Do you ever start in the middle of an established series? I can hear you gasp though cyberspace right now!
At my first mystery book group in Santa Clarita, California, I drove my fellow readers wild with my lack of concern for series order. And through the years I’ve met many readers who were very strict about starting from the beginning—no exceptions. But there are advantages to my slipshod ways.
There’s a popular author of a long-running, gritty PI series that I just love. But if I’d started with #1 in the series I may not have picked up #2—#1 was that bad. And that would have been my loss. I’ve found this pattern with other authors as well.
Writers get better with each book. We become more comfortable with our craft and our characters.
Sometimes I read a new-to-me author’s most recent work. If I like it, I may then go back to the start of the series and read in order. Or I may just read the series randomly. I even gave my sleuth, Hazel Rose, the same blasé attitude. A friend who also disregards order says it all depends on how important the characters’ backstories are to the reader. Apparently she and I put more importance on the front story and figure we can work out the sequence of events in the backstories.
So be adventurous—try starting a series at any point other than the beginning. You might decide it’s a good practice.
Readers, how important is series order to you?
See my earlier post on WonTon the Bookstore Cat.