Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In Support of Reading Series Backwards

going backwards

About a year ago, I wrote about the various ways one can read a book series, and that my favorite way to read a long-running series was backwards. Reactions to this methodology ranged from "crazy pants" to "no."

But really, guys. Reading a series backwards is the way to go (unless you start in the middle, then I would go progressively forward and THEN backwards, but let's just focus on starting with the most recent book and working backwards for now).

My appreciation for reading series backwards started with the Vicky Bliss series, which I partially blame for convincing me art history was a viable career option. I first read Night Train to Memphis when I was in fifth or sixth grade, and I LOVED it. I think to this day it's probably my most re-read book. It's the last in the Vicky Bliss series, so I set about reading the other books.

I can't swear in what order I read the books–the great thing about Elizabeth Peters novels is you don't have to read them in any order–but I do know I read the first book last, and it was a big disappointment. I'm not saying the last book was the best in the series, but if I'd read the first book first, I wouldn't have read the series at all.

Or take the Walt Longmire series, where the first book I read, Hell is Empty, was actually seventh in the series. I let my mom talk me into going back and starting with book one, and now I've completely run out of steam on reading the series (this happens to me a lot with series). I have exhausted all the fucks I have to give, and I could have spent those on the newer books instead of the older ones.

Recently, I read Dinner Most Deadly, a delightful book in Sheri Cobb South's John Pickett Mysteries series. One of the things I loved about it was that it wasn't immediately apparent what was going on. If I had known, however, it would have been all too obvious, and obviously less interesting for it. After starting the book immediately preceding it, Family Plot, I think Dinner Most Deadly was the first time South let her characters really take control of the book. I probably won't read any of the earlier books in the series, although I'm more than ready to read the next one!

The point is, reading a series backwards has many beneficial elements. You should try it!

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