Thoughtful Thursday • Series reading order

Thoughtful Thursday

Thoughtful Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Reading Is Fun Again. This week:

Series reading order

Assuming that you are late to the party with a book series (and the entire series is completed) and you want to read every piece of text within a series’ universe that you can get your hands on, in what order to you read the books, short stories, and novellas within the universe? Do you read the books first and then the short stories and novellas if you want more? Do you read the books, short stories, and novellas in order (either publication or chronological)? Do you read them in some other order?

Isa seems to think I insisted to answer this question myself… It’s true that I’m a bit of a stickler about reading order. I could never read books in the wrong order, or start with the newest instalment. I’d have the constant feeling that I was missing out on something, be that plot or character development. So I usually start with the first book and then I go in order, unless it looks like there might be some other order, in which case I look for a reading guide. Goodreads is very helpful in this regard, but Google works too. I usually stick with chronological order, so I can follow the story along with the characters, but sometimes I make exceptions. For example, if there’s a prequel book written years after the rest of the series, I’ll probably follow publication order in that case and read the prequel after the other books.

My aim is always to minimize confusion and spoilers for the other books. I expect that the books written first will explain about the series’ world, while books written later will expect the reader to be already familiar with it. I follow this same idea for short stories and novellas too. Usually I read them in chronological order, so if a story is labelled #2.5 I’ll read it after the second book and just before the third. It doesn’t always work, for example a short story was marked as #1.5 in the Lunar Chronicles series but it turned out to contain some minor spoilers for the second book… But I try to check beforehand if some of the additional material contains spoilers, by skimming reviews and author notes, and if I find that it does I’ll just read the books first and then come back to the rest at the end. Of course, this only applies to series that I really like, because unless I’m a fan of a series I won’t bother reading all the bonus material. If I like it, though… gotta catch ’em all!

This is what I do most of the time, but there are two notable exceptions: Agatha Christie and Terry Pratchett. Agatha Christie because I started by reading the ones that my mum had, and the bookstores had a limited selection. Luckily reading order doesn’t matter much in this case, because there is no character development and no links between the stories. As for Terry Pratchett, his Discworld series is a mess and people always have problems figuring out where to start from because there’s several different subseries. There are a couple of novels that would be good starting points, but I myself started from the earliest book and went by publication order. However I wasn’t a fan of the Tiffany Aching books (which are YA unlike the rest of the series) so I skipped those, and I’m only getting to them now. That only works because Discworld is not as linear as most series, though!


5 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday • Series reading order

  1. Yep, I’m one of those that has to read in order as well. I hate jumping around and trying to remember who loved/hated whom when. It’s hard enough when I go a year between series entries, but to do it on my own? Plus, as you say, there can be spoilers for earlier books. And sometimes the authors don’t always fill in those gaps for you well enough either.

  2. Pingback: What’s Up Buttercup • May Edition | Words in a Teacup

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