here are plenty of reasons to love book series -- there's plenty of time for characters, relationships, and plot with more depth. And despite having a reputation as being mostly a sci-fi or fantasy thing, series and serialized books have been around for centuries. And although adults can absolutley read and enjoy iconic kids' and YA series -- like The Hunger Games, Twilight, Uglies, Heartbreaker, Harry Potter, Deltora Quest... the list goes on -- there are also plenty of adult book series out there across genres just waiting to be read.

Today we're breaking down some of the best and most influential book series for adults, including:

  • Romance and romantasy book series that have made the jump from #Booktok to modern classics
  • Iconic book series that have defined their respective genres for decades
  • Pulse-pounding mysteries and thrillers you won't want to put down

And so much more. So without further ado, let's get to it!

A Court of Thorns and Roses

cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses, first book in one of the best book series for adults

🖋 Sarah J. Maas| 📚 Fantasy Romance // Romantasy | 📖 5 books

It's hard to talk about book series for adults without discussing Sarah J. Mass. She is the queen of fantasy romance (aka romantasy) books, and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series is right at the center of her work. The series follows huntress Feyre Archeron as she finds herself beyond the wall separating humans from the lands of the Fae. She finds herself tangled in events that will change the course of her life... not to mention the course of history. And with gorgeous Fae running all over the place, you can be sure the books get spicier as they go on. That's why this series that started out as YA now falls firmly in adult territory. There are currently 5 books, with more on the horizon.

ACOTAR is also widely recommended as the first of the author's three series that new readers should tackle. But if this one isn't your style or you want to dive in elsewhere, you can also try:

👑 Throne of Glass: Tells the story of assassin Celaena Sardothian as she goes from slave in salt mines to the King of Adarlan's castle as his personal assassin and beyond over 8 pulse-pounding books. The series is completed and falls firmly in YA territory, but has great characters and a world you won't want to leave. PS - Time considers it the best fantasy book series of the past decade!

🌙 Crescent City: An adult urban fantasy series with 3 books and a 4th under contract. Follows the adventures of half human, half fae Bryce Quinlain, assistant to a powerful sorceress and partnered up to solve a crime with broody jock Hunt Athalar, as she is sucked into adventures far bigger than she ever would have imagined for an assistant who prefers to party with her friends. This would be our primary recomendation as a series for adults, however books 2 and 3 of CC start a crossover between the worlds of ACOTAR. CC1 is a great standalone book, but you'll want to read  at least the first 3 ACOTAR books before continuing with the series.

Buy A Court of Thorns and Roses on Barnes & Noble >> 

Buy a Court of Thorns and Roses on Amazon >>

The Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit

beautiful edition of The Lord of the Rings with elvish writing on the side of the book and a cover featuring the ring and eye of sauron

🖋 JRR Tolkien | 📚 Epic Fantasy | 📖 4 books

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are classics. Pretty much every modern fantasy series -- from Harry Potter to ACOTAR -- is aware of and to some degree inspired by this masterwork. If you don't know already or haven't seen the movies, it's the tale of a fellowship of guardians, from hobbit to human, who set off on an epic journey to destroy the dangerous Ring of Power before it can fall into the wrong hands. Along with that? An allegory about how industrialization changed England while Tolkien was away fighting in WWI. With characters you'll love and layers and layers of depth, this is a series that is definitely worth the read if you haven't already.

Not to mention, JRR's son Christopher Tolkien worked with Tolkien scholars to compile his father's notes, letters, and other writings into additional texts to expand the already expansive world. JRR Tolkien set out to create a "mythology" for England... and with The Lord of the Ring's blend of Arthurian legend, mystical creatures, and high-stakes adventure, he creates one that will resonate with audiences for untold decades to come.

Buy The Lord of the Rings Illustrated Special Edition >> (pictured above)

Buy The Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit box set on Amazon >>

The Idiot + Either/Or

composite image showing the cover of Elif Batuman's novels The Idiot and Either/Or

🖋 Elif Batuman | 📚 Literary Fiction | 📖 2 books

Since the 2017 publication of Elif Batuman's Pulitzer Prize finalist novel The Idiot, fans have been eagerly awaiting the next installment. The books tell the semi-autobiographical story of student Selin as she navigates the complexities of college in 1990s, falls hopelessly in love with a classmate without understanding why, travels to Hungary, and analyzes her own every move.

As suggested by the name of the first novel, Batuman's writing was heavily inspired by the works of the Russian masters. "[They] really saw what was unfair in life for women and children in a way that no other part of serious discourse that I could see was talking about," Bauman commented in an NPR interview following the publication of Either/Or. No wonder the tales are set in academia. She goes on, "What I really got from those Russian novels is a potential way that I could take this threatening and menacing chaos of stories, and at least theoretically, reconcile them all into one single story."

This series is essential reading for anyone who remembers what it's like to be searching for your place in the world, or perhaps who feel like they might never be quite done "growing up."

Buy The Idiot on Barnes & Noble >>

Buy The Idiot on Amazon >>

The Alex Stern Series

composites image showing the covers of the Alex Stern book series for adults

🖋 Leigh Bardugo | 📚 Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy| 📖 2 books

This dark academia series is packed with murder, mystery, and ghosts that will thrill any reader. There are currently two books out, with one more novel and a novella also under contract -- but don't rule out additional books after those are finished. Galaxy "Alex" Stern has moved from her hippie mom's house in LA to the elite grounds of Yale to begin her freshman year of college. From quiet New Haven, Alex searches for answers -- unraveling the tangled web of shady boyfriends, crappy jobs, and the horrific multiple homicide that she survived. She'll explore Yale's secret societies, uncovering secrets ordinary and paranormal as she does.

Buy Ninth House on Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Ninth House on Amazon >>

The Godfather

the classic book the godfather by mario puzo

🖋 Mario Puzo | 📚 Crime | 📖 5 books

Read the iconic mafia book series behind the Francis Ford Coppola film. The saga follows American crime family the Corleones, starting in Sicily and ending up stateside. It is the definitive mafia novel, which has stood the test of time. A tale of family and society, law and order, obedience and rebellion, it reveals the dark passions of human nature played out against a backdrop of the American dream.

Buy The Godfather at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy The Godfather at Amazon >>

Flavia de Luce Mysteries

Flavia de Luce Mysteries series #1 cover The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie featuring a british postal stamp and a black bird lying on its back against a green background

🖋 Alan Bradley | 📚 Mystery | 📖 9 books

After a terrible tragedy leaves young Flavia de Luce all on her own, the aspiring chemist with a special interest in poisons finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw in 1950. Can the young girl solve this case, and the others that spring up in the rest of the series?

Buy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie on Amazon >>

Little Women

hardback book collecting the little women series

🖋 Louisa May Alcott | 📚 Classic Literature | 📖 4 books

Little Women is a classic piece of American Literature, telling the story of four sisters coming of age while their father fights in the Civil War. But the adventures of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy aren't over on the last page -- the series contains three other books as well. Little Wives, Little Men, and Jo's Boys follow the characters well into their adult lives.

Buy Little Women at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Little Women on Amazon >>


outlander book cover

🖋 Diana Gabaldon | 📚 Historical Fantasy Romance | 📖 9 books

With 9 out of 10 planned novels published and the last rumored to be complete any time now, it's the perfect time to get into this steamy fantasy series. The story follows Clare Randall, a former combat nurse enjoying her second honeymoon in the British Isles in 1945. That is, until she tosses a stone in to a circular formation common in the area and finds herself catapulted to the war-torn Scotland of 1743.

Her only chance of safety in this frightening new reality is a heroic young warrior named Jamie Fraser. Before long, Clare finds herself torn between two men, two lives -- as she struggles to find her place in time.

The series made a hue splash when the first book Outlander was released in the early 1990s, but a recent Stars tv show adaptation has once again catapulted the series back into the spotlight.

Buy Outlander at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Outlander from Amazon >>


abstract dune book cover showing a white cloaked figure walking through waving red sand dunes toward a star flecked horizon

🖋 Frank Herbert | 📚 Science Fiction | 📖 23 books

If you're looking for an immersive sci-fi series that you can truly get lost in, Frank Herbert's Dune will be the perfect escape from the stresses of every day life. This series -- with its intricate world building, memorable characters, and incredible scope -- is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings is to fantasy; the genre's seminal text.

This master work of science fiction includes family politics, religion, environmental concerns, and a mesmerizing battle for power. The saga begins on the desert planet Arrakis, as the hero known as the Maud'dib, prophesied to guide humanity in its goal of achieving the perfect society, is uncovered.

Buy Dune at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Dune at Amazon >>

Crazy Rich Asians

crazy rich asians

🖋 Kevin Kwan | 📚 Humor // Urban Fiction | 📖 3 books

Relaxing vacation trip? Not quite. If you thought meeting your partner's parents was hard, imagine finding out that they're one of the wealthiest families in Asia, and he's the most eligible bachelor. That's exactly how New Yorker Rachel Chu's summer trip to Singapore starts. Thus begins a vacation that's more scheming social ladder climbers and nosy relatives than chilling out on the beach.

Buy Crazy Rich Asians at Barnes & Nobles >>

Buy Crazy Rich Asians at Amazon >>

The Border Trilogy

Cormac McCarthy All the Pretty Horses The Border Trilogy Book 1

🖋 Cormac McCarthy| 📚 Western | 📖 3 books

Cormac McCarthy is known for his intense, darkly humorous, award-winning literature, and this series is no exception. It follows two young cowboys as they cross the US-Mexico border. The two boys come of age, watching their friendship change as well as their plans, in the dying American West. The first book in the series, All the Pretty Horses, took home the National Book Award.

If you can't tear yourself away from McCarthy's western adventures, he also has a variety of standalone novels and another series you can check out.

✈️ The Passenger Series: A two-volume series that follows a salvage diver looking for clues about the demise of a jet plane and the location of one of its passengers, and a mathematics doctoral candidate who has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital with the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

Buy All the Pretty Horses a Bones & Noble >>

Buy All the Pretty Horses on Amazon >> 

Ultimate Spider-Man

ultimate spider man graphic novel vol 1 cover

🖋 Brian Michael Bendis | 📚 Comics | 📖 160 issues

It's 2020's, and comics aren't just for kids anymore. Some titles, like alternate history Watchmen, make lists like the most important books of the last century (not to mention essential books to read in your 20s). They inspire multi-billion dollar movie franchises and tv shows. And this early 2000s comic run focuses on a fan favorite character, the uniquely American Spider-Man.

An unexpected commercial success, Ultimate Spider-Man sold roughly 20 billion copies and reached critical acclaim. The series contains several story arcs, following Queens-native Spider-Man Peter Parker until Miles Morales picks up the mantle. The series is available in 160 individual comics or 22 volumes of the comics bound into books. And if you want to get your hands on an original copy of the first comic, good luck -- it's considered one of the most valuable comic books of the Modern Age.

And if you grew up on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoons, this is definitely the series for you.

Buy Ultimate Spider-Man on Marvel >>

The Vampire Chronicles

interview with the vampire a novel in gothic print on a red background

🖋 Anne Rice | 📚 Gothic Fiction | 📖 13 books

What would you ask first if you could sit a vampire down for an interview? The vampire Louis recounts his life with mesmerizing beauty -- the dangerous, the erotic, the love and loss, and everything in between.

Buy Interview with The Vampire at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Interview with The Vampire at Amazon >>

Robert Langdon Series

angels and demons book cover

🖋 Dan Brown | 📚 Crime Thriller | 📖 4 books

Robert Langdon is a world-renowned Harvard professor specializing in symbology and religious iconography. When a series of deadly puzzles are revealed, the CIA hires him for work that takes him from The Vatican to Paris to Washington DC and beyond in this 4 book series and several subsequent standalone novels.

Buy Angles & Demons via Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Angles & Demons via Amazon >>

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy book 1 in the series

🖋 Douglas Adams | 📚 Science Fiction | 📖 5 books

Ford Perfect has been posing as an out-of-work actor for fifteen years. In reality? He's been conducting research for the next edition of an intergalactic guidebook. When Earth is scheduled for demolition, he plucks his ordinary (and very much human) friend Arthur Dent out of his daily life and the duo sets off on a series of adventures around the galaxy.

Buy Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on Amazon >>

The Dark Tower Series

the gunslinger

🖋 Stephen King | 📚 Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy | 📖 7 books

Before the Dark Tower series, I don't know that anyone would have called Stephen King's many works a universe. But The Gunslinger introduces one of King's most powerful villains -- and connects to several of the other books in King's impressive collection. Some of these inclde:

  • Salem's Lot
  • Insomnia
  • Hearts in Atlantis
  • The Shining
  • Cell

And more. If you're a fan of spooky paranormal fiction, this series is one you won't want to miss.

Buy The Gunslinger on Barnes & Noble >>

Buy The Gunslinger from Amazon >>

A Song of Ice and Fire

a game of thrones illustrated edition

🖋 George RR Martin | 📚 Historical Fantasy| 📖 5 books

George RR Martin might be a notoriously slow writer, but most of the series that inspired HBO's hit show Game of Thrones is complete and ready to read. Follow several kingdoms and the power brokers in each as the battle for supremacy... and to conquer the evil magic that threatens their land.

Buy A Game of Thrones at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy A Game of Thrones at Amazon >>

The Brown Sisters Series

get a life chloe brown

🖋 Talia Hibbert | 📚  Romance | 📖 3 books

Looking for a charming rom com of a book series? Then this is for you. Three quirky sisters each get their own happily-ever after. Not to mention the diverse cast -- The Brown Sisters contains characters who are differently abled, dark-skinned, and plus sized, offering spicy romance that's not just bout white people. Many readers consider it an excellent example of just how diverse and inclusive the romance genre is.

The series includes LGBTQ+ romance (specifically, a character who is openly bisexual and  allowed to simply exist as such) as well as beloved tropes like enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, and more.

Buy Get a Life, Chloe Brown at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Get a Life, Chloe Brown at Amazon >>

A Discovery of Witches

deborah harkness a discovery of witches

🖋 Deborah Harkness | 📚 Paranormal Romance | 📖 3 books

Get ready for your new favorite fantasy romance series. Diana is a witch who does the unthinkable -- she falls in love with a vampire. Lured into a magical underworld by an ancient alchemic manuscript, she finds herself tangled in events centuries in the making.

Buy A Discovery of Witches on Barnes & Noble >>

Buy A Discovery of Witches on Amazon >>

Parable of the Sower

Post-Apocalyptic series Parable of the sower

🖋 Octavia E. Butler | 📚 Dystopian | 📖 2 books

Fans of The Handmaid's Tale will absolutely obsess over this harrowing tail of a dismal, post climate change future. It is a warning of what the not so distance future could look like if environmental concerns are not taken seriously. From water shortages to desperate vagabonds, a fifteen-year-old girl will do anything to survive as she chases her destiny.

Buy Parable of the Sower on Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Parable of the Sower on Amazon >>

The Witcher Saga

the blood of elves cover

🖋 Andrzej Sapkowski | 📚 Fantasy | 📖 8 books

After an era of tentative peace between the creatures -- dwarves and humans, gnomes and elves -- are fighting once again. As famed hunter Gerald of Rivia awaits the birth of a prophesied child, the situation only deteriorates. But the chid, it is said, will have powers than can change world. Whether for good or evil remains to be seen. You'll want to binge read the whole thing -- and then maybe the Netflix series too!

Buy The Blood of Elves from Barnes & Noble >>

Buy The Blood of Elves from Amazon >>

The Maple Hills Series

icebreaker book

🖋 Hannah Grace | 📚 Romance | 📖 3 books

Booktok sensation and enemies-to-lovers sensation, Icebreaker is the story of a competitive figure skater and hockey player who start out at odds but end up together. When she has to look to him to take her shot at the spotlight, will she achieve her dreams?

Buy Icebreaker at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Icebreaker at Amazon >>

Dublin Murder Squad

dublin murder squad books

🖋 Tana French | 📚 Mystery | 📖 6 books

For the first book in the series, the Dublin Murder Squad seeks to uncover a string of girsly child murders stretching back decades.

Buy In the Woods at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy In the Woods at Amazon >>

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

sherlock holmes book

🖋 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | 📚 Classic Literature | 📖 62 stories

It's elementary, my dear Watson, to include Sherlock Holmes on this list of iconic series for adult readers. With mysteries spanning 4 novels and 48 short stories, there are plenty of daring tales to keep you hooked.

Buy The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from Barnes & Noble >>

Buy The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from Amazon >>

Midnight Riot

rivers of london

🖋 Ben Aaaonovitch | 📚 Fantasy | 📖 9 books

In a delightful cross between crime drama and fantasy tale, the Midnight Riot follows plain clothes constable Peter Grant, who also just happens the first wizard apprentice in 50 years.

Buy Rivers of London at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Rivers of London at Amazon >>

Red Rising

red rising 1 book cover

🖋 Pierce Brown | 📚 Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy| 📖 6 books

In the future, castes are color coded... and Darrow is a member of the lowest Red class. He toils all day to make sure the planet Mars will be inhabitable for future generations. But the Red won't stay down for long.

Buy Red Rising at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Red Rising at Amazon >>

The Neapolitan Quartet

book 1 of the neopolitan quartet book series for adults

🖋 Elena Ferrante | 📚 Bildungsroman | 📖 4 books

Two girls - Lila and Elena -- meet as children. The first installment leaves the friends in adolescence, but the series covers 60 years of their lives. It goes from their childhood in the 1950s through the girls becoming women, wives, mothers, and leaders.

Buy My Brilliant Friend at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy My Brilliant Friend at Amazon >>

One for the Money

one for the money 5th anniversary edition

🖋 Janet Evanovitch | 📚 Crime | 📖 28 books

Stephanie Plum's first assignment is to catch a murderer -- but not just any murderer. This one happens to be her ex.

Buy One for the Money at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy One for the Money at Amazon >>


cover of mistborn showing a thief sailing through the sky

🖋 Brandon Sanderson | 📚 Fantasy| 📖 9 books

For thousands of years, there has been ash instead of flowers. But all of that might be about to change. A rebellion is kicking up, ready to challenge the Lord Ruler. And all of it hinges on expert thief Kelsier, his team, and his new apprentice, Vin. Will they be able to pull it off?

Buy Mistborn at Barnes & Noble >>

Buy Mistborn at Amazon >>

As you can see, book series for adults come in all variety of genres.

We've done our best to include a sampling of the best book series for adults, period. From Romance to Crime, Fantasy to Literary Fiction to Sci-Fi, we hope you've found a series or two for your TBR. Don't see your favorite series here? Drop us a line! You might see it in a future update of this article.

Happy reading! 📚

Apr 19, 2024