I recently won a copy of author Kathryne Kennedy's book, "The Lady of the Storm (The Elven Lords #2) from Suzanne Johnson's blog. Kathryne did a guest post about world building in her fantasy-romance series and generously offered to give away to 2 copies of her newest book. I was luckily enough to win one of them. =D
Romances are not generally on my to-read list, though I do like to have romantic elements/story-lines in books I read. But Kathryne talked about how she created an alternative history style world where Elves and fantasy mixed with humans in "our" world. It sounded interesting, especially with the world she described and the mixture of fantasy with the "real" world.
I was excited to find out I'd won the book, but then I realized something...I had a slight dilemma preventing me from reading this book: it's the second in a series! O.o Granted, the series is linked through its world and not its characters so I could just read the second book without reading the first, right?
Wrong...for me at least. You see, I have a slight problem when it comes to books in series: I have to read the books in order. I. HAVE. TOO. It's an uncontrolled ability/desire that I've had since I was younger. (The same goes for movies and generally with tv shows.)
Now there are many series out there in the literary world that pretty much require you to read them in order. Characters, worlds, plot points, etc. all depend on each other and build with each new book. A reader could get very lost if they picked up book #5 without reading the first ones, especially if they then go to book #3. But some series have over-arching story-lines and characters that link the books, but each book could stand alone as a separate story. And some series share only the same worlds or minors characters, so you could read any of them without realizing it is a part of a series. I understand this and know several people who can just pick up a "series" book and read it whether they have read the rest or not. My mother is one of these people and she still cannot understand my compulsion to read things in order. But that's exactly what it is: a compulsion..."a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act"...but I do have my reasons (or have created reasons so I don't sound completely crazy).
I remember one instance in particular that illustrates to me just why I have to read books in order (though the "habit" had already developed). I was in the 8th grade and I spent most of my free time in middle school/junior high in the library (when I wasn't at theatre rehearsal that is). I got to know my school librarians very well and vice versa. So when a librarian recommended a book to me, it was generally spot on. I read one such book only to realize half-way through it that it was a sequel to another book. The first book took place years before and was the story of a minor character in the book I was reading. I figured I was already this far into the sequel to stop reading, and it did recap briefly the minor character's history. I loved the sequel so much for various reasons (one of which was the main character was a young girl about my age) and I decided to seek out the first book (even though my school library did not have it).
But I was sadly disappoint when I did finally read the first book. The world was the same as the sequel (only some years earlier), but the characters were completely different, even the ones who were in the sequel as well. (Of course, I hadn't particularly liked the minor character that was now the main character in the first book. She was an adult in the sequel and the first book was when she was a young girl.) I tried to struggle through it, but the end had already been revealed to me and I couldn't seem to care for the main characters (which is a big turn off for me since I'm a character-driven reader/writer). Unfortunately I put the book done not even half-way through it and never picked it up again. (Note the fact that not finishing a book is a rare occurrence for me. Even if I don't really like a book, I tend to finish it just to keep a balance and pay my respects for the author.)
It was sort of a turning point for me in the way I read books. I make sure I read the first book first, even if I don't find out until I'm part-way through another book. (Yes, I will stop reading a book until I read the others. I actually have done this. You can judge me if you want.) Of course, now-a-days it seems to be easier to tell series books. The series title either appears on the book or the other books are listed within the book. And I tend to research books before I read them, so I usually find out if they are a part of a series. Call me crazy, call me strange...reading books in order is "the way I roll" and I can't help it. I've accepted it despite my mother still thinking I'm crazy. Well, call me crazy, call me strange...
Or maybe call me normal? Are there any other readers out there that have to read things in order? Any readers pulled by the same compulsion? *shrugs* I know my fiancee has the same issue as me with series books, but he has so many other issues that he's not the best example to use when trying to determine normalcy. (I love him dearly though despite of (and partly because of) his quirks.)
So what am I going to do about my little book dilemma I mention at the start of this post? I'm going to request the first book from the library, and then read the sequel afterwards. I'm still super excited to have won it and look forward to reading it. Is it that difficult to wait to read it until later? No. Of course, it's probably a blessing in disguise that I have to wait for the first book since I have several other books I need to read in the mean time. (I'm also a firm believer in optimism and finding that silver lining in case you couldn't tell.)