Reading goals: Series to read in 2018

Another year, another chance to set reading goals… that may or may not be at all realistic. But hey, a reader can dream, right?

I’ve moved away from setting too many reading goals over the years. I don’t participate in reading challenges (other than Goodreads), because I know that I’ll just end up feeling frustrated and resentful if I tailor my reading to a list or set of “requirements”, rather than just reading whatever the hell I feel like. I’m definitely a mood reader — I want to read whatever I want, whenever I want, no deadlines or commitments!

BUT… I do have a few reading goals, chief among which is the desire to dive into several series that I’ve had my eye on for a while now.

In 2018, my priority series to read (or at least start) will be:

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi – six books, starting with Old Man’s War:

Lady Julia Grey by Deanna Raybourn – five books and a bunch of novellas, starting with Silent in the Grave:

Question for those who have read this series: What’s the suggested reading approach? Read all the novels first? Are the novellas necessary? Do they come at the end, or in between, or… ?? Help!

Newsflesh by Mira Grant – four novels and assorted shorter works, starting with Feed:

Again, looking for advice on how to proceed: Read the original trilogy, then the story collection, then the 4th novel?

October Daye by Seanan McGuire – 11 books and counting, plus short fiction too, starting with Rosemary and Rue:

Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch – six novels and another on the way, starting with Rivers of London (Midnight Riot):

 

That’s it for my 2018 priority list… but wait, there’s more!

I still have my eye on a bunch of series/trilogies/what-have-you that I intend to read… eventually. Maybe some will make it into my 2018 reading pile, but then again, maybe not. It all depends on my reading mood! My will-get-to-at-some-point list of series includes:

  • Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
  • Illuminae books by Amie Kaufman
  • Anything/everything by Tamora Pierce (by order of my beloved daughter)
  • The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters
  • Wayward Pines books by Blake Crouch
  • Inheritance trilogy and/or Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin

I can’t forget to mention that I’m committed to continuing a few ongoing series as well, including:

  • The Expanse series — next up: Cibola Burns (#4)
  • Poldark series — currently on #7 (The Angry Tide), then continuing on with #8 (The Stranger From the Sea)

… and in the “don’t hold your breath” category, it would be lovely to be able to read the next books in the Outlander and A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I’m fairly certain we won’t see either one in 2018!

Are you planning to start any new series this year? If you’ve read any of the series on my “priority” list, let me know what you thought!

Serious series reading: A look behind and a look forward

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Resolutions come, resolutions go… but one that I’ve been getting better and better about sticking to over the last few years has to do with reading book series.

Last year, one of my bookish resolutions was:

I resolve to (attempt to) read series as a whole — all books in a row — rather than reading them as they come out and then forgetting all the details in between volumes.

This was not meant to be an absolute, of course. I do have some ongoing series that I’m crazy about, and I’ll continue to read those whenever new installments become available. But the intent of the resolution is clear — whenever possible, I want to resist the urge to start new, incomplete series, and focus instead on series that are already published and complete, so I can enjoy them as a whole instead of in bits and pieces.

How did I do? Let’s take a look at the series I read in 2016:

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: I had read the first book in the trilogy years ago, but had lost interest by the time the 2nd came out. This year, I listened to the audiobook of book #1, then continued in print with the 2nd and 3rd. (These books really must be read in hard copy in order to get the full experience, since the illustrations are really a part of the story.)

final peregrine banner

The Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow: I got involved in this excellent series in 2015, and finished up the 20th and most recent book (as well as the four books in the spin-off series) by mid-2016. Such a fantastic reading experience — and I’m thrilled that #21 will be out in 2017!

kate 2

The Magicians by Lev Grossman: This is another series that I started years ago, and just came back to this year. Prompted by the TV adaptation, I decided to give The Magicians another chance, reread book 1 and then went through 2 and 3, and ended up loving the trilogy as a whole.

The Magicians MAgician King 2 Magician's Land

The Wrath & the Dawn and The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: I didn’t love this duology nearly as much as everyone else did, but I’m still glad that I read them together.

Wrath & the DawnRose & Dagger

The Giver by Lois Lowry: My son read The Giver for school last year, and I realized that I remembered almost nothing about it — so I went ahead and reread The Giver, then read the rest of the books in the quartet.

lowry-giver-quartet

And now, looking ahead…

Series I plan to read in 2017:

This is partially a plan, partially a wish list. I really do want to read all of these, but we’ll just have to wait and see how many I can actually commit to while still reading everything else that grabs my attention. My priority series for 2017 are:

Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi: I love Scalzi’s writing, and now that I’ve read all of his stand-alones (I think), it’s time to finally dive into the series that’s supposed to be his masterpiece!

old-mans-war-series

Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch: After reading and loving Dark Matter this year, I absolutely have to check out this trilogy!

wayward-pines-series

Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King: I’ve had Mr. Mercedes on my shelf since it was published. At some point, it seemed to make more sense to wait for all three books to be available before starting. And now, I’m out of excuses!

bill-hodges

And maybe…

I have a few series openers that I’m interested in — but not quite ready to commit to at this point.

leviathan-wakesrosemary-rueTemeraire 1

Last but not least…

Let’s not forget two series I’m already committed to, and look forward to continuing in the New Year:

Ross PoldarkThe Poldark series by Winston Graham: I’ve read the first five books so far. That’s five down, seven to go! I find that I need to space these out, and I don’t want to get too far ahead of the TV show, so perhaps I’ll just tackle another one or two in 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my very, very favorite:

silence_fallen_layout.inddThe Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs! Silence Fallen, the 10th Mercy book, will be out in March, and I cannot wait. I hope Patricia Briggs continues to create adventures for Mercy (as well as her spin-off series, Alpha & Omega) for many, many years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone else read series as a whole, rather than as they come out? What’s your preferred approach to reading book series? And what series are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Whatever your series-reading style, here’s wishing us all a fantastic year of reading!

Reactions to a random resolution

Solemnly

Resolutions are tricky buggers, aren’t they? I tend to view them with suspicion, especially my own! Deciding on January 1st just how I’m going to change and do things better for the rest of the year seems blindly optimistic and generally unrealistic. Let’s face it: How many of us have resolved at some point to go to the gym more? Raise your hand if you went to the gym more last January. Okay, leave your hands up if you were still going as often in March. Yeah, right.

This past week for Top Ten Tuesday, the topic was all about resolutions for the new year. I only came up with 9, and all but one related to books and reading — buying habits, reading habits, and so on.

The resolution that seemed to be greeted with the most skepticism was this one:

I resolve to (attempt to) read series as a whole — all books in a row — rather than reading them as they come out and then forgetting all the details in between volumes.

A few comments basically said “I could never do that”, and a couple of real-life friends pretty much laughed in my face.

So, I thought I should take a few moments to explain my thoughts behind the resolution… which made sense to me at the time!

I have a well-documented problem with series. Well-documented in the sense that I’ve written blog posts about it. In any case — over the last several years, I’ve come to realize that I just don’t enjoy series when I have to wait a year or more in between installments. And it seems that all the “big” “buzz” books lately are parts of series, or in YA especially, trilogies.

Does everything have to be in three parts? Seems like the answer is yes, unless you’re making a movie out of it, in which case four seems to now be the norm. (I’m looking at you, Mockingjay parts 1 & 2.)

So what’s my problem, and why do I need a resolution?

Let’s look at a book example. I was late to the party when it came to The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, but finally I jumped on board last December and read the three novels then available right in a row, and then the related short stories, and then the mini-novel Fairest. Loved ’em all, and couldn’t look away. But then… it was a long, long wait for the release of the final book Winter. You can read my super enthusiastic response to my Lunar binge read, and then compare my reaction to Winter. Maybe Winter just wasn’t as good… or maybe reading it on its own, once I was no longer under the spell of my binge-read, lessened the impact it had on me.

In other cases, I’ve absolutely loved the first book in a series or trilogy — books like The Diviners by Libba Bray (review) or All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin. But as much as I loved The Diviners, after waiting for the sequel for a couple of years, I found that when Lair of Dreams actually became available, I simply wasn’t interested. I read books 1 and 2 in the Zevin Birthright trilogy, and then realized when #3 came out that I wasn’t curious about what came next… so even though I had the book in my hands, I ended up returning it to the library unread.

When it comes to enjoying trilogies and finite series, time is not my friend. The more time that goes by in between installments, the less likely I am to read the subsequent books as they’re published. Maybe it has to do with laziness — to pick up a volume 2 a year or more after reading volume 1 means that I’d have to put some time into rereading the first book or finding detailed recaps in order to reenter the world of the series. And without a reread or a revisit, I move forward in the next book only halfway engaged, not quite fitting all the pieces together and wondering whether I’ve forgotten something important. (And usually, I have.)

There’s also the sense of moving backwards. I read a book, I like it, I finish it. I put it on my shelf. And I move on. So a year later the story continues? But I’ve moved on! Unless the first book left me salivating and desperate for more, I have other things on my mind, new worlds to explore, and don’t necessarily want to go back to something I consider done.

(Don’t get me started on series/trilogies that end volumes with cliffhangers. Argh. That’s a different topic entirely, although it does add fuel to my desire not to start an incomplete story unless I know I can move straight on with the next installment.)

Sure, there are some series that are open-ended and that I read faithfully, but with those, I knew from the start that I was reading an ongoing series. I’m thinking here especially of the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher and the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs. I love both of these worlds and their characters so very much. I’ll read them forever — please don’t ever end!

Then there are the series in progress that I’m deeply invested in — number one being Outlander, but also George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I’m up to date on both series, with no release date for a next book for either one. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love them, but I’d be thrilled to know that the next books will be here soon. (They won’t.)

As for new books, well, there’s my dilemma and my challenge. There are books that are so hot and talked-about and NOW that it’s hard not to join in and become a part of the crazy excitement. Everyone seems to be reading The Illuminae and talking about how amazing it is! And the thing is, it sounds like something I’d love to read. But hold on — there are more volumes to come over the next couple of years. Do I jump in now and break my own rules, or wait?

I also know that I should and must read Patrick Rothfuss’s books, because they’re totally up my alley… but I’ve sworn that I’m not going to read The Name of the Wind until I know that the final book at least has a scheduled release date.

I could go on, because there are lots more, but you get my point. I point-blank refused to read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie despite constant prodding by a couple of friends, but now that the entire trilogy has been published, I’m out of excuses!

We’ll see how this whole resolution business works out. I’m quite aware that sticking to my goal here will be very hard, because as soon as I hear about a great new book, I want to immediately grab it and devour it — and my resolution means that if the book in question is the first in a series, then it’s taboo for me… for now.

I can’t promise to be perfect, but I know I really do enjoy series more when I read them straight through. That way, I stay caught up in the mood, the characters, and the plot intricacies, and maintain a sense of engagement and excitement from start to finish. There have even been series that I thought I’d parcel out and take a breather from in between books, but ended up being incapable of reading anything else at all until I’d read all the books. My chief example here is Outlander, because once I read the first book for the very first time, I basically didn’t come up for air again until three months later, when I’d finished all of the main books in the series as well as all of the novellas and offshoots. Same for Codex Alera by Jim Butcher — six books, no stopping, no reading a single other book until I reached the final page of First Lord’s Fury.

crawl inside

There’s something just so immersive and satisfying about reading a series that way. We all talk about wanting to live in the world of a favorite books — well, this is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I’ve achieved that!

So, wish me luck with my weird little resolution! I’m really going to try to stick with it — but I promise to ‘fess up if I don’t.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten completed series that I never finished reading

Top 10 Tuesday new

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Ten Finished Series I Have YET to Finish.

Well, I have plenty of those. And this is why I’m trying not to start new series, at least not while they’re still in progress. Because I lose interest between books, or just never care enough in the first place to continue — or by the time the next book comes out, I’d have to go back and re-read the earlier ones to remember what’s happened, and who has time for that?

My top ten didn’t-finish-’em series (with pictures of the book I’d need to read next, if I ever ended up reading further):

1. Locke & Key by Joe Hill: This one is a crying shame, and I swear I will finish! I absolutely adored this scary, creepy graphic novel series, and I’ve read five of the six volumes. But when #6 came out, I thought I should read #1 – 5 again first so that I’d fully appreciate the grand finale… and then I just didn’t make time for it. So, I do intend to finish reading this series. This year, maybe?

Locke & Key vol 6

2. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I read the first three books in the series and thought they were great, then decided to take a little break — and I’ve just never gone back. No particular reason, except that every time I picked up the 4th book, I’d always find something else I was more in the mood to read at that moment. Someday, perhaps.

Wizard and Glass

3. Birthright series by Gabrielle Zevin: I liked the first two books well enough, but by the time the third came out, I just didn’t have the story on my mind any more, and didn’t feel a need to go back to it.

Age of Love and Chocolate

4. Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin: This was a weird one for me. I really liked the first book, started the 2nd, and just didn’t feel at all drawn into the story. I ended up DNFing the 2nd book, and haven’t been curious enough to give it another try.

Mara Dyer 2

5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson: I finished the first book, but hated it, and had no interest at all in reading any further.

Girl Who Played with Fire

6. The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger: This one isn’t a perfect fit for the topic, since the final book doesn’t come out until November. I adored the Parasol Protectorate series, but after reading the 1st book in this YA series (Etiquette and Espionage), I decided I’d pass. I didn’t particularly enjoy the main character or the younger tone, and I haven’t heard anything yet about the rest of the series that’s been enough to make me want to give it another try.

Curtsies & Conspiracies

7. Inheritance Cycle by Chris Paolini: I read Eragon as a joint reading project with my son, and I thought we’d continue with the rest of the books. But as he doesn’t seem interested in the 2nd book, Eldest, I’m not going to bother either. I didn’t really enjoy Eragon all that much, and I’d only continue if I had my kiddo to share the experience with.

Eldest

8.Sally Lockhart Quartet by Philip Pullman: This one was not intentional. I read The Ruby in the Smoke after picking it up at a used book sale and really liked it, but since I didn’t have the next book, I forgot about it for a while. I would like to finish the series, but I’d have to start over again from the beginning.

Shadow in the North

9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: I read three (or perhaps four?) of these books way back when, and I know I have at least one more to go. Maybe I just didn’t have the remaining one(s) at that time? I have no idea why I never finished, because I adore these books!

Mostly Harmless

10. The Last Werewolf trilogy by Glen Duncan: I really liked the first two (ultra violent and bloody) books in this trilogy, and I do have the 3rd… but just haven’t felt like reading it yet. To be honest, I’m not sure I care enough anymore to go back to this story, and I’m not sure why. Still, I do own the book, so I’m not ruling it out!

by blood we live

Do we have any unfinished series in common? Or can you convince me to give any on my list another try?

Share your links, please, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

NEW THIS WEEK! I’m starting a new Wednesday Feature… please come back tomorrow and check it out!

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Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I host a Book Blog Meme Directory, and I’m always looking for new additions! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!