The riddle of a book series

Published 10:01 am Sunday, March 19, 2017

After reading the last words of “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, I immediately wanted to start over and read all three again, plus the prequel, “The Hobbit.”

I loved the ending; it’s now in my top five favorite book endings (No 1 is “The Great Gatsby”). But then I remembered all the moments where the book felt like such an ordeal to finish. And thus is the riddle with series: It’s like climbing a mountain, but it’s exhilarating and fulfilling to stand at the top.

While “The Lord of the Rings” is really three volumes of a single, large book, it muddies the waters more for my continued struggle with book series.

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I’ve always favored single-volume books. My reading list, like most people’s, continues to outpace my available free time. That’s made me become far more picky with my reading selections — I have limited read time, so I better make it worthwhile and not waste time and effort. But I’m also a genre-hopper, not wanting to stick to one style too long.

Still, I love the sense of finishing a series like “The Lord of Rings.” It’s intoxicating — it’s a vibrant sense of accomplishment and you feel like you’re part of an elite club.

Yes, l’ll sound the book snob alarm.

Regardless, it’s impossible not to appreciate the depth and breadth of the author’s achievement and be left wanting more. J.R.R. Tolkien’s backstory to his Middle Earth books is stunning — he crafted an elaborate, rich history behind his story.

Despite the pull to get lost in another such world, I’m talented at getting started with series and failing to finish them. I read “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and promptly lost interest in the remainder of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” series, and I did the same with “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Meanwhile, the “Harry Potter” and “Chronicles of Narnia” series are sitting on the sidelines tempting me to dive in. My girlfriend is a “Harry Potter” uber-fan, and I recently listened to my 5-year-old niece gush about early details from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Who wouldn’t be tempted to dive in with her.

But the skepticism remains. After all, these days it seems like every good book is made into a series for monetary reasons.

But alas, I’m getting sucked in nonetheless. Next up, I’m returning to finish Cormac McCarthy’s “Border Trilogy.”