Monday, February 18, 2013

Musing Monday...Second Book Syndrome

It is Monday, time to muse, so lets look at the questions at Should Be Reading...

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are(or, aren’t) enjoying it.
 • Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up?
 • Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it.

Well, first of all, let me thank MizB for expanding the questions to include my occasional rant and rambling as of this week. In my mind, rambling is often a good thing.

So, as to my answer this week. I just finished a book this afternoon, A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry. I hope to have my review up tomorrow (assuming I write it) but for now it raises in my mind another issue, the Second Book Syndrome.

If you are a reader, you must have experienced it.
A book appears and before you know, it is gathering praise. Here is a new author whose first book, or at least the first one anyone has heard of, is all the talk. It is on the best sellers lists, it is getting great reviews, everyone seems to be reading it and so, you pick it up.
You read it, you love it..and you look forward to the author's next book. Maybe it will be the second book in a new series or maybe a freestanding book, but either way, you are anticipating that it will be as great as the first one.
Because loving a book is a great thing.

Then it comes out.
You read it.
And it disappoints.

Now, do not get me wrong. In fact, this was NOT the case with Ms. Henry's second book. No, I liked the second book a great deal, yes, maybe as much as I liked her first, Learning to Swim. As I wrote in that review, I was looking forward to her next and while it is different, I still enjoyed it.
Starting the book, and finishing it and comparing it in my mind to the first, just made me think of the issue.

But loving that second book is often not the case.
I could name a few.
Yes, it comes out. You read it. And it disappoints.
And it makes me wonder. Is it possible that some writers only have one really good book in them?

Hey, I'm not sure that is a bad thing.
I have never written one really good book..or one really bad book for that who am I to talk? Imagine writing a book, even just one book, that thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people in the world loved.
Wow. Just do it again! Easy, right?

Or is something else at work here?
They have this success, they get a contract and suddenly there is this great pressure to turn out another winner. Maybe one too similar to the first. Maybe one that has to be done in a year, unlike the 12 years they spent producing the first.
Big money is at stake. Publishers, editors, readers are on the sideline, tapping their toes, waiting.

And they only had that one great idea.....

Do you have your own example?
A first book you loved..a second that made you shake your head?

a Cancun rainbow to start your week!


  1. well, i loved the first Dexter book, the second one was the same plot with minor adjustments as the first but since it read, for me, like a template with the new info replacing the old it was a major let down. there are several other 'series' i have begun only to hate the second book

    right now i am returning to a series i left many books ago for similar reasons ... it started off so well but several books in, it became a yawn. now at 17 books i picked up Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon/National Park series .. this is a prequel and it starts off so slow i almost gave it up ... but now its regained my interest ... if you've not read it check out The Rope

    1. I have read a few of these books...but not in order. I picked them by the settings, parks I liked.

  2. Well, I loved the first and a few other Nicholas Sparks books, but lately they have been a GREAT BIG disappointment. I have decided I'm finished reading his books.

  3. I used to enjoy Danielle Steel books, WAY back in the day, but at some point, they left me cold.

    We could take the example of Harper Lee, whose ONE great book was so good that she never wrote (or at least never published) another one. Maybe she realized that she couldn't write anything that would improve on To Kill a Mockingbird...or didn't want to take the risk.


    1. An excellent example. Maybe she only had the one great book and if so, in a way I am happy that some lesser 2nd book did not diminish the first!

  4. I do think it's possible that some writers only have one good book in them. I also think our expectations change once we read the author's first book.

    1. It may be true. you want a great experience again and a just 'good' one is not enough.

  5. Thank you for the gorgeous rainbow photo. I'm in the end of a blizzard. I forgot what I was going to say about books when I saw the picture. ;-)

    1. it disappeared right into the water...I was going to swim out and find the pot of gold.

  6. I loved John Verdun's Think of a Number but the 2nd one . . . pffffffffttt!

  7. I have had that happen, but I can't think of anything specific at the moment. Great topic!

  8. I've run into books like that I'm sure, but can't think of any off the top of my head. But I love that rainbow!

  9. I've been to Cancun but it didn't look like that!

  10. Great that your rant option is now included. Am sure I'll be using that one at some stage! I've probably never read enough of any one author to be too disappointed. Maybe Dan Brown ... Must have been hard to follow up The Da Vinci Code. But I haven't read his last yet even though next is due to be released soon.

  11. Oh.. And here's my MM:


please speak up, I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!