I was reading a discussion yesterday about publishing a series of books and, apparently, there are people who prefer to wait until a series is completed before buying the books so they can read them all at once.
I found this odd. I love to read. And I particularly love reading series because you get to know characters and see them develop.
As a kid, waiting for the next book in a series was often not an issue because the authors I loved – Enid Blyton, Judy Blume, Anne Digby, Anthony Buckeridge, Joan Aiken, Jill Murphy, Diana Wynne Jones, Elinor Brent-Dyer – were well established and had already written so many things for me to read. (And in a couple of cases were unlikely to be writing any more books as that tends to be one of the side effects of being dead). It was therefore more a fun game of scouring second-hand bookshops to see if I could find the books missing from my collection. And so exciting to find the next book in the series I was reading. (If my searches proved fruitless, my mum would sometimes spoil me and buy me a brand-new edition!)
But I do remember the excitement of waiting for a new book or even a new movie to be released. Especially a sequel because I wanted to know what happened next. I love the anticipation, counting down the days to release. (Right now, it’s Black Panther – I cannot wait!)
It was thrilling to have the new book in my hand, not knowing what was going to happen as I turned the pages, being slightly disappointed when I got the end knowing I’d have to wait for the next one, wondering if it was a silly idea to immediately start reading it again. Not all books. But definitely those I’d read too quickly the first time because I was too excited and then finding new stuff on the second read. And those tended to be the ones that are part of a series.
Like Harry Potter. I guess that is the most obvious example of excitement for the release of a new book in a series and, by the fifth book, I’d definitely caught that train (Hogwarts Express?) and I read each of the last three books on the day they were released to the exclusion of any other (non-essential) activities. (The reason I was so late getting hooked on Harry Potter was simply down to my own stubbornness but I think I’ve made up for it by the probably twenty times I’ve read the series since. (Thank heaven for e-book readers, I couldn’t travel with them otherwise!))
I think that if you read the whole series back-to-back (first time round especially), you aren’t necessarily taking the time to absorb what you are reading. To sit back and appreciate what you’ve just read and to process it before moving on to the next stage of the story.
The same is true with television; most series were broadcast once a week and so you had to wait a whole seven days for the next episode, wondering what things that had happened could mean for the story at large and what would happen next. Now though some series are released all at once and so we can binge watch (which used to be such a decadent experience, usually when I bought a box set of something I’d already seen to rewatch). And movies and TV programs can be streamed whenever, wherever we want.
I think technology has brought us so many benefits – I wouldn’t like to go back to travel without the Internet – but I don’t want to lose my excitement over something new nor the anticipation of waiting for something I want.
For me, a huge part of the fun of travel is the planning. Reading articles on new places, reading a guidebook for more information, planning to go somewhere just because I saw a pretty picture on the Internet (Plitvice Lakes, I’m looking at you). And then the countdown to leaving with the building excitement. Even now when I travel almost constantly, there is still the buzz that I’m going to a new place or that next week I will be revisiting an old favorite. And I don’t want to lose that either.
I think what I’m trying to say is just because the world now often allows us to have what we want as soon as we want it, it’s nice to step back, to allow ourselves to wait so that when it comes we really value it. To appreciate the artists who provide our entertainment, to give each thing in our life the time it deserves, rather than always rushing, rushing, rushing to the next thing. The cliché of taking time to appreciate the moment but also allowing ourselves to experience the range of emotions that come with waiting for something – the anticipation, the random bursts of excitement, even the frustration. Slow everything down and it will feel like things last longer. And are worth more. Well, that’s my theory anyway.