Later in the day:
Visiting people’s blogs today has been really eye-opening. I had no idea so many people consider jumping into a series so sacrilegious! There are certain series such as Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, or Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (quick, what do those three series have in common?) where the reader would miss so much, even be lost, if they began in the middle. Yet for certain series — such as The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin or any number of paranormal mass markets I can think of — starting in the middle may not be all that bad. Personally, I find that characters are often richer, more fully developed, and have more complex emotional reactions the later on you read in a series. I don’t necessarily have to have read books 1-4 in order to enjoy the character development in book 5. Though I can understand that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, people’s visceral responses to this question have been quite enlightening!