Friday, October 16, 2009

Sequels: An Annotated Guide to Novels in Series by Janet G. Husband and Jonathan F. Husband

Since 1982, librarians Janet G. Husband and Jonathan F. Husband have been helping librarians and readers everywhere identify fiction books in series with their reference books. Now in 2009, the couple have finished the 4th edition of their Sequels: An Annotated Guide to Novels in Series, published by the American Library Association. Of course, the guide has grown much in the ensuing years. The first edition was 361 pages; the latest is 782 bigger pages.

Contemporary readers might think that mystery fiction would dominate the guide, as crime solving series are exceedingly popular now, and the authors have included many mystery series, from Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Sayers to Nevada Barr, Janet Evanovich, and Alexander McCall Smith (alphabetized as Smith). There is, however, much more than mystery series. William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County stories, Doris Lessing's Children of Violence quintet, Anne McCaffrey's many dragon tales, Paul Scott's novels of India, Janette Oke's Christian fiction series, and Mary Stewart's Arthurian novels are just a few of the literary, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and historical fiction series included.

The book is especially helpful for sorting out the confusing mix of comic novels by P. G. Wodehouse. Many readers know his famous characters Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves, but finding a good list of the books in the series is not easy. The Husbands identify fifteen titles. They also identify many of the recurring characters, including Stiffy Byng, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Bingo Little, Madeleine Bassett, and the always feared Aunt Agatha. Wodehouse wrote four other comic series that fans might also want to read. Sequels, of course, provides the titles and brief plot statements.

The entry for J. R. R. Tolkien will interest newcomers to The Lord of the Rings literature. The authors not only describe the trilogy and explain that it follows The Hobbit, but they identify books edited by Tolkien's son Christopher Tolkien subsequent to the author's death. It falls a little short by not identifying Narn i Chin Hurin: The Tale of the Children of Hurin, which was published in 2007. Perhaps content collecting ended sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, for I see only a few 2008 and no 2009 titles in this edition. I suppose with a print work as huge as Sequels, some lag time has to be expected.*

I used Sequels once while I was examining it at the reference desk. A reader asked me about the Discworld books by English author Terry Pratchett. Sequels explains the series and identifies thirty-two titles - just what the reader needed. We're going to keep the book with our other most used readers' advisory titles. I imagine it will be helping us for a long time.

Husband, Janet G. and Husband, Jonathan F. Sequels: An Annotated Guide to Novels in Series, 4th ed. American Library Association, 2009. ISBN 9780838909676

*For up-to-date series information, also try the Kent District Library's What's Next Books in Series website.

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