I used to always only read books that were in a series. I was in the mindset that I wanted to be with characters a long as possible – more was always better, right? Well recently, I’ve been leaning more towards standalone books.
I’m not exactly sure why I’ve slowly gravitated more towards standalone books. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to feel committed to finishing a series during my busy last semester of college. Or perhaps it’s because I started book blogging recently – I’ve noticed that reviews of later books in series aren’t very popular, and that a lot of people are only interested in a standalone or first-book-of-the-series book review. Hell, it could be a combination of both, or even a mix of reasons that are more subconscious.
That being said, I know that it’s very likely that I’ll go back to prefer reading series. I don’t think the preference that I have on this topic will ever be permanent. Both reading series and reading standalone books have their pros, so I thought I’d list out some of them for us to discuss!
- The reader gets to spend more time immersed in the world. This is especially great when a book is a really good read and the reader is able to look forward to more books.
- Character development is usually more pronounced and complex since there’s more time for characters to make mistakes, properly fall in love, or just simply experience life.
- Going off of individual character development, the reader can also connect with and understand a lot more characters, while standalone books tend to just focus on the main character.
- The reader can explore more of the world that the author built since characters are going on more adventures.
- The fandom can be prolonged since there’s more content to discuss and books are typically released over a time frame of one book a year.
- It’s easier to remember what happened at the beginning of the story and to connect the dots – foreshadowing, obscure characters, and quick references are much easier to recall.
- The story usually isn’t dragged out with filler scenes. The book gets straight to the point without keeping the reader in limbo.
- There’s no cliffhanger, unless the ending is intentionally open-ended as food for thought, or the author wants to keep the book open to a potential sequel.
- Readers don’t need to wait years for the full story to be released, as I discussed in my post The Struggle of Waiting for Book Releases.
- There’s no pressure to buy other books in the same format – a standalone book doesn’t need to “match” other books on the bookshelf, while a lot of bookworms feel the need to have books in a series be either all paperback or all hardcover.
There are different reasons for why reading a series can be more satisfying than reading a standalone, and vice versa. I used to think that I’d always prefer to read series, but time and different circumstances have proved my past self wrong. In addition to the reasons I mentioned, what are some other possible reasons for a changing preference?
It’s possible that preference depends on the genre that the reader wants to get immersed in. For instance, fantasy books tend to work better in a series so that more world development can take place. Harry Potter is a perfect example for this – it worked amazingly as a seven-book series. On the other hand, contemporary reads tend to be standalone books since there’s usually not that much that can happen, unless bad things keep occurring. At that point, the contemporary book can turn into a hot mess.
Now let’s take a step back. Let’s say that a reader knows his or her preference when it comes to reading a series or standalone. Even then though, there’s variation within series and standalone books that the reader can have more of a preference on. For instance, story length can be a factor. A series can be anything from a duology to a 12-book marathon (*ehhem* House of Night series). Similarly, a standalone book can be anywhere from 150 pages to well past 800 pages.Would a reader who prefers standalone books for its shorter length then say that they prefer a typical duology to a 1000-page standalone?
Really, there are a myriad of variables that can be taken into account when deciding whether to start a series or read a standalone. There are definitely more than a few reasons that influence this preference that I haven’t even touched on.
Chime in with your thoughts! What do you currently prefer – reading a series or standalone? Have your preferences changed at all over time? What factor(s) do you think is most influential on your preference?