Our Reading Lives

Please, Keep Your Sequels

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Carina Pereira

Staff Writer

Carina Pereira, born in ‘87, in Portugal. Moved to Belgium in 2011, and to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 2019. Avid reader, changing interests as the mods strikes. Whiles away the time by improvising stand-up routines she’ll never get to perform. Books are a life-long affair, audiobooks a life-changing discovery of adulthood. Selling books by day, writer by night. Contact

I have a problem. It’s a dark shadow looming over my bookish life, and I cannot pinpoint exactly when it first arose.

I am mostly a literary fiction reader (that is not the problem — I very much enjoy it), which means that most of the books I read are standalone. And although I have read a few series, and I have enjoyed them, most of the times I’ve picked up a series they’ve ended early for me: I have either read two of the books in the series, or I stopped after the first, despite the fact that there are at least three installments to each of the series I chose to start.

Then, sometime in the last two years, I began to actually feel an aversion for sequels and prequels, going so far as to be upset when I pick up a book that I think is a standalone, just to find out halfway through it — or after I am finished with it — that there is a sequel. Honestly, my response is always the same: Fuck no! 

The last time this happened was just last month, when I started reading Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga for a book club. I went in knowing nothing about it — that’s how I prefer going into my books — but sometime during the month, the book club shared bits and pieces in preparation for the meeting, including info about a sequel. And again, there I went: Wait, there’s a sequel? Oh, fuck me. 

So, as one does, I started to wonder where this almost visceral reaction comes from, and I began to think about my relationship with series in the past and my habits as a reader in the last few years.

For starters, I know that I am currently a much more involved reader and, to be honest, I am not certain if that’s better or worse. On one hand, I like the way I presently tackle my reading, and how much I get to read in a year; on the other, I was a much more confident reader when I wasn’t aware of how much some people know about books.

While before I considered myself a great book recommender (yes, this is a word which exists), now I always feel like I’m recommending the same books almost everyone sees on their timelines, and I am not so certain anymore of my bookworm status. If a reader can suffer from imposter syndrome, I do. 

But, because I read a lot more, I also know that I don’t hold the same space — or time — for books that I used to. With a big TBR following me around the house on the daily, I do not wish to spend several weeks in one book alone. It’s a conscious choice, and I am okay with it. Because it is not just about quantity, it’s about quality. I know for sure that a lot of the books I consume in a year have quality, probably more than those that took me over a month to read in the past. 

But all this makes me think twice about reading longer books. To me, a book with around 300 pages is the perfect size, as it allows me to get to know the characters and the story without being rushed, but also without dragging. So I really need to be interested in the story to read a book that is, let’s say, more than 500 pages long. 

Moreover, I do not have patience for very descriptive books; please, show me, don’t tell me. And show me quick. I get a bit frantic wanting to know what the hell is going to happen next, and I don’t have a lot of lenience for build-up, or for stories that focus too much on details, rather than focusing on the characters and whatever afflicts and moves them.

Finding out a book has a sequel makes me wonder what it was that couldn’t be told in the first book — and yes, I understand sometimes authors will write a book, and then decide there’s more to the story, and write more. That’s okay. But sequels give me the sense that the first volume is incomplete, and I am not certain I want to commit to having to pick up another afterward in order to have the whole story in my hands. I feel like I don’t want to abandon these characters, but you leave me no choice.

I prefer to be allowed to say goodbye to the characters properly, especially after I have already offered my time to them and their story. So what I ask is for a proper farewell without having to pick up another book to find out more. Also, I know myself. There is a high chance I get to a point in which I couldn’t care less, and I don’t pick up the sequel anyway.

Especially if I see no warning that there is a sequel as I start a book, my reaction will often be: You know what, I don’t care. Tell me what you have to tell me now, or forever hold your peace. And, don’t mind me. I will hold their peace for them (and mine). Which, take note, I find terrible. But it is what it is.

I hope that, in time, I will get to shape myself as a reader differently, because I do miss the excitement that comes with loving something so fiercely that you only want more of it. For now, I will continue to stay away from books with sequels and, if I find out about the sequels too late, continue to stubbornly refuse to read anything beyond the first book. With a firm, and resolute, fuck no