Share 11 Binge-Worthy Literary Series

11 Binge-Worthy Literary Series

Emma Volk is a summer intern at Touchstone, a imprint of Simon & Schuster. She studies English at Columbia University and is the Design Editor for the Columbia Daily Spectator. While classics like THE GREAT GATSBY and THE HOUSE OF MIRTH will always hold a special place in her heart and on her shelf, she also enjoys a range of modern and literary fiction.

Like all good things, books have to come to an end, but that doesn’t make saying goodbye to your favorite characters any easier—especially if it means spending years praying for a sequel that never comes. Put off the five stages of biblio-grief just a little longer by diving into one of these series instead. Here are the first installments in several brilliant and addictive series that will have you hooked.


My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante
Female friendship is at the heart of this series by one of Italy’s most acclaimed and elusive authors. From their childhoods in a poor neighborhood of Naples to their challenging transitions to adulthood, Lila and Elena’s complicated yet profound friendship remains at the center of their emotional lives. The fourth and final installment is coming September 1.
My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante

Stuart’s Fictional Dinner Party Guests: Elena and Lila

I’d like to host a dinner with an eye on close friendships. Friendships are fascinating because they are the one relationship in life that you aren’t required to be in because of birth or bound to by law. Those in attendance would ideally have a multiple-decade friendship like Elena and Lila of MY BRILLIANT FRIEND. And even though he’s not fictional, I’d love for my best friend to be sitting at the table, too.

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My Struggle: Book 1
by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Comprised of six novels, My Struggle is a semi-autobiographical chronicle of the author’s experiences from childhood to the present day. Whether describing a fight with his father or a quotidian trip to the grocery story, Knausgaard finds a surprising rhythm and beauty in life’s struggles that makes this series a hypnotic read.

My Struggle: Book 1
Karl Ove Knausgaard

Comprised of six novels, My Struggle is a semi-autobiographical chronicle of the author’s experiences from childhood to the present day. Whether describing a fight with his father or a quotidian trip to the grocery story, Knausgaard finds a surprising rhythm and beauty in life’s struggles that makes this series a hypnotic read.

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The Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett

This two-novel epic set in medieval England centers around a Gothic cathedral and the pride, love, and greed it inspires in the townspeople affected by its creation. Political, social, and religious upheaval make for a storyline that’s fast paced and action packed without sacrificing historical detail.

The Pillars of the Earth
Ken Follett

This two-novel epic set in medieval England centers around a Gothic cathedral and the pride, love, and greed it inspires in the townspeople affected by its creation. Political, social, and religious upheaval make for a storyline that’s fast paced and action packed without sacrificing historical detail.

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By Emma Volk | August 27, 2015

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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith
Botswana’s premier lady detective Precious Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wit, wisdom, and a keen moral eye in this long-lasting and bestselling series. Compelling and good-hearted, she never forgets that she is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.”
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Alexander McCall Smith

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor—not to mention help from her loyal assistant, Grace Makutsi, and the occasional cup of tea.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
In this dark and suspenseful crime series from Sweden, a young antisocial genius and an investigative journalist team up to uncover shocking layers of secrets and scandals that permeate all levels of society. While the thrilling plot will leave you breathless, it’s Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, who will have you coming back for more.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson

Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist, and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander team up to investigate the 40 year disappearance of Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families. Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

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By Kerry Fiallo | July 3, 2017

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By Amy Hendricks | May 19, 2016

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By Aimee Boyer | March 29, 2016

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By Hilary Krutt | July 28, 2015

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By Off the Shelf Staff | September 2, 2014

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Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon
A time-traveling British nurse finds romance and adventure in eighteenth-century Scotland in this addictive modern classic that spans centuries and continents.
Outlander
Diana Gabaldon

The relationship that blossoms from friendship to love between Claire and Jamie is, well, pretty swoon-worthy. Claire is confident with a lot of spunk and Jamie is hotheaded with a lot of heart. The combination of these two could be a recipe for disaster, but they—usually—are in harmony.

Read Kara O’Rourke’s review here.

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Wolf Hall
by Hilary Mantel
Following the life of Thomas Cromwell from his humble beginnings to his rise as powerful advisor to Henry VIII to his downfall and death, the first two volumes in this projected trilogy have each won the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Deeply researched and stylishly written, Hilary Mantel’s series gives a fresh perspective on a much-discussed period of history.
Wolf Hall
Hilary Mantel

In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only Thomas Cromwell dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power. Wolf Hall re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.

“At New Year’s he had given Anne a present of silver forks. . . . He hopes she will use them to eat with, not to stick in people.” —Hilary Mantel

Claire: “What should we server the Walkers?”
Frank: “Cyanide.”
Claire: “I’m saving that for dessert. . . .”

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The New York Trilogy
by Paul Auster

Paul Auster turns the mystery genre on its head in this highly original series of novellas. Each story follows an investigation that soon turns into an obsession, making the series as much a psychological thriller as a detective story.

The New York Trilogy
Paul Auster

Paul Auster turns the mystery genre on its head in this highly original series of novellas. Each story follows an investigation that soon turns into an obsession, making the series as much a psychological thriller as a detective story.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Binge-Worthy Literary Series

By Emma Volk | August 27, 2015

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The Magicians
by Lev Grossman

With influences ranging from The Chronicles of Narnia to Harry Potter to A Game of Thrones, Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy is an enthralling, diabolically crafted coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world—where good and evil aren’t black and white and power comes at a terrible price. Dig into this series now before the Syfy adaptation hits the small screen next year.

The Magicians
Lev Grossman

With influences ranging from The Chronicles of Narnia to Harry Potter to A Game of Thrones, Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy is an enthralling, diabolically crafted coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world—where good and evil aren’t black and white and power comes at a terrible price. Dig into this series now before the Syfy adaptation hits the small screen next year.

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The Jewel in the Crown
by Paul Scott

In luminous, unsparing prose, Paul Scott records the doomed love affair of a young English woman and a British-educated Indian boy in the waning years of British colonial rule in India. Caught in the upheavals of the Second World War and the growing campaign for Indian independence, their story unfolds amidst the era’s political upheaval and social change.

The Jewel in the Crown
Paul Scott

In luminous, unsparing prose, Paul Scott records the doomed love affair of a young English woman and a British-educated Indian boy in the waning years of British colonial rule in India. Caught in the upheavals of the Second World War and the growing campaign for Indian independence, their story unfolds amidst the era’s political upheaval and social change.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Binge-Worthy Literary Series

By Emma Volk | August 27, 2015

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The Patrick Melrose Novels
by Edward St. Aubyn

The declining world of the English upper class is satirized in Edward St. Aubyn’s bleakly hilarious portrait of the privileged but self-loathing Patrick Melrose. The series charts Patrick’s journey from abused child to heroin addict to desperate father and opens a window into the amorality, snobbery, and decadence of the British aristocracy.

The Patrick Melrose Novels
Edward St. Aubyn

The declining world of the English upper class is satirized in Edward St. Aubyn’s bleakly hilarious portrait of the privileged but self-loathing Patrick Melrose. The series charts Patrick’s journey from abused child to heroin addict to desperate father and opens a window into the amorality, snobbery, and decadence of the British aristocracy.

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11 Binge-Worthy Literary Series

By Emma Volk | August 27, 2015

Some Literary Fathers You Will Be Happy Aren’t Yours

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 12, 2014

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