Series Commitment is Scary

21 August 2020


Commitment is scary to me when it comes to my reading. Big, 1100 page tomes don't intimidate me, but a trilogy with the same page length, just broken up into three books instead of one, makes me nervous as a reader. I can't really explain why this is. It makes no sense to me either. But for some reason or another I tend to think of a series as a way bigger commitment than simply reading through a long book.

Despite the fact that I get intimidated by series, that doesn't stop me from starting them. I have read the first book of so many well known series, I just can't get myself to finish them, even if I'm invested in the story and the characters. At the start of this year, I made it one of my reading goals to take inventory of the series I've already started, and commit myself to actually finishing some. I wanted to develop a system that would work for me so that I can pursue series in a way that works for the type of reader I am.

I started a list on my computer with all the series I have ever started, including the number of books I've already read, and the number of books left for me to complete the story. I had well over 10 or 15 series on my list, some of which I hadn't picked up since I began reviewing books on my blog. Most of which I would need to reread the previous books in order to remember the story and continue on.

One of my biggest characteristics as a reader is the fact that I hate leaving a story unfinished. I can only remember DNFing two books in the past 10 years. I always feel like I have to give a story its chance before I decide I hate it, I feel like I owe it to the author and the hard work they had to put into bringing their book into the world. And it's mainly because of this that I have trouble completing the series that I start. When I read the first book of a series and don't like it, it's hard to be motivated to pick up the next book, even though I feel like I should. I'm a completionist, and seeing those unread parts of a story makes me cringe.

But when I made my list of series, I decided that I can't allow myself to think that way anymore, at least with the series I read. I will always be hung up on the series I don't like if I try to convince myself that I will read them someday. I will always be hesitant to start a new series that I may not like out since I will be committing myself to see it through to the end. 

So I went through and deleted all the series I know I'm not interested in finishing. I was left with eight series, which to me seemed like a way more attainable number, especially since they're all stories I'm excited to finish. I've also given myself the freedom to go at my own pace, and I've been more careful about what new series I pick up. I may never see my list of series I need to finish completely balance out, but having the visual representation has helped my stay on track.

If you find yourself scared of series commitment, the best thing you can do is not put pressure on yourself. You don't have to binge a whole series at once. You don't have to force yourself to read the next four books in a story if you hate it. And you don't have to read a series just because it's popular. With how many series there are, you'll find much more freedom in your reading if you let yourself take series at your own pace.

I've read more books continuing in series this year than I ever have, and I'm really enjoying everything I'm reading. Of course, I'll always be the type of reader who prefers a good stand alone to a series. There's just something about getting the whole story arc in one book. But I'm learning to appreciate the long, drawn out, epic series.

Do you prefer series or stand alones? Do you have a system for reading through series?  

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