Books in a series: how do you read them?

I recently breezed through Linda Fairstein’s newest, Silent Mercy, in her Alexander Cooper series. The plot was good, but I found I skipped whole paragraphs. Like many other series writers, she has stock situations or descriptions that supposedly round out the characters. With Alex there is her drinking, her close friends, her home on Martha’s Vineyard (and why she bought it) and for the last few books her French lover. None of these furthered the plot or developed her character at all so I just skipped those parts. John Lescroart in his Dismas Hardy books always has Dismas use his favorite cast-iron pan to cook something — and it takes up at least one paragraph. Anyone who read only a few of the books knows about his pan, so why mention it again? And Robert Jordan in his Wheel of Time series repeated frequently in the same book!

I realize some people come to a series by reading a book in the middle and so might not know these details, but I imagine if you liked that book, you would then go back and start at the beginning. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series always mentions Jack’s appreciation of his own wit, Maturin’s inability to get to or from the ship and stay dry and some other “universal truths” about the sailors. But, the comment seems to tie into something going on.

Anyone else have samples of series writers who put too much repetition into books later in the series?

Here are some other authors whose series I read:

Louise Penny

Kathy Reichs

Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle

Tana French (tho’ are these actually a series?)

Spencer Quinn

Alexander McCall Smith

P.J. Tracy

S. Rozan

Jasper Fforde

Brandon Sanderson