A Guide to Remembering Things Throughout Series

Copy of Copy of again, but better (2)

I am absolutely awful at remembering things between books.

See, my memory is. Well. Bad. Brain fog + ADHD does not make for a sharp memory. Hell, if I take too long (read: more than 3 days) to read a book, I forget everything that happened, and have to take time flipping back and rereading to figure out what I forgot.

It’s not a bad thing. (Okay, it kind of is.) It means I can reread books and notice the smaller details over and over, and even get surprised a second time by major plot points. Which has totally happened before.

It does get annoying when I’m reading series, especially if that series is in the middle of publication. Like, am I going to have to read this book that I forgot everything about to read the second book? Where I’ll forget everything by the time the finale comes out?

dory lessons GIF


But I love series, and some of the series I love are actually universes with several series, and I think I’ve developed at least a bit of a method to reading sequels and not feeling like I’m going in completely blind.

1. reread the book(s)

Here’s the simplest solution: Just. Well. Reread the bookYou get to experience it all again and when you get to the sequel the previous book will be fresh in your mind.

Of course, it isn’t always feasible to do so. Duologies are easy. If it’s a trilogy, reading the previous books before every new release is probably doable.

After that, it starts to get a tad harder, especially if you don’t have the time to devote to several books. And bloggers are often buried under ARCs and writing, not to mention the fact we have lives outside of books. (I mean, I don’t, but you probably do!)

Also, some series are huge. I used to reread the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series before every new release, even as the number of books climbed from five to ten and beyond. I don’t have time to do that anymore, despite being a fast reader, and at this point, I’ve read the earlier books so many times that I can quote entire sections from memory. At this point, it’s probably best to skip the books you know and just refresh yourself on the last couple.

2. don’t reread the book

Just go in as if you have the memory of a superhuman and know what the hell happened in the last book.

Most of the time, the beginning of the book eases you in a bit and reminds you of what happened in the last book anyway. Rarely are you actually going in completely blind, so why not just dive in?

Do not recommend.

I Have No Memory Of This Place GIF

Personally, I can’t do this. It takes away from my enjoyment of the book because I just can’t freaking remember a thing and I’m spending the first third trying to play catch-up rather than enjoying the story and characters, and it makes me feel so much more disconnected.

Probably best for people who don’t have the memory of a drugged goldfish and can actually get their memory jogged at the beginning of a sequel like we’re supposed to!

3. read summaries

I feel like this is a fairly good medium if you don’t want to go in completely blind but you don’t have time to reread an entire series. Recaps of the book are usually detailed enough to give you an overview of the world and the major plot points of the last book and don’t take a whole lot of time to read.

Heck, there are websites devoted to book summaries for all us people who have bad memories. Book Series Recaps is one and I’ve definitely used it in the past. There’s also Recaptains and Fantasy Book RecapsTV Tropes sometimes has recaps as well. Wikipedia and fandom wikis are also great for somewhat detailed summaries.

4. keep notes & reviews

Another thing you can do, especially if you’re a reviewer, is look at your reviews of the last books in the series! This method is great if you’re more of an emotional reviewer, because instead of the disconnect that a lot of book recaps give you, you get what happened in the book in addition to your very own thoughts and feelings about it.

I don’t know about you, but feelings tend to jog my memory more than being told what happens.

The problem: reviewing is a lot of work. Which is great when you’re already a reviewer, but if you’re not … well, I guess it can totally give you the boost you need to become a reviewer? Join us on the dark side. 

You can also look at other people’s reviews, but then if you’re really easily influenced (like me!) you might end up absorbing other people’s opinions, which just isn’t my thing.

5. binge read them when they’re all out

Or you could just read them all for the first time in one go.

You don’t have to wait. You don’t have to remember between long periods of time. You just dive right in and consume the entire series.

  cat book reading read GIF

I think this is my favourite solution now? It works for me at least; usually, I read the first to gauge my level of interest, and if I like it, I’ll wait until the series is finished to read them all again. Gonna be honest here – this method was entirely accidental, and it’s called just never getting around to reading the sequel until the final book is out. I am properly ashamed of all the finished series I still haven’t read.

My one gripe with this is that you do miss out on the hype around a book until it’s already over. Also, spoilers. For example: still haven’t read The Wicked King, even though I loved The Cruel Prince. I’ve been running screaming from any mention of The Wicked King because spoilers.

But with others, like An Ember in the Ashes and Nevernight, I’m just going to wait. For series you haven’t started, you get the benefit of not knowing enough about the characters to be spoiled. You also don’t have an agonizing wait of at least a year to find out what happens in the next book, which is a bonus if you’re a super impatient person.

And there you have it: a few tips for remembering what happened in the last book and how to read long series when you have a shit memory. I wrote down a couple other tips, but I don’t remember what they are.

how do YOU remember what happened in the previous book of a series?? tell me your tips because i, too, am desperate.


13 thoughts on “A Guide to Remembering Things Throughout Series

  1. Fabulous post, Jess! I tend to binge read series 🤔 but sometimes it’s so hard to delay reading a book everyone’s talking about and …I just give in😀

  2. This was such a great post and I agree with alll of your points. I agree with all of your tips and I don’t have anything to add. I have tried recap sites and I personally don’t like them because I feel like they’re not nearly as effective as I’d like them to be. But they do their job. I really feel like my own reviews are the way to go though because I want to know my emotional reactions. Sadly I only became a book reviewer earlier this year so there aren’t really a lot of previous installments that I have written reviews for whose sequels I’m want to read (if that makes sense; you get the point). Great post !!

    1. Thanks 🙂 I don’t use a lot of recap sites either – I use TV Tropes for tv shows because they’re a lot more detailed and I miss things – but yeah, I like looking back on what I thought of a book through my own reviews. Hopefully you’ll build up a bunch you can look back on though!

  3. i’ll make sure to use your tips when i read the rest of the school of good and evil series! i remember really liking the series a few years ago and i thought it was a trilogy because the last book is called the last ever after,, but apparently the author kept writing?? i can’t remember anything (oops) so hopefully your post will help :))

    1. It always throws me off when an author keeps adding onto series because I’ve made my peace with it ending and then whoops there’s another one haha and by that time I’ve forgotten everything about the world. But it’s good if it’s something I like? I hope it helps!! (and I’ve heard about the series but never really looked into it, but it looks interesting!)

  4. Great post! I’m impatient and disorganized so I usually just jump into it, and I’ll be blind and confused for a bit, but I usually start to remember stuff after a few chapters lmao. Also I haaaave read series out of order before with no knowledge of what happened before so I like to live life on the edge

    1. lmao honestly me too but I realized that it’s a lot less fun to spend so much time wondering wtf happened in the last book. It takes a long time to remember honestly my memory is just SO bad at this point rip

      and omg you are braver than I am, I used to read series out of order as a kid but I could never do that now!

  5. awesome post, jess 😀 i’m the absolute worst at remembering what happened in other books in a series too, and sometimes i even forget what books in the series i’ve finished reading! i usually just use method 2 because i’m too lazy, and i didn’t know recap sites for books existed. guess i’ll have to give them a try next time hahaha, thanks for the tips!

    1. Thanks!! And I forget what I’ve read too, but that’s why I have goodreads 😂 I can generally remember if I’ve read standalones, but when it’s a series I have more trouble. I hope it helps though!!

  6. Oh man hahah this is actually so relatable. I’m always guilty of #2 because I kinda hate rereading (despite having a trash memory when it comes to series and previous books), I have tried to find summaries in the past but not to much success. What I’ve been trying to do this year is include a summary in my review notes section on goodreads for any books I read that are part of a series, but I haven’t gotten to the stage of going back and reading any of these yet due to how recent the idea is and also the fact that I haven’t been reading many books recently, let alone series continuations.

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