Look, I get it, book readers. There are only so many hours for reading in your day. You already have a TBR list to last you the next decade. If you're going to start reading a long, involved series of books, you want them to be worth it. Lucky for you, there are a lot of brilliant book series out there that you'll want to see through to the very end. So don't let those jumbo-sized boxed collections scare you: here are a few long (and a few very long) book series that are well worth your time.
And yes, of course reading a long book series is still going to be a commitment. You're going to be a different person by book seven than you were at book one. I'm pretty sure that getting from A Game of Thrones to A Dance With Dragons took me longer than the length of my last relationship (I took some breaks between books, but... still). And, much like a serious relationship, there is no guarantee that you're going to like the end when you finally get there.
But it's all about the journey, not the destination, right? Here are a few lengthy series that will take you on one hell of a journey:
1'A Song of Ice and Fire' by George R.R. Martin
Yes, only five out of seven books have been published so far and yes, at 4,273 total pages, those five books are already pretty long. But A Song of Ice and Fire is also one of the most gripping fantasy series of all time. The endless cast of characters and the complex political intrigue isn't for everyone, but if you like detailed world building and a plot with hairpin turns (plus dragons and snow zombies and kick ass lady warriors), then it's time to give GRRM a try.
2'Earth's Children' by Jean M. Auel
An orphaned Cro-Magnon girl is taken in by a clan of Neanderthals, and raised as one of their own. That's just the start of Jean M. Auel's pre-historical epic, Earth's Children, which dives deep into human history to tell the story of young Ayla. And sure, Auel's depiction of cave men and women is a little too sexy for some people, but Earth's Children is a sweeping story of love and survival for paleo-anthropologists and romance fans alike.
3'The Sandman' by Neil Gaiman
How can you possibly sum up all 75 issues of The Sandman? It's part horror, part fantasy, part meta-fictional meditation on the nature of storytelling. It's a graphic novel full of demons and living nightmares and a very cheerful personification of Death. Recurring characters include Cain and Abel, William Shakespeare, the Norse god Loki, Lucifer, and Merv Pumpkinhead. Gaiman skillfully weaves together mythology and pop culture into this deeply strange, utterly brilliant dream-scape of a series.
4'Patternmaster' by Octavia E. Butler
Compared to some of these behemoths, the Patternmaster series is almost short. There are only five books, and one of them hardly counts because Butler decided she didn't like it anymore (no, really). Starting with Wild Seed, the Patternmaster books tell a secret, alternative history of human civilization, from Ancient Egypt to the far future. Immortal shapeshifters and (sort of) vampires fight, reconcile, and shape civilization as we know it in this sharply intelligent sci-fi series.
5'Temeraire' by Naomi Novik
Napoleon with dragons. NAPOLEON WITH DRAGONS. What more could you possibly want out of a piece of literature? Temeraire is that perfect blend of fantasy and history and DRAGONS. Plucky lady dragon riders and a unique take on French history (with dragons) will make this a series that you just can't put down.
6'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' by Alexander McCall Smith
Like most cozy detective novels, it's not entirely necessary to read the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books in order. But if you're tired of mysteries set in English manors, you're going to want to read up on the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. Precious might just be the most upbeat private detective in the business, and her series of books pairs perfectly with a comfy chair and a big mug of tea.
7'Thursday Next' by Jasper Fforde
Jasper Fforde is an absurd genius. His Thursday Next books take place in an alternate reality, where dodo birds are household pets and our hero, Thursday Next, makes her living as a literary detective. Of course, things only get sillier (and more brilliant) when Thursday discovers her ability to jump directly into literature, plunging the series into the bizarre Book World, and giving us all a behind-the-scenes look at our favorite fictional characters.
8'The Wheel of Time' by Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time is classic high fantasy in all the best ways. There is prophecy, grand adventure, fallen empires, warring gods, and an inventive system of magic. If massive struggles between good and evil are your jam, then Robert Jordan is the author for you (and at 11,916 total pages, there's plenty of adventure to go around).
9'A Series of Unfortunate Events' by Lemony Snicket
Technically, this is a children's series. But if you can stomach the unrelenting misery of this tale about three unfortunate orphans, then it's a great read for adult children, too. Snicket's dry, distressing wit holds up for thirteen straight novels of mystery and woe.
10'The Dark Tower' by Stephen King
There's a reason that Stephen King considers this series his "magnum opus." Unlike most King stories, it's not a horror novel set in Maine, but rather a sprawling western-fantasy hybrid epic. Starting with The Gunslinger, the titular Last Gunslinger pursues a man in black across a strange, desolate world not so different from our own.
11'Discworld' by Terry Pratchett
I don't even know if you can rightfully call Terry Pratchett's Discworld a single book series. It's more like a dozen different book series, all set in the same fantastical, absurd, irreverent world. There are over forty novels and a whole bookshelf's worth of companion books, satirizing everything from high fantasy to print media to death itself. Whether you're looking for swashbuckling adventure or slapstick comedy, there's some corner of Discworld that's right for you.