A co-worker and I were recently talking to a patron about book series and how some of them can get to be too long, and honestly, I think it’s a problem with how long some series go on. Trust me, I love a good series where I can keep on reading about the lives of characters I love, but when does it get to be too much? How many books are the perfect amount for a series?
THE PERFECT LENGTH
If I have to choose, I’d say that trilogies are best type of series. Three seems to be the magic number when it comes to a book series. You get enough of your favorite characters without getting sick of them or having the story wear out. Most series can have a good ending by the third book, so just leave it at that, right? Right.
Except, some don’t. Some authors come out with prequels, which is actually a cool idea and I have no issues with whatsoever. On the other hand, there are some authors who have written spin-off tales that happen in between the series. However, I think can make it confusing for those who find the series later on. It happened recently with a patron at work and I had to explain that the book wasn’t really part of the main storyline, but an aside. So while spin-offs are cool in a way, I think they need to be limited in how many there are.
GOING PAST THREE BOOKS
When it comes to a series that goes over three books and if it’s too much or not, I think it depends on the series. There are some I have read that are 12-14 books long and I love the series all the way through and don’t tire of it. And of course Harry Potter is perfect at its seven books, as is The Land of Stories at six books. Then you have some authors like James Patterson or Patricia Cornwell whose book series’ never seem to end. Ever.
One of my co-workers was talking about these authors and how the early books are great, but as the series goes on, it dies out because it even seems like the author is sick of writing them. I can see that because twenty books in, how much more can you cover with a character? Seriously? I think some of these adult authors need to learn from the young-adult authors and stick to shorter series, unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Then, of course, you have Agatha Christie whose Hercule Poirot series is 40-something books. Then again, we’re talking about Agatha Christie here. She makes the rules when it comes to series.
On that note, I’d like to share some of my favorite series that are, in fact, longer than three books, yet I don’t feel as if the series is “too long” at all.
SERIES I RECOMMEND (LONGER THAN THREE BOOKS)
The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter – 6 books
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer – 6 books
Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins – 12 books (and two or three prequels/spin offs)
Private by Kate Brian – 14 books (plus a prequel)
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – 7 books
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani – 6 books (I haven’t finished yet, but I love them)
Aside from all these there are the classic series like Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys that are yet another exception to a series being too long. Even if you’re sick of them, they’re an exception. There’s always going to be kids reading those books, so why not have some modernized tales of those beloved characters written?
So really, for me, it depends on how the series is written over the course of the books, but I would like the series to end that some point. There are other books out there, after all.