Discussion: Waiting to Read a Series

So it has come to my attention over the course of the past year that there are people who actively avoid reading unfinished series.

This is something that would never have even occurred to me. Possibly in part because I got hooked on the Animorphs series in the 4th grade, and the author didn’t finish it until I was in sixth, so I guess I’m just used to waiting. I also grew up waiting on Harry Potter, so there’s that too.

But mostly I don’t even bother to find out if a book is even a part of a series before I start reading. I pretty much assume anything is either a stand-alone or a part of a never-ending-mega-series-that-I-will-never-finish until told otherwise. Finding out how many books are in a series is so far removed from how I pick books that I would never have even considered that.

So I was a little shocked the first time I heard this. Not because I was appalled or anything, just because I’d never thought of it and it’s kind of weird to me. But over the last year I’ve just come to accept that there are people out there who won’t read a book unless they know the whole series is available to them.

And as I sit here, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for the conclusion of The Kingkiller Chronicles which may never come, I have to say, It kind of makes sense. But, at the same time, it kind of makes me feel icky all over. So, like I do, I thought I’d make a pros and cons list.

On Waiting to Read a Series Until Every Book in the Series Has Been Released

(whew, what an absurdly long title)

Pros

  • If you love the series you can binge the whole thing!
  • No waiting countless years for Patrick Rothfuss or George R.R. Martin to finally put you out of your misery.
    waiting gif
  • Avoid the hype-read and see if the series is going to hold up.
  • Probably by then there’s going to be a movie to watch to compliment.
  • Most likely all the cover-style-changes will have happened and you can get yourself a matching set.
    excited gif

Cons

  • You could be waiting for the rest of the series to come out for many years.
  • And I don’t know about you, but I would probably lose interest and/or forget in that time.
    bored gif
  • You miss the opportunity to speculate with friends about what might happen next!
  • There will probably be spoilers.
  • If everyone else reads it you won’t have anything to talk to them about.
  • No opportunity to hype it yourself.

In the end, you do you. No judgement here. This is not something I ever see myself doing, especially since I can’t often be bothered to even read a whole series. What can I say? I like standalones the best.

Do you like waiting for a series, or reading ASAP? Let me know in the comments!

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40 thoughts on “Discussion: Waiting to Read a Series

  1. I definitely prefer to read finished series!! 😂😂 I lose interest in books pretty fast, so if I start a series that only has a few books out, I very rarely read the ones that are published after I started reading them. With completed series, I find it’s so much more fun to binge-read them! And when I read them back to back there’s such a small chance that I’m forgetting major plot points, and it’s easier to pick up on foreshadowing. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m missing out on discourse, especially because once I finish reading there’s already such a well-established fan base that’s easy to slip into. (It also guarantees that if I buy the series all of the book covers match!! 😅) I definitely feel like I’m in the minority here but this just works better for my reading habits!

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    1. I also tend to forget what happened in previous books. Thank goodness for wikipedia! I’m reading the final book of the Winternight Trilogy, which just came out this month, and I had to go back to Wikipedia and read a synopsis of the second book because I couldn’t remember AT ALL.

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  2. I don’t ALWAYS wait until the series is completed, but I am increasingly going in that direction because I’ve been burned by waiting for the final book in a series, only for the finale to be garbage. If I binge read it, the ending will still be garbage, but I either will have been warned ahead of time or won’t feel as connected because I read over a period of weeks, not years. I’m trying to get over this fear, starting with tackling George R.R. Martin this year, but Allegiant and Mockingjay really betrayed me.

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  3. I agree with you! I didn’t care if a book is a stand-alone or a series, and because I’m a very picky person, I always buy one book at the time, because I never knew if I love all the volumes in the series. My collection of Harry Potter has one book for every edition XD

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  4. I have definitely been struggling with these in the past few years. Mostly because I’ve been getting more and more tired of the idea of a series in the first place. Nowadays a good stand-alone will do me fine. Knowing that I will not know the end of the story for a couple of years or worse, that I might never know the ending, really disturbs me. It feels like unfinished tasks in my head. And with some series like GoT, it’s not only down to the fact that they are unfinished but that I realised I simply cannot be bothered to finish them in the first place. If you’d told me that before I was about to pick up the first one I would have thought twice. I would have still read it because I’m mean to my future self like that, but I would have thought twice.

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    1. See, there are TONS of series I haven’t finished, but that doesn’t really bother me that much. Probably because usually I quit after the first book, and most of the time the first book in a series has a satisfactory ending and I can imagine they are standalones.

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  5. I generally read older books, so if they are part of a series then that series is usually completed already. And I do want to know if a book is part of a series or not, because I dislike starting anywhere but the beginning. I ended up giving away a few books that I bought at book sales when I realized they were not the first entry in their series.

    I don’t mind starting an incomplete series as long as the existing books work fine on their own. Like Megan Whalen Turner’s “The Thief” – It functions very well as a standalone, and I didn’t even know there were other books until after I read it. I intend to read the others eventually, but I can wait. It functions very well as a standalone, and I didn’t even know there were other books until after I read it. I intend to read the others eventually, but I can wait.

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    1. Agreed! I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet last year, and it was a few months after I finished it before I found out there were any more books in the series. It worked fine as a standalone. Honestly, the first book in a series probably SHOULD be that way, which is a big part of why I often only read the first book in a series. I feel like I’ve had closure!

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  6. Agreed with both your pros and your cons 🙂 I don’t think I could have waited with Harry Potter and missed the fun of reading it just released with everyone else but at the same time there are times when I wish I had never bothered with ASOIAF so it’s definitely a double-edged sword!

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    1. Well, and to be fair to me, 10 year old me didn’t have any idea how long the HP series was supposed to be, or how many books were out. But agreed, not reading them? Unthinkable! I’m glad I read Game of Thrones, because I never would have stopped wondering if I would like it or not if I hadn’t. But I heartily agree that I wish I hadn’t bothered with the rest of the series after my lackluster feelings about the first. It definitely didn’t get BETTER.

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  7. I’m the type of person to wait, but at the same time, I do like to know if the book I’m reading is a standalone or the first in the series. If I know the book I’m reading is the first in the series, and I don’t like it, then I know not to read the sequels. I do love standalones too because everything is wrapped up in one book, although I have a thing about not reading series longer than seven books. The longest series I read was Gossip Girl. This was such a great discussion post.

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    1. Thanks! I don’t make “rules” or anything, but a trilogy is the longest series that I *usually* enjoy. Obviously there are exceptions. But it drives me crazy when, hypothetically, I get through the third book thinking it was going to be the last one, only to discover there are TWO MORE, when there definitely isn’t enough content for two more, slugging through them, only to discover the series STILL ISN’T OVER and the author has somehow turned a trilogy into a freaking seven book series! The last two I would have to WAIT FOR. Hypothetically…

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  8. I don’t mind waiting for the next in a series most of the time. But I’m hesitant to start if the series is super long (whether finished or not) or if I know the writer is taking a really long time.

    I’ve read The Name of the Wind, but I don’t want to start book 2 until the last in the trilogy is finally out – because if 2 ends on a cliffhanger, I might be waiting ten years!

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    1. Well I can assure you that book 2 does NOT end on a cliffhanger! I picked up that particular series knowing it wasn’t over, but thinking it had been so long since book 2 had been released that book 3 was bound to come around soon. Yeah, not so much.

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  9. This seems oddly familiar… almost like I said the exact same thing in a Calendar Girls chat…. :]
    In all seriousness, there are obviously exceptions. I read Children of Blood and Bone knowing it was a series starter. But overall, I am just too impatient to read one book and wait 1+ year(s) for the next one to come out. I also find that if I can read the series in one swoop I stay interested whereas if I am waiting for a book to come out, I read a lot in between and may lose interest along the way.
    I think it all depends on the person and their reading style, but I also would rather wait for an entire series to be out before committing to it. (I utilize Goodreads to keep track of series I want to read but aren’t completely finished yet).

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    1. I have definitely lost interest in a series because there was no final book before. But I don’t know, I find I tend to enjoy the books, especially the second which tends to be the “worst” of a series, more when I’m not reading them back to back to back. Maybe I get less tired of them? *shrug*

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  10. Before I started book blogging, I had a strong preference for finished series. I actually didn’t really read much series until later in life because I am a reformed book snob that read classics almost exclusively, but when I started broadening my genres I went for standalones or completed series. Mainly because I vividly remember my friend Jessica whining about 12 years ago about how GRR Martin will never finish the series and she’s dying. I was traumatized. LOL

    Since getting more involved though, I realize how important series readership is to ensuring the rest of the series gets picked up and my preferences have changed. but BOY the waits stink!

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  11. It depends. I don’t have a lot of disposable income, so I prefer standalones in general (it means I won’t have to commit to several books). But if a book is good, obviously I buy it, even if it’s going to be part of a series. I do tend to read the first book in a series, then wait until the rest is all released. 1) If I find out the series is more than five books, I might not commit because I prefer shorter series, and it’s costly. 2) I read so much in that time,and have such a bad memory, I *know* I would forget everything!

    But nothing is set in stone! I’ve broken my own rules more than once.

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  12. While I don’t do this a lot of the time, I have done it on occasion and it’s worked out really well. It’s so fun bingeing an entire series and just really immersing yourself in its world. But yeah, the downside is that you can be waiting forever for the rest of the books to come out (there have been a couple of times when I’ve decided to wait, but caved cos the wait was too long) And yeah, while it can be good to miss the hype, that can also mean you miss speculating with friends and enjoying the thing when it’s popular. So I definitely see both the pros and cons on this one. Great discussion!

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