The Comfort of a Series…

There is a real comfort in being able to open the pages of a book, cosy in your perfect reading spot, and being surrounded by a world that is familiar and where you are joined by some of your favourite characters. To me this is the joy of having an ongoing favourite series, and it’s been a saviour in the last few days after what had been a severe bout of readers block.

I had got myself into a vicious thought circuit of ‘why am I not reading anything, why am I not reading anything, why am I not reading anything’ last week, something I seem to do which I am aware only adds to the pressure but it can’t be helped. I was well aware I had a few of the submissions for The Green Carnation Prize to get through, which has involved some stunning reading, as we announce the longlist in just over a fortnight – but I needed a break. I instantly thought ‘right time for something completely different’ and so pulled down the next of M.C. Beatons Agatha Raisin novels ‘Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell’ (if anyone is sniggering, these are awesome books) and before I knew it I had devoured that and polished off the next one ‘Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came’. Then I got what I call ‘series guilt’.

In my mind ‘series guilt’, though maybe guilt isn’t quite the right word, is rather like when you have an author binge. You read one, want to read more and then think ‘hang on I have almost read all their books and I have no idea when the next one is out’. In the case of Agatha Raisin this doesn’t really apply, I have another eight (as I read two out of sync) to go. Yet I do get this with other series I read. Hence why I have stopped with Sophie Hannah, Paul Magrs etc, I don’t quite know when the next one will be so am saving the latest one for a while instead.

There are however three series that I will be playing catch up with as a bit of a reading treat for myself and because I know that I have quite a few more of the series of Susan Hill, Val McDermid and Tess Gerritsen to go. So expect to see these three books featured in more detail…


Isn’t it odd that these series are all crimes, well and one spooky-goings-on series? I think I need to be looking outside of the box. Though they are perfect for this time of year as autumn starts to show its true colours. I have also thought that the only way to not have to worry if a series is running out is to find some more to get into the swing of, and this is where you come in.  I would like your recommendations for some new series to find.

So I wondered if you would share your favourite series (or two) with me but also if you could let me know of any series of books which aren’t of a ‘genre’ so I can branch out. The only one I can think of at the moment is Anthony Trollope’s ‘Barchester Towers’. I know there are many more than just those, can you help?


Filed under Book Thoughts

30 responses to “The Comfort of a Series…

  1. Louise

    I love the Agatha Raisin books, perfect any time of the year. Tess Gerritsen and Val McDermid are two of my faves and I do stay up to date with them. I do also like Harry Hole, Roy Grace, Dexter, Sookie Stackhouse ( I love it!) Matthew Shardlake, Inspector Van Veeteren, Inspector Mella (Asa Larsson) Patrik Hedstrom series, and plenty more. I have recently discovered, the Outlander series, I didn’t think it was my thing at all, but I secretly love it! 😉

    • Wow, you really are a series fan Louise. I started the Harry Hole, lost the edge with them, though I may return. Not heard of some of the others so will look them up. I think it might be time for another Agatha actually.

  2. I love series reading too, and most of mine tend to be crime as well! I highly recommend Susanna Gregory’s Matthew Bartholomew series set in 14th century Cambridge and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody set in early 20th century UK and Egypt. Both clever, funny and interesting.

    • I love the name Amelia Peabody already, I have seen them around a lot as well. I might have to add Ms Peters to my collection. I am not sure about the 14th century ones, I tried those Sansom ones and they didnt get with me (Tudors I know) nor did the Ellis books that became so famous… hmmmm.

  3. cath

    Being somewhat older than you my series guilt started with Mary Stewart. I collected all she wrote and after rereading half of them this year I am saving the rest for next year. I very much like Maisy Nobbs the protagonist in Jacqueline Winspears books. Maybe you would like Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell too.

  4. Ruthiella

    Well, this is genre, but non-crime: the Jack Aubrey/Stephan Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. I am currently reading the first book “Master and Commander. I have to admit, I don’t understand any of the sailing lingo, but I am enjoying it nonetheless.

    Again, I have only read the first book, but completely non-genre is “The Forsyte Saga”.

    Re: crime series, I have read all the Elizabeth George books. I like them a lot, although sometimes they are a bit of a soap-opera. I am planning to read all the Inspector Morse books soon. I just checked out the first book this week at the library.

    • Oh Ruthiella its all boats isnt it with that series, and nothing turns me off a book like a boat (Jamrachs Menagerie excluded) so that one might have to be a miss for me I am afraid. Sailing lingo… you’ve lost me, lol.

      The Forsythe Saga is a great suggestion, gets more classics in my reading life too, I like that idea.

  5. Ruthiella

    Oh, it just occured to me…I think you may have already read them, but for anyone else looking for a fun read: The Tales of the City Series by Armistead Maupin. Loved those books! Reading them is like eating chocolate cake. And how could I forget the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! So funny! Ok, I will stop now.

  6. Erika W.

    I recommend Elizabeth George as well. They are so over the top that they can read like Gothic spoofs of Lord Peter Wimsey but are extremely enjoyable for all that. Also Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries which are in the middle of being written and are set c. 60 years ago in an English village. I can’t remember if you have read Dorothy Dunnet’s 6 Lyman books but if not–oh what treasure lies ahead for you. Oh yes and I second Amelia Peabody as well–what a lovely character.

    • Blimey Elizabeth George has got some fans out there hasnt she. As you have all mentioned her and I trust you all I will try her first very soon, I promise. Gothic spoof – they get a tick from me then.

  7. Caroline

    Sorry, more crime series here, but I’ve just read and thoroughly enjoyed Imogen Robertson’s series set in 1780s England, starting with ‘Instruments of Darkness’ (although I read the last one first by accident). I think anyone who enjoys Shardlake might enjoy these too. And I’m off to the library to check out the Matthew Bartholemew series – thanks, Sakura!

  8. Ruthiella beat me to it with Tales of the City. These books are super fun and a great depiction (so I’ve heard) of San Fran in the 60s/70s.

    But I also have to put in a huge vote for IAN RANKIN. After finishing my MA in English several years ago, I read everything he wrote in a couple months. His Inspector Rebus is smart, complex, and a bit edgy. It’s a great series. Peter Robinson is my other favorite for crime novel series.

    Also, non-crime, Madeline L’Engle’s series, starting with A Wrinkle in Time, has been a favorite since childhood, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is addicting.

    • Yes, Tales of the City are great. I might start a re-read.

      I started the Ian Rankin books and then for some reason I just stopped. I think I have some more of them though so I should dig those out.

      The last two for being non-crime have been noted and I shall do some research.

  9. Bet

    I second Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles. I read them out of order the first time and next time I’ll get it right. Still, I found them engaging, touching, funny…

    Lillian Beckwith’s trilogy of her sojourn in the Hebrides, beginning with *The Hills Is Lonely* is beautiful and full of hysterical “culture clash” moments.

    And yet another crime series: John Banville’s, beginning with *Christine Falls*

    • Oooh Trollope, my Granddad always said I should read those, I should out of respect, They start with The Warden dont they? They might be nice for autumn.

      Is that John Banville writing as Benjemin Black? I have heard mixed reviews of those. I would imagine as a man booker winner they would be top notch.

  10. I love this post – I have a crush on series books too (it’s the ultimate comfort reading to dive into the latest in a series you love). To be honest, most of the series I read are also crime. I must look up Elizabeth George’s books after 2 recommendations – especially as they are described as “gothic spoofs” and “soap-operas”. BRILLIANT!!!

  11. gaskella

    Most of the series I’ve read in recent years have either been crime or vampires, but I second (or third) the Armistead Maupin. This week though I’ve been going YA, and reading Charlie Higson’s Young Bond books which are wonderful fun, yet gritty enough to be enjoyable for all ages.

  12. Just now I’m reading through my collection of old Penguins, and so all the series I can think of are old. C.P. Snow’s Strangers and Brothers series, concerned with power, bureaucracy and the contemporary issues of the ’50s and ’60s; Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time, although I’ve only read one of those; Pamela Hansford Johnson’s 3 book series ending with A Summer to Decide; and I’m always looking out for the 5 book series A Staircase in Surrey by J.I.M. Stewart (Michael Innes), although I haven’t found those books yet.

    • I have never heard of the C.P Snow series Karyn (by the way I am loving your reading project – genius) they sound very interesting and the 50s and 60s are two eras I feel I should know more about and don’t! So a good, and unusual, recommendation – thank you.

  13. I’m not a particularly big fan of series but I end up buying the first book only to realize at the end that it’s only the first (it happened with The Passage by Justin Cronin and also with The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, to name just two).
    A series I warmly recommend is The Dark Tower by Stephen King. It’s a seven book series (I know, it does sound a bit daunting) but one that takes the reader on a truly amazing ride.

    • The Passage is a book I couldnt believe had two more following it, not that I am complaining as I liked the first one a lot. I just couldnt believe it. I picked up The Forest of Hands and Teeth recently too – spooky. Had no idea it was a zombie book, just liked the cover and it was £2.

      The Stephen King seven do sound daunting. I would probably like them, but spend all that time wondering what I was missing elsewhere.

  14. isis62

    James Lee Burke would be one of the best crime writers around and I would highly recommend his Dave Robicheaux series. This is not your typical serial killer police procedural crime series so some may not appreciate it. (although he is one of Ian Rankin’s favourite authors)

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