I love stories. When I was a kid, I remember listening raptly while my second grade teacher read us our daily chapter of Where the Red Fern Grows or Old Yeller (I’m not sure why all the books were about a boy and his dog(s), or why my teacher liked to make us cry by reading sad books, but overall, I found the stories fascinating). When I got my very own library card, I remember being stunned to find out that there was more to the Wizard of Oz story than what I had seen in the movie. There was a whole series of books that Mr. Baum wrote about Oz and the fascinating creatures and people there!
I especially love stories that unfold in a series of books, and I’ll tell you why. When I read a book, I’m drawn into that world. I identify with the characters and their adventures. My heart pounds when they are in trouble. My loins tingle if they have an especially steamy encounter with a mysterious, yet sexy stranger. I sob like a baby when a situation is poignant or, God forbid, someone dies. I don’t want the book to end.
One book is just not enough!
When an author pens a series of books, that sense of contentment that only a good book can provide is drawn out. I learn even more about the characters, as their strengths and flaws have time to develop. Relationships have the chance to grow, are tested, and overcome the odds. Challenging situations are faced, conquered (in most cases) and more are soon to follow. When reading a series of books, I can really become a part of that world – and I love it.
However, there are a few things I can’t stand about books that come in a series. First, inevitably, you’ll catch up and when you finish the latest book in the series, you have to wait a year or two for the author to pen the next book. By that time, you’ve moved on with other books and other series – and so when that book is published, you can’t remember everything that happened up until that point. Oh sure, you remember the general plot – but the more nuanced plot points and supporting characters are gone – leaving you with a sense of confusion as you try to get up to speed again. The only recourse for this is to wait until the author dies or the series is finally finished before starting to read those particular books. I don’t find either to be a satisfying solution.
Secondly, I often buy a book or pick it up at the library, start to read, and – just about the time I’m sucked into the story – I realize that this is book #3 of the series. This is one of my biggest pet peeves (and I really can’t blame it on anyone buy myself). I hate, hate, HATE reading a series out of order – and why shouldn’t I? The author is (most always) writing a chronological tale – what happened before directly impacts what happens next. Even when the authors are kind enough to name their books so that even the most distracted person should be able to infer that the book they are looking at is part of a series (think Sue Grafton’s alphabet series or Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels with the number of the book handily included in the title) I still manage to fuck it up.
I read blogs like I read book series. While I might stumble across a particular post in a blog – if it resonates with me, or if the author makes me laugh out loud, or if I can tell there might be more to the story – I immediately pull up the archive and start to read from post #1 until I catch up to current day. I don’t want to miss a vital piece of information, or a fact that will make it easier to understand later posts, or the beginning of the writer’s story. Just like a good book series, I get pulled into the writer’s life or experiences – I feel a sense of connection and camaraderie.
I don’t have thousands of followers on my blog and I don’t get hundreds of hits every day. So, I can always tell when someone like me visits my blog. My stats will go up for the day and I can see that every blog post was visited. It’s an especially nice feeling because when I first started my blog, nearly three years ago, I wrote prolifically (there were a lot of stories that needed to be told – right away!) – but there was no one here to read them. There are some great stories that never got any love or feedback (there are also stories that are crap – but we’re not talking about those stories!) So, when I know that someone liked what they found on my blog enough to invest hours reading each and every post (even the crappy ones), it warms my heart. Even if they don’t comment (and I have to tell you, I love readers who comment), I still get a feeling of validation – the sense that someone appreciates what I’ve written and cares about my life enough to read more.
Does that make me incredibly shallow and pathetic? The fact that when a stranger reads my posts (or *gasp* actually comments on my posts), I feel better about myself? Do you think JD Robb or Patricia Briggs or Laurell K. Hamilton get that same excited tingle every time they get a good review or make the New York Times Bestseller List? Not that I’ve ever made the New York Times Bestseller List – or even had a book published – but you get the point I’m trying to make. Although now that I think of it, that is not at all a fair comparison. I mean, who wouldn’t be excited when they had a book published and it made the New York Times Bestseller List? You’d have to have some sort of alexithymia not to be excited about something like that. But, you still get my point, right?
So, while I may need to schedule several more sessions with my therapist to figure out why I crave validation from relative strangers, I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you for visiting my blog and reading my stories. I’ll keep writing and responding to your comments as long as you keep visiting and reading. I promise I’ll try not to make you wait too long for the next story in the series 🙂