I’m not going to lie, January is not my favourite month. I know it is supposed to be the time for new starts, resolutions, diets, spending the month alcohol free, or, as I discovered this year, trying a vegan diet for the month, but for me January is a month for hibernating. Whether it is the energy slump after Christmas, the dark evenings and even darker mornings, or the gloomy weather, I find that when January comes around, all I want to do is curl up under a blanket with a mug of tea, a tin of biscuits and a good book. With the help of Goodreads, I have also realised that January is a month for binge reading as many books in a series as I possibly can. This time last year, I was captivated by the adventures of Percy Jackson and friends, having devoured both the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus series within a month. January 2016 saw me buried deep in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. This year, it is the turn of Patricia Cornwell, as I revisit her Kay Scarpetta series, which I first read as a teenager.
Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love a good series. Nothing makes me happier than picking up a book and discovering that it is part of a series, and nothing frustrates me more than having to wait for the next instalment to be published. I remember sitting on the front door step waiting for the postman whenever the new Harry Potter book was released, and the devastation I felt at the end of the last book when I knew there were no more to come. Personally, I blame my mother for this addiction as she was the one who first introduced me to the wonder of the book series when she sat me down with The Famous Five and the Chronicles of Narnia as a child.
What is it though about a series that draws me to them time and time again, and particularly at this time of year? Aside from those annoying cliffhangers which mean you just have to read the next book as soon as it is available, I believe it is the comfort factor. Even with a series that you wouldn’t necessarily consider a comfort read (I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin), I find a sense of calm in settling down to read a sequel. The characters greet you like an old friend and welcome you back into their lives. You know their histories and understand the ways of the world that they live in. It feels like coming home – even if that home is sometimes dark and mysterious. I love becoming fully invested in the characters, watching them grow and develop throughout each book, feeling their joy and their pain. Even the throw the book across the room heartbreak at the unexpected death of a favourite character is something that is met with a sense of doom-laden anticipation. No matter what devastation the next book may bring, I just can’t resist.
In an ever-changing world of uncertainty, I think I will be sticking to the familiarity that a good book series offers. I am on the constant look out for new ones if you have any suggestions. Now, if you’ll excuse me, a certain Chief Medical Examiner requires my assistance with an investigation – I’m on my way Dr. Scarpetta!