Do you shy Away From Reading Long Series?

I actually just read a blog post about this topic yesterday that gave me the idea to write this. I’d link to the post if I remembered the name. Oh well.

Let me just tell you what this other blogger said. She categorized a “long” series as more than five books. And basically said that anything more than that is just too long and fails to keep her attention. I disagree. Let’s not forget Harry Potter was seven. Just saying.

I mean, five books being categorized as a “long” series is a joke. That is a short series. A very short one. I mean, five books is probably only long to YA readers who read trilogy after trilogy. Followed by Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not trying to generalize here, but really who thinks five books is a long series? Who? Another question. How many books are in your favorite series? Mine happens to have three, but when I start looking at more of the series I read I see a whole lot more books than that. Let me see. Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series is into the 40s. And oh by the way, this is only considered one of the great detective series of the past half century. Jack Reacher is about to reach 20. Alex Cross is into the 20s. Harry Bosch is nearing 20 books. Alex McKnight is in the double digits. Jesse Stone is at 14. Elvis Cole is at 16.

See what I’m saying? These are not just random series I found on the internet. I read all of them and there are several more that I could name. But I think I’ve made my point. I know I don’t speak for every reader out there, but it does beg the question that if readers were turned off by long series, then why are so many authors writing them? Michael Connelly just released a new Bosch novel this week and I’m near certain that it’ll be a #1 NYT bestseller whenever the list updates. As is also the case with most of James Patterson’s books. And Lee Child’s. And Sue Grafton’s. And I know there are YA series that go on and on, as well.

The moral of this post is that I don’t buy into the notion that readers are turned off by long series. Not at all. There are way too many that sell quite well for that to be the case. But I’ll ask anyway, do you shy away from reading lengthy series?

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29 thoughts on “Do you shy Away From Reading Long Series?

  1. I think there are series and then there are series. There are series like LotR and Harry Potter that follow a single plot line. Sure, Harry Potter is broken up into little segments, but you can’t just pull a book out randomly and read it. There are other things that are called series that, although there may be a subtle plot line through out, are comprised of independent books with the same character set, locations, etc. This would be like Miss Marple or James Bond. It might help to read the earlier books so you get all of the references, but it’s not absolutely necessary. I don’t mind visiting a familiar literary universe in this type of series, but if the plot line gets stretched out over too many volumes I have to really like the story to go much beyond a trilogy.

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  2. I shy away from them. I have read some, and am elbows deep into The Dresden Files right now. Those are more like stand alone books with the same character throughout.

    I like solo projects, even if they’re big ones. I like to read many kinds of things. I might read a mystery, then science fiction, then a western, etc.

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  3. I like the idea of them. But I usually get to about book 6 and struggle to read past that. That happened to me while reading The Dresden Files, and I’ve yet to make it past book 8. I’m not giving up though.

    It does concern me however, because there’s a book series that is supposed to be 10 books long, but the two books already released are both over 1000 pages! multiplied by ten, and that a ton of reading. I’m hoping I’ll stick with it.

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  4. I love a long series! I’m reading the Dresden files right now and that’s about 15 books. My favorite series just ended with book 13. I have trouble letting go of things, so when an author gives me a ton of books to read about the same characters it makes my little heart flutter with joy.

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  5. The number of books doesn’t matter quite so much as the size of the books, though neither puts me off. I read the Malazan series in 3 weeks and the Dresden files over a similar period of time.
    Never-mind Harry Potter, Narnia was seven books, seven small books that you could read over a long weekend quite comfortably and according to this definition she could read His Dark Materials without a problem but Narnia wouldn’t keep her attention.
    Provided you avoid series that are essentially the author’s life work the size of the book has a far greater influence on the length of the series than the number of books.

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    • I think the Kinsey Millhone series is Sue Grafton’s life work. I don’t think she’s ever written outside the series. But it’s been like 23 ish books over something like 30 years.

      But I have to disagree about length. I only look at length if it gets over maybe 600 pages. And even then I just put it off rather than decide to stop the series altogether.

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  6. When I was younger the Nancy Drew books were my favorite series…56 books! Or is it 52? It’s been a long time. Right now one of my favorite series has 10 books in it…and I don’t want it to stop anytime soon!

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  7. I do (shy away from them). Four, maybe five, six at the most, that’s what I can take when it comes to fantasy. Ursula K LeGuin’s Earthsea series is a good example. That’s fine, but series of twenty books – forget it. But I suppose it depends. Series of more or less ‘standalone’ books, usually mysteries are ok too, but even then, about twelve books or seems to be the limit, before the quality begins to suffer.

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    • Hm. I get what you’re saying if they’re basically standalones and mysteries, but not really about quality. No author writes great book after great book. There’s always going to be one or more mediocre one. Maybe you disagree.

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      • Maybe I put it badly. Even if the quality doesn’t suffer after say, ten to twelve books, the author seems to get tired of his/her series. Then the books really start to get boring, unless the author takes the consequences of what’s happened and stops writing that particular series.

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  8. I don’t tend to get into series, but that’s more because I like to jump around and try lots of different authors rather than spend too long on one. That said, if I came across a book in a series that I loved enough, yes I’d read the others – though it make take me a while if it’s a long series because I’d want to intersperse it with other stuff.

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  9. My top two favorite series each have seven books. Neither of them is Harry Potter, but HP makes another great case for series longer than three to five books.

    I will keep reading a series if it holds my attention and if the characters continue to grow and adapt. I don’t look at how many books in the series. For me, the more the better.

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  10. If I like a series, I’ll read it until the books turn to crap *cough*Sookie Stackhouse*cough*. I’d say maybe 8-10+ is long, but that still wouldn’t deter me if I enjoy the writing. I’m in the process of reading a 13 (or is it 14?!) book series by Katherine Kerr. I love it. I just space the books out, maybe one a month, so I don’t get burnt out.

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    • Oooh. You’re a little like me. I have a million long series I’m currently reading, but I never read the same author within difivece books of each other. So it’s not like I’m reading a ton of the same character over and over.

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  11. I don’t read series often, mostly because I’m a classic lit kind of girl and there aren’t many I have found that appeal to me, not because I’m afraid of sticking to them. I actually love the format of long series quite simply because I get more of what I like! I’ve read all 13 books in the ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ all of which I loved despite the ending. I’ve read 99% of Agatha Christie’s novels including all in the ‘Miss Marple’ and ‘Tommy & Tuppence’ series and nearly all the ‘Poirot’ except I think maybe one book?

    This blogger you speak of must not truly enjoy reading if they are so easily turned off by ‘long series’.

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    • I like all of what you said except that you don’t read series often! You should! There are so many great ones right now! Well, at least to me.

      I agree. I don’t know what she was thinking.

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  12. I love a good series – Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, Brett Battles’ Project Eden, Kevin Hearne’s IDC and more…all of which pass the 5 book mark. As long as the stories keep evolving and moving forward I’ll keep reading 🙂

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  13. I have tried reading Robert Jordan a few times but only get up to book 3. I just have to dedicate too much of my life to that series and I don’t think that I am quite ready for it. I like to stick to trilogies when I can thats why I like Robin Hobb. But yes more than 3 is can be way to long.

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