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Personally I’m a stickler for reading books in order and I’ll tell you why.
Usually a book series has one or more main protagonists who are interacting with other characters, are developing from story to story and basically they grow over time just like in real life. I like to see this character development.
Stand alone novels don’t get much into this aspect, simply because how much character development you will add in one books anyway? But going from book to book the author usually reveals more things about the main characters, and this gets us closer to them. We soon start to feel a connection with the main hero and want to know what happens to him or her.
Another reason why reading books in order is recommended when it comes to book series is because many newer books have references to what happened in previous books. Even if just fleetingly, it drives me nuts to read about something that apparently already happened, but I haven’t gotten a chance to know it first hand, so to speak.
Some series go as far as literally advancing the storyline from book to book, like in the The Last Policeman trilogy. It is a trilogy that advances the plot until the world ends due to an asteroid that is about to hit the Earth. This series simply has to be read in order, there are no two ways about it.
Finally it is just a personal preference of mine. Even when the books are more or less stand alone in terms of plot, I just feel better reading them in the proper chronological order and I really get annoyed when I happen to buy a book on the bookstand at the airport, for example, only to discover it’s the 4th or the 5th or maybe the 12th in a mystery series. I really don’t like that!
How about you? Do you like to read the books in order or you don’t much care either way?