Do you enjoy getting wrapped up in a great book series because it provides more depth and detail than a single novel? When you think about a series, there are a plethora of opportunities for character development, backstories, and rich and complex history. It’s always great to be able to follow beloved characters over time, see them grow and change, especially when you have become attached to them. If you’re looking for a book series less mainstream than “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games,” here are a few recommendations you may enjoy.
“Some Luck” by Jane Smiley
Jane Smiley set out on a journey to publish what she describes as a trilogy of novels under the overarching title “The Last Hundred Years.” With each chapter covering a single year, Smiley writes about a family living on a farm in Iowa throughout the 20th and 21st century. Over the thirty-years “Some Luck” covers, the Langdon family experiences changes as any family would during that time period — the farm becomes powered with electricity, a son leaves home to fight in World War II, and children grow up and go out of their own.
This was my favorite out of all the books I read during 2015 — I read about 40 books that year and this one really stood out. I loved everything from the time period, to the small town farm setting, to the family members with all of their distinct personalities. The beautifully written book with wonderful character development was so great I couldn’t put it down. I recommended it to a number of friends who went on to love it and read the whole series.
“Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson
“Gilead” creatively combines the writings of a journal and a memoir together in one novel. The fictional Reverend John Ames, an elderly pastor dying of a heart condition, writes about memories and his legacy for his seven-year-old son, who won’t remember him when he dies. The simplicity of the language in this book actually made it difficult to read at first since it’s very slow moving. However, it’s well worth it because the beauty of the story and prose starts to come through by the end. There is was much love and faith in this story that my heart hurt.
As a companion to “Gilead,” “Home,” chronicles the life of the Boughton family, specifically the father, Reverend Robert Boughton, who was a good friend to Reverend John Ames. You get a lot of glimpses of the Boughton family throughout Gilead, piquing one’s curiosity on the events that John Ames alludes to throughout Gilead. Although it’s an independent novel, the story runs parallel to “Gilead.”
“Southern Vampire Mystery” series by Charlaine Harris
In “The Southern Vampire Mysteries,” vampires, fairies, witches, and other supernatural creatures are real — and everyone knows about them! The series revolves around Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress living in the rural town in Louisiana. If this storyline sounds familiar to you, that’s because it’s the same storyline as the HBO series “True Blood,” which bases its storyline from these books. It was entertaining enough, but I lost interest after one season.
The books themselves are lighter and more fun. You could say Louisiana is almost exotic to me since I live in New York City. Some of the depictions of the day to day life (like the number of times Walmart is mentioned!?) I found entertaining. It’s almost silly at times so makes for a good beach read. Although I don’t consider it an incredibly well-written series, the cast of characters and their personalities were so diverse and the author certainly knows how to keep the storyline moving with the right amount of sex, violence, and humor. Don’t expect much and you may find it just plain fun.