Discussion: What Makes You Continue Reading A Series?

let's talkI don’t know about you guys but I have a serious series problem. I continually start series but very rarely finish them. Can you blame me though? It seems like  75% of the MG/YA books out there are a part of a series. That got me to start thinking about why I stick with a series. Here are some of my reasons:

Readability. Series books are meant to leave you on a bit of a cliffhanger. They do that hoping you’ll stick around and read the next book. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like every book out there, there are some books that you totally click with and need to read more. Other books leave you bored and searching for something more interesting to read.

Availability. I’m a bit more inclined to stick with a series if many/all of the books are already published. If I’m having to wait for the next installment, I tend to lose interest or just forget about the book. Who doesn’t like going to the library or book store and being able to grab a whole series (or a large chuck of a series) to read?

Length. The length of a series definitely influences my decision to continue with a series. I am getting a bit annoyed with the influx of trilogies in the YA world but a trilogy is a pretty manageable length for a series.  Any longer my interest starts to get a bit shaky. I have to be really, really interested and invested in a series to want to read more than 3 books. Think about some of the longer series out there (Baby Sitter’s Club and Nancy Drew, I’m looking at you). How many people actually stick around for 100+ books? Not too many. (Those may not be the best examples though. They’re intended for a younger audience and I know younger kids tend to have a harder time reading if they aren’t invested in books they read.)

What are some of your reasons for continuing a series?

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22 thoughts on “Discussion: What Makes You Continue Reading A Series?

  1. I have the opposite problem. When I start a series, I feel obsessively compelled to read the rest of the books, even if I didn’t particularly like the first one.

    I totally agree about series longer than three books, though… for some reason, four or more just seems too long, especially if it’s a newer series that you still have to wait for books to be published — right now that’s the “I Am Number Four” series, which, when I started reading, I thought was supposed to be a trilogy (it’s not; there will be six books)

    • I used to have that problem. I think it may have been because I didn’t read as much so it made sense to see a series all the way through. Now I have way too many books on my to read list so if I’m not a huge fan of a book I’m not going to pick up the next one.

      Awww man. That’s a bummer they changed it on you. Is it at least a good extension and not a money grabbing scheme?

  2. Whether I continue a series is based mostly on how much I like the previous books in a series. It helps that I have no qualms about reading just the first book in a series and stopping if I don’t like it. Fortunately, in most cases, if the first book was compelling enough for me to read, then I will enjoy it enough to continue reading the rest of the series. Another thing about the way I read a series is that I tend to go weeks or months between books in a series, sometimes due to the availability problem you mentioned, sometimes due to the way I read. So for example, if I like book 1, I’ll add book 2 to my TBR pile behind the 10 other books already there. I don’t get obsessed about having to read the entire series straight through. There have been exceptions, of course. 🙂

  3. Those are great reasons! I think the bottom line is how much will it hold my interest? Sometimes I know to quit after book one and other times I get mad that I wasted 4, 5, 6 books on this series and THAT’s where we’re going with it?!
    I actually don’t find myself deterred from reading a series if there aren’t many out yet, although it does make it nice when they ARE all out and I can read them back-to-back.
    Cliffhangers definitely help, but only if they’re done well. I just finished a book recently that just kind of…. ended. And I was like, “Was that it?” It was too abrupt and kind of didn’t make sense and it actually made me not want to continue.
    Great post! 🙂

  4. I think my approach to a series depends most on if it needs to be read in order or not. For instance you can dig into a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys novel quite happily out of order without fear that you’ll be spoiling one of their earlier adventures.

    I have to say though that with those kind of series I will often just dip into a book from time to time, rather than try to read them all, and I usually cherry-pick the ones I read based on which author has written them or on how interesting their blurbs sound.

    For series with on-going stories, I tend to avoid ones which stretch out over more than three or four books for just the reasons you say – that’s usually too much of a commitment for me, unless they come very highly recommended from someone whose taste I trust.

    What I think helps me decide if I want to pick up the next installment is if the last book had a good cliffhanger or if I’ve already come to care about the characters or the world the author has created.

  5. I love series. Unless I hate it or get completely bored, I’ll usually continue the series. And I think length really has more to do with the stories themselves than the number of books. For example, Harry Potter and Soul Screamers are/will be 7 books. I loved all 7 HP books and the 6 SS books I’ve read so far. Others, like the Southern Vampire Mysteries, I feel like they just get boring and the storylines aren’t as good.

  6. Great question! 🙂 I’m more likely to read trilogies than series, though, because I’ve found that a lot of authors start writing worse/reusing previous material if the series goes on too long. Plus, I’d like to see the end of the story in 3 years instead of, say, 6. 😉 But when I do stick with a series, it’s likely because I really like the characters in it. If there’s good character development, with the characters growing throughout all the books, I’ll stick around.

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  7. As the author of my own series, (The Chase Tinker Series) I have to say that I enjoy reading series books. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Gregor the Overlander are 3 of my favorites. Though, if I’m going to stick around that long, I have to really like and enjoy the characters, and the story definitely needs to have the ability to be carried on to more than just one book. I hate it when I feel like the 2nd and 3rd, etc. books are forced. Great question, Alison! 🙂

  8. I agree with your assessment. Although cliffhangers are a difficulty. I may actually prefer companion novels than a series with ridiculous over-the-top endings wherein the characters are in mortal peril, etc. I consider those to be cheap ways the author wants you to continue. I hope the novel as a whole encourages me to want to continue with the series, instead of simply the last few pages.

    • Great point Amanda! I get annoyed with that too. I don’t mind when the larger story line isn’t finished at the end of a book but the smaller story line needs to have some closure.

  9. Cliffhanger endings for sure. Even if the rest of the book was only “meh”, I will usually read the next one if the ending leaves me wanting more.
    Also, length of series. I couldn’t bring myself to read more than 2 of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series for that reason. Ditto on Sookie Stackhouse.

  10. Yeah, I am getting a little weary with all the series. I can’t definitely lose interest. Sometimes series are great, but sometimes I just want one complete story in one complete novel. No more.

    I’m not exactly sure why or why not I stick with a series. Length is definitely important though. Like you said, more than three, and I often won’t stick with the series. Also, sometimes I think plots get silly with series, and I don’t like that. I really want more companion novels. I think most everyone does, though 🙂

  11. I guess that the enjoyment in reading is up to the individual reader. For myself, It depends entirely on the author. There are authors who have written what I call mega series and before I’m halfway through I just want it to be over. In these cases the authors seem to loose focus or the story starts to repeat itself. Maybe they’ve forgotten the earlier storyline but their readers have not. Those are the series that I desert halfway through.

    That said, I have to admit that there are a small handful of authors who are writing very long series and their books, I wouldn’t miss. I have a standing order for each new release prior to its issue date. So I can’t say it’s the lenght of the series but the authors ability to keep my interest in the characters and the ongoing story line that makes the differnce for me . If an author can still write about a character with passion and depth in book ten or twelve and the story is still fresh and exciting, I’m all in.

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