It's the literary equivalent of a weekend Netflix session--book bingeing. With so many current publications leaving us cliffhanging for a year before the second or third book comes out, it's nice every now and then to pick up a complete, addictive series to consume our lives for a few weeks.
As a habitual literary binge reader, I am always searching for my next fix, whether its YA, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy. The top things I look for in a literary binge are:
- compelling, three-dimensional characters
- unpredictable plots
- strong emotional twists
- original, believable world building
- the more books, the better!
Here are my top four go-to binge series. Most of these I've read over and over again, and they get better every time. If you're looking for something not only to read, but to be completely, wholly absorbed in, here's where you start:
1. The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
I stumbled on this series entirely by accident while I was writing a book with an MC named Miles and decided to see if there were any Mileses in other SFF. Turns out, there was one, and while the sound of this story didn't impress me much at first, I decided to check it out, and downloaded the audio version. Best. Decision. EVER.
Imagine Tyrion Lannister in space, and you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect from Lois McMaster Bujold's addictive character Miles Vorkosigan. It doesn't hurt that Bujold is one of the most highly decorated SFF writers there is with multiple Hugos, Nebulas, and other awards under her belt. While reading the Vorkosigan books, I went from peals of laughter to bated breath to tears as this quirky, brilliant character leaped from one escapade to the next alongside a host of terrifying, hilarious, and fully dimensional side characters.
These books are literary Pringles. You can't read just one. And with 16 novels and 6 novellas, this is one series to keep you busy for a while.
2. Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
This Australian series remains one of my favorite YA stories out there. It's a huge hit Down Under, even spawning a pretty good movie starring Caitlin Stasey (CW's Reign) and Pheobe Tonkin (CW's The Originals). The movie is available on Netflix under the same name, but I HIGHLY recommend reading the book before you watch. There are six books in the series and each installment is short enough to finish in a day or two--perfect binge material!
The story is convincingly narrated by Ellie, a teen in rural Australia. She and her friends set out on a camping expedition, and while they're gone, Australia is invaded by a foreign army. Ellie and her friends transform from normal teens into guerrilla fighters with heart-wrenching believability and emotion.
It's like Red Dawn: Outback Edition, but so much better. Oh, and bring a box of tissues. Um. Make that two boxes.
3. The Farseer/Tawny Man sextet by Robin Hobb
For the high fantasy lovers out there, if you haven't discovered Robin Hobb yet, then you're doing it wrong. She's right up there with Lois McMaster Bujold as Writers I Most Admire And Want To Be When I Grow Up. I had the immense pleasure of meeting her at the Decatur Book Festival (she is all kinds of classy) in 2012, and when she came to my signing and got a copy of Origin, I couldn't even handle it--I cried.
I picked up the first Farseer book, Assassin's Apprentice, off the shelf of the antique store I worked at part time after college, and sneaked chapters in between my boss coming in and out of the shop (hey, I never said I was a model employee). The series is broken into two trilogies: the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy. The two flow seamlessly together, and contain my all-time favorite literary bromance. Expect no fantasy cliches here! The originality and unpredictability of these books is stunning. But the tears, man. I've read the series through twice now, and I think I wept even more then second time around. The worldbuilding is superb, but it's the characters in these books that rip your heart out and put your emotions through the wash.
And the best part? The last book came out a decade ago, but Hobb just announced that a new trilogy featuring the same characters is in the works--so that's three more books to look forward to! And if you, like me, get to the end of these six and still need more--don't worry. Hobb has 11 other books, most of which are set in the same world as these ones, and 11 more books under pen name Megan Lindholm. Talk about a binge.
4. Dark Tower series by Stephen KingThough I'm not a big fan of his horror, I adore Stephen King's weird, grotesque, unpredictable fantasy epic about The Dark Tower. King has called it his magnum opus and his homage to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. It's dark, odd, and completely King, and if you're a fan of his larger body of works, you're in for a special treat--Easter eggs are hidden all throughout the books. You'll meet characters, objects, and hints from many of his other books dropped all over Midworld.
With his usual skill, King creates fully real characters inhabiting a world both familiar and bizarre. He combines medieval quest lines with Wild Western settings and sci-fi time-space bending in a strange goulash that shouldn't work, but somehow does.
There's no predicting what will happen in this epic that spans worlds, times, and genres--so the best thing to do is sit back, open your mind, and let the story take over.
I love these book so much, am so confident you will love them too, that I'm going to put my money where my mouth is by giving away the first book in each of these series to one lucky winner! Use the form below to enter. Warning: prizes may be addictive and prone to CONSUMING YOUR LIFE. Contest open to USA/Canada only!