Just browsing over which titles I have read over the past year or so, and I’ve noticed that I’ve had a slight craze on reading series of books – books written by the same author who publish numerous volumes focusing on various different adventures of a core group of characters. I’ll list the Sherlock Holmes series, the Mapp and Lucia series, the Little House on the Prairie series, and the (never-ending but endlessly entertaining) Thirkell Barsetshire series as examples.
In my past reading trends, I have always made a point of staying away from any books in a series, whether it’s a long list of titles or not. I think my thinking was that I didn’t want to feel beholden to any author or his/her work. Thus, if I started the first title (and I would have a difficult time starting somewhere apart from that first title), then I would feel as if I had an obligation to read all the remainder of the series, regardless of how good it was. (Thus, the “beholden” word choice.) It just seemed a pretty stressy way to read your TBR and would, I thought, limit what I could choose, title-wise.
During childhood, I was sucked into the world of Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers and the non-fiction animal collecting adventures of Gerald Durrell, but apart from those (and they were read out of order – rebel that I am), I was a series-free reader.
Then, I started to read Sherlock Holmes last year, and the stories were really well written and interesting so I just kept going with those titles over time.
Then, I ventured into the world of The Hunger Games. (Still haven’t read the third one but will do this summer on the beach.)
Then, I heard a lot about Mapp and Lucia and once I’d finished with the Sherlock books and stories, I turned to the village of Tilling and its characters.
And thus started the Thirkell Barsetshire series… (The Thirkell series looks a bit overwhelming to me if I look at it as a to-do list as there are so many books), but ordering it a title at a time through ILL makes it manageable as I don’t order the next title until I’ve finished the Thirkell I am reading right then. Not that I’m a stress monkey or anything. Nope. Not me.)
So – it’s funny, isn’t it, how tastes change over time. Five years ago, I would not have ever thought about following a series (in order, bien sur) through to the end. (The pressure!) But now, taking the reading projects “Bird by Bird” (re: the project management view from writer Annie Lamott), I am really enjoying the process of getting to know the characters as we follow them through the series. And it’s not half as stressy as I thought it would be.
Thirkell’s Barsetshire series is not thought-provoking, but does have a sly sense of humor and is addictive in the same way that potato chips and French fries are. You know it’s not real food, but wow – don’t they taste delicious!