Taking Stock of My Reading Loose Ends

Last year was a hell of a year for me in regards to reading, but as a result, I now have a very long list of books that I need to read so I can tie off the loose ends of series that I haven’t finished. Somewhere along the way I got caught reading the first or second books of a bunch of series without reading all the way through. It might have had to do with trying to keep things fresh while reading 100 books, or it might have been laziness. It’s probably a little bit of both if I’m being honest.

Going into 2014 I had series I hadn’t finished, then I added a bunch more, and now I’m sitting on a pile of… 24 separate series where I have at least one book, often more, that I need to finish in order to finish things. Some of these series are ones that are not fully published yet, but I want to be caught up with the most current book so it will be more manageable to stay current in the future. Across these 24 series are a total of… 67 books. Reading nothing but the books in this backlog could fill my entire 2015 on their own, leaving me with no room for new releases by my favorite authors or new books in series I am actually caught up on. It’s a very large conundrum for me. I don’t like leaving things unfinished in this regard, especially when I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read so far.

The real question is how I go about tackling such a bit list of books. I don’t really want to add to the backlog of unfinished series, so I’m working really hard at not starting any new ones that have more than one book currently published. So far I’m doing okay with that, but at some point I’m really going to want to read things like The Gentleman Bastards books, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I think the only feasible solution is to find some sort of middle compromise. If I can decide on some of the backlog I really want to read first and work to mix one or two of them into every month this year I think I can make some serious progress. For example, the following 11 books would catch me up or finish ten lingering series:

  • The Pillars of Sand by Mark T. Barnes
  • The Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
  • Fairest: Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer
  • Symbiont by Mira Grant
  • Fragments by Dan Wells
  • Ruins by Dan Wells
  • Dragons of Spring Dawning by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  • iD by Madeline Ashby
  • The King by David Feintuch
  • The Mortality Doctrine: Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner
  • The Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore

If I were to focus my initial efforts on those ten books I would cut my unfinished series number by nearly 30% over just a few months. Sure, it isn’t like reading the last five books in a single series, which takes a lot more effort, but it would be measurable progress and put me in more comfortable position as far as numbers are concerned. After taking care of these one-offs I could just randomly pick a series with three or more books left and start methodically working my way through them.

Now, beyond the one-off books on the series backlog, there are a few series I’m very eager to actually get finished sometime soon.  Some of them have been on this list for a really long time, a couple of years in some cases:

  • The Unincorporated War by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
  • The Unincorporated Woman by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
  • The Unincorporated Future by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
  • Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Third Lynx by Timothy Zahn
  • Odd Girl Out by Timothy Zahn
  • The Domino Pattern by Timothy Zahn
  • Judgment at Proteus by Timothy Zahn

Those books are ones that definitely got left behind because I was rushing to read other things and then never managed to circle back. I’m an unabashed Timothy Zahn fan and I loved the first book of the Unincorporated series much more than I thought it would be.

However, there are some series in my backlog that will simply take forever to catch up on, things like the entire The Dark Tower series after the first book and the entire second half of the Dresden Files from the eighth book onward. I really like the Dresden Files books, but they all melt together when I read multiple in a row and I’m still rather skeptical of The Dark Tower books after having read the first one, but I sort of want to see what happens as the series progresses.

I think my end goal for 2015 is going to be to trim the backlog by about 50% if I can manage it. That would leave me with about 10-12 series left to finish and most of those would be the bigger ones and I’d feel a lot better about tackling them more slowly. If I can pull off that type of a reduction in series backlog this year I will be so happy with myself. Maybe I’ll even have the chance to start one or two new series that only have a couple of books and be current with them so I don’t add back to the list at any point.

Book Review: “The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels” by Cassandra Clare

Who will be tempted by darkness? Who will fall in love, and who will find their relationship torn apart? And who will betray everything they ever believed in?

Following the conclusion of the first three books in this series I found myself rather satisfied and willing to step away from the universe for a little while as I read a few other things I had on my reading list. When I finally came back to City of Fallen Angels I had in my mind a few things I had seen online about how the story takes a strange turn in this book and that it doesn’t seem to have the impact that the first three books in the series did.

I feel like those concerns expressed by several people in online forums and reviews were only partially true. City of Fallen Angels does have a different feel to it compared to the first three books, but not in a negative way. I think Cassandra Clare was having a bit of trouble deciding where she wanted to take the story next when she wrote City of Fallen Angels, but that indecision certainly didn’t ruin the story for me as I was reading.

This book focuses on two main points. First is the development of Simon as a vampire who doesn’t really find it necessary to follow traditional vampire rules and the resulting chaos that such an outlook is going to eventually perpetuate. Second is the odd behavior of Jace as he grows more and more distant from Clary due to the influence of some very strange dreams he has been having.

The situations with Simon and Jace have a lot more to do with each other than either one of the boys is willing to admit, but in the end they are the better for it and their relationship as Clary’s best friend and Clary’s boyfriend sees some of its bigger holes finally patched up. To me, that was the biggest revelation because the constant bickering between the two of them about Clary was starting to get a little bit old.

I do wish this book had been more focused on Simon though. Ever since the very first book, City of Bones, I have been wanting to see a book in the series that really lets Simon be his own person without the influence of all the other characters. Clare gets a little closer to that with City of Fallen Angels, but she still has him lagging a little behind the others as far as character development is concerned.

Of course, I want to see Simon become the first vampire Shadowhunter, but that’s just me and sadly it probably isn’t going to happen.

All in all, City of Fallen Angels is a decent enough follow-up to the first trilogy of books, but doesn’t do anything spectacular. It does pave the way for a few more interesting things to happen in the two books that come next though, so I’ll have to see where those wind up taking me when I get the chance to read them.

Grade: C
Length: 434 pages

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