I had a tough decision to make last week, but I finally bit the bullet, and broke it off. Yes, after about 10 years of devotion and love, I broke it off with an author. And let me tell you, it was painful! I have been reading “this author” for almost a decade; I anticipated her latest release, purchased her books, and read them religiously. But after a while, something has changed, and the relationship has worn thin. Now don’t get me wrong; I didn’t end this relationship without a lot of thought. I even purchased and read a few more books in the series, but my interest was half-hearted and I found I was skimming to just put the affair behind me.
Why is it so difficult to stop reading an author or series? I suppose a good series will have the reader engaged in the events happening and invested in the characters and their lives. I find that I view a lot of my favorite series like Christmas cards. I look forward to them with anticipation as they come out once a year. When they arrive in the mailbox or on the bookstore shelf, there is moment where I hold them in awe and gaze at the beautiful cover, the enticing title, and the oh-so-favorite author’s name on the cover. Then, I pour over the inside flap and as soon as time permits, I read closely through the story. Laughing at the character’s personalities, sharing in the character’s grief and heartaches, reminiscing about past memories of the characters, I feel like I am re-connecting with an old friend. That is how a good series should make me feel.
There are two primary reasons I have “broken up” with a series or author. The first one is when I have become very angry or upset about what an author did with the story plot or character. Both times, I actually stopped reading mid-book; something I rarely do. I remember feeling betrayed that the author would do something so heinous to a favorite character. I can’t even tell you if the series was able to overcome the shocker because I simply couldn’t continue. Both of the authors are still writing; I see their books on the shelves and I think “what if . . .” Alas though, life and reading pleasures must move on.
The second reason is the more common reason I break it off, and it is the reason for the recent relationship finale. Sometimes, a series goes on just too long. I have mentioned before that there are just so many bodies that can be discovered by a shop owner or a stay-at-home mom or a dog walker. After a while, the scenario of multiple murders in a single location becomes too far-fetched. I enjoy mysteries series that have the protagonist in a crime-encountering believable role – a police detective, a private investigator, a newspaper reporter – where the crimes are varied but realistic. I have often stuck around in a mystery series past its believability because I enjoy the characters so much but there is a limit.
When I end a series, I always feel guilty. I am sad not to see the characters again and will sometimes even “cheat” and try another book in the series. Invariably, I am disappointed and reminded why I broke it off in the first place.
And so, as I indulge in a little self-pity and some Ben and Jerry’s, I am comforted by the fond memories of the past relationship. And luckily, there are other mystery series to keep me occupied and entertained. I’m such a fickle girl!