A Book Series for my Mom?
January 12, 2016 3:53 AM   Subscribe

My mom is looking for something new to read and would prefer a series. She's in her 50s and has read Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. She doesn't mind fantasy or Sci-Fi but does not like things that are too heavy like LOTR. She has no interest in Divergent or Twilight. This is not a style of book I read very much of so I'd appreciate some suggestions. Thanks!
posted by GilvearSt to Media & Arts (41 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
- Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness is one I recommend frequently
- His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman is a natural suggestion for these types of questions
- The Fifth Wave is a bit new, they're already releasing a movie, I'm enjoying it

I meant to add that I HATE the Divergent and Twilight series so I hope she likes these!
posted by like_neon at 4:00 AM on January 12, 2016

Since you explicitly mention SciFi, I really enjoyed Kage Baker's Company series. Most of it is set in the past.
posted by Leon at 4:03 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

For any Harry Potter fan, I would recommend Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain, beginning with The Book Of Three. Like Harry Potter, they combine a magical world with vivid characters and a good sense of humor. And like Harry Potter, they're aimed at children, but delightful at any age.

Another fun fantasy series that is meant for kids (but thoroughly enjoyable for adults) is the Bartimaeus sequence, by Jonathan Stroud.

Depending on what you mean by "too heavy," I might recommend George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice And Fire" series (commonly known as the "Game of Thrones" series, since that's the title of the first book as well as the TV series.) Like LOTR, the books are big and physically heavy, and set in detailed fantasy worlds. But I personally find that there is something about George RR Martin that is more approachable than LOTR-- I made a few attempts to read LOTR and could never get into it, whereas I find the Game of Thrones books to be real page turners. (A warning: Martin is definitely not writing for children. The books are set in a violent world where awful things sometimes happen. I personally don't find it gratuitous, and page for page, they're probably no more violent than The Hunger Games, but it's something you should know before getting into them.)
posted by yankeefog at 4:19 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

A couple of sci-fi trilogies:
* The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
* Imperial Radch by Anne Leckie

And fantasy:
* The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone
* The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennet (though the second book is just coming out this month)
* Discworld (especially if there's a specific story arc she's interested in)
posted by neushoorn at 4:22 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

If she wants something that has a lot of books that aren't too long or drag for too long, I'd recommend The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. Has elements of both science fiction and fantasy, but is not too heavy on either. Not very dark or violent either, and has some very interesting feminist overtones she might enjoy thinking about.
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast at 4:23 AM on January 12, 2016 [11 favorites]

Garth Nix's Sabriel series are really good YA about benevolent necromancers and are an interesting take on how necromancy may work.

No love for Metafilter's Own Charles Stross? The Laundry series is another awesome series about magic, this time magic-as-maths in the modern world. Very, very, good.

Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series is really good too - more magic in the modern world, very quick and lively reading.
posted by Jilder at 4:26 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

What about the Harry Dresden books?
posted by Ipsifendus at 4:27 AM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

The glass sentence and its follow ups.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:28 AM on January 12, 2016

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
posted by backwards guitar at 4:28 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:37 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

Does she also like murder mysteries, or just fantasy/sci fi? If so I recommend the Australian "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood, also a TV series available on public TV in the US. They are set in Melbourne, Australia in the 1920s and are a sort of grown-up Nancy Drew series. Light but interesting, great characters.

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mysteries are fun and light, but may be a bit raunchy depending on her tastes. A plus if she is familiar with New Jersey which has its own special kind of fantasy.
posted by mermayd at 4:47 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
posted by zyxwvut at 5:18 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm uncertain what "too heavy" means, but N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy is a treat. Adventure, romance, gods living among humans, politics of the royal court, a fully realized fictional world with its own mythology that manages to be rich and meaningful without becoming a burden for the reader... Jemisin is a gifted writer.
posted by duffell at 5:27 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Has she read any Rick Riordan? The Lightning Thief is the first of a five-book series combining Greek mythology with modern-day middle grade/YA plotlines. Lots of fun. If she enjoys that series, Riordan has another one set in the same world (but with Roman mythology), as well as a different series that focuses on Egyptian mythology.
posted by tuesdayschild at 5:31 AM on January 12, 2016

The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater. I don't really like YA much, but I really like these books.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:35 AM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

The Neddiad, The Yggyssey and The Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl by Daniel Pinkwater. Fun, light, smart fantasy.
posted by mikepop at 5:53 AM on January 12, 2016

Seconding mermayd and both the Miss Fisher and Stephanie Plum series.

Some other series I turned my own mother on to are:
Peter Bowen's Gabriel du Pre;
Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano;
Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti;
Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire;
Donna Andrews' Meg Langslow;
Jan Karon's Mitford;
Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott;
Lindsey Davis' Falco;
Lawrence Block's Burglar;
and anything by Charlotte Davis.
posted by easily confused at 5:54 AM on January 12, 2016

Possibly the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb? She has written a bunch of books set in this world, but this (the first?) trilogy is the one I like the best.
posted by gaspode at 5:56 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

Mortal Instruments series
posted by Sassyfras at 6:31 AM on January 12, 2016

Daughter of smoke and bone trilogy. Really witty and gripping.
posted by roolya_boolya at 6:34 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (was made into an awful movie - don' bother watching)

Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke (also made into an awful movie! Damn you, Brendan Fraser)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (on the spookier side, approved by my mom!)
posted by Drosera at 6:50 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

They're "for kids," but since she's read Harry Potter, these might appeal:

~ Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series (technical starts with Over Sea, Under Stone, but really picks up in the second book, which gives the series its name).
~ Pretty much anything by Tamora Pierce. The Song of the Lioness series and Trickster's Choice/Trickster's Queen being my favorites.

Jim Butcher's Furies of Calderon series is also fun. So is Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. Both have some darker elements and there's definitely violence all through them, but neither are too grim.
posted by that's candlepin at 6:51 AM on January 12, 2016

On second thought, Butcher and Sanderson are fairly blood-soaked. Depending on your mom's sensibilities, they may not work. They're not as unrelenting as Martin and do have humor, romance, friendships. So it's a bit hard to judge from afar whether they'd be good for your situation.
posted by that's candlepin at 6:54 AM on January 12, 2016

Just in case she hasn't had them suggested many times already, basically anything by Terry Pratchett. Most of his books are in the Discworld series, which is dozens of books set in the same world. There are a few different primary plots and groups of characters throughout with each book focusing on different combinations; they are all delightful and witty and wise. People like to have fun arguing over what the best order to read them in is, but your mom might like starting with the Tiffany Aching books, a sort of series within the series aimed at the Harry Potter audience about a young witch, but with more realism and cleverness.
posted by Mizu at 7:18 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've been enjoying Seanan McGuire's light-hearted urban fantasy InCryptid series (fifth book out in the next month or two!). It starts with Discount Armageddon. Her October Daye series is a bit darker, older (McGuire's first three published books, the pacing and plotting improve later) and starts with Rosemary and Rue.

Daniel Jose Older has started his Bone Street Rumba series, set in Brooklyn with the dead and undead. First book is Half-Resurrection Blues. Midnight Taxi Tango just came out. There's a short story collection somewhere in the same universe that's also fabulous.

Jeminsin's books are amazing, but intense.

Unreservedly seconding Dark Is Rising by Cooper, Pratchett, the Stephanie Plum series (until the lack of personal growth on the character's part wears you down).
posted by JawnBigboote at 8:20 AM on January 12, 2016

My mom and I both love Martha Grimes and her Richard Jury series. I also second the suggestion of the Dark Materials trilogy. And I'm not especially proud of this, but I have read every book by Charlaine Harris. Her series -especially the Sookie Stackhouse books - are fun, light reads I'm guessing your mom may also enjoy.
posted by areaperson at 8:26 AM on January 12, 2016

Seconding the three-book His Dark Materials series. Start with The Golden Compass. The protagonist of the first book is an active and curious young girl set in a similar-but-different Earth, trying to solve Big Problems in much the same way Harry Potter did. The second and third books just add more characters, storyline and depth. The series is not as light-hearted as HP, but it's better writing.
posted by samthemander at 8:27 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jeminsin's books are amazing, but intense.

That's certainly true. If "nothing too heavy" means "nothing too intense," then they're probably not the right fit.

OP, can you clarify what you mean by "heavy like LOTR?" I assumed you were referring to the density of Tolkien's universe and the understanding of background details that's required--but that's not actually clear.
posted by duffell at 8:35 AM on January 12, 2016

Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley- murder mysteries solved by a teenage girl - no fantastic elements
PC Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch - London cop finds out that magic is real and learns to use it - tons of fantastic elements and a little gore and sex
Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman - starts like Harry Potter in an American college, ends more like Narnia

These two are Harry Potterish and mostly geared towards younger crowds:
Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage - takes place in a fantastic monarchy with lots of magic
Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo - magical school, more gothic than HP
posted by soelo at 9:08 AM on January 12, 2016

Daughter of smoke and bone trilogy. Really witty and gripping.
Yes, very much this. It seems kind of Twilighty in the beginning but it gets soooo much better.
posted by soelo at 9:11 AM on January 12, 2016

The Mary Russell books, starting with The Beekeeper's Apprentice, are phenomenal. Especially if one already has some love for/familiarity with Sherlock Holmes, but that's not absolutely necessary. The main character is smart and funny; the plots are well-crafted and take place in different interesting locations.
posted by Owl of Athena at 9:20 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding Inheritance Trilogy, Sabriel, and His Dark Materials.

I highly recommend the Chrestomanci stories by Diana Wynne Jones as another (excellent, witty) children's fantasy series. Chrestomanci is a government-appointed enchanter in a parallel world's England. Also recommend Howl's Moving Castle.
posted by henuani at 10:03 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Margaret Atwood's Orxy and Crake trilogy.
posted by archimago at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May Three good mysteries, one detective with a backstory, atmospheric locations in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, storied characters in well written series. What's not to love?
posted by lois1950 at 11:13 AM on January 12, 2016

Anything by Tamora Pierce. Also, nthing His Dark Materials.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:59 PM on January 12, 2016

I think the Earthsea quartet by Ursula Le Guin might be a good fit. There's a bit of background mythology but it's presented with a light touch and the books share some of the great elements of the Harry Potter world (the school of magic, a beautifully-realised reality in which magic is part of the mundane fabric of life, a clear mythic arc across books with satisfying mini-plots in each book.) They're also beautifully written.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:45 PM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Wanted to second Garth Nix's Abhorsen series, and Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles Of Prydain. Wanted to add the very, VERY delightful books by Francis Hardinge, Fly By Night and Fly trap. Really, those last two titles are just pure delight, she should not miss them!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:53 PM on January 12, 2016

You say "She doesn't mind fantasy or Sci-Fi" but don't say what she actively likes, so you seem to be getting almost all SciFi and fantasy. And no offence to my fellow readers, but Harry Potter and Hunger Games are both mainstream popular fiction and many of these suggestions are not so much.

She might like:

The Chronicles of St Mary's

Time and Again Series

Millennium Series

And, if she likes mysteries, the Kate Shugak series, which I'm including because it has as strong a sense of place and as well-developed a cast of characters as Harry Potter and goes on for 22 books and counting.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:44 PM on January 12, 2016

Enchanted Forest Series by Patricia Wrede - Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons. It's youth fiction, but has a great protagonist and the characters have real conversations.

I thought about Ben Aaronovich's River series, or actually Peter Grant series, I guess. But might be a bit intense.
posted by dawg-proud at 6:08 PM on January 12, 2016

I'm devouring Cameron Jace's Insanity series. I guess I'd call it a twisted modern-era continuation of the Alice in Wonderland story, with a 19-year-old Alice... while I'm sure it's not for everyone, it's definitely an entertaining read.
posted by stormyteal at 7:52 PM on January 12, 2016

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