Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Salon - The Series

Literary Feline and I had a short conversation yesterday, and it's a perfect topic for Sunday Salon. How do you feel about a series? And, to be more specific, how do you feel when you discover a whole new series, and have all of those books ahead of you?

I just read the fifteenth book in Steven F. Havill's Posadas County mystery series, The Fourth Time is Murder. I normally don't start at the end of a series, but I was reviewing it for Mystery News. I liked it so much that I went back to the beginning, picking up Heartshot. And, I'm going to read the entire series, as soon as I can get my hands on some of the earlier titles. But, this is a manageable series, with only thirteen more books, until Havill writes another one. I'm excited about these books, and looking forward to the other ones.

But, Literary Feline is right. Fifteen books isn't scary. I often thought I'd want to read Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books. Do you know there are are over 55 books in that series? That's a formidable number. I always kidded and said I'm saving them for retirement. I'm one of those readers that likes to start at the beginning and read all of the books, if I like the series.

And, Literary Feline mentioned Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, one that has thirty-six books. I work with a librarian who is one of the biggest fans of the author, and she got me started. I bogged down. She told me I can read the different storylines. She knows I like the Witches, and she even listed all of those for me. How do you start when there are already thirty-six books in a series?

And, then there are the authors you love, and you discover them early in their career, and wait impatiently for the next book. With Robert B. Parker, I started with the early Spenser books, and it hasn't been hard to read one a year, reading all thirty-six or so. I've read every Inspector Armand Gamache mystery by Louise Penny, and every Ceepak/Boyle crime novel by Chris Grabenstein. Look how the whole world waited for the Harry Potter books.

However, when John Jakes started his Americans series with The Bastard, I didn't have the patience to wait for a year for the next book. My sister read all of the books, and loved them.

I love a good series when it gives me interesting characters that return in book after book. I just like to be in on the story early on so I don't find the number of books too challenging. How do you feel about a series?


Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of series. However, like you, when I discover a long-running series, I have to start at the beginning. I'm working on Karin Slaughter's Grant County books right now. Just finished #3 and have 3 more to go. A couple of years ago, I read the whole Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn. I think there were 12 or so at that point. Some series I have discovered early on and eagerly read each new entry -- Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott series for example. I have read the first of the Eve Dallas books by J.D. Robb and that is a series that has been intimidating to me. I keep thinking I will continue but there are lots more to come. I think that has played a part in my not continuing on yet.

Many series have gone by the wayside for me. I don't read Patricia Cornwell anymore. I got weary of Sue Grafton and I only read the Kellermans occasionally now. Some series kind of lose their oompf or become trite or dull.

Haven't read this Steven Havill series either. I'll take a look at it. Good question, Lesa.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Kay.

And, it's interesting. Like you, I dropped Patricia Cornwell years ago. And, I haven't read the last Sue Grafton. I brought it home, and, despite the good comments about it, I couldn't get into it. I skipped a couple Faye Kellermans, and found the latest one boring. I don't read Jonathon Kellerman, but I know Jim's been disappointed in the last couple. Sounds like these series have run their course for us.

And, Robert B. Parker's books don't have much plot anymore, but I still enjoy the characters, and their wit.

Thank heavens there are always new series, or new authors, to discover!

Jen said...

Because character is my favorite element of fiction, I'm a series-junkie. When I find characters I love, I don't want them to go away.

I always try to start at the beginning of a series. While there are many series you can read out of order, there are usually little things that you miss if you don't read them in order - I like those little things.

If a series is already well established, the number of books doesn't intimidate me. Rather I see it as comfort. I know there will be many more books to keep me company and fill my time.

I didn't start reading Parker until late, so I'm still enjoying the early Spenser. I'm also rather fond of Sunny. I'm a Kathy Reichs fan and still follow Temp...of course RC's Elvis Cole/Joe Pike, Michael Koryta's Lincoln Perry, both of Alafair Burke's series, Thomas Holland's Kel McKelvey, Chris Grabenstein's John Ceepak, Linda Fairstein's Alex Cooper, Karin Slaughter's Grant County, Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar, Timothy Hallinan's Poke Rafferty, James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux, Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire...see what I mean? I LOVE a good series!

And discovering a new one? Oh what a thrill! I'm looking forward to Michael Stanley's continuing of Kubu Bengu. And I just read my first "Nameless Detective" recently. I also picked up my first Ed McBain at the library book sale this weekend. I don't think it's the first, but I definitely have to check out McBain!

I do have to openly admit that I'm in the minority, however, when it comes to Sue Grafton and Lee Child. I read A is for Alibi and refused to pick up another of the alphabet novels. And Lee Child I've read a few of his, but I don't LOVE Reacher the way so many others do.

Ah, what a great discussion for this Sunday. Thanks Lesa!

Lesa said...

And, those series just feed your addiction, don't they, Jen? The more books, the better!

SmallWorld at Home said...

I like series, a lot, but I just really dislike getting in on the beginning of one and then waiting for the next one. Most of the time, I never read the rest of a new series because I have totally forgotten what happened before. The only one I can think of that this doesn't matter with is the Ladies No. 1 Detective Series. What I prefer is to begin a series that is already done.
~SmallWorld Reads

Lesa said...

I understand, and that isn't too bad when the series isn't enormous. I just find a big series, like McBain, formidable when I look at all of the titles.

Literary Feline said...

I read quite a few different series. I do prefer to start at the beginning, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. I've discovered that if I read the first three books in a series close together, I do better at remembering the little details when having to wait a year for the next book to come out. If I just read the first book and then wait too long before starting the second, I forget so much. Most of the time it doesn't matter--the books usually stand alone on their own--but the personal story lines that carry over from book to book aren't quite so independent of each other. I went off on a tangent here, didn't I? Oops!

Lesa said...

That's OK with the tangent. (smile) I'm a big fan of the personal story aspect, since I like good characters, so I know exactly what you mean. If you have the chance to read the first few close together, you're more intimately involved with the character, and get to know them better. It does make for more enjoyment of the series.