Seeking a fabulous series.

Seeking a fabulous series.

Seeking: a great series. {literary matchmaking}

The details on this ongoing project, and the factors I’m taking to heart.

Readers told me 3 books they loved, 1 book they hated, and what they’re reading right now. In turn, I’m recommending 3 books for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)

This week we’re choosing books for Pauline, whose books are:

Love: Persuasion, the Harry Potter series, the Outlander series
Hate: most, but not all poetry (it often feels very self-indulgent—maybe I’ve just read bad poetry?)
Last read: Stardust

Pauline—like so many other readers—loves the sweeping, action-packed series Harry Potter and Outlander, and the fanciful worlds Neil Gaiman does so well. But she also loves Persuasion, which tells me she’ll read beyond the fantasy and adventure genres, as long as the characters are compelling.

My picks: 

Modern classic: The Poisonwood Bible
Bona fide classic: Wives and Daughters
Series to get lost in: The Lunar Chronicles 
Blog post: Top Nine Reasons to Read Poetry

I’m recommending Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible for its compelling characters, strong plot, good writing, and sweeping feel, even though it has zero supernatural elements and is thoroughly grounded in its time and place.

In the YA sci-fi series The Lunar Chronicles, each book puts a new spin on an old fairy tale. There are three books in the series so far, with two more coming in 2015. (Meaning, if you love the first book, Cinder, you’ll have lots more reading to look forward to.) 

Elizabeth Gaskell is well-suited to Jane Austen fans. I specifically chose Wives and Daughters because of the French reference in Pauline’s blog name.

And if Pauline suspects she’s been reading bad poetry, the post Top Nine Reasons to Read Poetry will help her find her way to the good stuff.

Please share your recommendations for Pauline in comments. Thank you!

P.S. Get lost in a great series. 

View all the literary matchmaking posts here.

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34 comments

  1. Pauline says:

    Thanks Anne! I’m already familiar with Gaskell but I haven’t read any of the other ones so I’ll now be going on a hunt for them.

    As for the poetry, yes, ahem, I need all the help I can get. The only poetry I’ve ever enjoyed is Rilke, which is a good start but isn’t exactly going to fill the hours!

  2. Faith says:

    If you like action and fantasy worlds, a good series is the books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon. Great world making. The series focuses on two young adults but has a Lord of the Rings epic feel. The frame is that it’s based on ancient lore, so there are poems and songs at the beginning of sections and sprinkled throughout, but you can skim or skip those if you don’t like them.

  3. So did you read the Lunar Chronicles, Anne? LOVE THEM.

    For Pauline, if you like Christian fiction, the Daughters of Fortune series by Susan May Warren is great. I haven’t read Outlander, but Warren’s series is historical fiction, pretty edgy for Christian fic, and has great female characters with depth. The Passage/The Twelve/The City of Mirrors (unpublished) by Justin Cronin is a good series with LOOOONG books, lots of get lost in. The third book will be released in October.

  4. I’ve been reading book 6 in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde and it’s so good I want to recommend it to everyone, particularly if you like world building, literary and writing references, science fiction / fantasy and / or mystery. Start with the Eyre Affair.

  5. Arenda says:

    Yay! I’m glad to see another Literary Matchmaking post! 🙂 I like your suggestions, Anne, especially The Poisonwood Bible; such compelling characters!

    For Pauline – perhaps you’d enjoy the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier. They’re fantasy novels based on fairy and folk tales, and they’re quite un-put-downable, to use Anne’s phrase. Reading “Daughter of the Forest” (the first in the series) made me want to read everything else Ms. Marillier has written.

    For another classic novel a la “Persuasion”, try something by Anthony Trollope . . . (“Barchester Towers” or “The Warden”).

    And maybe a book that explores the life of a poet and provides some context to poems would be a good way to get into poetry? I usually avoid nonfiction, but I loved “Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief” by Roger Lundin.

  6. Kate says:

    My favorite poem (or one of anyway) is The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. I highly recommend reading it when you are feeling harried or low or just want a moment of quiet.

    Also, Poisonwood Bible is the only one of Barbara Kingsolver’s books that I haven’t read – I have had it sitting on my shelf for eons and haven’t wanted to pick it up for some reason…this post has made me want to dive into it now.

  7. Pauline, if you like well-written action and adventure, check out Mary Stewart. I keep recommending her over and over to folks because she is just that good! Her best are “Nine Coaches Waiting” and “The Ivy Tree” and “This Rough Magic,” which have recently been re-issued (she wrote mostly from the 50s-70s). They are the kind of books that keep you turning pages late into the night.

    • LoriM says:

      I haven’t seen anyone talking about Mary Stewart SINCE the 70’s, I think. I loved her books as a teen-ager. In those days she was a favorite, along with Victoria Holt, but I eventually recognized Stewart as the better writer. Love the settings of a spunky woman, exploring for herself in Europe (usually?). I read Nine Coaches over and over again – SO romantic! Oh! I see on Wikipedia that Ms. Stewart just died this year.

  8. Jena says:

    Just an FYI: Wives & Daughters is a free Kindle book right now.

    I downloaded it & checked out the audio book for Poisonwood Bible!

    Not sure if it’s up her alley, but I’ll recommend Defending Jacob & American Heiress. I finished both recently, and enjoyed them both.

  9. Louise says:

    Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, starting with The Thief, is YA historical fantasy and is AMAZING. Some of the finest world-building I’ve ever seen. There’s four books currently in the series, and a fifth one due to come out *not soon enough*.

    I am not a huge fan of her books, but a lot of Austen fans really enjoy Barbara Pym. Also, Miss Read’s Thrush Green and Fairacre series, while set during the 1960s and ’70s, are peaceful reads about everyday lives of people in small country villages. I love them.

  10. EricaM says:

    I’ve got the Lunar Chronicles on my ever-growing TBR list. I’ll probably get to that whenever I get through GoT. (The books are never-ending!)

    As for poetry, I would recommend poets like Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson. (I would not recommend reading Emily Dickinson in our library’s Emily Dickinson garden, because that bust of her is incredibly creepy, especially after a rain when it looks like she’s been crying. Yikes!)

  11. Lynn K says:

    I must recommend Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford. Millay was one of the most fascinating poets of the Jazz Age and her life reads like a novel, peppered with her poetry. It’s a very interesting read and bound to open you up to the world of
    Poetry in a way you couldn’t have imagined.

    • Shannon says:

      I loved the book as well – a fascinating woman! I also concur that it made me rethink poetry. I have been much more open to it since reading the book.

  12. Jennifer H says:

    I love a good series, but I hate it when the author just keeps going beyond when they should stop. Examples of series I loved then stopped reading when there were more to read: True Blood, Alex Cross, Kay Scarpetta. Series I am still reading even though it’s about time to stop: Jack Reacher.

    • Andrea says:

      You’re so right! And recently I feel like trilogies have been the chief offenders in this area — I enjoy the first book, the second is pretty good, but the third is just boring, tedious, or silly. I feel like some authors are either trying to stretch their one good novel into three mediocre ones (or maybe publishers are pressuring them). It gets tiring! 🙂

  13. Erin says:

    I loved The Poisonwood Bible. I read it when it first came out, so I’m probably due to read it again. I also loved Flight Behavior.

    As for series, I love Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. And the best part is that they can be read in any order, because other than passing references to things that happened in prior books, the earlier books don’t necessarily inform the later ones. I also like how she takes a minor character from one book and makes that person the main character in the next. I can’t wait for her new one to come out next month – I already pre-ordered it on my Kindle!

  14. Allison says:

    The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.

    One of my favorite female lead characters of all time, strong and weak and REAL in all the right places.

    Add in a completely original and meticulously detailed setting. It’s fantastic.

  15. Jeannie says:

    When Pauline said she hated most poetry I wasn’t sure if that meant she was hoping to find some she *would* like — if so, I’d suggest trying a poetry website that publishes a poem a day; here are a couple of examples:
    http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/126.html
    http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day
    It gives a nice taste of different styles and if you find something appealing you can look around for work by that same poet. Besides the poets recommended in some previous comments, I would also recommend Ted Kooser, who was (is?) U.S. poet laureate; his poetry is very beautiful and accessible, not self-indulgent or pretentious. He’s also written a book on poetry-writing (The Poetry Home Repair Manual), which is a very readable discussion of what’s going on in a good poem.

  16. Kate says:

    I’m not a huge poetry fan, but I like TS Eliot when in the mood, and very much enjoy listening to Billy Collins read his own work.

  17. For Darkness Shows the Stars (Diana Peterfreund)! It’s a sci-fi/fantasy retelling of Persuasion and it is LOVELY. Sounds perfect for her!

    (I love your blog by the way – a friend pointed me here yesterday and I can’t stop reading!)

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