Monday, January 11, 2016

Keeping Current with Series: The Eternal Struggle

I fully admit: I'm a series junkie. I love experiencing characters and worlds that can't be contained by a single novel, but rather grow throughout a multitude of books.

I'll also admit: I'm the absolute worst at keeping up with series. This wasn't always the case. Back when I first started reading books for pleasure as an adult, things were easier. I would fall in love with a series, read the entire thing back to back and then anxiously await the next book. I would read that new addition to the series immediately upon release and again start waiting for the next book.

That waiting between series books is dangerous. It leads to starting new series. Over and over again until you're in the middle of an unimaginable number of series with no hope of ever catching up.

This is where I found myself in 2015.

I've used FictFact since 2010. It's a site where you can track the series you are reading, with running lists of the series you've started, where you are in each series, which book you need to read next and when the next book is going to come out.

Last year, I looked at my numbers on the site and was shocked. I have 624 series I am currently involved in. Either I finished them, started them or at least purchased a book in each of those 600+ series. Looking deeper, I found I was current on about 50 of those series. I hadn't actually started reading 320 of those series.

Meaning, I was behind in over 250 series. That's not 250 books to catch up, either. A lot of the series I was behind 2 or more books. Some well over 10 books behind. That's insane.

I spent the bulk of my 2015 reading time working on series, which some may have noticed my reviews lately are almost completely series books with about 96% being backlist titles.

I'm no closer to catching up than I was when I started this task. For every book I read, 20 more were released in the series I had yet to catch up on.

I have no illusions of ever catching up on every series I follow on FictFact. I'd never read any stand alone books again. I'd never be able to read any new series that come along.

Instead of letting the knowledge of never catching up deter me, I've started using FictFact as a tool to prioritize these series into something manageable. I've sorted the unfinished series into a list of how badly I want to read them. And I'm working my way down the list.

Underneath the series I have started are the series I have that I want to start someday. Those are also sorted from most to least interested. I now make a point of reading the first book of the top unread series once a month. It may seem counterproductive to continue starting new series when my current series are so many, but now I can sort them into the current series list.

And when I get the strength, I'll cull the bottom of the list. Finally give up on some of the series that I didn't absolutely love. That I continued reading because I had already committed so much time to them, instead of reading other series that I enjoyed far more.

It's not a perfect system, but it's better than no system at all. No system at all lead to a series TBR that shamed me every time I saw it.

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