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Today I want to chat with you about reading series.
There are many things I love about reading series. They extend the life of fictional worlds I love. The problem of never wanting a great book to end is solved with the addition of multiple books revolving around the same characters, setting, plot, etc. The problem comes when there are too many books in a series or when the author has no end point in mind. There’s a similar dichotomy in film, where movies are often far too short to adequately flesh out a story and television shows ramble on and on until boredom sets in and the writing suffers from run-on syndrome.
Then there are miniseries, the trilogies of the film world, which manage to almost universally strike the perfect balance between too long and not long enough. Take the Hunger Games trilogy, for example, or The Lord of the Rings. Trilogies take the concept of beginning, middle, and end literally, and it usually works quite well.
Let’s say that there’s a series that is so good, there’s a slim chance of boredom ever setting in. For me, that series is the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. The Mitford Series originally had nine books in it, followed by numerous books (I’ve lost track) in the Father Tim series, which is basically just a continuation of the Mitford Series. (Since then the two series have been combined by the publisher and re-issued with new covers.) I read the entire Mitford Series just before the publication of the first book in the Father Tim series, and then I read the new release, In the Company of Others. The problem is that it was years before another book was released, and by that time, I had forgotten enough of the first ten books that I felt the need to reread them in order to pick up where I left off. That wouldn’t be a problem with a trilogy or short series, but who has time to reread ten books?! I have yet to read any of the subsequent books in the Father Tim series. As much as I love Karon’s Mitford, I’ve lost the trail, and it’s just too much effort to find it again.
[bctt tweet=”#BookChat: Abandoning Series + Non-Canon Materials | @parchmentgirl37″ via=”no”]
This brings me to another point, which is that I rarely begin a series unless it’s complete. I waited to read The Hunger Games until a month before the release of Mockingjay and I waited to read Harry Potter until my library had already secured copies of The Deathly Hallows. I have this fear that I will begin an amazing series and then lose my momentum. To a lesser extent, that’s probably why I prefer binge-watching television series to watching them live.
There’s also the issue of extra-canon add-ons to an original series and the debate about what qualifies as canon. This issue came to the fore recently with the publication of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Is it canon simply because J.K. Rowling wrote it or is it non-canon because it’s a stage play and diverges in so many ways from the original series?
I haven’t read The Cursed Child, but I do enjoy the very rare bit of Harry Potter fan fiction. The idea of fan fiction has never held much appeal for me, particularly when it comes to fandoms I hold sacred (think Lord of the Rings), but oddly enough, I’m more apt to read non-canon fan fiction than I am Rowling’s own pseudo-canon additions like The Cursed Child or new Pottermore stories.
Anyway, this has been a bit of a ramble, but I’d love to know what you think! Do you start a series right away or wait until it’s completely published? Do you have a tendency to abandon long series like I do? What do you think about J.K. Rowling’s add-ons to the Harry Potter universe and how do you feel about fan fiction?