Discussion: Series Books & Rereading

disussion on a bookish topic-01

Earlier last year, I wrote up a discussion about the series vs. the standalone novel. Seeing as we’re almost two months into the new year and I have a HUGE pile of series books to read, I started to think about series books and how I read them.

I do love a good series. Mostly, I enjoy a series that grabs me from the beginning, holds on, and doesn’t let go. A series where each book can stand on its own, and — most especially — a series where I can immediately pick up the NEXT book in the series and start reading.

When I think about this, there are a few series that come to mind, most specifically the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis. I absolutely LOVE this series and know exactly what happened in each book and know what will be happening in the next book and will be able to dive right in. But then, I think of a series like Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin — a book I loved when I read it — and how I feel like I should reread the first book in the series because I just can’t remember enough of what happened in the first book to continue on with the second book right now.

Of course, this year Anne and I are doing a Book Bingo challenge where part of the challenge is to reread books, so I feel okay about rereading some of the first books in my series, but then I wonder whether I should HAVE to reread a book in a series. Some series books seem like they’re just a continuation of what happened in the last book, with the middle book of a trilogy, for instance, being filler — whereas other series books act like they could stand on their own, so jumping into the next book in that series is like starting a whole new story.Β 

Take Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, for instance. I can read the next book in that series not remembering a lot of what happened in the previous book, but I have enough character knowledge to dive in. Also, there’s enough recap throughout the (1,000 page) book that I can get an idea of what happened in the past. But then, I think of a series like Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series, where it felt like the second book was more filler until the last book in the series. This is what I think about when I think of the Mara Dyer books — the second book is not something that I can just jump into, instead I need to reread the first book.

Maybe it’s just personal preference, but for me — like I said — I prefer a series where it’s easy to pick up each book in the series, a series where each book can stand on its own. There are so many books in the world that I want to read as many as I can!

But, to end this discussion (my part, at least), I have to say to you — don’t be afraid of the reread! Before I started blogging seriously, I would reread my favourite books, but once I really got into blogging, I found myself rarely rereading my favourite books. To this I say, why call them our favourite books if we won’t ever reread them? Or, why do we keep these books on our shelf if we’re not going to reread them?

Maybe I’m just torn on the subject.

How do you approach series books? Do you reread the other books in the series first? Are there series where you have to do this — or series where you can just pick up the next book without a recap?

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37 thoughts on “Discussion: Series Books & Rereading

  1. I am so bad with series and finishing them. I need to sit down someday and figure out how many I am in the middle of and make a plan to finish them. And some of them are series I love, I’m just scared of finishing them in case they let me down. Ridiculous I know!
    I don’t really mind if they are sort of stand alone or not. I tend to flick back through the previous one or check GoodReads or Recaptains for a refresher before I read the next one.
    And yes, I know I need to reread more. I used to reread all the time but since I started blogging I rarely do and that makes me sad. There is nothing as comforting as sitting down with a well loved, well thumbed book.

    • I do have my series progress page, but even that’s hard to keep updated sometimes! Especially when there are some series that I want to read, and others where I could do without reading the whole series. And it seems like EVERYTHING is a series these days.

      I really should take advantage of Recaptains more often! Sometimes I’ll just pick up a series book and try to read it — sometimes it works and I remember the story and other times I’m left scratching my head. Ah well. πŸ™‚

  2. I’m with you, Iike it when I can just pick up the next book in the series without having to wonder what the heck was going on in the previous one. And since sometimes there’s a year and about 100 books between books in a series, it can get a bit tricky. And I wish I would make myself find the time to reread the previous books in the series, but well, there are so many new and shiny books out there I haven’t read yet!!
    I like it when at the beginning of a sequel there’s a teeny tiny recap of what happened, mostly through conversation or memories of the MC. That really helps.

    • It can get very tricky! There are some authors (I’m thinking of Insurgent by Veronica Roth) who don’t include a recap of what happened and that bugs me. But some authors can recap what’s going on very cleverly so that it doesn’t feel like a recap.

  3. Yeah, it totally depends for me too. Some series, I remember a lot and have no problem picking up the next book when it comes out (like the Lunar Chronicles or Across the Universe). But other series are much more difficult. For example, right now I’m reading the 3rd book in Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun series. It’s been ~2 years since I read the first two books, and SO many details are hazy. Like, he keeps referring to things that I have NO recollection of, and it’s confusing sometimes. The good thing is that this is a series I really love, so I’ll probably be rereading it at least once anyway.

    • That’s always nice when you need the recap and don’t mind rereading the other books — but sometimes I just wish that it were easier to dive into the next book in a series. I felt the same way about the Across the Universe series — it was so easy to pick up each book and just read! Love it when that happens. πŸ™‚

  4. I’m a person that enjoys a good re-read. For me, if it’s too much of a chore to re-read the books before it, is the series all that worth reading to begin with? (There are exceptions to this, i.e. gigantic 800 page books)

    I wish, though, that each book in a series had a recap before each book. So handy. However, I do understand why some publishers don’t do this. They don’t want you to be able to pick up book three and start reading. They want you to buy books one and two.

    So while it’s frustrating, I understand it.

    I’ve always been a sucker for series, but over the last two years or so, I find them harder and harder to read. Or, at least, I’ve been enjoying standalones MUCH more.

    • A recap before each series book starts would be FANTASTIC. Though some authors are really good at working in recap info without it feeling like a recap, but then there are others who don’t include ANYTHING. That’s very frustrating. I think in those cases, I’d rather wait for the WHOLE series to be released before I read. Makes it easier.

      I’ve been enjoying standalones, too — though it seems like everything is being made into a series these days!

  5. I never really thought about dividing series books into read-alone and read-together categories, but I like the idea! Generally speaking, I prefer the former, especially since I so rarely read a series all at once. It’s lovely to be able to revisit characters, a setting or a mood without having to commit your next 3-5 books’ reading time (not to say it isn’t fun to do that, too, sometimes :-)).

    • There are some books that I LOVE doing that with (like with Jenny Han’s Summer series), but other books I just want to get the next book in the series read without having to reread everything else. Some people like doing that, but I’m not one of them!

  6. Every time a new Harry Potter book would come out, I would spend a week or two rereading all of the previous books in the series. Not because I couldn’t remember what happened, but because I wanted to read it all at once.

    I don’t do that anymore though, not really. I will reread favourite series, but I don’t have as much time to read all of the previous books when I new one comes out. I guess that’s what my reviews are for, to remind me what they are about..lol

  7. I use to re-read a lot but don’t do as much since I started blogging. Which is unfortunate because there are some series I really want to revisit. Like the Outlander series. I tried to read Book 7 and I found there had been too much time since I had the last book and I had no idea who anyone (besides Claire and Jamie) was anymore

    • Yes! Some series books I will reread (like the first one in the Outlander series), but it’s a time thing. There are SO MANY BOOKS out there that I’d like to revisit, but there are also so many new ones out there I’d like to read for the first time. It’s a dilemma! Though I do think if I wasn’t book blogging, I might reread a little more!

  8. I have to be honest here: whenever a new Harry Potter book or movie came out, I would religiously reread the series before reading/watching the new one. It got to the point that I was in California around the time of the premier for The Deathly Hallows Part II. And I had been planning all year to go see the last movie with my friend in Hollywood as a last hurrah. But I didn’t. You know why? Because I hadn’t finished reading the last book. How pathetic is that? Haha, my friend couldn’t believe how stupid/stubborn I was.
    Nowadays, though, I agree with you: there are far too many books out there to read without having to reread books. I’m all for rereading treasured books (as I plan to reread Harry Potter in December), but not often. I tend to have a good memory for books and movies, so I never forget what happens or important bits (if only I could say the same with school).

    • You’re not stubborn at all! There are still movies out there that I won’t watch because I’m still convinced I’ll read the book first. πŸ™‚ I do love rereading a favourite, but to reread a whole series when a new series book comes out just seems tedious to me now.

  9. This is pretty much why I have never read or started a series until all the books in the series are out. For one thing, there’s nothing worse than if a book ends with a cliff hanger and you have to wait over a year for the next book in the series*. And secondly, I don’t want to wait over a year for the next book, cliff hanger or not! I want to be able to read all the books back to book should I choose too and I don’t want to feel like I HAVE to re-read the previous book in the series just because I can’t remember what happened. So, I can’t even think of a series that I have started where all the books weren’t already out. That’s not to say I read the books bang, bang, bang when I do read a series, but at least I’m in control over that decision πŸ™‚

    *Well, I ASSUME this would be annoying because like I say, I haven’t ever really started a series before all the books are out LOL.

    • I love it when I find a series where all the books are out — and, like you said, even if you don’t read them all one after the other, at least you’re in control. You don’t have to wait! I hate having to wait for a new series book … but I’m impatient and sometimes can’t wait for them ALL to be out.

  10. One of my biggest fears is re-reading books, because I’m so scared I won’t like it/them anymore. I’ve started to conquer that fear recently be re-reading the first books in a few series so I can start the sequel. I feel like I shouldn’t HAVE to, but to really appreciate the nuances of the first one/etc I WANT to, if that makes any sense!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • That’s one of my biggest fears, too! I’ve been lucky that most books I’ve reread I’ve still loved, but there has been the odd case (*cough*Twilight*cough*) of me NOT loving a book anymore. It is nice to just hold a book that you love in your mind as that … rather than rereading it and hating it.

      But you are right! Sometimes it’s nice to revisit a book and get the little bits and, like you said, nuances that are scattered throughout that you might not have caught during the first read. πŸ™‚

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  14. Strangely the perfect world was Pre-blogging & happening upon a series deeply under way. It was like the best popcorn ever. Now…I’m trying to let myself fall back into my old pattern of diving in & not coming up for air BUT some series have sat a while & cooled in my brain. Audios are helping me in the refreshing department.

    • Audiobooks are really great for refreshing a series! You don’t have to pay total attention, but it’s nice to just get that recap when you normally wouldn’t be reading. I’m doing the same thing with Harry Potter and love it. It’s just fun to listen to in the car!

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  16. I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to start series until all books are out, or last book is out soon. My brain capacity to retain these details is becoming less and less. There is too much life going on for me to hold on to it all!

  17. I agree with you that a series can be much more enjoyable if you don’t have to re-read the previous books. I just read Awaken, the third book in a Meg Cabot trilogy, and it took me a while to get into it because I just couldn’t remember what the point was. On the other hand, The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa does a great job recapping in a natural way, without an info dump. I also like series like the His Fair Assassin series where the books connect, but are distinct enough stories that you don’t have to remember much of the previous books to go on.

    • Info dumps are terrible! I hate reading a recap knowing that it’s a recap … it can get tedious! I love the His Fair Assassin Series — I was worried about reading that one because I thought I wouldn’t know what was going on, but I got sucked in right away! Love distinct stories. In my opinion, all books in a series should be able to stand on their own.

  18. I’m definitely a re-reader. I love rereading my fav series. My most recent entire series reread I think was hmmmm Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series (read the side series again as well) wait no it was Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series…I made it thru to book ten and had to take a break on the re-read. I will NEVER re-read that series again LOL I think rereading can be alot of fun but I definitely don’t do it as much as say one friend i know half of her reading is rereading which I think is just silly.

    • That is kind of silly … there are so many NEW books out there that need to be read! I do love a good reread once in a while, but usually only do it when the mood strikes. Reading a series that has more than 10 books is ambitious!

  19. I can’t get anything done with how much I’m doing but I’m trying to cross off as many boxes as I can. LOL I haven’t even gotten around to rereading anything yet! At this point, I’m just trying to enjoy the feeling of being able to cross a box off knowing I’m not going to be able to finish! πŸ™‚

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