Lola’s Ramblings: What do you think of Series and Standalones?

Posted July 2, 2015 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 34 Comments


Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. This feature was previously known as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Design.

I read a lot of series and I start a lot of series each year, so I though it would make a great topic for a discussion post. I feel like there are a lot of different thoughts about series and I am curious to hear yours. Next week I will talk about continuing series, but this week is more my general opinion about series.

Series: love them or hate them?

RemovedI love series and I read a lot of them, I think I read more books that are part of a series than standalones. But I also don’t mind standalones and can enjoy them as much as series. It also isn’t like I read a book because it’s part of a series, but I just happen to read more books that are part of a series than not. Maybe that’s simply becaus emost authors write series nowadays or maybe the authors I usually read often write series? Either way I read mroe series than standalones and while I have a slight preference for series I also enjoy standalones.

I like standalones as you know what to expect, one book that wrap up the whole story. You read one book and if you enjoy it that’s good and if you don’t there is no deciding whether to read the next book or not because there isn’t anything more. Sometiems I like knowing that everything will be resolved in one book. I also like knowing that with a standalone there isn’t a whole lot of sequel that will be added to my to-read list after it. Although when I read a good book it doesn’t really matter if it’s a series or standalone, if I enjoyed it enough I will probably check out more books by that author. So even if I read a standalone it might still mean I add more book to my to-read list by the same author. If I really like an author their style I will read most of what they write as long as the book or topic appeals to me. With a standalone you know you won’t left hanging and have a long wait for the next book. On the other hand with a standlone it also means that book is everything you will read about those characaters and there won’t be mroe stories in that world or with those character. Which also can be a bad thign in my opinion. As sometimes I just want those longer stories, I want more and that’s were series come in.

True CallingSeries can be a bit harder to start when you know there will be more books and it can feel like there’s a commitment to read the whole series. Although I have no problem stopping a series when I don’t care about it anymore, but if I enjoy a series I know I will want to read the rest of the series and that does adds a certain pressure or at least an amount of books to your to-read list. It can be hard to start a series soemtimes whne you know it has a lot of books out already.
What I like about a series is that the story is usually longer and complexer. Ofcourse this isn’t always the case, but it often feels like there are more layers and more depth to the plot as there are more books to tell the story. There are plots that are resolved in book 1, but also plot lines that last more than one book. I also like knowing that there will be more books. Whether it’s because of the story, the characters or the world, it can be nice knowing that there will be more books in a series and when you enjoyed the book it can be nice knowing it isn’t over after one book. Another thing I like about series is that there are more books to get to know the characters, story and world. there is more room for change and slow building developments. There can be foreshadowing that won’t come into play till books later. Not everything has to be resolved in one book and that’s okay because there will be more books and I feel like I sometimes cut a book some slack as I know I don’t have to get al the answers in one book. Series however can start great and then take a turn for the worse or the other way around. And even though the first book is good that’s still no garantee for the next book, but often I do make the assumption that if the first book was good I probably will enjoy the rest of the series as well.

So in general I can say that I like series, although I also read standalone books. I think I read more series though, although that isn’t a conscious decision. I think both series and standalones have their uses and I like them both for different reasons. Most often I don’t care whether a book is a standalone or a series, if it catches my interest I will read it and if it’s part of a series then the next decision is whether to continue the series or not.

Do you like series? And what about standalones? Do you prefer series or standalones?


34 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: What do you think of Series and Standalones?

  1. You’re right, when the book is good, who cares if it’s a series or a standalone ? I too read a lot of series, but I’d prefer if there were more standalones out there, because :
    – when you read book #1 of a series, you feel obligated to read the rest, even if it comprises 20 books (you love it, but you think you’ll never make it and you risk an OD) ;
    – when the series is a huge success, I’m afraid the author and editor will try to stretch things out to write as many books as possible in order to make more money. So you risk seeing your beloved series losing its interest. I respect authors who can end a series when it’s still good, but I also understand authors whose series is beginning to live on its own and begs to be told 😉
    Red Iza recently posted…Back on August 3rdMy Profile

    • I found it fun to talk about series and standalones, but also important to emphasize that it’s mroe about the book then whether it’s a series or not. I have gotten better at stopping series when I enjoy them, but indeed it’s hard when you do enjoy a series and want to read the rest but there are 20 boks to catch up on, that’s daunting.
      I also agree that there are series out there which get stretched out too long, which is a shame. I think it’s very importan to know when to stop a series and probably very hard to decide as well. I agree I respect authors who can end a series when it’s still good and fans still want more like Kelley Armstrong her Otherworld series of Jennifer Estep her Mythos Academy series. Both could be longer, but I think it’s the right decision to end it there and not prolong it.

    • With contemporary romances series often mean it follows a different main characters, which I like. Or there is more drama added after they got their happy ending, which I don’t like. On the other hand I would love to read a contemporary romance where the romance builds slowly and they don’t get their happy endign til book two, but still keep book 1 interesting as well, I guess that’s hard to accomplish though and you need lots of other plot lines beside the romance. I think contemporary romances are the genre I read most standalones of, as more authors also seem to stick with standalones in that genre. Most genres work well as series in my opinion.

  2. I normally like to stick with series because I usually wanna know more about the characters and it can take multiple books to get to that point. However! Lately, I’ve noticed a lot more series changing, instead of focusing on one couple/character the entire series each new book has a different MC. Sometimes, I like this type of series but other times, it just bugs me. I also sometimes think series have a way of screwing you over, you’ll get one or two really good books but then the next few will be lame because it’s just rehashing old stuff.

    There are certain authors I dont mind reading standalones for though, like Sarah Dessen is my go to lady for that type of book. I think reading contemporary romances are easier when their standalone books and not series, everything just wraps up nicely.

    Great topic Lola:D!
    Lanie recently posted…Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund HodgeMy Profile

    • That’s what I like about series that you get more from everything and get to spend longer around characters and in a world you already know and love. I don’t mind it when each book has a different main character, although it sometimes happen then that I don’t like every main character as much. And soem series just get dragged out and feel like it’s the same, I do want each book to be a new and different and add something to the overal series.

      I have read quite some contemporary romances standalones as well. Or series which different MC’s. And indeed standalones do wrap everything up nicely in one book, which can be nice as well.

    • I think that pretty much sums it up what I like about either of them. And sometimes it just nice knowing everything get’s wrapped up in one book and you don’t have to wait for the next part of the story.

    • I love both as well even though I read more series. I also like those series that have a different main character each book, but you still see characters from previous books.

    • I agree, it really depends on the book and authors. I don’t think there are series I have been following for 20 years, but there really are some long series out there.

  3. I prefer series because then you get to spend more time with characters that you love in a world you adore, but then there’s also the possibility that the author completely screws up the sequels, which is disappointing. It really does depend on the book. Some books are better as standalones, but others do require sequels to really extend the storyline.
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    • I agree, it’s nice to stay longer in the world, but it’s sad when the sequel aren’t as good as the first book. And for some books a standalone is long enough to tell the story.

    • I do have a lot of series that I start and then never continue the series, which is sad and in some cases I would prefer standalones, but I also love series as they lend themselves more for longer storylines and if I love a book I often want mroe. There are also stories which are too long for only one book, but also series were they seem to make it a series just because they can in which case a standalone works better.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Red Curry with Pineapple RecipeMy Profile

  4. I have many favorite stand-alone novels, but I’ve become quite the episode junkie (Downton, Friday Nights Lights, Game of Thrones) – and I think it’s changed what I want from my books. When I fall in love with a character, I don’t want the story to end!
    Roxy Soulé recently posted…TIGHT LACED COVER REVEAL!My Profile

    • I also have a lot of standalones novels I like, but even more series probably. I also like the episodic format for books, Susan Kaye Quinn her Debt Collector series is one of my favourties in that format. I am the same when I fall in love with a character I want don’t the series to end and I just want more. Although I can also see that sometimes there is a right moment to stop a series even though I might be disapointed it ends as well.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Red Curry with Pineapple RecipeMy Profile

  5. I enjoy them both. There is nothing intrinsic to series or standalones that makes me prefer one or the other, it is about each individual book. However, due to simple math, once you start reading more than one series, it snowballs until it seems like all you are reading are series.

    But, I will admit, I do enjoy a good glomm. Like JD Robb, I think she was on book 25 when I found those, and I read the entire series over the course of a month. Or Ann Aguiire’s Sirnatha Jax series which I read in a single weekend. Same with Gail Carriger’s Soulless series. And that sort of epic world immersion just isn’t possible with stand-alones.

    But there isn’t always that kind of time, and not every author can keep things feeling fresh that well. So they each have their place.
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    • Well said! And indeed as series contain more books, it’s logical it feels that you are reading more series.

      And indeed series do offer world immersion that often isn’t possible in standalones and the fact that you return to the same world in every book makes you get to know more about it. I am still amazed that JD Robb manages to write such a long series and I hear lots of people who still love it. I have the first book on my to-read list even though it’s a bit daunting starting such a long series, I guess I’ll just take it one book at a time.

      And with longer series keeping it fresh and original while also familiar is very important. And sometimes it just nice to read one book and know the story is over after that.

    • I agree it’s ncie if each book in a series still wraps some plot threads up or still has a sort of ending. I also like the series where each new book is told from another point of view/ different couple each book. Those usually are easier to read as standalones. Although I still prefer to read a series in order even if it isn’t necessary.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Red Curry with Pineapple RecipeMy Profile

  6. It’s interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts on this (and thanks for including REMOVED up there)! I fall into the camp of loving series in the scifi and fantasy genres and standalone books in the contemporary genre. I used to like mystery series as well, but I’m not reading a lot of mysteries these days.

    Since this is what I like to read, it’s also what I end up writing. I write series in my scifi and standalone in my contemporary (but all my contemporary still has the Asian themes so they end up feeling connected even though they aren’t). I’m currently reading The Selection series (on Book 2 now!) and this stimulates all the happy centers in my brain. Lol.
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    • I always like putting some of my favourite books in posts like this where I don’t have a picture I made myself to fit the topic. And as Removed is the first book in a series that I love, I thought it would be appropriate :).
      I feel like fantasy and sci-fi often lead themselves better to series. And contemporary romances more to standalones or series that each feature a different couple.

      I was just thinking that you see that in your own writing as well :). I also like series that are connected like your Kami no Sekai series and your contemporary romance series, were you still have an overachring theme, but each book can be read as a standalone and the main plot get’s wrapped up in one book. And with some books I am just happy it’s a series so we get more story and more of the same world and characters.

  7. I don’t know. Sometimes a book is part of a series and it kills me to not know what happens. But I see that stand-alones may not get the love they deserve if the book is too big. Can you imagine The Hunger Games, as a stand alone it would have been like 900 pages? No one would have read it. I think big stand-alones are an acquired taste.
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    • I agree if the alternative to a series is a way too long book, it is better to break them up. It would be hard to pick the Hunger Games up if it’s 900 pages. For some books being a standalone doesn’t mean one big book, but a normal lenght story. On the other hand if a book is longer, because else it feel too short or rushed, I rather have those extra pages. It is hard to wait on the next book in a series sometimes when you really want to know what happens next.

  8. I love well-done series, Lola. Especially if there is something about the character(s) that makes me really enjoy them, I love it when I can spend several books in their world, reading about their on-going adventures. And I have started some series pretty late in the series, where I was able to binge-read six or seven books in a row, and that was a blast!
    There are times when it’s quite daunting to realize that there are already a lot of books out in a series, because we all know it takes time to catch up, and there are so many great books out there to discover.
    Stand-alones are really good as well, especially if I really feel that the story is truly over once the book is finished.
    Great discussion topic this week!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…STS #90 Bought Borrowed and Bagged #40My Profile

    • I love it when a series is out for a long time already and you can just binge read a few books in a row. I don’t always make time for that though and indeed it can be daunting when a series is very long and you know it can take a while before you can get caught up.
      It really depends on the book, sometimes a standalone works great and sometiems I prefer series as I can stay with the characters and enjoy their adventures for longer.

  9. I’m like you – I prefer series over stand alones, although I’ve read great stand alones too. I just like to enjoy the characters and the world (I read a lot of fantasy) for more than just one book! I do HATE waiting for the rest of a series to be published, so I tend to binge series when I can. I’ve been terrible so far this year though, I’ve started way more series than I have been able to finish. Way more… :/
    Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm recently posted…2015 June Wrap UpMy Profile

    • same here, there are also a lot of great standalones, but I have a slight preference for series. I usually don’t take time to binge series, but I used to do that a lot when I was younger and didn’t have such a crazy to read list and it’s the best way to fuly emerse yourself in a world. I also start more series than I finish, that’s actually the topic for next week how I determine which series to continue. Waiting for the next book in a series to be published can be hard, but I am often to impatient to wait till the whole series is released. So I just start a series and then curse myself later when I have to wait for the next book.

  10. “Although when I read a good book it doesn’t really matter if it’s a series or standalone, if I enjoyed it enough I will probably check out more books by that author.”

    Yep! That’s me! I mean, if I really adore a book and author, I end up trying to work through their releases whether series or standalone.

    I generally like standalones more, but I usually end up reading a series. I like standalones because there’s no (or less) chance of a sneaky cliffhanger. 😛 Haha!
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    • Indeed whether I like an author their books or writign style is the most important and I will read their book no matter if they are series or standalones. I don’t mind cliffhanger ending too much, although they can certainly be annoying. Especially when the book just ends on a cliff without wrapping things up. No risk of that with standalones.
      Lola recently posted…Review: Bride on the Run by Catherine Mann and Joanne RockMy Profile

  11. I agree with you that both standalone and series have their pros and cons respectively. I’m able to know the whole story in a standalone book but sometimes I would have a feeling that I couldn’t get enough from the story and hope there’s sequel. If a book is part of a series, I hate to wait for the sequels to be released. So if the book I wanted to read is part of the series, I would try my best to start reading the series only if it’s completed.
    Regina Foo recently posted…Do You Check Out Reviews Before Reading A Book?My Profile

    • Good point. A standalone does gives you the whole story in one book, but it’s sad when you’re left with the feeling you want more and there isn’t a sequel. I think it’s amazing you are patient enough to wait till a series is complete. I wish I could do that, but I love reading new releases too much and I want to have a new book in a series now and then read it before the enxt book is out and then I have to wait, which is annoying sometimes.

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