|From The Wandering Reader|
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.
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).
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?