I don't know about you, but I really want to read more books this year, and I think I've figured out a way to do it. I've picked out a few great book trilogies to read this year — along with some longer series I've been wanting to start, finish, or re-read — and I'm pretty sure I can commit to making it through at least one of them before I'm ringing in the new year again.
I want to focus on book trilogies here, because I really think they're the perfect solution to a lot of common book nerd problems. Take the book hangover, for example, when you've just finished an amazing story and don't want to read anything else, because you want nothing more than to dive back into the world you just left. We've all been there, and some of us have even bounced from one book hangover to another, if we lined up a great TBR.
Reading a great book trilogy allows you to avoid the agony of a book hangover, because, hey, there's already another book waiting for you. And then, once you've finished that one, there's another. After that, you might have a book hangover — or you might be so obsessed with the author that you read everything else she's written. At the very least, you've prolonged the inevitable, and isn't that what we're all doing anyway?
Check out my — LOTR-free! — list of great book trilogies to read this year, and be sure to share your favorite three-book series with me on Twitter!
1. The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
Every few centuries, the Stillness erupts into lengthy Seasons filled with fire, ash, and death. Individuals known as orogenes can control the seismic activity that leads to Seasons, but their powers are so terrifying and misunderstood that ignorant villages drown them at birth. Those who survive are trained at the Fulcrum and put into service to the state.
When the biggest Season anyone has ever seen rips across the continent, Essun has just returned home to find that her husband has murdered their young son and kidnapped their daughter, because they — like their mother — are orogenes. As the Season rages on, Essun sets out in pursuit of her husband, ready to avenge her child.
2. 'Area X' by Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, collected in the Area X omnibus, stands apart from the other trilogies on this list, because each book is radically different from the last.
The story begins in Annihilation, when a team of four unnamed women, identified only by their professions, are sent in to investigate Area X. They aren't the first expedition, but many of them have ties to previous endeavors to understand the geographic anomaly, and all are aware of one thing: No one returns from Area X unchanged.
3. 'Lilith's Brood' by Octavia E. Butler
Formerly known as Xenogenesis, the late Octavia E. Butler's Lilith's Brood collects three of her novels — Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago — into a single volume.
Following a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, a small group of surviving humans are rescued from their dying planet by the Oankali, a three-sexed alien race. Years later, the Oankali awaken one of the humans, Lilith, to propose a trade: In exchange for teaching humans to survive on their restored planet without native technology, the aliens want to breed with them to expand their race's DNA and create a human-Oankali hybrid.
4. The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
A science fiction novel shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize? Like much of Margaret Atwood's work, the Maddaddam Trilogy bends the concepts of genre and literature.
The first novel, Oryx and Crake, is set in a world almost entirely devoid of humans, instead populated by synthetic creatures. When a rare human named Snowman returns to the corporate compound where he once worked, he recalls the chain of events that brought the world to this state — a story that involves him, an online buddy called Crake, and a child pornography victim named Oryx.
5. The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King
Moving away from the straightforward horror that is author Stephen King's bread and butter, the Bill Hodges Trilogy turns its focus inward to settle on the reasoning of a mass-murderer named Brady Hartsfield.
In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, a crowd of unemployed adults wait in line outside a job fair. Brady drives a stolen Mercedes into the group, killing many, but manages to avoid arrest. Calling himself "Mr. Mercedes," Brady writes to a retired police detective named Bill Hodges, intent on driving him to suicide. With the help of a ragtag team of amateurs, Hodges launches his own investigation into the Mercedes massacre.
6. 'The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams
Arthur Dent is just an ordinary Englishman living a rather Hobbit-like existence, until his friend, Ford Prefect, shows up one morning with a few pieces of startling news: 1) Ford is an alien travel writer covering Earth, 2) Earth is about to be destroyed to make room for an intergalactic super-highway, and 3) if Arthur wants to survive Earth's demolition, he must hitch a ride with Ford on a passing spaceship.
7. The Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
In addition to the three main installments of her Shatter Me Trilogy, Tahereh Mafi has also written two novellas to bridge the gaps between Shatter Me, Unravel Me, and Ignite Me. You can read them all in Shatter Me: Complete Collection.
The series opens with 17-year-old Juliette locked up for murder by the Reestablishment. Her crime: killing a toddler with her touch. Juliette saps the life from people who make physical contact with her, and now she's spent almost a year without touching another person. But her new cellmate might be her ticket out of prison...
8. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Orphans Alina and Mal join the military when the come of age, and are assigned to protect Ravka from the monsters that dwell in the Shadow Fold. When Mal is critically injured, a latent power awakens in Alina, revealing her to be the only one capable of saving her homeland from the encroaching darkness.
9. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Although Isaac Asimov wrote two sequels and two prequels after a 30-year hiatus from his science fiction series, the entire body of work is still known as the Foundation Trilogy. The three main installments are pictured above.
In Foundation, psychohistorian Hari Seldon warns authorities that his predictions show an unavoidable end to the Galactic Empire, which will be followed by 30,000 years of chaos before a new Empire arises. There is no way to stop the Empire from ending, but Seldon assures them that he can reduce the inter-Empire period to just 1,000 years, if he is allowed to compile an encyclopedia of all human history and knowledge. The Galactic Empire acquiesces to his request, with just one caveat: Seldon and his researchers must sequester themselves on Terminus, severing all contact with the outside world.
10. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
Why are there only two books here? Well, Patrick Rothfuss hasn't finished his Kingkiller Chronicle at the time of this writing, but it is a planned trilogy. Since The Wise Man's Fear hit store shelves in 2011, we're probably due to see the third installment, tentatively titled The Doors of Stone, any time now.
In the Kingkiller Chronicle, a legendary adventurer named Kvothe tells his life story to a scribe called the Chronicler over the course of three nights, with each book containing a single night's story.