Bookish Chat : How you Keep Track of Plotlines in Series?

March 19, 2014 Bookish chat 29

I don’t know about you but my book memory seems to have gone to pot.  I think maybe I read more series than I used to and it gets so hard to remember the ins and outs of them all.  I often start the next book and feel lost.  Who is that character again, how did the last book end and on and on until it slowly (painstakingly slowly) comes back to me.


 In an ideal world, I’d reread the first book.  But in that world I have all the time in the world to read.  Actually  in that ideal world, my memory would also be photographic and would file all the important details in an index for me.  Sadly the real world that I have to live in is not so time accommodating and my brain is not so accommodating either!

Surely I’m not alone in this?  What I would love is a one page summary from an author before each new book in a series.  This would get me right back into the feel of the book before I even start.  And I know a skilled author recaps a little to help ease us in but I like the idea of an actual recap.  Seriously, I think this should be a thing!  Why is this NOT a thing?!

In the meantime what I currently do is :

·         Check recaptains whose motto is ‘saving book series one book at a time’.   Their nifty recaps have saved me from    hours of confusion

·         Or just muddle though as best I can.  Eventually it all starts to ring bells.

But I do think as publishers and authors seem keener than ever to push series at us, then they should help us out a little.  The best recap of a book that I ever read was Maggie Shiefvater’s recap of The Raven Boys.  If you haven’t read the recap, you should; it’s illuminating and also hysterically funny.   But it also hammers home to me that the ideal person to recap is an author, they know what’s important and what isn’t.

I’m currently in the middle of about 30 series.  Don’t ask me why, it sounds like madness to me and made me want to cry when I counted them all.  But I doubt I’m alone in this.  So I don’t think it’s any surprise that it gets harder and harder to remember all the characters and all the plots.  So come on publishers and authors….throw us a bone!

Bookish Chat:  Would you like to see recaps like this written by the author?  How do you remember all the details of previous books?  Are you in the middle of dozens of series like I am and why do we do this to ourselves?

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29 Responses to “Bookish Chat : How you Keep Track of Plotlines in Series?”

  1. Ana @ Read Me Away

    I am in the middle of so many series that I haven’t even been keeping track, haha! I should start checking out the Recaptains. 🙂

    This is one of my reasons why I’m scared of started series. Book amnesia might kick in if I go a long time in-between books. I usually just muddle through the book, or maybe look up the previous book on Wikipedia to refresh myself. Or maybe read my review of the previous book to remind myself of things I want to keep my eyes out for. 😀

    Interesting post, Trish!
    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted…Talk To Me 12: Brooding Book Boyfriends

    • trish

      For some reason I never thought of checking Wikipedia, I might start doing that too. My own reviews don’t work so well thanks my spoiler free policy which is annoying when I want to be spoiled!

  2. Charleen

    A recap by the author would be ideal. I want to say that the Eragon books did this, although it’s been so long since I read them I can’t remember (oh, how fitting) and also I wasn’t paying attention because I was reading them back-to-back and didn’t need the recaps.

    This is really why, for most series, at least short series that have a planned end in mind, I wait until the whole thing is out and then binge-read. But it’s getting harder now with blogging, and if it’s a series that’s really important to me then I feel like I can’t really do that for fear of coming across inadvertent spoilers (since people tend to get more casual about them the longer the book has been out).
    Charleen recently posted…What Makes a 5-Star Book?

    • trish

      LOL that you can’t remember! That made me giggle 🙂
      I think waiting till a series is complete is a good plan and right now I’m refusing to start any more series till I finish a few.

  3. anna@herding cats & burning soup

    Hmm it couldn’t hurt though I don’t know if I’d read them all too often. Maybe? I’m in the middle of probably that many series too which does sound crazy. I tend to forget some little things but if there’s an overarching storyline I can usually remember *enough* that it’s not too bad even if I don’t remember a secondary characters name or all of the leading up to it stuff. Doing book reviews helps me some. If it’s been a while I might go and glance over a previous review.
    anna@herding cats & burning soup recently posted…Need You Tonight (Loving on the Edge # ) by Roni Loren

    • trish

      I think I get there in the end but I hate that muddled feeling at the start. And why are we all reading so many series, it must be an illness that it catching!

  4. Leanna

    I pretty much just rely on my memory and details mostly come back the further I read into the book. I like the one page recap idea, though -kind of like Veronica Roth did on her blog with Divergent – although she did that because there was zero recapping in Insurgent. With most books you find the relevant recapping details are slotted in there somewhere!
    Leanna recently posted…Reviewed by Emily: Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross.

    • trish

      I like when an author recaps in such an non obvious way that you don’t even notice, it really does help. I never saw that recap by Veronica but even an author putting them on their blog is a great idea.

  5. Karen

    I have exactly the same problem. I really appreciate Rachel Caine’s recaps in the Morganville series. It would be great if all series could do this.

    • trish

      I don’t know that series but I’m delighted to hear that some authors are already doing this. We need more to follow suit.

  6. CeCe

    Holy crap! A one page summary at the front is an AMAZING idea! Like with TV shows where they have the 30 second “previously on…” recap. I hate series for this very reason and frequently like to wait until multiple books are out so that I don’t have to wait months or years and forget everything. I usually go to Goodreads or blogs and read reviews to try to spark some memories or I quickly re-read the previous book as a refresher. Finally, for longer series, I re-read the blurbs for the other books in the series. Unfortunately, that last method doesn’t always work for suspense books because they leave out plot twists in the blurb, but sometimes it helps enough. Unfortunately, that is all very time consuming. I think a summary recap provided by authors would be amazing! Go tell the world of your idea!
    CeCe recently posted…Spring TBR

    • trish

      Now if only the world read my blog then I would be heard! I try reading blurbs and reviews on GR too sometimes and I remember things as I read but wouldn’t this be so much easier?

  7. Kelley (Oh, the Books!)

    Man, what a great idea. Seriously, why DON’T they have a one-page recap in them?! I heard about Maggie Stiefvater’s recap of The Raven Boys, but I haven’t read it yet and now I want to! Especially since it convinced you that the author should be the one to write the recap.

    I have yet to check Recaptains, mostly because I’m lazy about it. So usually I just muddle my way through, lol. Surprisingly, I haven’t found it too difficult to get back into things when I read a sequel, so it must be something about diving back into that book’s world that trigger’s my memory or something. Not always, though.
    Kelley (Oh, the Books!) recently posted…ARC Review | Exile by Shannon Messenger

    • trish

      I know, WHY?! This needs to happen 🙂 I’m on a mission to make this happen!
      Recaptains is great and MS’s recap is a must-read.

  8. Kelly

    I’ve lost count of how many series I’m in the middle of! I usually just pick up the next book and hope that there’s sufficient recapping to jog my memory, haha. I think sites like the Recaptains are awesome, but I never think to check them before I start another book in a series.
    Kelly recently posted…Book Review: Tiger Lily

    • trish

      I think a few chapters in, it all does come back. It’s there somewhere in the brain, just a matter of pulling it out again! A recap would be handy though 🙂

  9. Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    I would love a brief recap! I wonder why that’s not done. I have the WORST memory. Even if I love a book, I can forget key aspects before the next in the series comes out. I’m aware of that Recaptain site, although I’ve never read it. I usually just read my own review to refresh, but an actual recap would be so much more useful.
    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia recently posted…Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

    • trish

      My reviews don’t help too much as they are spoiler free and I tend to keep them vague on details. Remembering how I felt about the previous book is a good start though! my memory seems to worsen in direct proportion to the number of series I’m reading!

  10. Cayce

    I guess I just remember them. I think I have a pretty good memory when it comes to characters/plotlines. And I’m actually kind of annoyed when authors use the first chapter to recap what happened in the previous book, I’m like ‘I already know that, give me something NEW!’ Lol.
    Cayce recently posted…[LGBT Month] 10 days and counting!

  11. Angie

    I used to think I was the only one who couldn’t remember books. I thought I had the worst memory in the world. Then I became a book blogger and realized a lot of people do this. I think probably because we as serious readers read a lot of books and a lot of series at one time. So we get very mixed up!!! LOL! I too love the Recaptains blog!
    Angie recently posted…Sunday Post

  12. Miranda @ Tempest Books

    I like your idea of a one-page recap in the book from the author, too! I’ve always wondered why they didn’t just do that. It makes so much more sense, is easier to read and digest, and is way less annoying than having that awful mid-story recapping like normal books do. I think we need to like start a petition or something, haha. Basically I’ve just kind of given up with this and now only read series if all the books are published, so that I can read them all at once.
    Miranda @ Tempest Books recently posted…Weekly Wrap-Up (#26)

  13. Brianna (The Book Vixen)

    Kate Kaynak did a ‘previously in the Ganzfield series….’ at the beginning of each book in the series. Loved this. I wish more authors and/or publishers did this. TV shows do this for shows where the last episode aired only a week ago. Books in a series typically release year apart. So a recap would be greatly beneficial to readers.
    Brianna (The Book Vixen) recently posted…Spring 2014 Bloggiesta: Brianna’s Starting Line

  14. Chelsea @ Starbucks & Books Obsession

    Great topic Trish! I am with you, especially when it’s been so long since I read the previous book. I struggled a bit in the beginning of Into the Still Blue because of this. A recap would be great. The Vampire Academy does a really good job of recapping a bit as the book goes along which I like too.

  15. Jord @ Miss Book Reviews

    I’m totally in the same boat! If I haven’t read the last book in the series recently then I get lost when I go to read the next book. I love recaptions, it’s definitely saving book series’ one book at a time haha. At the same time though I feel that books in a series should subtly recap the plot line when it’s applicable so readers don’t feel hopelessly lost. I recently had to read Divergent on Recaptions because I started Insurgent and could not for the life of me remember who was who and what was going on… Thank god for recaptions.

    Jord @ Miss Book Reviews
    Jord @ Miss Book Reviews recently posted…[Review #116] Insurgent by Veronica Roth

    • trish

      Insurgent had no recap whatsoever in the book! I was so lost but the Recaptains did their job yet again!

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