Book Series to Binge Read
Winter lockdown has meant that we have often been stuck inside, struggling to find ways to pass the time. Here are some book series for you to escape into that have the added bonus of boosting your 2021 reading challenges!
The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin has been cemented in time as one of the great writers of speculative fiction. Her Earthsea fantasy series, consisting of four novels spanning from 1968 to 1990 (often published in one edition), tells the story of the archipelago Earthsea, filled with cultures unlike those of the real world. Magic is real and powerful in Earthsea, and Le Guin’s Taoist approach to it – good magic working in harmony with the natural world while bad magic poses a threat to all balance – is one of her ingenious ways of translating the balancing power of mankind to her readers. The Earthsea Quartet is a fantastically understated and profound series with themes of equilibrium and learning at its core.
The Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore
The Graceling Realm series kicked off over ten years ago with Graceling, a transformative Young Adult fantasy about a girl with the magical ability to kill her foes. The series follows an unusual structure by focusing on different lead characters for each book, each eponymously named after their protagonists – although not necessarily sequentially. The second instalment, Fire, goes back in time with a prequel story whilst the third book, Bitterblue, fast forwards to years after Graceling. In January 2021, Cashore returned at long last to the complex Graceling world in Winterkeep, which revisits some beloved characters from the previous books and expands upon the setting with new political entanglements. The reach of this series across time and distance gives it an epic tone, and the strong voices it has showcased in so many fierce female protagonists has created much excitement surrounding the newest release.
From Mum with Love and Mum’s Big Break by Louise Emma Clarke
If you enjoy taking a step into other people’s lives, these books are for you. From the blogger behind “Mum of Boys and Mabel,” this fictional mini-series will have you laughing hysterically one moment and crying into your cuppa the next. Even when the focus is on parenting ups and downs, these stories give an insight into the often-competitive world of blogging and creating an online presence. In From Mum with Love, we meet Jess just as she is taking her first tentative steps into the world of blogging. We watch as she is cascaded down the glitzy path of influencers and awards, all whilst facing the fearsome glare of Tiggy, her main competitor. In Mum’s Big Break we follow Jess as she competes for the chance to take her success to the next level – a TV show.
Published by Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus, these books are light-hearted and reflect the modern notion of living our lives under the scrutiny of social media. With blogs and side-hustles as popular as ever in recent times, these books might even provide some valuable nuggets of advice.
The Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth is the archetypal Victorian woman: she has privilege, wealth, social gatherings and silk dress fittings. But behind closed doors, she’s working on the investigation of a serial murderer. If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, this is the series for you. With a perfect blend of suspense, horror, romance and folklore augmented with real period photos, every book leaves you wanting more. There are shocking twists and turns and if you think you have guessed who's behind all the murdering, you’re wrong. Each book surpasses its predecessor as Maniscalco magnificently develops her characters and plots. The Stalking Jack the Ripper series is impossible to forget and I only wish there were more than four books!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The first The Hunger Games book was published nearly thirteen years ago, and since then it has planted itself firmly into popular culture. Whether you’ve read the books before or you know the story from the films, this may be the perfect time to revisit the adventures. This is especially true following the release of the prequel The Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes last year that reignited our fascination with the world Suzanne Collins created.
The series is so addictive that you won’t be able to put the books down until you’ve finished. If you’re looking for a story that will capture your attention and distract you from the boredom of lockdown, The Hunger Games trilogy should be your top choice.