11 Book Series and Collections to Binge Read

FSG Originals/Modern Library/Amazon
FSG Originals/Modern Library/Amazon / FSG Originals/Modern Library/Amazon
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You already know that now’s the ideal time to put a serious dent in your Netflix queue, but there are still plenty of great stories out there to invest days, weeks, and months into that don’t involve a TV. Don't know where to start? Check out the book series and collections that the Mental Floss staff recommends below.

1. The Southern Reach Trilogy // Jeff VanderMeer; $21 (for the trilogy)

FSG Originals/Amazon

The inspiration for the 2018 film, Annihilation is the best-known novel in the Southern Reach Trilogy, but it's just the beginning of the story. While Annihilation mainly stays within the confines of the restricted Area X, the sequels, Authority and Acceptance, expand beyond the mysterious zone to examine the agency in charge of it and the other characters involved. Jeff VanderMeer's series is a must-read for sci-fi fans looking for something wholly original. —Michele Debczak, Senior Staff Writer

Buy it: Amazon

2. His Dark Materials // Philip Pullman; $25 (for the trilogy)

Everyman's Library/Amazon

If you skim the plot summary, His Dark Materials may sound like a typical children's fantasy series. There are witches, talking animals, and two kids with mysterious fates fighting the adults who get in their way. But the books venture into territory rarely dealt with in children's literature. In The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, author Philip Pullman explores deep philosophical themes, all while weaving a thrilling adventure story readers of any age can enjoy. —M.D.

Buy it: Amazon

3. The Neapolitan Novels // Elena Ferrante; $50 (for the boxed set)

Europa Editions/Amazon

This series, available in The Neapolitan Novels boxed set, focuses on two friends who grow up in post-war Naples and follows them throughout their lives. You’ll fall in love with the characters and the world they live in, and find yourself slowing down as you approach the end, afraid to leave them all behind. —Jon Mayer, Senior Video Producer

Buy it: Amazon

4. My Struggle // Karl Ove Knausgård; Prices vary

Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Amazon

The quotidian details of this Norwegian writer add up to so much more than the sum of their parts in this autobiographical series. You’ll find yourself unable to put the books down, wondering how a seemingly inconsequential high school party from 30 years ago turned out and why you care so much. —J.M.

Buy it: Amazon

5. The Parker Novels // Richard Stark; $14 (for the first book)

University of Chicago Press/Amazon

From 1962 to 2008, crime author Donald E. Westlake (writing as Richard Stark) wrote 24 novels featuring Parker, a blunt-force object of a protagonist who makes his living stealing and grifting. Formulaic in the best way possible, the novels invariably begin with the competent Parker teaming up with dubious associates, getting double-crossed, and then exacting his revenge. (He’s a poor judge of character, but a great crook.) Westlake’s prose is lean and mean, trimmed of any excess and easily devoured over a handful of evenings. And when you're done with the novels, you can always dive into artist Darwyn Cooke's excellent graphic novel adaptations. —Jake Rossen, Senior Staff Writer

Buy it: Amazon

6. The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes // Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; $36


This collection contains all four novels and 56 short stories starring the enigmatic sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson. Though written more than a century ago, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tales have lost none of their suspense and mystery, and you'll be amazed at Holmes's unique ways of solving the cases. From the terrifying Hound of the Baskervilles to the showdown between Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty in "The Final Problem," Doyle's addictive detective stories are impossible to put down. —Kat Long, Science Editor

Buy it: Amazon

7. Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe // Edgar Allan Poe; $25

Modern Library/Amazon

Edgar Allan Poe's tales of mystery seem especially apt for these weird times. Some of his most famous stories collected in this volume, like "The Black Cat," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Masque of the Red Death," examine the psychological breakdowns of characters trapped and/or menaced by unseen enemies. So, in other words, take comfort in the fact that those guys have it worse than you. Poems like "The Raven" and "The Bells," plus Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, will keep you company during the long hours of quarantine. —K.L.

Buy it: Amazon

8. The Millennium Series // Stieg Larsson; $9 (for the first book)

Vintage Books/Amazon

Steig Larsson’s expertly crafted psychological thrillers spawned a franchise that now includes a couple films and additional novels in the series that were written after the author passed away, but his original Millennium trilogy—The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ($9), The Girl Who Played With Fire ($9), and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest ($9)—is truly binge-worthy content at its finest. If you end up pulling an all-nighter (or more) to find out what wild thing Lisbeth Salander, the haunted genius at the center of the stories, does next, you won’t have been the first one. To get an idea of what themes you'll encounter, Larsson's original Swedish title for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was Men Who Hate Women. —Ellen Gutoskey, Staff Writer

Buy it: Amazon

9. The Last Kingdom Series // Bernard Cornwell; $17 (for the first book)


The basis for Netflix’s The Last Kingdom, this series from author Bernard Cornwell tells the (lovingly embellished) real-world history of the Danes and the Saxons in the late 9th century through the lens of the fictional Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Saxon of noble blood who is kidnapped and raised as a Dane. During the course of the series, Uhtred must make peace with his conflicting identities, while also dealing with a constant barrage of battles and the political maneuvering of his newfound frenemy, Alfred the Great. There are currently 12 books in the series, and the first two—The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman—are the basis for the first season of the TV series. —Jay Serafino, Special Projects Editor

Buy it: Amazon

10. The Mars Trilogy // Kim Stanley Robinson; $35 (For the trilogy)

Bantam Spectra/Amazon

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy imagines what humanity’s inevitable presence on the Red Planet would look like, warts and all. The series begins in Red Mars, which details the growing pains and cultural difficulties of adjusting to life on a new planet. The next two books in the series continue to look at how humans terraform the once-dead Martian landscape into something more habitable for the long-term, while escalating the drama with conflicts between rival factions vying for control. —J.S.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Transmetropolitan // Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson; $12 (For book one)

DC Comics/Amazon

Meet Spider Jerusalem, a gonzo journalist in a cyberpunk future where corporate interests have hijacked the political system and the disenfranchised are spilling out onto the streets. Since no one can combat this totalitarian government by force, Jerusalem decides to wage his war through his investigative reporting, gaining the ire of every member of the establishment along the way. Writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson’s long-running sci-fi comic is as relevant (if not more so) than ever, but despite digging into real issues like prejudice and xenophobia, it does so with a biting humor that will make it nearly impossible to put down. —J.S.

Buy it: Amazon

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