Should You Read a Book Series in Order? 📚 5 Things Friday


Thanks for joining me for
another 5 Things Friday. This week I am tackling the big question
– To read or not to read a series in order? You know what my take
on it is? I bet you can guess. Stay tuned and we’ll get to it. [music playing] I’m so glad to have you with
me for another Friday and
I’m still sort of riding high from the fact that the Bakeshop
mysteries is now 10 books deep. 10! That’s almost a baker’s
dozen. I can’t wait for that. When book 13 comes out, I
don’t know what we’ll do. We’ll have to serve them up in a box
with a baker’s dozen of something delicious. Anyway, I digress. A question that I get asked often from
readers who are just discovering the series is whether or not they
should read the books in order. Should they start with book 10 or should
they go back to the beginning to book one. Now, as an author and
even as a reader, I have many, many, many thoughts on why you should
definitely, yes, you should definitely, go back and start with number one. But I’m going to limit myself to five
today and maybe you’ll agree with me or maybe you won’t. Either
way, let’s get right to it. Number one – The number one reason that
I think you should read a series in order is because I have a growth arc
for my protagonist in the Bakeshop Mysteries. We meet Juliet in book one. She’s fresh off leaving
her husband, Carlos, at sea and she’s coming home to
Ashland to heal her broken heart. Now, for many of you, you likely know that what makes fiction
work is the protagonist to have some kind of quest, right? It doesn’t work if our protagonist just
goes about their day and everything works out magically and beautifully.
That would be wonderful, but A) that’s not how things work in the
real world and B) that really wouldn’t be a compelling story because you’d be
like, “Yeah, great. Your life is perfect. That doesn’t work for me.” So in
every book in the Bakeshop Mysteries, Jules has a singular quest, and
that is to solve the mystery. There’s always a murderer. And Jules’
job is to make Ashland right again. She wants to bring the killer to justice
and she wants Ashland to feel like the safe, warm, welcoming community
that it’s supposed to be. That’s her quest for every
book, from book one to book 10. But there’s also a bigger quest for
her in the overarching storyline of the entire series. And for Jules, that is the idea of coming home. When I first started writing Meet Your
Baker, the very first book in the series, I was trying to find my way
into Juliet as a character. And I knew that she had
spent a long time at sea, and I knew that she’d grown up in Ashland, and it was this idea of coming home that
kind of pulled me into her and made me really begin to understand
who she was as a character. And in her growth arc, we
see that idea of coming home. And if you come home again, are
you the same? Has home changed? Have you changed? And can you love home and also
a person – insert Carlos here. Um, so there are all of these layers of Jules
that we get to know from book one to two to three and that arc is developing
and there’s much more to come for that. So for me as a writer, I want you to experience that from
the start and to watch her grow. Number two – This kind
of ties into number one, which is the development of the
secondary cast of characters. One of the biggest gifts of writing a
long running series is getting to develop the entire cast. So not only is Juliet on a quest to
figure out what home means for her and to solve those murders that seem to be
piling up in our nice little hamlet of Ashland, but her group of friends
and family, her team at Torte, they all come to life. And in the
beginning, in Meet Your Baker, and A Batter of Life and
Death, On Thin Icing, those first few books in the series, we’re really getting to meet
all of those characters. But I don’t have a lot of time and space
to put everything I want to tell you about them. And so as
the series has grown, each character gets more time
center stage, as Lance would say. So Lance, Jules’ best friend, we
get to know him better and better. Sterling, and Andy, the team at Torte,
Jules’ mom, Helen, and the professor, even the horrid Richard Lord, as the series grows. We get to know
each of those secondary characters more. And for me, I always, when I
sit down to start a new book, I think about who I want to really shine
a light on in that particular book. And I’m getting to know them
too, which I really enjoy. So I think you should read a series to
meet those secondary characters and go along on a little journey with
them. Number three – The setting. The setting gets richer with time. It’s like with the secondary
cast of characters. In the beginning we’re introduced to
Ashland and we get to know little parts of Ashland. But as the series grows, we see more of Ashland and Juliet’s
world expands and expands farther. So she goes up to Lake of
the Woods and On Thin Icing, she returns to the sea in
A Crime of Passion Fruit. And if you dive in
somewhere in the middle, you might not have all that rich
history about what the Plaza is like, and what it’s like during the winter
time versus this summer here in the Siskiyou mountains. Like does it
snow in the winter? Yes it does. Is it hot in the summer? Yes. Is it
sometimes smoky? Check, check, check. These are all things that, yes, of course, I’m going to touch on
briefly in each book, but I think you have a deeper
breadth of understanding of and time if you followed along from book one. Number four – The killer. That’s
right, there’s always a killer. So here’s the thing about mystery
series. If you read any mystery series, no matter if you start from book one
or you dive in at book 22 you’re always going to be served up an individual
mystery so every book can stand alone. There’s always some kind of murder
that wraps up at the end of each book, but there are little hints that
lead back to previous books. If you start in let’s say book five. Maybe there is a little reference
to some trouble that Jules
found herself in or some little problem at Torte in
the form of a dead body. There are never spoilers, so you
don’t have to worry about that, but I do think that it’s fun to be able
to kind of follow along and think like wait, Jules returned home approximately two
years ago in the time span of 10 books and there’ve been 10 murders. Like you might not understand that
if you pick up right away at book 10. Okay, last but not least, number five – This one might surprise you. My number five thing is, forget everything I’ve just said
and jump in wherever you want to. Honestly, my job as a writer is to give you a
enough backstory on Juliet on the setting, on everything we’ve talked
about, the secondary characters, maybe a little hint that there’s
been trouble in Ashland in the past, that you can pick up no matter where you
want from book two to book 10 or book 11 next year and be able to be centered
in a place in time and understanding. And I have heard from a
number of readers who’ve said, “I started at Live and Let Pie and
then I went back and I read the whole series,” or “I started at book four and
I fell in love and I read forward and then I went back.” So you know what? Do whatever you want. I am just thrilled that you’re willing
to read my book or any book for that matter. So break the rule, read it
however you want. I’ll be happy for that. All right, so those are my five reasons why I think
you should read a mystery series from start to finish in order. What about you? Do you read series from the beginning or
do you dive in somewhere in the middle and just wing it as you go? I really want
to know, so be sure to comment below. And, as always, thanks for joining me for
another 5 Things Friday. Be sure to subscribe to my channel and
click the bell to get notified whenever I share new videos. Happy reading. Yeah.

8 thoughts on “Should You Read a Book Series in Order? 📚 5 Things Friday

  1. Loved your #1 answer to this great question! It's one I've asked myself every time you release a new book. I've read your whole series of the Bakeshop Mysteries many times (especially in the fall!…kind of a personal tradition to welcome in my Autumns). I so agree that reading a series from the beginning is the way to go. I want to know the background on all the characters and why they do what they do, think what they think.
    Thanks for this 5 things Friday! A great one for sure!
    PS
    YAY FOR A 13TH BOOK!!! 🥳

  2. To read or not to read a series in order: That is the question! Do you read book series in order? 🤷‍♀️ Tell me why or why not.

  3. I try to read series from the beginning, but there was one series I picked up from the middle, and when I went back and read the first, I realized that I would never have made it past the first book, the first book wasn't that good. It also made me realize that it didn't matter if I read the series from the start. If a book isn't as enjoyable unless I have read the books in order, than it isn't a good series, I think.

  4. I think this is my favorite 5 Things Friday, so far! I love your reasons for reading in order, those are exactly some of the reasons that I prefer to start from the beginning. I won’t lie, sometimes I sneak an out of order book!🤭 I’m happy to report that I’ve read yours in perfect order, though!😁

  5. I am a huge advocate of starting a series from the beginning. I have been reading your series from the beginning -both of them. If you read Louise Penny out of order, or example, you will know someone isn't the murderer in the next book and I think then you might not want to read the previous book because the mystery is solved.

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