Thursday, December 15, 2011

Series Books: Back To Back or Spread Them Out?

With the holidays just around the corner and my TBR pile a mile high, I've been doing a bit of thinking. A lot of the books that I read, or plan to read, are part of series. Right now, for instance, I am cruising through Colleen Houck's Tiger's Curse. I'm enjoying it so much that I ordered both of the other books in the series that are available.

But this leaves me with a dilemma, and that's what I'm here to talk about today. Should I jump straight into the next book, or should I pace them out, putting other things between them?

Left to my own devices, I would just zip through them because I'm enjoying the story so much. But there are advantages to back-to-back reading, and there are disadvantages. Further, what I'd like to do as a reader and what I should be doing as a blogger might not match up.


1. I tend to read faster if I'm already invested in the book. If I'm reading a part of a favorite series I tend to zip through the book like it's nothing. I often talk about pacing when I review books and for me that's two-fold. What kind of pace the book had, and what kind of pace I chose to read it at. If I'm constantly putting a book down and life is not interfering, you can wager I'm not connecting with it the way I want to. When I am connecting, I tend to read and review quicker.

2. Everything is fresh in my mind. This works better for a series that is totally complete. It's also slightly moot since I can go back and look at my reviews. In the case of Tiger's Curse, the advantage would be short term since the third book released recently and it will be a while until the next one.

3. I'm reading what I (currently) want to read. Have you ever tried to get a five year old to do something they don't want to? That's the kind of inner reader that I can have sometimes. If I try to push myself to read something I'm not in the mood for or not really interested in, good luck. Lockdown will commence and it is not pretty. This can cause anything from stalling in my reading to altering the perception I have of what I have read.

I think I'm obsessed. I blame Kishan.


1. I get tunnel vision. When I get really into a series I can block other things out and that can cause trouble. Right now, for instance, I know reading Tiger's Curse is messing up my schedule for Moon Dance. That's not a huge crisis -- my book isn't going anywhere -- but it shows a lack of discipline that could become a problem.

2. Do readers want back-to-back reviews? Sometimes a reader just knows they don't like something. It has to be a little maddening when a blogger goes on a "series" kick and is talking about the same thing over and over and over. From a purely marketing and numbers standpoint, the most crucial book to review in any series is its first book, because that's the book that will let someone decide if they even want to keep going. Other books do matter, but book one is the entry point. Am I cheating authors if I decide to zone in?

3. It stops a blogger's sense of exploration. When I went out the other week I bought a lot of series #1 books to check out. I'm going out for another big shopping spree on boxing day and will likely be getting more books then. In all practicality, I should be trying to get through any books that have sequels so that I'll know whether I want those. I also need to mention reviewing things that people put in as requests here. The kind of indulgence that reading things close together can bring out can make shifting gears a pain.

So, there you have it. Something to ponder. I'm honestly not sure where I fall in this debate. it actually never occurred to me until my copies of Tiger's Quest and Tiger's Voyage arrived and I sat there going "Good-bye, next week of reading. I know where you're going."

Has anyone else struggled with this situation? Or perhaps its never really crossed your mind? I'd love to know your thoughts, so feel free to comment.


  1. This is really, really interesting actually. I never read a series straight through because I need variety in my reading. I'm about to read the Percy Jackson series but in between each book I will read something else. I don;t want my readers to get bored and I don't want to get "series burnout"

  2. As just a reader, it depends on the series. The light, fluffy or ones that really suck me it, I can blow right through those with no burn out. I tried that with one of Sharon Kay Penman's Henry II/Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, and boy was I *hating* that third book. But she has a more non-fiction type of style for historical fiction than some other writers.

    On the blogging side, if they are ones you need/want to review, I can see the plus of spreading them out. Though it is possible to read and review them back to back, but spread out the actual posting dates. I have seen some people who have reviewed a series as a whole, which is good if the series is complete, or packaged together in gift sets

  3. Interesting. I like to space books out that way I can step away and think about it before I dive into the next book. I remember reading 3 Mortal Instruments in 2 months and picked up on so much because I remembered the other stories so vividly.

    On the other hand I'm reading SO many series now that I have to spread them out and I just read my reviews or other people's reviews as a refresher.

    great post !

  4. I agree wth sarah, if you really want to read them now then just read them :) You can always spread the posts out if you dont want to do them back to back. I do that all the time :)

  5. I love this post. I don't think I've ever read a series back-to-back. No matter how much I love the books, I need some variety. If I really can't wait to get back into the series, I might only read one book in between.

    When it comes to blogging, I think variety is good! There's a blog I'm following that I like a lot, but the blogger is currently reading a series and all of her reviews have been for it. I've neither read the books nor do I have an interest in doing so. You could always schedule your reviews to be posted at a later date.

  6. I do a little of both. Before I started blogging, I would totally dive into a series and not come up for air till I was caught up. But now I tend to put a few in between & kind of use them as carrots. I am totally stoked about reading a guilt pleasure #3, but I need to read 4 for sure NetGalley review books & then reward. Not that the review books aren't their own reward, but..,who knows...but I am OCD about series so it is a reward regardless how good.

    Amy @


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