Series vs Standalones

I am currently reading a trilogy. I read most of the first book yesterday, as well as just over half of the second book – this Chaos Walking series is addictive and very easy to read. This is not usually the case with me.

I usually read standalone books – that is, books that are not part of a series. Although I recently read the first book in the Legacy of Orïsha series, as the second book has not been published yet it feels more like a standalone at present. Prior to that, the last series of books I read would have been Blood and Beauty and The Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant – but unless she is working on more books about the Borgia family, I would consider this to be a duology, as the readers of Booktube say, rather than a series. The last proper series that I have read, then, was the trilogy of Succession, Rebellion, and Accession by Livi Michael, which follows the lives of two Margarets during the Wars of the Roses of the 15th century, Queen Margaret of Anjou and Margaret Beaufort – it’s a brilliant series, and I would really recommend it! This being said, I read the series as part of my research about Queen Margaret for my dissertation at the University of Edinburgh in 2017. It has arguably been two years, then, since I have last read an actual series. Why is that?

Is it because I’m impatient and want to know the whole story right away, and not have it spread across three or more books? Is it because I can more easily afford one book than several? Is it because I don’t have enough space on my bookshelves to fit a series or two? While that last point is probably the most accurate, I believe I have the same concerns about series of books as with series of films – will the sequels be as good as the first one? Will they do more harm than good to the promise of the first story, and the series as a whole? I definitely read more series when I was younger – notably Harry Potter, and the Roman Mysteries series – was that because I had more time to fully immerse myself in a number of books in a row? Was my attention span better back then? I don’t think so in either case – I have more time on my hands these days, what with no longer being in school or university and working from home, and the fact I recently managed to read a book about Stalin that clocked in at 752 pages… Perhaps I just hadn’t found a series, until Chaos Walking, that really grabbed my attention. I have a number of series I hope to read or continue soon – Legacy of Orïsha, Girls of Paper and Fire – perhaps I’ll soon be reading more series than standalones!

Having said all of this, I would like to point out that although I may have a preference, that does not mean there is any way that is best to tell a story or to read one. Series are great. Standalones are great. Audiobooks, ebooks, hardbacks, paperbacks – all fantastic. What I think is most important is that you enjoy the story – life is too short to read bad books!


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