Staff Picks: Books in Series
Many readers enjoy getting involved in series fiction—a collection of three or more titles that generally follow a common theme, setting, story arc or set of characters.
Series fiction has long been popular, as either stand alone books with separate titles or as “serialized fiction” that appears in segments in weekly or monthly installments within other publications. During England’s Victorian era, serialized fiction’s popularity soared because more people were becoming literate and printing was becoming more economically feasible. Many authors, now deemed as classical authors, published their works in series installments in weekly or monthly magazines. Most famous among them was Charles Dickens, whose The Pickwick Papers was first published in 1836. Other authors whose works first appeared in this type of serial publication were Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, Henry James, Wilkie Collins and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In modern times, authors including Alexander McCall Smith, Stephen King and Michael Chabon have published works in this serialized format. (Wikipedia)
In the past few years it seems that book series have become increasingly popular at the library in virtually every genre—from historical fiction to science fiction and fantasy. And while often a single book in a series can be read as a stand alone, more often, human nature prevails, and the reader wants to read every title in the series, in the proper order. It isn’t always easy to determine which order to read titles in, especially if the author hasn’t written them in the order in which events occur. C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia series out of chronological order–and readers still debate whether to read them in the order they were written or chronologically.
To satisfy your craving for books in series, consider our recommendations below.
The Magician series by Lev Grossman
This series focuses on Quentin Coldwater, who as a high school senior discovers he has been routed to Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy where he goes through his magical education. Later as he and his friends try to find their way in the world, they learn that the magical world of a book series from their childhoods is real and could pose real dangers for humanity. For those who enjoy entering a different world in books, this is a good choice. Be warned, though, it’s a young adult series, so young adult angst is ever present.
Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
This series of six titles follows the lives of a group of Shadowhunters—a hybrid race descended from angels and the Biblical character Jonathon—whose purpose on earth is to protect humans and the world from demons and other evil. Despite her mother’s attempts to keep her from her destiny, Clary Fray discovers a world that exists parallel to the one she was raised in and protected from. Another series intended for teens, this collection of stories is quite popular with adults as well. There’s lots of suspense and action and a bit of romance along with the supernatural bent of the stories.
Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
A prequel to Clare’s “Mortal Instruments,” this series introduces the villain Mortmain who creates a clockwork army in an effort to destroy the Shadowhunters. Like the “Mortal Instruments” series, Clare fills her stories with action, suspense, the supernatural and a bit of romance. This series can be read before or after “Mortal Instruments” without any risk of spoilers.
The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
Now a popular television series, the Outlander series is comprised of eight novels (the ninth is in the works) that combine historical fiction, sci-fi and romance and cross two centuries. The story begins in 1946 as Claire, a British Army nurse and her husband, Frank honeymoon in Inverness, Scotland. When Claire walks through a standing stone on one of the many ancient circles that dot the British Isles she is transported to 1743, leaving her husband Frank and the world she knows behind. There she meets and falls in love with Jamie Fraser, a fierce fighter in eighteenth century Scotland. Claire’s medical skills, and her knowledge of the historical events unfolding around her, play a huge part throughout the series. Readers will be enthralled by the historical events retold, the insight into 18th century medicine and the sheer romance of Claire and James. In addition to the novels in the series, there are related novellas and short stories, a graphic novel and a two-volume companion.
Other books in series:
Winston Churchill Series by Michael Dobbs
Stephanie Plum Mystery Series by Janet Evanovich
Century Trilogy by Ken Follett
Plantagenet and Tudor series by Phillipa Gregory
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Happy Series Reading!
Dawn & Lisa, Library Administration