On one hand, people are not reading as much as they used to. On the other hand, the one part of the publishing business that’s still booming is the Young Adult (YA) series market, as best exemplified by the Harry Potter novels, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, and now The Hunger Games.
Without passing judgment, I think overall it’s a good trend, as it indicates that books do indeed have a future. Some of these series are good (I read all the Potter novels as they came out), and some are probably dreck. (But remember, I’m not naming names here.)
Even among adults, it appears that mysteries, romances, and science-fiction series tend to predominate. Certainly that’s the case for Kindle e-books. Currently on the Kindle best seller list are such series as Fifty Shades, the Hunger Games, Penryn & the End of Days, Bone Secrets, the Century Trilogy, the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy, Books of Bayern, Songs of Ice and Fire, and Elemental Mysteries.
Now I have been partial to a number of series, most particularly:
- Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe Books and Saxon Series
- The Inspector Dalgliesh novels of P. D. James
- The George Smiley novels of John Le Carré
- The Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O’Brian
- Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey stories
- P. G Wodehouse’s Jeeves novels and stories
- Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels and stories
… and the list goes on—in fact for quite a while—because I guess I’m just as susceptible as YA readers to the power of sequels. When I’ve finished a challenging BAB (that’s technical for Big-Ass Book), I feel like relaxing with something that’s not too challenging and very like something else of the same sort that I’ve read and liked. For instance I’ve just finished seven days of Anatoly Rybakov’s novel Fear, about Stalin’s purges of the late 1930s—to the tune of 686 pages. Before I cut out on my trip, I’m going to want to read something that doesn’t send me dragging through any concentration camps or NKVD interrogation sessions.
Isn’t that funny? I started writing this post with the idea of lambasting Stephenie Meyer and her ilk, but I would have to point the finger of blame at myself for occasionally indulging in light reading. (Not that I avoid books of substance, but rather that I enjoy variety as much as anybody.)
I suppose that if I read nothing but Stephenie Meyer and Harry Potter, I would deserve a sneer from a literary snob such as I picture myself to be. Oh, well, let he who is without sin cast the first stone!