Chatterbox: The bookish completionist

July 18, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Chatterbox, Features


For those of you new to the term, in the gaming world, I’m what you call a completionist. Someone who can’t just pick up a game for the sake of enjoyment, who must complete every single level and sidequest, talk to all the characters, exhaust every dialogue option, complete all of the challenges, max out on my level and collect all the secret weapons. It’s time consuming and some would say pointless, but there’s a certain sense of satisfaction that I get out of completing 100% of my games.

How does that translate in bookish terms? A book completionist, would be someone who must read every series in order, read all the companion novels and novellas, even if you don’t enjoy the series much. Yes, it’s terribly time consuming to read series that you aren’t totally loving anymore, especially in this book day and age where every new book is a part of a series.


Since starting a book blog, I’ve had to curb the completionist in me and bid adieu to those series that just aren’t drawing me in. It’s not something that I like to do, because I still wonder whether it gets any better, or whether I gave up too soon. Like with City of Bones which I gave up after the 3rd book, I wonder if I would grow to understand the hype as the series progresses, or if I would ultimately turn back and go “I could have read something better”.

With so many books to read and review, being a completionist is hard. I may not read series in order. I may only read one book in a series, and it won’t even be the first one. I may abandon a series too soon. I may skip those companion novels and novellas. That’s what I’ve had to give up, because I simply don’t have the time or luxury to satisfy or 100% a series, anymore.

Are you a completionist? Link me to your post or comment here! 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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93 responses to “Chatterbox: The bookish completionist

  1. I am definitely more of a completionist with games rather than books. That's because I have a lot more to read now since blogging, so I give up on series that I am not loving any more. I find it really satisfying to complete a game 100%, but I now feel less guilty if I don't 100% complete a book series. I don't like wasting my time with books and series that I am no longer enjoying.

  2. Oh wow, I just can't read books out of order, it would do my head in. Haha my brother loves gaming music too, he actually composes his own. I love the music from JRPGs, it's so atmospheric.

  3. I'm also a completist gamer, that's why Skyrim is taking me ages and ages to finish *sigh* too many things to do in that damn game. Anyway, when it comes to a series (I actually read better if they're standalones) or when I don't have to go in order (even though for some reason I always do). And when it's a long series, I take breaks and read books in between. I have never actually sat down and read a series back-to-back only because I feel like it would bore me and with reading that's always something I want to avoid. Do you ever do that?
    Kat Stark @ NotYetRe recently posted…Fan Art Up! (16) – Everness, airships and a dragon doodleMy Profile

    • I can't wait to start skyrim, I've heard that its a long game though. I have read series back to back before and really enjoyed it because I can find out where it's heading quickly. Not often now though.

  4. I'm a lot like you Jeann. I used to complete all the series I read too, but that changed once I was more immersed in the blogging community. I suddenly find all these wonderful books that I could read, and there were a LOT. Finishing something I don't really like wasn't worth it anymore when I can read something much better. I find that I have a really hard time keeping up with series books. I'm glad you mentioned Cassandra Clare's books. I tried Clockwork Angel, because it was part of the shorter series, but couldn't really get into it. And I didn't even force myself to finish it. 😛
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  5. Oh wow, I never considered the wait time between series to have an impact on continuing a series. I know, when it comes to gaming my bf is exactly like that o.O drives me bonkers.

  6. Haha oh that is why I don't play many games any more because of the time it takes lol! It is quite a lot of time taken and obsession when playing it lol. Haha I like how you said prolonging your agony XD

  7. Yeah, I used to be like that too but these days I'm a bit more disciplined with it because we can't waste so much time on series that we don't enjoy. Yeah, that's the same with me on Starcraft, I reached Platinum rank and kind of quit after that.

  8. I think, maybe, once upon a time – I was a bookish completionist. Unfortunately, those days have fallen by the wayside.


    Because there ARE SO MANY BOOKS, JEANN. I actually find it hard to finish series I LIKE, let alone series I don't like. It would be a waste of time, even though there will always be that little tiny part of me whispering: Chiara, what the hell happened to those characters? But I have to ignore it, because there are better books out there. Books that I will love, and won't regret reading.
    Chiara @ Books for a recently posted…Book Review: We Were Liars by E. LockhartMy Profile

  9. No, I am not a completionist (anymore). Which is a good thing, because I'm a very greedy reader! I just want all the books. So now, if there is stuff that really bothers me, or if the storyline bores me, I have no qualms about DNF'ing a book. Even if it's an ARC! I send a little note to the publisher via NG or Edelweiss, and let them know I didn't finish the book, with one sentence saying why, and that I won't be posting a review on my blog – only on GR, BL and LM.

    There are too many exciting-looking books for me to spend time reading something I don't really enjoy.

    Great subject, Jeann 🙂 Happy reading!
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  10. OK Since I am a Gamer I am going to comment on the gaming side of this. I want to complete everything in games. EVERYTHING. Books are a little different. I don't have to complete a series. City of Bones I only made it to the third book too. I actually thought that is where the series would end but clearly I was wrong.
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  11. I have a thing against not reading a series in order, contrary to my mom, who likes getting me books OUT of order. ><

    It's all very disastrous to be honest.

    Sometimes I'm a completionist. In a lot of ways I am, but in the gaming world, I tend to skip dialogue and listen more for the music – because I'm a music buff, and music is cool. Muahaha.

    In the book world… not so much. I do have a big tolerance for books though – most of the time I tend to trust my instincts about what's best for me and what's not. Whether or not I listen is usually up to me. :p
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  12. I *completely* get this post. I generally always read sequels to books I've thought were just "meh" or not very good overall. Sometimes it's just to say that I've read them, you know? Take CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE for example. While I loved the first three this series, my interest began to taper off in the fourth and fifth, yet I still made myself read the sixth book just so I would know what happened, and so I could say I'd completed the series.
    Kara @ Diary of a Te recently posted…Book Review: Eren by Simon P. ClarkMy Profile

  13. Dang, I WISH I could be a book completionist! I'm definitely one when it comes to games like you mentioned, though. Collect ALL the things! 😛 It makes me itch when someone blows through a game in like eight hours just playing through the main storyline. Anyways, that's really cool that you do that! I tend to abandon series, especially if the wait time between the books are so long :/
    Alise recently posted…Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. SmithMy Profile

  14. Lol I'm the same way when I play video games. Even phone apps I try to get 100% complete. I still remember playing Super Mario on Nintendo 64 when I was a lot younger and there was this one level I could not complete 100%. DROVE ME NUTS! I guess surprisingly I don't really feel that book wise. I don't mind stopping part way through a series if I really didn't like a book, unless there was a huge cliffhanger. Curiosity may get the best of me there =)
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  15. I used to be exactly like that, Jeann, especially when I still played video games (I still need to buy a PS4 haha), but with books, I try not to translate that obsession of mine here. I can easily immerse myself in games, and can always allot the time because I know it's something I enjoy, but it's just not the same with books, especially those I don't really, really like. There's just so much I can take and prolonging my agony isn't worth it!
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  16. Ugh, Jeann. I feel your pain, so very much. I'm a completionist too, both in games and with books. Just last week I suffered through a book in a series I didn't care much for anymore, just so I could mark it off my list and forever be done with it. I'd put in so much time I figured rounding off my percentage was worth a few hours of yelling at fictional characters. 🙂 In games I'm even worse, I think! Constantly in MMOs people are having to drag me away from exploring or getting achievements so I can help them do "useful" things like raiding. Gosh, if they only understood. 😉

    I'm trying to let go of the most of those book series I don't enjoy so much anymore. There are a few still very much worth my time, and I'm finding more and more standalone books lately that I'm giving way higher ratings than those series I keep slogging through. Maybe it's a matter of switching up authors or genres entirely for a while, to see if I can break myself out of that habit more.
    Leanne @ Oh, the Boo recently posted…Weekly Recap| Jul 13-19, 2014My Profile

    • Hehe that's a big reason why I can't play mmos, because I go in and think Uh oh, there's going to be too much for me to do that will take lots of time and effort. Yes I like to mark things off my list as well! I'm so glad you understand.

  17. Same! Everything about this post is all me. I can't stop playing a game until I've spent approximately five times as long leveling up as it takes me to actually complete the game and I've earned every secret weapon, done every secret mission, etc., etc.

    There's just no other satisfying way to play haha. Same with the books, though. I used to be like "hey, lemme finish 'em all!", but now I'm pickier. I have limited time, and I can't be bothered to spend any of it on a book/series that's not even trying to make it worth my time. You know! haha.

    Loved the post.
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  18. In terms of being a reviewer, I think being a completionist is probably really unrealistic with some series. I used to be that way and needed closure on a series, but so many of them that have started out as promising, sadly fall away with the horrid middle book and I give up, not to mention so many awesome series' that have had incredibly disappointing finales. When I game as well, I hardly ever see anything through. Call of duty? I prestiged and that was it for me, I reached my goal and haven't picked it up since.
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  19. Haha how awesome is TBD? I don't know where we would be without it! I've read the first 3 and haven't felt the need to continue, a few people are saying that about the series.

  20. Omg yes! I'm definitely a completionist when it comes to games. I have to max out all the levels or I'm going to keep playing all the old levels until it's at 100%. It's probably a really bad OCD habit but how can I just leave it at 2 stars if you can get it to 3 stars?! D: When it comes to books though, it's not too bad. There are heaps of series that I've left unfinished but don't really plan on completing. :3
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Stacking The Shelves #40: Upside of Glass SinnersMy Profile

    • I think once I finish a game I don't go back and replay it, I just make sure my 1st time playing it that I complete everything during the story lol. Haha it is so true, OCD definitely when it comes to games! Yeah, it's good we can show a bit of discipline with books. XD

  21. I don't think I'm a completionist lol! Not unless a friend is like THE SERIES GETS BETTER then I'll continue a series I hate. Otherwise…nah. However, 99% of the time if I loathe a book then I'll finish it. Does that count?
    Nikki Wang recently posted…On the Fence by Kasie WestMy Profile

    • Oh nooo, I am kind of glad I never started WoW because once I start then it'd be difficult to wean me off it lol! Glad that you consume most of the series, gotta make the most out of what the author has built!

  22. Until I began blogging for 30 years + I had to read books in order, So I know how you struggle. DNF wasn't even in my vocabulary. Since blogging *year two* I have learned companion novels can be read out of order, novellas to series aren't necessary and DNF makes me a happier reader. I now do not hesitate to try a new author or genre. I still prefer to read series in order. Will never read a trilogy out of order but I have found success and increased my reading by over 50 books a year.
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    • DNF definitely makes you a happier reader, the worst thing is falling into a slump because of a book that you just could not get through! I definitely read a series in order but not when there are companion novels and spin-offs, I prefer to stick to the original and then get to the extras when I'm done.

  23. I'm definitely NOT a completionist. 😀 I even DNF single books a lot. Like you said, I wouldn't want to waste my time reading bad books when there are so many better ones out there. I hardly read novellas. I would probably only pick them up to get a taste of the author's writing, or if I really, REALLY love the author. 😀 Sometimes I would buy the first few books in a series, expecting to love it, but end up hating the first book and just leaving the rest, untouched, on my shelf. >_<
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    • I pretty much only read novellas from authors or series that I know, otherwise I rarely pick them up from other series. Oh dear, I'm exactly the same when it comes to buying books or series that I don't like because I think I'd love them too.

  24. Ooh, this must be terribly time-consuming 😛 Thankfully I can give up on a series pretty easily if I don't like it, but I do have a bit of this in terms of I want a complete series on my shelf! I have a couple of series in which I have one book as an ebook and another as a paperback, and one day when I have enough money I'll buy the entire thing in one format 😛

    Awesome discussion, Jeann <33
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    • It is time consuming, these days I need to stay disciplined and push down the completionist part. I'm the same as well Celine, sometimes I only have book 2 or 3 lol.

  25. YES, I AM! I am a completionist when it comes to gaming and reading, And this post really nailed it perfectly. Being a completionist is really horrible, isn't it? Even though you are already so stressed, you will still plow on because life would not be the same if you're not able to complete a book series or a game.

    I really laughed when you mentioned The Mortal Instruments because that series was, uhm… It was decent but Clare got greedy when she decided to make it a 6 book series. Well, I was already happy with how City of Glass ended and then, books 4, 5 and 6 happened. Guess what? I've just bought book 6 not because I was crazy about it but because I have to complete it.

    And I think you've done the right thing for not reading the succeeding books after COG. The story of books 4 and 5 was drawn out and nothing exciting was really happening.

    Lovely post, Jeann!
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    • Absolutely, like Laura mentioned below it's definitely OCD in reading and gaming lol! Haha yeah, I kind of finished after City of Glass because it got a bit weird for me. I haven't heard good things about books 4 and 5 either. I read in your blog how you are a series completionist as well lol! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the series, I might give it a miss now.

  26. LOL…I'm the complete opposite! It takes A LOT for me to even consider continuing a series. But when I do find a series I absolutely love, I do read it all in order – novellas and all. Thanks for sharing Jeann – this is a wonderful discussion topic! <3
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  27. Oh lol I think I"m like what Emily calls a book abandonist. I don't usually read novellas unless I loved the series and I abandon series if I am not a fan or just dislike them the slightest because I cannot be bothered to waste my time on crappy books lol. As for TV shows, if I start it, I must continue till the very end.

    Awesome post, Jeann! <33

    Melanie @ YA Midnight Reads

    • I like that term as well, we've created a definition and then an antonym lol! I totally shouldn't waste my time on books like that as well. TV Shows I'm a bit less loyal because well, I have to sit there and watch them for hours XD

  28. I am not a completist, neither with gaming or with reading. There are certain games I would like to complete 100% but usually I give up long before that. I think Kingdom Hearts 1 is one of the few games where I actually got close to finishing 100%. For books I usually like to finish a series I started, but if I don't like a book I am not afraid to drop the series. I did had a hard time DNF'ing for a long time and I felt like I had to finish the book in hopes of it getting better. Well I guess you never know if thats true if you DNF, but I am glad I DNF books more easily nowadays. I don't want to spend too much time reading books I don't enjoy.
    Lola recently posted…Review: Out of Control by Victoria Green and Jinsey ReeseMy Profile

    • That's great to hear that you're not a completionist, I think mainly with Batman Arkham Asylum, Fallout 3 and FFX I finished them at 100% or close to. Yeah, I don't feel as much of the pressure with finishing a book anymore because I know there are plenty more out there that I would enjoy more.

  29. I definitely was before I found The Book Depository. I think it's because I picked books more carefully and therefore enjoyed them more but who knows. I don't think you'll regret giving up on City of Bones. I loved the first three but the 4th and 5th have been really unnecessary. I haven't got round to the 6th yet.

  30. A completionist! This is so me both in the gaming and the bookish world. I've played Fire Emblem a long time ago, but I find myself repeating it every now and then so I can try another set of support options or try leveling up all the characters by abusing the arena this playthrough.

    But when it comes to book I also learned, like you, not to suffer along with the series if they didn't work for me. I gave up the House of Night series because of its insipid characters and The Immortal series with the same reason. I also made it to book 2 of City of Bones before I dropped it. I just find that as I grow as a reader, my preference changes as well.
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    • Oh, I'm really not looking forward to the Immortal series, I bought them for cheap and they are sitting on my shelf unread lol. I dropped CoB series after the 3rd book as well, even though the series is also on my shelf. Good on you for your dedication to Fire Emblem lol

  31. Surprisingly, I never used to dnf books as well as you said, the guilt gets to me. But yeah I'd it hasn't caught on by halfway through the book then it usually doesn't later.

  32. Yesss I know what you mean about the book presence lol! Oh I only read the first 3 mortal instruments as well. There are just so many series in YA an contemporary definitely has less series! Yay for my completionist nature lol

  33. I am a 100% completionist. I know that this is not healthy especially whenever I buy physical books because I don't like incomplete ones. I waited for Allegiant to be out before I started reading Divergent which has been sitting on my bookshelf for a year before I started reading it. I bought the whole Vampire Academy set first before starting it and right after that I started the Bloodlines series which, I know, isn't complete yet that's why I really regret starting it because I don't like waiting for the next book. I am trying to modulate this but I am having a hard time. I can tolerate not completing a whole set when it comes to contemporary books but with paranormal, scifi, dystopian or fantasy books? Nuh-uh. Hate it.
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  34. I used to be a bookish completionist, haha! Even if I didn't like a series, I *HAD* to go and finish the series to satisfy a nagging feeling inside of me. "What if the next book fixes everything I disliked in the first book? What if the series gets better?" I've managed to squish those thoughts into: "Did I really like the first book?" If not, I ask myself then "Am I actually interested in finding out what happens, even if I don't like it?" If not, then I just abandon the series. 🙂
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    • Sounds like you've worked out a good system! I used to have a two book rule in the series, especially if it was an urban fantasy that would take lots of world building to get off the ground.

  35. I think I'm a bookish completionist… I can't read books in a series out of order. The order I usually follow is the "by order of publication", so as they're published, I read them. I mean there's a reason one book was published before the other, no? There are series, however, that I wouldn't touch again or think of finishing or investing my money on. I think I'm a mild completionist… Great post!
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    • That's generally a good way to follow the series, for the night huntress series it had several spinoffs spanning multiple series but I just powered through and finished the original one lol

  36. I'm both a completionist for video games and books! However, I never really end up completing everything. I remember for Final Fantasy 13, I had a trophy guide open to get all the trophies. But it never happened because I got bored. And then for Uncharted, I wanted to collect all the treasures, which isn't that hard, but I had a guide up for that as well and I didn't do it. And then there's all the Assassin's Creed games, where I try to do everything, but when I'm so close to the end, I just finish the game anyways. Then I forget about it all.

    And when it comes to books, I AM HORRIBLE at finishing series. But I will! One day! It's just that I start way too many new ones before I finish my old ones. Luckily, I just borrowed Dreams of Gods and Monsters, so that's going to be my first finished trilogy EVER. Wow this is so saddening lol. But I WILL DO IT.
    Valerie recently posted…Review: Earth StarMy Profile

    • Woah Valerie I cannot believe you haven't finished a trilogy! You are missing out on some great endings lol, maybe dreams of gods will make you want to finish them more often. Yeah, I'm usually not fussed with trophies and challenges if I just want to finish the story but I'm terrible when it comes to side quests and everything.

  37. Haha! I definitely use to be like that, too! I needed to know all the things, so that meant reading everything in order, plus the novellas (though I guess only now novellas are a big thing). But I agree, with blogging now, there's just no time to be a die hard completionist is there?

    Though I rarely DNF books (I'll power skim if I need too, lol)
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  38. I'm definitely not a completionist. I've abandoned so many series because they've gone down-hill for me. The Mortal Instruments is one for example. I also dislike reading novellas. I don't want to waste my money on some short read that isn't always necessary to the actual plot line and they are too expensive as well. But for series I enjoy though, I always complete them although it may take me years to get to finish them.
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  39. I think I'm somewhere in between, if I enjoy the series I will definitely read everything but I also have a tendency to DNF a book, or at least put it on my pause shelf when in just not getting into it. I think that's why I don't often write negative reviews, if I don't care for a book I just abandon it, and won't even exert pressure in reviewing. I don't think it's a good trait though >.<

    Great discussion, Jeann!
    Amir recently posted…Review: Merciless by Danielle VegaMy Profile

    • That's understandable, I mean why read books you don't think you'd enjoy when there are so many out there that you will? If I didn't need to review books that I've received, I'd focus on books that I think I'd enjoy too.

  40. I have the same when it comes to finishing games. If I start it, I have to do EVERYTHING. I need to get that 100% even if it takes me ages to get it. When it comes to books I'm slowly getting easier. I don't review all the books I read anymore (or only short in my 'let it go' feature' if I don't feel like I have to say much about it.) Novellas are only as 'extra' in my opinion and if I don't enjoy a series, I'm not going to put my time in it.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 273. Mary E. Pearson – The kiss of deception.My Profile

    • I know, it drives me crazy with games because I think about what a mission it is to start one to begin with lol! That's why I like the story-driven ones, because then it's less about the challenge and more about the experience. That's really good, I've been reviewing all the books that I read but I find my blog schedule can't keep up with it lol. I really like your Let It Go feature 🙂

    • I know, my bf does that all the time by peeking at endings and reading everything on wikipedia before he continues a series o_o he just needs to know whether the time spent is worth it!

  41. I am absolutely a book completionist! I just cannot help myself and I think I've gotten worse, not better, since I started blogging and reviewing. Its like I feel like I don't want to be left out of anything, just in case something awesome happens. Even if I stopped reading series years ago, I will pick them up again just to finish them and be done with it. Not always a good thing, as you've said!
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  42. I'm not that much of a completionist. I will complete the series I really like, but really, if I cannot understand nor connect, I don't see the point, there are other series out there, ones that are great for me rather than reading through series that aren't that good for me. I can totally see why you like to complete all of the things though, I myself am like that on games too, it's a curse 😉
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    • Lol its such a time consuming thing for games, luckily it's not every game I'm like that for. I'd never get anything done otherwise. I don't know about series because sometimes they get better you know?

  43. I think I am a bit of a book completionist yeah, but I'm learning to just let go of the series and books that I really am not enjoying enough, cause as you said too many books, too little time! But right now I have so many half-way series that I feel a bit overwhelmed at times!

    And yeah, if I love a series I will have to read ALL the things, novellas, prequels… time consuming yes, but if the series is good, all so worth it!! =D
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    • It is definitely overwhelming to have lots of series on the go isn't it? I've accepted it as a fact of life now. I don't usually bother with novellas unless they are free or in compendiums like four or Assassin's Blade

  44. I'd say I'm a book compleshionist and I hate DNFing books or reading series out of order. It doesnt kill me as much to drop a series but I definitely have to finish a book. Otherwise I'm consumed with guilt. But I noticed that being a blogger has sort of taken the completionist out of me because like you said. We have so much to be reading!
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  45. Oh gosh, I am the complete opposite. I am a book abandonist, I think. I've read four books in the Mortal Instruments series and gave up. I read the first Vampire Academy book, and Throne of Glass, but haven't read the rest of them yet. I'm so bad at keeping up!!! I think that's one of the reasons I like contemporary – most of them are standalones. I don't mind not finishing series except when I actually OWN all of them (rare, but still). Because then they stare at me. They STARE, Jeann.
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