Book One – A to Z: B

Book One – more than anything else, that is what I look for when I’m at the bookstore searching for the next great read to sink my teeth into. I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for series. A book that ends after a few hundred pages without hope of ever encountering its characters again? Hmm, if it’s really well-written, great, I might read it. Personally, though, I’d be much more reluctant to invest my emotions in it than if I knew it’s just the start of a series.

There’s a reason that, these days, a larger and larger section of the Blu-ray and DVD shelves is dedicated to TV series. And even when it comes to films, many studios see the allure of producing sequels. In my genre of choice – fantasy – what are the great films people know, what are the best-selling books? Feel free to give counter-examples in the comments if you disagree, but to my mind, they mostly consist of multiple parts. From Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time to Robin Hobb’s series to George R. R. Martin to Patrick Rothfuss. Too many more to name.

Maybe it’s a bit too melodramatic if I say something like, “A truly great story doesn’t fit in one book.” Some really great ones are very short. Nevertheless, I enjoy intricate character development, following a character’s convoluted trains of thought without being rushed from action scene to action scene like a tourist on a bus tour. “Got a photo of that building? And that tower? Good, let’s go, we’re on a tight schedule, people!” Life moves pretty fast, but (thankfully) it isn’t like that.

What about you? Do you prefer epic series of doorstopper-sized books like me, or shorter, more succinct, more poignant, stories? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

About Amos M. Carpenter

Web dev by day, author by night, and generally interested in (and opinionated about) way too many things.

Posted on 2 April, 2014, in A to Z Challenge, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Sukanya Ramanujan

    I couldn’t say I like one kind of book over the other as if the story is good enough I’d read huge tomes! Good luck with the A-Z Challenge. I’m taking part as well!

  2. I do love a good series, because if I like the book then it’s as if I get to spend even more time with a really good friend. Also I love collecting collections, so having books of a series all lined up on my bookshelf makes me very happy.

    • Well said – I’d prefer to get to know a character more and more over time than for it to just be a holiday acquaintance. And yeah, that “complete collection” feeling is nice as well 🙂

  3. There are loads of series around now, so it’s easy to come across a new one that sounds exciting. I do tend to forget to get the sequels though, so sometimes that’s not so good! 😀

    • Heh, yeah – the other thing I hate is getting into a series you really like and then having to wait years for the next book in the series to come out. I know writing and editing and publishing takes time, but… give me the next volume already!

  4. I never translated Book Series into TV series popularity. I will admit, I am ok with reading a book which is not part of a series. But, let me find out that I am reading a book which is part of a series and it isn’t the first, I go insane. I have to read a series in order. Have to! And I’ll actually be a little miffed at the author for not including the series info as part of the title/cover. Hmmm…. that doesn’t constitute OCD, right? LOL. Thanks for the fun post today! ~~Emmly Jane

    • It’s not like I never have or never will read “single” books, I do enjoy them from time to time. Typically, though, they’re ones someone has highly recommended, not ones I pick myself just from looking at book covers and blurbs. Couldn’t agree more about reading them in order! I read the Liveship Trader books before the Farseer trilogy, and, although it was extremely well written, there were a few things where I felt like I’d missed something. Re-reading Liveship Traders after the Farseers, though, when it finally “clicked” and I understood the brilliant connection between the two (don’t want to spoilt it for anyone) – now that was an exquisite moment that had the hair on the back of my neck standing up.

      And… that’s not OCD at all. Not OCD at all. Not OCD at all. 😉

  5. I don’t read many trilogies. I get frustrated waiting for book 2 and book 3 to come out. Series are a bit different, like Terry Prachett’s discworld series. Each book is separate story that may or may not have the familiar characters. Those I enjoy.

    • Waiting for “the next one” can indeed be frustrating. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Currently, I’m waiting for two “Book Threes”: Patrick Rothfuss’ “The Kingkiller Chronicle”, and Jo Spurrier’s “Children of the Black Sun”.

      Hey, how did you know? I’ve got Terry Pratchett planned as my “T” topic, love his sense of humour 🙂

  6. I have to admit, this is probably a completely unjustified prejudice (is that actually the nature of prejudices?): in my opinion, readers of fantasy are very limited in what they read and like. Most people I know who enjoy fantasy read only fantasy. Some of the people who posted here kind of ‘admitted’ as much. I do read fantasy sometimes. I can also get completely caught up and lost in another world. But there are so many other interesting books out there. I’d never limit myself to one genre. And it annoys me that devoted readers of fantasy need to be persuaded to actually pick up another book. Don’t you find fantasy to be repetitive?

    • Hi Lisa, I’m happy to admit I’m biased towards the fantasy genre – it’s the genre that has my favourite books in it, it’s the genre that I’m attempting to write in myself, so I’d be foolish not to read other books in it, both to “learn the craft” and to “check out the competition”. It’s the genre I’m most enthusiastic about.

      Having said that, I’ve read so many books from other genres I can’t count them. They all have their place and their fans, but, to me, some of these other genres are the ones that are a bit dry and repetitive (not all, of course). Every now and again, I’ll pick up a spy novel, or a whodunit, or something else (sometimes a book my sister recommended), and sometimes they have an interesting twist, but too many of them follow the same pattern for my taste. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Personal taste. Mine isn’t better than yours, just different.

      The thing that, to me, sets fantasy apart from other genres is that they can contain the elements of most other genres: spies, romance, adventure, drama, intrigue, politics, mystery, and so on. On top of that, though, there’s an element the other books don’t have: a setting in a world that isn’t, but could be. World-building is so important in fantasy; the world has to have its own rules, its own ecosystem of people and creatures and magic. The fantasy books I don’t like are usually those where, at the end, the hero or heroine finds some sort of magic object that beats everything else and solves every problem. That’s cheap, that’s cheating. That’s not the sort of fantasy novel I like. That type of fantasy IS repetitive.

      I’m not trying to convince anyone that fantasy is the only genre one should read. But yeah, it’s my favourite, and I’d like to think there’s a good reason for that.

  7. It would appear Kristen Lamb agrees with me. For an awesome blog post on series in general and on how to write them to keep your readers hooked, head over to – prepare to grin and nod the whole time.

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