The only thing better than a great book is a whole series of them — especially when it's an incredible romance novel series. As a reader, you get to hang out with those awesome characters (hello, book besties and book boyfriends!) in a fictional space a longer than just one night (or however long it takes you to read a book). The world becomes familiar. The characters start to feel like friends. It’s only a matter of time—usually a book or two—before the series becomes an all-consuming obsession.
Book lovers know that this is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a rare and glorious experience to be so completely absorbed by a cast of characters and their fictional world. Real life pales in comparison to the world of the series. There are the highs and lows of anticipating and devouring each book, an insatiable craving for more, and that bittersweet feeling of arriving at The End. When you find a series that hooks you completely, there is only one thing to do: surrender, keep reading—and see if you recognize these nine stages of getting swept away by a series.
1. You Start The First Book With No Expectations
This could be a good book. Or it could be the beginning of a beautiful, obsessive reading relationship. It’s too soon to tell, but maybe after one more chapter...
2. You finish first book, and you’re all like GIVE ME MORE.
Once you hit The End you know this cannot be over just yet. Off to the bookstore you go to find the next book in the series. If you’re lucky, it’s on the shelf, ready to go home and stay up all night with you.
3. Then you finish the second book, devour it, and immediately download the next.
Who cares how late it is? Who cares how much it costs? Need. It. Now.
Ever find yourself late at night, clicking ‘BUY NOW' without looking at the blurb, the reviews, or the price? Yeah, me too. It’s official: you’re totally hooked on this series. Cancel all your plans, except for binge reading.
4. Or maybe you finished a book and there is a cliff hanger and you have to wait 6 months or more for the next one. You don’t know how you will survive.
Sometimes a reader must waiting patiently (read: impatiently) for the author to finish writing the next installment. This is a particular form of torture.
5. And then, finally publication day arrives!
There is no greater joy than this day. Maybe you stay up until 12:01 to see it arrive on your e-reader, or maybe you’re the first person at the bookstore in the morning. Anyone who tries to call, text or make plans with you will be gravely disappointed. Because Priorities.
6. Or if the series is complete and you immediately get your paws on every book, by hook or by crook. Let the binge reading begin!
Get comfortable in your preferred reading spot. Pack snacks. Silence the phone. Set up an email away message. LET’S DO THIS.
7. Somewhere along the line, the characters start to feel like friends and this fictional world seems more real to you than real life.
Maybe because you are spending more quality time with them than with your real life friends? Maybe it’s because you are spending more time immersed in these books than in the real world—including all the time you’re daydreaming about getting backs to the stories when you should be paying attention to class/work/life? But is this really a bad thing?
8. Eventually you will get to the final book in the series. You cannot wait to read it, but are dreading when it’s over. TOO MANY FEELINGS.
This is it, the moment you’ve been waiting for: resolution. You cannot wait to see how everything plays out and yet…once you know, the story will be over. You will have to leave behind these characters and this world, all of which are so, so real to you now. SADNESS!
9. After finishing the book you feel totally adrift. How will you leave these characters and this world?! What are you supposed to do with your life now?!
There is only one way to fill this hole inside you: Find a new series. Rinse. Repeat.
Beginning on August 1, Bustle will host Romance Novel Month, a celebration and examination of the romance novel genre. But don't worry, romance readers: the coverage won't end in August. We're proud to support romance novels, and we will continue to do so all year long.