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The 53 Best Book Series of All Time

The 53 Best Book Series of All Time

With new books being published every single day, figuring out your next read can be a daunting task. Lucky for you, we’ve created a list of the 53 best book series of all time — ranging from fantasy and science fiction to romance and thriller — to keep you occupied for days (or, in some cases, weeks or months!). While these series aren’t ranked by any means, there’s bound to be something in here for everyone.

The Shadow of the Wind

1. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books by Carlos Ruiz ZafĂłn

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Set in a Barcelona far from the picture-perfect city seen on tourist postcards, Zafón’s popular four-novel Gothic series primarily follows Daniel Sempere, the son of a bookshop owner who becomes obsessed with finding the elusive author of a rare book titled The Shadow of the Wind. Zafón’s series notably includes a hidden labyrinthine library, so if you consider yourself a bibliophile, don’t miss out on this series.

The Gunslinger(The Dark Tower I)

2. The Dark Tower by Stephen King

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You’ve probably heard of The Shining, It, and Carrie, but did you know that the King of Horror also has a series of post-apocalyptic fantasy novels under his belt? Set in a magical parallel universe similar to the Old West, The Dark Tower follows Roland Deschain of Gilead, a member of a knightly order of gunslingers. While attempting to complete his quest to locate the Dark Tower, the nexus point of all universes, he encounters several terrifying creatures, from gigantic cyborg bears and vampires to large lobster-like monsters.

Only The Innocent (Tom Douglas Thrillers Book 1)

3. DCI Tom Douglas by Rachel Abbott

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Abbott is known as a trailblazer in the indie publishing community for becoming the first-ever self-published author to reach #1 on Amazon. Her most popular series, which has sold over 4 million copies to date, centers around Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas, a Manchester cop tasked with solving complex cases involving a murdered billionaire philanthropist, a missing husband and daughter, and so much more.

Crazy Rich Asians

4. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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When American-born Rachel Chu travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick’s family, she soon discovers that he comes from one of the wealthiest families in Asia. Throughout Kwan’s series, Rachel’s relationship with Nick is put to the test as she deals with his controlling mother, inheritance disputes, the secret of her biological father, and a whole lot of other family drama. Though the storytelling isn’t always the most subtle, there are many guilty pleasures to be found in spending a few hundred pages immersed in a madness-inducing level of wealth. Perfect beach reads.

My Brilliant Friend

5. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

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This beloved series follows the 60-year friendship between two Italian women who grew up in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. From the late 1950s until the present day, the two friends go down different paths — one pursues her dreams of becoming a novelist, while the other becomes trapped in a violent relationship — and experience love, jealousy, hope, and despair as the world inevitably changes around them.

Heartstopper: Volume 1

6. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

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In this moving coming-of-age series, soft-hearted rugby-playing jock Nick and shy, anxious nerd Charlie become friends after first meeting each other at school. As they spend more time together, however, they realize that they long to be something more. In addition to Nick and Charlie’s love story, Oseman also uses the series to explore the relationships and lives of their LGBTQ+ friends, some of whom experience gender transition, toxic relationships, and mental health struggles.

A Wizard of Earthsea

7. The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Set in an archipelago of hundreds of islands known as Earthsea, this high fantasy series explores the coming of age of three different characters: a young mage named Ged who becomes one of the most powerful wizards in the world; a girl named Tenar who is raised to become a high priestess; and a prince named Arren who is destined to become the next king. Le Guin was notably ahead of her time, having written about protagonists of color before this became more common in contemporary fantasy literature. She was also vocal about assumptions “commonly made about fantasy” that the main characters within the genre are always white. As groundbreaking as it is gripping, there’s a reason Earthsea is considered a seminal text for today’s fantasy authors.

The Three-Body Problem

8. Remembrance of Earth's Past by Cixin Liu

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For over a century, humans have tried contacting extraterrestrial life — but what happens when the aliens finally reply? In Liu’s bestselling series, whose title is a nod to Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, humanity starts preparing for an interstellar arrival. While some humans look forward to welcoming these visitors, many others make plans to defend themselves from an invasion. At the center of it all is Wang Miao, a nanotechnology professor who starts playing a mysterious virtual reality video game that’s somehow connected to the extinction-level threat humanity’s facing.

Holy Island: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries)

9. The DCI Ryan Mysteries by LJ Ross

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If you’re looking for a spin on British crime thrillers, give this series a try — unlike countless detective mysteries set in London, Ross’ books are set in atmospheric locations around North East England. Ross, who hails from Northumberland, trained as a barrister before becoming a successful self-published author and “The Queen of Kindle.” Each book of her bestselling series revolves around Detective Chief Inspector Maxwell Finley-Ryan as he attempts to take down serial killers, cult members, and many other notorious figures.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters Book 1)

10. The Brown Sisters by Talia Hibbert

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Join chronically ill computer geek Chloe Brown and her sisters, whipsmart Ph.D. student Dani and “certified hot mess” Eve, as they fall in love with a handyman, a security guard, and a B&B owner, respectively. Throw in some fake dating, swoon-worthy banter, and a car “accident,” and you’ve got a witty romance series that’ll keep you engaged for hours.

The Sympathizer

11. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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A political prisoner and former Communist spy from North Vietnam is forced by his captor to write a confession. What does he put on the page, and what does he try to hide? From his time working for the South Vietnamese government to his life overseas following the fall of Saigon, the unnamed narrator of this Pulitzer-winning novel talks about cultural duality, experiencing racism as a refugee in the United States, and coming to terms with where his loyalties truly lie.

The Hunger Games

12. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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This bestselling YA trilogy follows Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl who lives in a dystopian fascist state where children from different districts must fight to the death in a televised competition known as the Hunger Games. When Katniss’ younger sister is chosen as the female tribute of her district, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Throughout the series, Katniss must find ways to stay alive in the hopes of inspiring rebellion among the districts against the oppressive Capitol.

She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor Duology, 1)

13. The Radiant Emperor Duology by Shelley Parker-Chan

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In this queer historical fantasy set in 14th-century China, a fortune teller sets the end of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty in motion as she reads the fate of two peasant children. The boy, Zhu Chongba, is destined for greatness, while his sister is destined for nothingness. However, after their family is attacked by bandits, Zhu dies and his sister ends up claiming his identity. She flees to a Buddhist monastery and spends years pretending to be a boy before joining a group of rebels fighting against Mongol rule in China. But just how does she end up becoming the emperor of China? And will anyone ever find out who she truly is? You’ll have to read to find out.

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse Book 1)

14. The Expanse Book by James S. A. Corey

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If you’ve always wanted to collaborate with your best friend on a creative project, turn to The Expense for inspiration — this popular sci-fi series, which won the highly coveted Hugo Award for Best Series in 2020, was written by good friends Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham under the joint pen name James S. A. Corey. Franck, who previously worked as George R. R. Martin’s personal assistant, and Abraham, who wrote the comic book adaptation of A Game of Thrones, started writing books together in 2011 about a future in which humanity has colonized the Solar System. After the last volume in their nine-book epic was published almost a decade later, The Expanse had achieved worldwide fame and even got an Amazon Prime adaptation to boot.

Arsenic and Adobo

15. A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery by Mia P. Manansala

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Moving back home after a bad breakup, Lila Macapagal was hoping to find a crumb of peace and stability. But when a customer drops dead in her family’s Filipino restaurant, all eyes are on her — after all, she was the one who cooked the victim’s last meal. Setting out to prove her innocence, Lila’s investigation inadvertently leads to a new family bonding activity: solving crimes.


16. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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When 20th-century British nurse Claire Randall touches an ancient stone, she unexpectedly travels back in time to 18th-century Scotland. Throughout Gabaldon’s series — which notably rose in popularity following the release of Starz’s TV adaptation of the same name — Claire and a handsome Scottish warrior named Jamie Fraser meet, fall in love, and find themselves in the middle of several important historical events, such as the Jacobite Rising of 1745 and the American Revolutionary War.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone

17. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

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Despite initially being marketed as children’s literature, the Harry Potter series has transcended its middle-grade roots to become an all-ages hit. With its successful film adaptations, video games, theme parks, and thriving official fan club, there’s no denying that Rowling’s series is permanently ingrained in pop culture — in fact, a 2011 study found that around a third of all American adults aged 18 to 34 had read at least one of the books about The Boy Who Lived.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

18. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

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Who would you visit if you could go back in time? In one particular back-street cafe in Tokyo, customers have the chance to time-travel by sitting in a special seat. However, they must follow a strange set of rules and accept that anything they do in the past will not affect the future.

Throughout the series, readers will meet a wide range of characters with moving stories, from a grief-stricken sister and a remorseful lover to a couple struggling with Alzheimer’s. If you’re looking for a bitter cup of coffee and poignant tales of hope, regret, and nostalgia, you’ll want to curl up with an entry or two of Kawaguchi’s bestselling series.

The Cleaner (John Milton Series Book 1)

19. John Milton by Mark Dawson

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After a mission goes horribly wrong, government assassin John Milton goes off the grid in an attempt to start anew — but he soon discovers that years of state-sanctioned murder aren’t that easy to leave behind. Thanks to his encounters with new friends and allies, he soon sets out on his own new mission: to use his killer expertise for good.

Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, Book 1)

20. The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

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Rice’s series first became popular for its reinvention of vampires as tormented, complicated creatures — displaying a humanity that’s a far cry from Bram Stoker’s soulless, selfish Dracula. Best known for its first entry, 1976’s Interview with the Vampire (made into a film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt), the series would eventually expand to 13 books over the next 42 years. These entries would mostly center on nobleman-turned-vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, who struggles with questions of mortality and the meaning of life from his time in France in the late 1700s to Miami in the 1990s.

The Other Name: Septology I-II (Septology, 1)

21. Septology by Jon Fosse

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An aging artist and widower named Asle starts ruminating on loneliness, faith, and the human condition after encountering his doppelgänger on the west coast of Norway. If you’re a fan of novels that experiment with language, pacing, and the formality of writing itself, you’re in luck — Fosse’s melancholic seven-book series is told in a single, run-on sentence. Having recently stepped into the spotlight with his 2023 Nobel Prize, Fosse is now a major player in the international literary scene — and despite its length, Septology may be the perfect entry point into his unique voice.

The Heretics of De'Ath (The Chronicles of Brother Hermitage Book 1)

22. The Chronicles of Brother Hermitage by Howard of Warwick

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Are you a mystery fan looking to expand your literary horizons? Take a look at this medieval crime comedy series set in 11th-century England, where an average monk and his trusty companion set off on adventures to find the murderers of seemingly innocent victims. Although it’s far from historically accurate (history buffs beware!), it promises lots of laughs and a jolly good time.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw (The Indian Lake Trilogy Book 1)

23. The Indian Lake Trilogy by Stephen Graham Jones

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When Jade, a half-Native American teenager obsessed with slasher movies, hears that two young tourists have gone missing in her hometown of Proofrock, Idaho, she’s convinced that the plot of a horror film is unfolding right before her very eyes. Is she right, or is it all in her head? Jones’ gripping, gory series is the perfect read for fans of classic slasher cinema.

The Hate U Give

24. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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After witnessing a white police officer kill her friend Khalil, 16-year-old Starr Carter seeks justice by publicly speaking up about the shooting. However, she soon discovers that the authorities aren’t interested in finding out the truth — in fact, they focus on Khalil’s involvement in drug dealing and gangs to downplay his innocence. Throughout the series, Starr and her father, Maverick, are faced with questions of identity, individuality, and loyalty as they struggle to stay true to themselves while fighting for what’s right.

The Golem and the Jinni

25. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

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Drop two magical creatures — one an anthropomorphic being made of clay, the other a wandering spirit — onto the streets of New York in the late 19th century and you have the basis of this popular historical fiction and fantasy series. Wecker weaves strands of Middle Eastern and Yiddish literature into these books, exploring themes of freedom and confinement, identity, and deceit through the friendship of her two protagonists, Chava and Ahmad.

Parable of the Sower

26. Earthseed by Octavia E. Butler

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Set in a post-apocalyptic Earth suffering from water shortages, economic crises, and global climate change, Butler’s speculative fiction series follows Lauren Olamina, a 15-year-old girl who lives with her family in a walled community near Los Angeles. Lauren and her neighbors are sheltered from the thieves, killers, and vagabonds on the other side of the walls — until the day their gate is broken down.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

27. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

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In 1966, a member of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden mysteriously vanishes. Forty years later, a talented hacker named Lisbeth Salander finds herself teaming up with disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist to uncover the truth about the long-lost woman and the secrets her family has kept buried for decades.

Wolf Hall: A Novel

28. The Wolf Hall Trilogy by Hilary Mantel

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Three breeze block-sized books chronicling the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell set against the English Reformation might not sound like everybody’s idea of an easy read. However, in the hands of Mantel, this series became a hit with historical scholars, literary snobs, and everyday readers alike. On the back of watertight research, Mantel manages to turn what could have been a historical textbook into a gripping narrative that’s funny, humane, and shockingly beautiful at times.

Fun fact: Only three sequels in a series have won the Booker Prize, with Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies being one of them.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

29. Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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When Mexican-American teenagers Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana meet at their local swimming pool, they quickly bond over their unconventional first names. Sáenz’s coming-of-age series follows their friendship as they navigate sexuality, family relationships, racial and ethnic identity, and a budding romance in El Paso, Texas, in the 1980s.

Sea of Poppies: A Novel (The Ibis Trilogy, 1)

30. The Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh

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What happens when various characters of different backgrounds all find themselves aboard a former slave ship? The Ibis Trilogy follows the stories of a pious widow, an African American sailor, an Indian monarch, and an opium trader as they seek new lives aboard a schooner called the Ibis. However, they soon discover that life at sea during the height of the opium trade comes with its own unique set of challenges.

The Golden Compass

31. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

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Have you ever considered the possibility of multiverses? In Pullman’s popular fantasy series, resourceful orphan Lyra Belacqua is whisked away on adventures across parallel universes and eventually finds herself in the middle of a war between several deity figures and her cavalier uncle. If you’re looking for an escapist read filled with magic, steampunk airships, and talking animals, this series just might be for you.


32. Dune by Frank Herbert

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After being rejected by 20 mainstream publishers, Herbert’s magnum opus was finally published in 1965 by an automotive manuals publisher (yes, you read that right). His series made waves at the time, standing out as unique in a sea of hard science fiction due to its feudal system spanning galaxies, its religions drawing from several cultures, and the absence of advanced computers and similar technology — despite being set over 20,000 years into the future.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

33. Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie

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If you’re up for a challenge, consider reading all 33 stories from the Queen of Crime's series featuring world-renowned Belgian private detective Hercule Poirot. In each of the books, Poirot employs his “little grey cells” (and magnificent mustache) to investigate complex cases and murders in England — occasionally taking an overseas trip to places such as Egypt and France when he’s in need of a getaway.

Things Fall Apart (Penguin Modern Classics)

34. The African Trilogy by Chinua Achebe

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This revolutionary series cemented Achebe’s place in world literature as the leading figure of African fiction. Filtered through themes of power, cultural identity, and masculinity, Achebe depicts the lives of three generations of a Nigerian community affected by European colonialism and Christian missionaries. Things Fall Apart, the first novel in the series, is frequently cited as the most-read book in modern African literature.

The Other Boleyn Girl

35. The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels by Philippa Gregory

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While they may not be the most historically accurate books out there, this bestselling series is responsible for rekindling public interest in the terrible Tudors — and is the perfect read for anyone seeking an escape to 16th-century England. In the span of 15 novels, Gregory introduces readers to a vast cast of characters — from the Boleyn sisters and Lady Jane Grey to Elizabeth I — all of whom are entwined in courtly intrigue, royal scandals, steamy affairs, and a touch of espionage.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, 1)

36. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

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What if Greek gods and goddesses secretly lived among us? After 12-year-old boy Percy Jackson finds out he’s the son of the god Poseidon, he ends up at Camp Half-Blood, a place where other demigods like him are safe from monsters and other enemies. But Percy can’t stay there forever — as a nefarious group of immortals known as the Titans grows in power, he and his demigod friends must work together to put a stop to these foes once and for all.

All the Pretty Horses: Book 1 of The Border Trilogy

37. The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy

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Fans of old westerns or the hit video game Red Dead Redemption will delight in the dusty, folksy charm of this series. Its books mostly take place on the border between Mexico and the American Southwest and follow two teenage cowboys, John Grady Cole and Billy Parham, as they embark on perilous adventures and witness the decline of cattle ranches across the Southern United States.

An Ember in the Ashes

38. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Set in a fantasy world inspired by the history of Ancient Rome, An Ember in the Ashes centers around Laia of Serra, a teenager who attempts to save her arrested brother by becoming a spy, and Elias Veturius, the top student of an elite military institute that breeds soldiers loyal to the empire. Throughout Tahir’s series, Laia and Elias must work together to escape their oppressive empire, break Laia’s brother out of prison, and stop an impending apocalypse.

Welcome to Dead House (Classic Goosebumps #13)

39. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

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For thrill-seeking readers both young and old (but mainly young), this series is a staple. Each book in Stine’s popular horror series centers around a tween or teen protagonist who typically faces off against supernatural or paranormal creatures. From evil blobs of goo and haunted masks to monster librarians and creepy living dolls, the creations in Stine’s books are terrifying enough to make you scream, “Ermahgerd!”

The Handmaid's Tale

40. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

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In this disturbing dystopian fable, women in a near-future America are powerless. Offred, the narrator of the series’ first book, lives in the Republic of Gilead and is forced to become one of the Handmaidens, a group of women who must produce children for Gilead’s ruling class of men. Since its publication in 1985, the first book in the series has only become more relevant over time and even spawned a popular five-season TV series adaptation on Hulu, which most likely inspired Atwood to finally release a long-awaited sequel to her hit novel in 2019.

The Eye of the World

41. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan with Brandon Sanderson

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What if we lived in a world where time is cyclical rather than linear? This high fantasy series explores the concept of time by featuring a magic-filled world set in both the distant past and the distant future. After Jordan completed 12 volumes of the series, he asked his wife, Harriet McDougal, to find someone to finish it due to his deteriorating health. McDougal eventually chose Sanderson to pick up where her husband left off, giving him Jordan’s extensive notes to write the series’ final volumes.

The Giver (1) (Giver Quartet)

42. The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

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What would you sacrifice to live in a society without pain and strife? In Lowry’s futuristic dystopian world, four different children — Jonas, Kira, Matty, and Claire — slowly discover their communities’ dark secrets, where draconian acts such as slaughtering infants and distributing emotion-suppressing pills are the price to pay for creating a thriving, peaceful society.

In the Woods: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad)

43. Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French

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In this series, Rob Ryan, Cassie Maddox, Frank Mackey, and a slew of other Irish detectives solve puzzling cases involving doppelgangers, murdered children, and more in their respective books. French puts a spin on the typical detective series by having each subsequent book narrated by a secondary character from a previous one.

The Magician's Nephew

44. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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What do you think of when you hear the word Narnia? For most people, a faun, a magical portal in a wardrobe, and a box of Turkish delight come to mind, but did you know that Lewis wrote six other fantasy books in addition to his popular novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? The Chronicles of Narnia mostly centers around the adventures of different children who are transported to the mystical world of Narnia. Life there, however, is not all fun and games — when power-hungry figures such as the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle wreak havoc, the children must step up and find a way to save this magical land.


45. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

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In 1966, this series made history as the first and only recipient of the Best All-Time Series award at the prestigious Hugo Awards. Foundation mostly centers around Hari Seldon, a mathematics professor who develops psychohistory, a type of science that lets him predict the future using history, sociology, and statistics. Seldon and his followers use psychohistory to predict important events in the Galactic Empire, including its eventual demise, and collaborate with the best scholars and scientists in the galaxy to create a new cultural and scientific preserve known as the Foundation.

A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire)

46. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

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This epic fantasy series, which HBO adapted for its hit show Game of Thrones, is set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos and follows dozens of characters across three interwoven plotlines: the growing threat of the Others, a powerful group of supernatural humanoid beings from the north of Westeros; a civil war among various families for control of Westeros; and the journey of Daenerys Targaryen, the exiled daughter of a deposed Westerosi king whose main ambition in life is to ascend the throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

The Dry: A Novel

47. Aaron Falk by Jane Harper

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The Queen of Outback Noir’s bestselling trilogy, which is set in rural Australia, follows police officer Aaron Falk as he uncovers the truth behind the disappearances of two women and the mysterious murder of a girl from Kiewarra, his hometown. During his investigations, Falk unearths more than just the names of potential suspects — he also digs up long-held secrets that force him to reconsider what he previously believed about Kiewarra.

The Fifth Season

48. The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

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Between 2015 and 2017, Jemisin had a stranglehold on the Hugo Award for Best Novel with each entry in this epic science fiction series, so we think it’s safe to say that it’s worth checking out. Jemisin’s books are set in a single supercontinent called the Stillness, which experiences disastrous climate change every few hundred years. When these geological cataclysms, known as Fifth Seasons, occur, orogenes are called upon to keep humanity safe from impending volcanic winter. But despite their great ability to control energy and earthquakes, orogenes face fear and persecution from the people of the Stillness, and it’s this contradiction that drives the story of Jemisin’s trilogy.

Wars of the Roses: Stormbird

49. Wars of the Roses by Conn Iggulden

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It’s 1437, and a new king has ascended the throne of England. But unlike his father, the country’s previous monarch, Henry VI is shy, gentle, and timid. Several of his subjects — including Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York — begin questioning his ability to rule an entire nation. Thus begins Iggulden’s creative retelling of the Wars of the Roses, which follows two families who ignite a decades-long civil war over the fate of the throne.

A Study in Scarlet

50. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

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While he may not be the first-ever detective in fiction, Sherlock Holmes is arguably the most famous. Countless films, TV series, and stage plays featuring the self-proclaimed “consulting detective” have been produced over the years, but if you’ve got the time, consider exploring the Sherlock Holmes canon — there are four novels and 56 short stories to choose from! Do you have what it takes to solve a crime before Holmes and his trusty associate Watson can?

Gardens of the Moon

51. Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

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Despite not even giving his fictional world an official name, Erikson has created a millions-strong fanbase with his intricate series of epic fantasy novels. His books trace a time of unrest in the  Malazan Empire and weave together different settings, themes, narratives, and subplots in a semi-linear fashion. Erikson himself once noted that his fictional world’s magic system is meant to be egalitarian, meaning that, unlike the real world, anyone — regardless of their gender — has the chance to rise to power.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Book 1 of the 'Karla' trilogy)

52. The Karla Trilogy by John le Carré

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Written as an antidote to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, le Carré’s novels starring veteran spy George Smiley are anything but glamorous. Largely set in the smoke-filled corridors of “The Circus” (the fictional headquarters for the British Intelligence Service), these books pull back the curtain on the fascinatingly mundane existence of government operatives as they square off against “Karla,” the Kremlin’s mysterious spymaster.

Le Carré himself was an MI5 officer, so this is a world he knew intimately — and in a case of life imitating art, many of the terms he coined in his books (“mole,” “tradecraft,” “honeytrap”) have since been adopted by spies and civilians alike.

The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings

53. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Tolkien’s Middle Earth epic is the most celebrated fantasy series ever written. Now immortalized on the big screen with a handsome and faithful adaptation, The Lord of the Rings novels still hold some surprises for fans who have only seen the films (just google “Tom Bombadil”). Following the hobbit Frodo Baggins and his multicultural “fellowship” on their quest to destroy an all-powerful Ring and keep it out of the clutches of the Dark Lord Sauron, these books will likely continue to delight readers for generations to come.

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