What to read first?
Yes, you can read book 2 before book 1, or just the one or the other.
Book 2 includes a recap with relevant scenes and notes about book 1.
You can read a single country chapter. Each country chapter has a recap with what you need to know for that part of the story.
Extracts mostly don’t contain significant spoilers and focus on discussions or statements which require little or no story background.
Starting the series with book 1 is comparable to meeting someone in kindergarten, whereas starting with book 2 is like meeting someone in your first job. There will be things you don’t know about, but you can still follow the present part of your colleagues story.
In general, book 1 is like a truckload of wholegrain bread: it’s interesting, fun, intriguing, and it’s a lot.
Book 2 has the advantage of being more varied in every respect: travelling to different countries, meeting people from all walks of life, clashes with strangers, adventures, magic, danger increasing and a lot more. It’s even more varied in the way the chapters are written. In fact, many parts of book 2 have a character of their own. There is still wholegrain included, but more of the fluffy bread roll kind, mostly.
Personally, I could reread book 1 every six month or so, while I could reread most of book 2 continually, often actually zigzagging. After all, it’s fun to return to Copacabana Beach, go through all the tensions in South Africa, be at a garden party with princes, drink with a landlady in Romania, have fun at a ball in Russia and all the other encounters … Mind you, it’s not all fun — far from it.
Book 2/1 and book 2/2. I’m not sure why I hesitate to give a recommendation on this one. It is possible to start with the one or the other or read just one of them. But it might be good to read at least Australia before book 2/2. Not because it’s necessary, more because it gives you a better sense of how different most of book 2/2 is from book 2/1. But generally, one of the good things about book 2 is its breadths and variety, and it’s actually worth it to go on the entire journey.
As for the books to come, the kindergarten/first job comparison still holds. So, yes, you will always miss out on some subjects and developments the later you enter the story. But the overall story is so diverse that I am guessing, different readers will be interested in different parts of the story anyway. And the recaps will make it possible to start at any point and even to zigzag through the story.
Reading single country chapters
It is possible to read a single country chapter. There are overlaps between the chapters and developments within the team, but each country chapter has sort of its own story.
Also, say you are only interested in colonialism or the penis trauma, then you are perfectly fine with just getting the South Africa or the China chapters respectively. Or you buy the corresponding extracts collection. In this case The beauty of modern slavery (for colonialism) or The penis trauma and other speculations about us and our sexuality.
Besides, each single country chapter includes a recap about what you need to know for this part of the story.
The price is the same whether you buy single chapters or one of the two parts of book 2.
The country by country publishing is an exception for book 2. Much later in the series, there is one other book which will be published chapter by chapter. But mostly the books of the series will be single books.
If you are wondering whether to buy the complete e-book or some single chapters, I would say the decision depends on what kind of reader you are. If you are likely to read the books in a week or two, buying the complete book is better, because the flow isn’t interrupted by recaps.
If you don’t know how much time you will have for reading, then buying country chapters might be better for you, because each country has a recap about the events which are relevant for the chapter you are going to read.
Saying all this, the single chapters of book 2 offer you an opportunity to take a peek at the series without buying a whole book. It also gives you the chance to pick a topic or two you might be particularly interested in.
I would make three recommendations, however. While Argentina stands for itself, it is preferable to read Argentina before South Africa since quite a few things happening in Argentina are relevant for South Africa. Also, when I get to the end of the Russia chapter, I always want to read on. It’s not a cliffhanger, its more like wanting to stay with the team. After all, by then they have been through a lot. And while Berlin has its own story, it’s also a wrap-up chapter, so I would say, unless you are exclusively interested in Berlin, read at the very least Russia as well or better from Otaon onwards.
If you are undecided, and you would like a quick way into the series, then I recommend the Romania chapter. It does contain one significant spoiler, but it gives a good idea of what the series is about. And it’s one of my go-to chapters when I need some cheering up.
In order to make content available to those with little time or specific interests, I compiled a few extracts collections.
These extracts usually contain conversations or statements on a specific topic.
A subject or topic is never explored in full, but you can find some interesting questions, thoughts or speculations.