Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Book One Effect

This is the first in a series of musings I'll be making over the next month or so on reading, writing, and the cozy little place I've carved out for myself in the literary world. It's fitting that the first post of this month is The Book One Effect.

What is it?

I am statistically extremely likely to read a disproportionately high number of Book Ones of any given series.*

How does it happen?

My unofficial but very firmly held requirement for this blog is that I don't review multiple books by the same author in the same calendar year. The reasoning behind this is simple and elegant: there have been thousands of great authors in English-language** history, and they all deserve a turn. It's all so grade school-ish. This rule is usually beneficial, although it's currently having the annoying side effect of making me delay any review of Neil Gaiman's American Gods until 2019 at the earliest, as I reviewed Coraline back in January.

Is it a good thing?

Overall, I think The Book One Effect is something to celebrate. It makes me intimately involved with various iconic characters' origin stories. It also forces me to consider parts of series as standalone novels. Asking "could this part of the franchise pull its own weight?", outside of simply being an X-Brand book, is a good start for a lot of pop cultural literary analysis.

Notable examples include:
  • The Douglas Adams books (I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 2012, but didn't read Book Two until March of this year)
  • The Terry Goodkind books (I read Wizard's First Rule in 2012, and still haven't read Book Two)
I don't have a notable counter-example. Maybe this is a sign that in a post-Archie McNally, post-Harry Potter, de facto post-A Song of Ice and Fire world, I'm not meant to read series. I kind of like that. It forces me to see something different in everything I read.


*This may be the most adverbs per line of any sentence I've ever written.

**For whatever reason, I've never thought to read a book in French for this blog. I may dabble in some Polish at some point, though.

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