There’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a new novel series, is there? I love when I get to stay up late into the night, devour a novel, and then drive to the bookstore the very next morning to get my hands on the sequel. It’s so fun.
In honor of summer reading, and the one-of-a-kind desperation we feel when we just have to know what happens next …
Here are some of my favorite novel series of all time.
From Historical Fiction we have …
The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett
Several years ago, bored with most of the novels I was reading, and ready to sink my teeth into something more substantial, my friend Sally said, “Read Lymond.” I had no idea who Lymond was, author or character in a book. She explained that Francis Crawford of Lymond was a renaissance man showcased in a six-book series called the Lymond Chronicles.
The first book, The Game of Kings, and the Second is Queen’s Play. If you make it through the first one, you’ll move onto the second. And if you read the second, you’ll read the entire series. They’re dense, overwhelming twisted, filled with espionage, romance, shrewd politics, intrigue, incredibly accurate history, and a love story like no other.
These books are not for the faint of heart or the light reader. The first one is the most difficult to get through but so worth your time. I’ve read these books at least three times each. The sixth book is my ll-time favorite in the series. Some pages are worn thin and crinkled and stained from tear drops. Sigh.
The Starbridge Series by Susan Howatch.
Before I had children, and I was working at a church, someone told me about a series of novels all about the church of England. As an unabashed Anglophile, I decided to inquire about this notable series. Gary Thomas, of Sacred Marriage, quietly let me know who the author was. “There’s some salacious content,” he explained. “But they’re really good books.”
When I left the retreat, I headed to Barnes and Noble and purchased the first novel, Glittering Images, and over the next several weeks, fell head over heels in love with Charles Ashworth, Nicholas Darrow, and Jonathon Darrow. For the first time in my life, someone was writing novels about the Christian life and church ministry in real ways and with what felt like authentic life stories. Howatch taught me all about mysticism, contemplative prayer, spiritual reading, and spiritual direction. These six novels cover the church of England during the entire 20th century, along with six healing journeys of men and women who grapple their way toward God.
If you like these six novels, accompany them with Susan Howatch’s final trilogy which tells the incredible and life-changing story of various men and women who encounter a healing center in the heart of London. Howatch’s final novel, The Heartbreaker, absolutely changed my life. (More on that later!)
Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
Before I recommend these books, let me first say, these are graphic and intense novels, definitely not for squeamish or prudish readers. There’s sex, violence, war, love, hate and every bit of it drenched in historical living. Set in Scotland, England, the United States before it became the Unites States, and other various parts of the Caribbean during the 18th and 21st Centuries, you get a little and a lot of everything.
Outlander is the first of the series. Written in first person narrative, Claire Randall, WWII nurse, finds her way into time travel and falls in love with a Scottish warrior. I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning reading the first book, and devoured the rest of the series. There’s eight so far and more to come!
Top Four Mystery/Detective Series
Inspector Gamanche by Louise Penny
I am a sucker for small town murder mysteries and this series, all about Inspector Gamanche is one of my favorites. He’s a kind and gentle detective who has a deep soul and loves people. The mysteries are set in the heart of a small town in Quebec, which gives it a fun kind of flare. I discovered Still Life in one of my Kindle searches right in the middle of the summer next to a pool whilst on vacation. I loved it. Then I read the next one and the next one and then the next one … until there were no more. Now, there are several more. She’s prolific and popular. On the whole, they are pretty clean novels, filled with authentic characters who wiggle their way into your heart and mind and remain unforgettable.
Inspector Lynley of the Scotland Yard by Elizabeth George.
These are British mysteries set all across the U.K. They’re thick in character development, and plot development. There are so many Lynley novels out right now it’s not even funny. The first one in the series is called A Great Deliverance. They’re quite intense.
David Robicheaux by James Lee Burke.
Several years ago, my dad recommended these novels to me. We are voracious readers in my family and get frustrated when we can’t find anything good to read. My dad mentioned these Robicheaux novels to me and I drove to the library and checked a few out. Dave Robicheaux is an ex-cop/detective, recovering alcoholic, and a complex but committed Catholic who is trying to live a quiet life in the bayou of Louisiana buts keeps getting entangled in unsolved crime stories. The prose is incredibly rich, the literary character development kind of amazing, and the swearing and sex present and inescapable. So if you like crime, but hate swearing, these are not for you. But if you like the south, crime, and are a recovering alcoholic, you might feel like James Lee Burke is your new best friend.
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
These are some of the most heart-warming stories ever. Quick, thoughtful, full of wit and light intrigue they are absolutely perfect poolside, airplane reads. The main character is a well-endowed African woman from and living in Botswana, named Precious Ramotswe. She’s utterly delightful and overflowing with compassion, courage, and grounded willingness to help whomever is in need of a private detective. She drives a tiny little bus, loves to drink tea, and ends up having some great adventures. Over all there are now eighteen books in this series. I’ve read ten or eleven of them, and was just thinking I’d read a few more this summer.
I haven’t even covered Fantasy or YA novels!
How about you? What are some of your all-time favorite book series?
Don’t miss Monday’s Post, The Pleasure and Art of Reading which was filled with all sorts of interesting bits and pieces, fun links to my favorite books, along with thoughtful words on my love for literature.
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