Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Series vs. Stand-Alones

I admit, sometimes it’s difficult for me to pick up a new book.  I look at new characters, a new mini, fictional world, and it kind of—almost—looks like work.  Even if the words are on the page and all I have to do is read them.  Because the fact is, if I turn just to the right or left, very often I have within my reach a book that’s part of a world I already know and love, and don’t have to think about—don’t have to warm myself up to.

I’m not wholly alone in this, am I?

The fact is, there are about a trillion books in the world that I want to read—but I’m a slowish reader, and unfortunately have a finite lifespan, and much more finite time at my disposal, so if it takes effort to get into a story, I’d rather flit to something else.  Also, I admit, I’m a nostalgic.  I like to visit the same characters again and again, they’re like old friends.  I realize those two arguments completely counteract each other, but I can’t really explain this.  Somehow they’re both 100% true.

Which is why I’m wanting to re-read Harry Potter and Twilight, after only having read them maybe a year ago.  And why I’m bouncing in my seat for the new (and sadly final!) Fablehaven book by Brandon Mull.  It’s also the reason why I’m such a TV junkie, I think.  Also, there’s something… almost legitimizing in a set of books, isn’t there?  If characters work in not just one book, but three, or seven, or several… they’re that much more real, aren’t they?

Then again… oh there’s something satisfying about finishing a good book and looking at it and knowing that it’s done.  That the main character got what they set out to get, and all is more or less accomplished.  Some books could never have been part of a series in the first place—can you imagine a sequel to Jane Eyre?  Yes there are spin-offs of Jane Austen’s books, but… you can see why she didn’t write them herself, can’t you?  The story is done!  Party over!  Whatever the characters do afterwards… well, that’s their problem.

So what’s a more satisfying read for you?  One good book that gets it done in the time allotted, or stretching it out, as long as is conceivably decent?  Of course there are some series that last too long, but that’s a different subject entirely.  I really can’t say for myself… sometimes it depends on the plot—obviously something well-planned out like Harry Potter is going to be pretty satisfying, but then again, I’m re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series right now, and enjoying them excessively, and they are about as far from plot-heavy as you can get.  Maybe more what I’m asking is, what justifies a series?  And is it, after all, a more impressive accomplishment to finish a full story in one book?  Or does it really just take as long as it takes?

There’s no right or wrong answers here.  What do you think?

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About Lisa Asanuma

Lisa is a professional freelance writer and editor, along with a bookbinder and knitting obsessee. Lisa has a passion for YA literature (inside her passion for literature in general) and is currently working on her first novel. View all posts by Lisa Asanuma

3 responses to “Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Series vs. Stand-Alones

  • Isabelle

    I have to say I’m a series fan myself. Granted, I love a good stand alone when I want to indulge in one book for the afternoon and just lose myself. But overall, I like to form lasting relationships with characters, to revisit them (which is why I tend to reread books so often) and to see the world from a 360 degree angle, getting to know supporting characters, villains, and more! BUT, I should mention that I don’t like it when people force stories into a series that did just fine as stand alones. That’s just milking the success of something and it takes away from the integrity of the original story.

    • Lisa

      BUT, I should mention that I don’t like it when people force stories into a series that did just fine as stand alones.

      Yeah, I’m with you there. Then again, some of my favorite series have come from what were supposed to be stand-alone books. *cough*Thursday Next.*cough*

      • Isabelle

        Thing about that is that if its a big enough world, with enough side characters or even enough possibilities for the main character, then a series is perfectly acceptable. It would be like a TV show, in that its all the different adventures of said character. You know?

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