10 books for Sookie Stackhouse and she still hasn’t taken much direction or control over her place in the new supernatural world nor her love life? Even long time fans of JD Robb’s In Death series have found some of the books slightly repetitive now that there are 30+ of them!

I’m rarely a demanding, whiny reader. Not on my blog, not on twitter, not in the privacy of my own head. I have great respect for authors and don’t hold them to any expectations of book release timing, characters’ actions, or how they draw a series to conclusion. But for the love of God, PLEASE stop writing such long series! My bank account and bookshelves can’t handle it! I took a picture with a few of my series collections yesterday (when it was so warm and sunny, and not chilly-drizzly like today, looking at this picture makes me feel colder!)

Once I’ve bought one or a few books in a series I become a bit of a collector, not only do I want to see what happens to the characters, I want all the covers to match, or at least have the books be the same height.

But I’m getting to the point where it’s either just borrowing them from the library or giving them up all together. If I want to start a new series and see 7 books have been released and the author’s website indicates no end in sight? I will not start reading it because it’s too intimidating a backlist to buy, and too frustrating to invest that much time or money when I don’t know if/when there will ever be a happily ever after, or any type of conclusion!

While I know lots of book bloggers have written about the tipping point that made them give up a series, today I’m thinking more about series that not only jumped the shark, but are taking loyal readers for a ride. I have this weird feeling that some series are being written for the sake of the paycheck and are just jerking our chains a little bit. Am I totally off base? Even if that’s not exactly why authors are writing such long series, does anyone else at least feel like there are too many long series out there and not enough shorter ones where you can reach a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time?

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15 Responses

  1. I don’t think you’re off base at all! The thing that has begun to annoy me about a series, is that it seems like it’s a requirement now in the world of UF to only write in a series format. I was so annoyed awhile back at my library-it seemed like every book was book 2 or 3 of a series, book 1 was no where to be found. What happened to writing just one book?

    I’ve found a lot of great new authors who immediately started off with a series-which I loved, but what happened to building a fan base slowly? (sorry for the long rant!)

  2. Colette: no apologies here, please! just glad im not the only one thinking this. and yes, my library ALWAYS has only partial series, never all of the books.

    i like stand alones and i like series too, but can’t series be 4, 5, 6 books long? why are they always 10+?!?

  3. PHANTOM TOLLBOTH! love that one. *sigh* anywho, i get what you’re saying. i get that sometimes series can be a little lazy on the author’s part but dammit! when they’re good, they’re good.

    i do read some murder mysteryish series that i basically dip in and out of which can get a tad boring. i’ll give up on them and then pick up another somewhere along the line and feel a little friendly with the characters again.

    in conclusion, your picture made me snort. the end.

  4. I prefer trilogies or series w/ some definite end — like Harry Potter, which we all knew would end by Book Seven.

    I just can’t be bothered w/ never-ending series, esp. if they feature the same characters and/or recycled character stereotypes / plot.

  5. The first few series that immediately popped into my mind are all 10+ books (and two that were supposed to be trilogies but ended up with six books each – double trilogies?). You’re not off base at all, I agree that there are few short series out there, and even less stand alone books (at least in the genres I read). A long series can be nice, but sometimes they would have worked better as a shorter one.

  6. Great photo, BTW.

    I can think of trilogies — but they’re not romance. I.E., Robin Hobb.

    Also, Ludlum’s stuff is licensed. So the new stuff is “Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Frequency” by Who-the-fuck-ever.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lusty Reader. Lusty Reader said: New Blog Post: my frustrations with long book series https://lustyreader.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/on-series/ […]

  8. *cough* ANITA BLAKE *cough* That series should have ended so long ago….

    It is hard to leave a world you love – I am seriously almost in tears knowing the fever series by Karen Marie Moning will be over in December (5 bk series). At the same time, she takes out on a high..before we are tired of it.

    Another one that I’m getting tired of is Dark Hunter and its many spin offs.

    Some great shorter series – Nice Girls by Molly Harper (3bks), Gardella Vamps by Colleen Gleason (5 bks), Adrien English series by Josh Lanyon (5 bks).

    Nice post!

  9. Beckyyyy: ah the Phantom Tollbooth, i remember the exact summer vacation i read it the first time! and you make a great point, long series (and i agree esp w/ mysteries) are nice to “dip in and out of” every now and then. like watching Seinfeld when there’s nothing else on.

    Nadia Lee: agreed, my willingness to try or buy books from a series increases tenfold if i know there is an end in sight!

    thekams: double trilogies?! what a nightmare!

    MalSnay: i tried to use examples from diff genres, romance usually by definition HAS to have a happy conclusion, so usually straight romance isn’t too bad. i’ll have to look up the ones you mentioned!

    MANDI: OMG LOVE YOUR RECS. i have seen KMM everywhere on the book blogs but never made the leap to pick hers up or do more research. thanks so much for letting me know it’s only a 5 book series concluding this year!

  10. Aw such a cute photo! Kinda like this series of album cover portraits:

    Bill Wyman
  11. I would think an author would want to have an endpoint in mind. Just so they could create new worlds and new characters. I love when an author comes out and says I will write this many books then do something different. Jenna Black just ended one of my favorite series but she has a new ya coming out so yea.

  12. I actually wrote about BOOKS today! You’d be so proud!

    ;-)

  13. I’ve been really tired of long-running series for a while. I know they make more money than standalone books, but PLEASE come up with something else. It’s to the point where I actually avoid series at this point. :P

  14. Oh, this resonates so much. But while I’d rather they write shorter series, I also want them to make them much, much longer & go on forever & ever. I never want to give up the characters. I’ve read the Harry Potter series, the Series of Unfortunate Events series (redundant…?), the Sookie Stackhouse series, the Twilight series, & now I’m on to the Vampire Diaries series. I’m sure there have been others, but I can’t think of them; I actually often prefer series because they make me want to keep reading, where I find that otherwise I often get distracted & don’t mind stopping…

  15. […] series came recommended by Smexy Mandi following my disillusionment of long series as the Fever series clocks in at 4 published and the 5th and final coming out this December. I can […]

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