Friday, February 1, 2013

Series Addiction

From The Wandering Reader
Sometimes subjects just seem to be in season. Everywhere you turn, unrelated groups are talking about the same topic. Such was the case in January 2013 with the subject of related books. Counting online and real life conversations, I’ve been engaged in seven different discussions about books in series during the past thirty-one days. In most of these conversations I have labeled myself a “series addict,” thinking I was exaggerating for a touch of humor. But my most recent discussion with an old friend about the series we read as children made me realize that perhaps “addiction” is the most accurate word to describe our almost life-long love of series. The OED defines “addiction” as “The state or condition of being dedicated or devoted to a thing, esp. an activity or occupation; adherence or attachment, esp. of an immoderate or compulsive kind.”  I think “devoted” is certainly describes annual readings of book over a period of many years, and I’m persuaded many people would see such activity as “immoderate.”

The books she and I read and reread and talked about endlessly as girls had been published years before we read them; three of the series our mothers had read as children. We loved the fact that the stories didn’t end after one book. We eagerly followed the adventures of Louisa May Alcott’s March sisters (three books, published 1868-1886), Margaret Sidney’s Five Little Peppers (twelve books, published 1881-1916), Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne Shirley (eight books, published 1908-1939), Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Ingalls family (eight books, published 1932-1943), and Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Ray, Tacy Kelly, and Tib Muller (ten books, published 1940-1955), sharing their lives from their childhoods to their adult lives when they married and had children of their own.

We both have copies of these series on our keeper shelves today and even some of them occasionally, and we both smile when we are reminded that at least with Alcott, Montgomery, Lovelace, and Ingalls, girls in the 21st century are still reading and loving their books. You can bet we took note last year when NPR published their audience-chosen list of the best YA books of all time, two of our favorite series were on the list: the Anne of Green Gables books at #14 and the Betsy-Tacy books at #100. The Sidney books, perhaps the most Victorian in tone, don’t seem to have survived as well as the others.

The pattern of addiction established when we first began to read has endured for more than half a century. We rarely read the same books these days. Her first choice for leisure reading is mysteries or thrillers with a few romantic suspense series thrown in, and mine is romance, heavy on the historical and contemporary. But our bookshelves are still filled with series, we still reread our favorites, and we still talk about what we are reading. We agreed to research our shelves to see how great a hold our addiction has on our time, our purses, and our space. She has just over a hundred series on her keeper shelves. I have 188 current romance series keepers, including digital and print books, but I did some major purging of books when I moved to a smaller house four years ago. According to my book catalog, at one time I had more than 400 series represented on my bookshelves. 

Grace Burrowes, whose Windham series is among my keepers, was a guest of the Romance Bandits earlier this week. She responded to a comment I made about my favorite series by saying she hoped my keeper shelves were insured since I had a history of historical romance on them. The comment sent me back to check my shelves, and it’s almost true. I have series that range from Georgette Heyer’s Duke of Avon’s family series (three books, 1921-1937) to Manda Collins Ugly Duckling trilogy (three books, 2012-2013). Mary Balogh is the series queen though. I have thirteen series by her. 

The most read series is Jo Beverley’s Company of Rogues (fourteen books and a novella, published 1991-2007). I read An Arranged Marriage (Book #1) when it was released, and as each book in the series was released, I reread all those that preceded it, and then in 2009, I reread the whole series. I’ve read Mary Jo Putney’s Fallen Angels (seven books, published 1993-1997) and Loretta Chase’s Scoundrels (four books and a novella, published 1992-1998) almost as often. Other favorites for rereading include Balogh’s Dark angel sequence (seven books, 1994-1997), Jo Beverley’s Mallorens (twelve books,1993-2012—with #13 due this year), Loretta Chase’s Carsingtons (five books, 2004-2010), Anne Gracie’s Merridew Sisters (four books, 2005-2007), Eloisa James’s Essex Sisters (four books, 2005-2006), Carla Kelly’s Libby’s London Merchant (1991) and One Good Turn (2001), Lisa Kleypas’s Then Came You (1993) and Dreaming of You (1994), and Julia Quinn’s Bridgertons (eight books, 200-2006)—my current reread since reading the second epilogue collection, Happily Ever After (April 2, 2013).

My contemporary keeper collection may be historically less impressive, but it is no less cherished. Nora Roberts is the undisputed queen here. At one time, I had twenty-seven of her series. I now have only seventeen, but her MacGregors (ten books and a novella, 1985-1999), O’Hurleys (four books, 1998-1990), Stanislaskis (six books, 1990-2001), Concannons (three books, 1994-1995), MacKades (four books, 1995-1996), Quinns (four books 1997-2002), and Gallaghers (three books, 1999-2000) are comfort reads that I have read again and again and again and . . . 

Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series (eighteen books and three novellas, 2007-2012) may be the longest series in my collection, but I’ve read her Grace Valley books (three books, 2000-2003) more often. Other series that I often pull out for a reread are Jean Brashear’s Deep in the Heart (four books, 2003-2004), Kathleen Korbel’s (aka Eileen Dryer) Kendalls (five books, 1987-2006), Lisa Kleypas’s Travis family (three books, 2007-2009—and, oh, how I long for a fourth!), Curtiss Ann Matlock’s Valentine books (seven books, 1999-2009), Marilyn Pappano’s Bethlehem series (nine books, 1997-2003), and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars (seven books, 1994-2007). Meg Benjamin’s Konigsberg books, Julie James’s FBI/US Attorney books, and Shannon Stacey’s Kowalskis are ongoing series that I love and expect to become favorite rereads.

And I haven’t even touched upon the mystery series—not to mention the Harry Potter books, which I’ve read in full three times, some books more often. Did I say my name is Janga and I’m a series addict?

Do you have a series addiction? Are you a rereader? If you could take only three series to a desert island with you, what would you take?



quantum said...

I do like series but don't think I'm addicted. Once I've read a fiction book to completion I rarely if ever re-read; there are always potential 5-star books waiting to be explored, pulling me onwards and upwards!

For example there are Ballogh books and Nora books and Putney books and .... still waiting for me.

When I reach the top of the mountain with all potential 5-stars read, then I may start to re-read.

On my desert island I would like a subscription to the three first new series by Catherine Anderson, Lisa Kleypas, Mary Jo Putney, Nora Roberts, Linda Lael Miller, Robin Hobb, Terri Osborn, Donna Cummings or Manda Collins( if available in UK) ..... I always hedge my bets! LOL

Maureen said...

Once upon a time I was a series addict. And I kept every book. Nowadays, I read them, but since I mostly by e-books, I sorta keep them, but no more shelf space.

I'm writing a series so I hope I pick up some addicts...

If I were stranded and could be certain of a few series...I would want J.D. Robb (Hi, Q!), Jim Butcher, Craig Johnson and Terri Osburn!

regencygirl01 said...

I would take the Brigerton series cause it is good and long. Essex Sister series, and the guard series cause it is also long

gleecady said...

I too like series. My keepers are Jo Beverley, SEP, Loretta Chase, Stephanie Laurens, Elizabeth Lowell's Donovan books, Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/ Jayne Castle Arcane books, and the ones who started me out with adult series: Dorothy Dunnett's historical book series. And Julia Quinn and, and, and

irisheyes said...

I think it would be easier to count stand alones than books in a series on my keeper shelf. I seriously could probably count the stand alones on one hand. Although, now that I think about it, since I've started reading Sarah Mayberry and Carly Kelly's backlist my stand alones are increasing.

I absolutely love series and have since I picked up my first romance - JQ's AN OFFER FROM A GENTELMAN. Therefore, I would have an extremely difficult time picking just 3!

Those in the running would be Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, Robyn Carr's Virgin River series, SEP's Chicago Stars series, Mary Balogh's Bedwyn series, Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower series and Hathaway series, Eloisa James' Essex Sisters, Mary Jo Putney's Fallen Angels, and Jo Beverley's Company of Rogues. And that's just off the top of my head. If I went to my bookshelves and looked I could come up with more I'm sure. LOL

Janga said...
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Janga said...

Q, I quite understand your concern about the TBR mountain, but for a chronic rereader such as I, no new book can replace the comfort of revisiting a favorite book--or series. It's like time spent with an old friend you know well but who always presents new facets.

I approve of your list, wise man! :)

Janga said...

I'm with you on the Terri Osburn series, Maureen. I'm one of those readers who never misses a Nora Roberts book but who does not follow J. D. Robb. I suspect you are just the opposite. At least we have Terri's books in common. LOL

I hope your series finds many addicted readers.

Janga said...

The Bridgertons could fill many a reading hour, Regencygirl. I heartily concur with your choice of them and the Essex sisters. Mayne and Rafe would be great company on an island.

Janga said...

Your list just reaffirms how many favorites we have in common, Irish. And with those books, you could read and reread for a l-o-n-g time. Twenty stories in the Virgin River series alone!