I prefer to start at the beginning, and work my way through the installments in order, except for novellas & anthologies. I’ll usually leave these for a rainy day. The only time I’ll bend this rule is when an advanced copy lands in my P.O. box, and either the author has assured me that it can be read as a stand-alone, or it’s a Paranormal Romance because this genre typically alternates couples with each new addition, so aside from missing out on a bit of world-building you don’t end up feeling completely lost if you dive-in at book 5.
As for whether I’ll inhale a series in one go, that really depends on when I discovered the author, and how much free time I have available. If I’m a late comer, and I really enjoy the first installment, then I’d rather read all of the novels as close to back-to-back as possible for maximum immersion. Unfortunately, since I signed on to blog, chain consumption has become more difficult to manage because I constantly have to re-prioritize, and no longer have the luxury of hibernating for weeks on end.
On the other hand, I prefer to get in on the ground floor, and tackle each book as it hits shelves because it’s less daunting than playing catch-up, although there is a downside to that in that titles often release years apart which can make it difficult to remember previous happenings, and cliffhangers become a real b*tch. However, this approach can be beneficial due to the sometimes redundant nature of series; not all writers have mastered the art of the recap, and as a result reading too many installments in a row can make this fact annoyingly obvious.
The story itself is another important consideration; I like PNR, but I find that it’s easy to get burnt out on this genre when you tackle too many of ’em in quick succession. It has been my experience that I appreciate the boy meets girl plots more when I space them apart while as Urban Fantasy for example, has oodles of variety to it, so I’m less likely to get bored.
Have a bookish question you’d like Rabid Reads to weigh-in on? E-mail me, and be sure you include your blog URL (if you have one), so we can give you credit!