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Strategies for reviewing earlier books in a series
#1  haertig 01-24-2021, 04:27 PM
Does anyone have any strategies for refreshing your mind on earlier books in a series? Something you read a few years ago and have forgotten characters, plots points, etc.? I don't particularly want to go back and reread all the older books.

Does Amazon's X-Ray give you a summary of characters and how they fit into a story? I am in the habit of putting all my Amazon purchases into Calibre and then side-loading them to my Kindle, which nukes X-Ray. So I don't know what it's capabilities are. Usually a Kindle search of a character name in the current book is all I need to prod my mind to remember something, but that doesn't work across previous books in the series. (Possibly you could search every book resident on your Kindle - I don't know - but that would seem to be very cumbersome.) Plus, many of the books I read come from the library, so I no longer have them. And library books don't support X-Ray (that I know of).

In my specific case today, I am trying to read Dust by Hugh Howey. It's been maybe 2 years since I read the previous book in the series, Shift, and a year or two before that since I read the first, Wool. My mind does not retain the details of a book for that long. You can find plot summaries for some books online (we used to call them Cliff Notes when I was a kid), but they are apparently quite detailed and paid. Might as well just re-read the book instead. I just need a very high level short overview that mentions major character names in context. Does anyone know of a source for this kind of information?

Thanks in advance.
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#2  issybird 01-24-2021, 04:52 PM
Why not read a few reviews at Goodreeads? Skim until you find informative ones and they’ll probably be near the top anyway.

That said, I don’t bother. I figure the preceding book will come back to me as I read the next one.
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#3  maddz 01-24-2021, 06:02 PM
I used to save up new in series titles until I went on holiday and re-read them on the beach. A lot easier to do that now - I load them onto my e-reader instead of into my suitcase...

LibraryThing is a good place for descriptions and reviews.
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#4  haertig 01-24-2021, 11:20 PM
Quote issybird
Why not read a few reviews at Goodreeads?
Thank you for this suggestion. I use Goodreads, but in the past it was always for books I was considering reading, not to refresh my memory on ones that I already read. So I would look at the total number of reviews to gauge popularity, the average star rating to gauge quality, and maybe a review or two that did not contain spoilers but told me a little bit of the plot so I could determine if the book would be interesting to me or not.

But what I found when I went back and looked at reviews in more detail, including the spoilers, is that there is an unending line of people willing to type in hours-long tomes covering every minute detail of the book and how it affected them personally, how their life changed because of it, their innermost thoughts about the author, dreams that the book has spawned in them, etc.

I came out of that deep dive knowing more about the book in question than I knew about it immediately after reading it! Cliff's Notes has nothing on this crowd of reviewers. I would definitely go to Goodreads if I were still in school and had to write a book report on a book I hadn't read!

Thanks for the suggestion! I can now go continue with the third book in the series with 99.999% of the plot and characters fresh in my mind.
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#5  Uncle Robin 01-24-2021, 11:27 PM
What Amazon or Kobo? Perhaps the synopses the offer for each book will be concise enough to bring the gist back to mind?
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#6  haertig 01-25-2021, 12:22 AM
Typically the basic plot comes back to me as I read a sequel (not always clearly, but enough to continue on in many cases). What usually trips me up are the characters. I might recognize a name (but sometimes not!), and forget how they fit into the story.

Most of my books come from Amazon since I read on a Kindle. Actually, most comes from libraries these days. But Overdrive interfaces fulfillment of those via Amazon. Even if I got the book elsewhere besides Amazon, I still use them to look up the book on occasion. I'm not sure I've run into a situation where I'm reading a book that is not on Amazon (I read fiction novels 99% of the time).
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#7  John F 01-25-2021, 06:40 AM
Try wiki?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silo_(series)
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#8  kyrilson 01-25-2021, 04:24 PM
Quote haertig
Does anyone have any strategies for refreshing your mind on earlier books in a series? Something you read a few years ago and have forgotten characters, plots points, etc.? I don't particularly want to go back and reread all the older books.

Does Amazon's X-Ray give you a summary of characters and how they fit into a story? I am in the habit of putting all my Amazon purchases into Calibre and then side-loading them to my Kindle, which nukes X-Ray. So I don't know what it's capabilities are. Usually a Kindle search of a character name in the current book is all I need to prod my mind to remember something, but that doesn't work across previous books in the series. (Possibly you could search every book resident on your Kindle - I don't know - but that would seem to be very cumbersome.) Plus, many of the books I read come from the library, so I no longer have them. And library books don't support X-Ray (that I know of).

In my specific case today, I am trying to read Dust by Hugh Howey. It's been maybe 2 years since I read the previous book in the series, Shift, and a year or two before that since I read the first, Wool. My mind does not retain the details of a book for that long. You can find plot summaries for some books online (we used to call them Cliff Notes when I was a kid), but they are apparently quite detailed and paid. Might as well just re-read the book instead. I just need a very high level short overview that mentions major character names in context. Does anyone know of a source for this kind of information?

Thanks in advance.
Wikipedia works well for me. Also reading a few reviews often will help.
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#9  Ripplinger 01-25-2021, 04:48 PM
Quote haertig
What usually trips me up are the characters. I might recognize a name (but sometimes not!), and forget how they fit into the story.
If just the review within Calibre doesn't work well enough, keep the books on your reader. Search for the character name in the previous book and usually just reading the limited text for a few of the entries the search brings up has always jogged my memory enough to know who's who.
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