When I was a kid, I read lots of book series: The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys, Boxcar Children, Little House on the Prairie, etc. I didn’t start by reading the first book in the series. I just picked a book from the library and read it.

As an adult, I still read a lot of series. One of my favorites is The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. One day while I was browsing in a book store, another shopper recommended Outlander (the first book in the time travel/mainstream/romance cross-genre series) to me. I bought it, read it, and went on to read the other books in order, primarily because I was buying them as soon as they came out in the stores.

I’ve also read many mystery/suspense novel series as an adult. One of my favorites is the Inspector Lynley mystery series by Elizabeth George. I found Careless in Red–I think it’s the fifteenth or sixteenth in the series–at a used book sale for $1. I bought it, read it, and then read the rest of the series in no particular order. The weird thing is that plot of Careless in Red began a month or so after the death of Thomas Lynley’s wife and unborn child. In the beginning of the series, he didn’t even have a girlfriend. It didn’t make any difference to me that as I read the earlier books I already knew what would happen in the future. I was already hooked on the characters.

Another series favorite of mine is the Inspector Alan Banks mystery-suspense series by Peter Robinson. I came across his book, Strange Affair, and bought it. After I read it, I looked for and read the other books in the series in no particular order. Strange Affair was well into the series, but again as I read the earlier books later it didn’t matter that I knew what would happen in the future.

My current favorite author is Tess Gerritsen. I started watching the TV series Rizzoli & Isles about two or three years ago. I didn’t see the first episodes, but came across the show in the TV guide and decided to give it a try. I liked it. Then I found out the show was based on a book series. I started reading the books, again in no particular order. I think the first one I read was Body Double.

And I can’t even tell you how many TV series I’ve started watching mid-season and then went back and watched earlier episodes. Longmire, Dexter, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friends, Big Bang Theory, and many others.

I look at it this way–when we meet someone (an adult) for the first time, we usually don’t know their back story. If we develop a friendship with them, we gradually peel back the onion and may eventually learn about their past, but not usually in chronological order. We learn it in bits and pieces. It’s similar to starting a book series or TV series or movie series in mid-stream.