Can you read numerous works by the same author back to back and be satisfied?
Or does their work break down when read so close in time to each other?
This question occurred to me recently because I read 9 books by the same author one after another, in two different series, and loved every single book. It was Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson and Alpha/Omega series, and to be honest book 6 of the MT series was eh, but the rest rocked.
Since then I’ve been struggling to find another author and series that I can listen to and haven’t found it yet. After trying 3 different authors I can only last 2.5 books. The first one is always decent, then the second one annoys me because it’s basically a carbon copy of the first but with different names for the leads and by the time I get to the third, I can’t continue because I’m so annoyed at the repetition.
Discussing this problem with a friend of mine reminded me of something a well known m/m author said a few years ago on twitter. Something to the effect that no author’s work holds up under back-to-back reading.
At the time I dismissed the statement and didn’t think of it again, but my recent frustrations brought it back.
I actually think an author’s work SHOULD stand up to back-to-back reading. I think a reader should be able to gorge to their heart’s delight on any and all books written by that author. In fact I’ve often done that with several of my all time favorite authors.
I think a good author can make their books unique enough to stand out when read so close together but still contain the author’s voice and prose that delights the reader. Making repetitive and similar books can be a winning strategy for some authors (and there are MANY that do so) but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the familiarity by saying no author can change it.
I tend to stay loyal to authors who show variety in their books, even within their series, so their books stand up to that kind of reading. I think to say otherwise is to devalue the amount of work it takes to be unique and offer up something that will continue to delight long time readers.
I get much more easily bored with the overly familiar and repetitious books/series even if they’re read pretty far apart. Perhaps that’s just me though.
15 thoughts on “Gorging on an author – good or bad?”
It varies. I remember I read a huge whack of Psycop books in a weekend and had no issues. But there are a couple of other short series where by book 3 I was seeing too many similarities as you say, and it became glaringly obvious. I certainly wouldn’t have noticed it if they had been spaced out over a year.
Sometimes I want the familiarity, but that works best with some space, so it’s a vague sense of warmth from previous books. If they are too fresh in your memory it familiarity becomes boring repetition. Some authors can pull it off, some can’t.
Yea it works both ways. Sometimes I can’t remember the previous books enough to care if they’re familiar, just a vague sense of liking something. So in that case I guess it doesn’t matter.
I do think JCP does well reading in one sitting. I remember reading her Wild Bill series one after the other and still wanting more.
I think it depends not just on the author but also the story and the reader. My hub has been reading the Dresden Files book and seems to be able to read them back to back whereas I preferred a gap between them. The same with A Song of Ice & Fire. Hub gobbled them down one after the other but I found it better to leave a gap of a couple of months or so. I even started book five, got bored, and left it for 5 months before eventually picking it up and finishing it.
I remember that quote about an author’s backlist not standing up to back to back reading, but I’ve glommed many writers and I enjoyed nearly all the books – although most authors have a ‘dud’, I’ve found. However, I don’t think I could read back to back Sean Michael, for example. His books are enjoyed with a bit of distance between each one :).
I can read several Dresden File books but then I definitely burn out. I like them but too many at once kills the fun. Likewise for Martin. But his are because they’re so loquacious that my mind feels like it needs a break.
Good point on Sean Michael. I re-read his Jarhead series back to back and surprisingly wasn’t annoyed. Then I read it again that way a year later and wanted to delete the books. I’m so fickle.
Oh and I tried to comment on your site Jen and it disappeared. I’m not sure if you’re moderating comments and if so, sorry! Or if it just wouldn’t go through.
No, I’m not moderating comments. Blogger probably ate your comment. I keep meaning to change to WP and never getting round to it.
I agree with you. An author’s work should be able to withstand being read back-to-back. Whenever I discover an author I like I immediate glom them, especially if they’ve written any series. I much prefer to read series all at once, as otherwise I forget what’s happened in the earlier books. I must be more fortunate than you – I’ve found several authors who I only like more having read their books back-to-back.
I have only found a handful at best that stand up for me over that kind of gluttonous reading. It’s sad! Though the authors that I can do that tend to become quick favorites and I read basically everything they write.
Those that I can’t do with that I’ll still read here and there but definitely not as loyally. I wish I had more.
JCP’s work definitely stands up to back-to-back reading – and even back-to-back rereading. Lanyon’s, not so much – the similarity between all his works really becomes painful.
I have to disagree with you about Josh Lanyon’s books. He was one of the authors I had in mind when I said I enjoyed reading some back-to-back. Many of his books have been released in audio recently, and so I have been “re-reading” them that way and was once again enjoying them very much. I was prompted by that to re-read many of the books which aren’t yet audiobooks. To me, the books are quite distinct and different, and every time I read them I see more subtleties and nuances and like them even more.
I have to go with Chris on Lanyon. I find his work to be really familiar and boring if you read them back-to-back. Perhaps it’s the simple variation in reader preferences but I can’t read more than one of his books within about a year time frame.
I read the MT and A&O books in a glom too. I think Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series works well in a glom too. And, for me, JD Robb’s in Death series. I can glom on them for ages before needing a break.
On the other hand, other authors work less well for glomming – but they tend to be the same ones who work less well for me over time anyway – ie, whether I read 15 books in a row or whether they’re read over 5 years, I will eventually still notice the same things which irritate – a glom will probably bring them on sooner, that’s all. 🙂
I used to read the In Death series and I could read the early ones at once but the later ones felt way too formulaic to me. I have to try the Kate Daniels series. I hear a lot of good things about that one. I tried Nalini Singh and I loathe it already 2 books in.
I think thats a really true statement. If you love an author you tend to be able to read all their work because you love it anyway! I find that in m/m I may love an author but I usually can’t read too many books back-to-back (JCP being a huge exception). I think the genre itself lends to so much repetition, let alone within individual authors.
Mary Calmes is an m/m author I don’t like to gorge on (at least not separate series) because, while I like her writing, I find that her main heroes are often remarkably similar. I just can only handle so many adored heroes at a time. On the other hand I recently started reading Julie Garwood’s historical m/f romances and they are all very similar but I am really in the mood for Scottish historicals so I am okay with it.