One of the worst feelings to exist is when the next book in a series you love comes out and you have that terrible realization: you remember nothing of what happened in the previous books. Suddenly, you’re in a panic because the release has crept up and surprised you. How will you shift your TBR list to accommodate this addition? Do you have time to binge the previous books before you start the new one? What if the library puts you on the waitlist, and you’re at risk of seeing spoilers from everyone who’s read it before you?
These are all issues I’ve faced when dealing with reading ongoing series. I, like many other readers, cannot resist the siren song of a book that has all my specific interests. When I find that book, it’s in my cart before I can ask any questions, so I won’t find out it’s the beginning of the series until later. But, when I can help it, I try to refrain from buying a book until I know the series is finished.
Since I’ve instated this simple rule, my reading and book-choosing habits have changed for the better. There are many benefits to a completed series, all of which make me thankful for them.
As you keep reading, you’ll be thankful for them too.
Freely Judge a Book By Its Cover
I’m not afraid to admit I judge books by their covers. As someone who consistently picks up books after their hype has faded, I struggle to secure specific versions of books, which often keeps me from getting the book altogether. By the time I’ve gotten the first book, the rest of the series is only available in paperback, or the series has gone through a cover change, and suddenly nothing matches.
The easiest way to spare myself from the tiring search for uniform copies is to get a boxed set, which only comes out when a series reaches its end.
While boxed sets aren’t a must-buy for me, I like the guarantee that all my covers will match and the books will be the same height (another pet peeve of mine, and I’m sure of many others). I recently had a panic when I realized the original paperback edition of the Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab was going out of print, making my copy of A Darker Shade of Magic obsolete. So, snagging the boxed set with the original cover not only ensured I got the covers I wanted but that all my books matched each other. And it was cheaper than buying all three books separately, which is a bonus.
It’s satisfying to see all three or four or eight books standing side-by-side, all hardcover or paperback, all wrapped in coordinating colors and art styles. It emphasizes the aesthetic of that series, and it beautifies my bookshelves, too.
Set Your Own Pace
I’m an avid reader, which means a lot of time might pass when I pick up the next book in a series. Years may pass before the final book releases or I buy it, and by then my memories have been reduced to my favorite characters and an instinctive, knee-jerk emotional reaction to the plot. Fine details are fuzzy, the geography is a blur, and the conflict I once knew so well is so confusing I might as well have never started the series.
A completed series saves me the agony of figuring out how to accommodate a marathon re-read into my busy reading schedule and spares me the struggle of trying to pick up a series where I’ve left off. I’m reassured by the mere fact that I have all the books, and they are waiting for me, giving me the chance to enjoy the story without feeling rushed.
Much like when bingeing a TV show, it feels more immersive when you start a series knowing the finish line. There is a sense of purpose that replaces the frustrated, panicked anticipation I feel when catching up on an ongoing series.
Begin It All Again
Just like when you finish a new show or suddenly run out of seasons in a show that seemed endless, you are left at the end. It’s sad at first because you’ve invested weeks–months, even–in this world. Over a thousand pages with these characters, in this world, on this adventure–and it’s over. You’ve only finished the book seconds ago and you already miss the time before you reached the end. Like nostalgia for a time you know you’ll never get back.
In that finality lies the beauty of a completed series. Reading it again won’t be the same as the first time, and you’ll know what’s coming. You’ll know the ending. But it will be there for you, whenever you want, to dive in again from the beginning and relive the journey through to the end.
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