Biblio File, Stuff for the Teen Age
Move over, Binge-Watching...
... because it's time for some binge-reading.
It’s still the beginning of resolution season, and we suspect that some of you have vowed that this year, you’ll turn off the TV, stop looking at your phone, and open a book instead.
We wanted to start 2016 with some series that you might want to race through the same way you once raced through Master of None and Making a Murderer.
We asked our NYPL book experts to name the first book (in a series of at least three) that’s worthy of binge-reading all in one go. Lots of young-adult titles came up, and lots of fantasy that takes you out of this world. Binge on!
Wizards, Dragons, & More
A new beginning… something epic to warm the cold months… perhaps tales of heroic exploits against giants, wyrms, and forgotten horrors will do the trick. John Gwynne’s debut novel, Malice, is the first in The Faithful and the Fallen series. The tag line? “Even the brave will fall.” —Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil
His Majesty’s Dragon is the first book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. The premise is essentially Horatio Hornblower with dragons (!), and I fell so in love with the protagonists and supporting cast that I read the first seven books in a marathon session on vacation one week. The final book is being released this year, so it’s a good time to catch up! —Jennifer Moakler, New Dorp
Eragon (book #1 of the Inheritance cycle) by Christopher Paolini. I am a gigantic sucker for anything resembling the Middle Ages; it could be a really cool era to live! And the citizens of the fictional country of Alagaesia do just that in a phantasmic world where elves exist and dragon riders once reigned. —Joseph Pascullo, Grand Central
I’ve always loved the Earthsea trilogy; the first book is A Wizard of Earthsea. The books are dark, brooding and nuanced. Perfect for cold winter days! —Jennifer Craft, Mulberry Street
Perhaps the next Game of Thrones, the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss have recently been signed over to Lionsgate for a movie, TV, and video game deal. This means it’s the perfect time to read the series so that you can be the person who says, “well you know, the movie wasn’t as good as the book!” I’m currently reading the first book, The Name of the Wind. —Andrey Syroyezhkin, Dorot Jewish Division
Well, I won’t say Game of Thrones (even though I truly binged that series!) because I know from the constant hold list that many of you are already binging it. How about Wild Seed by Octavia Butler? It’s the first of five books that span several centuries, beginning with two immortal (or nearly so) creatures—one a healer and one a manipulator who breeds humans with special powers. —Danita Nichols, Inwood
I love Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas—an entertaining Cinderella-inspired tale about an assassin on a great journey. —Lilian Calix, Hamilton Grange
Fablehaven (book #1 in the Fablehaven 5-book cycle) by Brandon Mull. Every several months, I reread this series! I am almost done re-reading the series for my fourth time. Check out the book, ebook, or the entire series on ebook. —Alexander Mouyios, 67th Street
I love the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison, which are super-quick reads for readers who would enjoy an alternate history story about a magical law enforcement agent with a little steamy side action thrown in. I also love that all the titles are based on Clint Eastwood movies. —Lauren Bradley, George Bruce
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. Amazing characters, awesome action sequences, steamy romances, political intrigue, and a unique magic system make this series a must read for epic fantasy fans. —Althea Georges, Mosholu
The Magicians series by Lev Grossman, or as I like to call it, “Harry Potter with wine and sex.” :) —Ronni Krasnow, Morningside Heights
It’s not be the most cheerful binge-read, but each book of Pat Barker’s slim-volumed Regeneration trilogy left me feeling haunted and appreciating anew the political importance of arts and letters. They’re WWI novels for those of us who don’t usually gravitate toward military history. —Carolyn Broomhead, Research Division
Who wouldn’t want to escape into a life of luxury in a New York brownstone during the early 20th century with Rex Stout’s hero detective Nero Wolfe? The first novel in the series is Fer-de-lance. Always captivating are the discussions of food, whether Wolfe is planning the menu with his personal chef Fritz or in conversation with the maitre d’ about the goulash at his favorite restaurant, Rusterman’s. And Archie always has a sandwich or a piece of pie with a glass of milk when he’s dispatched from the house at meal-time. If you are not satisfied with reading about the food you might even arrange to have a copy of the Nero Wolfe cookbook handy in order to whet your own appetite while you binge-read. —Virginia Bartow, Special Collections
The convenience of round the clock e-borrowing made this binge-reading possible. The Daughters of Caleb Bender series by Dale Cramer is an Amish historical fiction series that literally kept me up all night—I downloaded part 2 at 11 p.m. and part 3 at 4 a.m. It’s the sad saga of an Amish family that moves from 1920s Ohio to escape U.S. authorities who wanted them to conform to “American culture.” They sought sanctuary in the wilds of Mexico, far from government interference, only to find their pacifism severely challenged by terrorizing bandits who threaten their very existence. —Jean Harripersaud, Bronx Library Center
For historical and fantastical binge-reading, how about the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. The first book is about a World War II nurse who travels back in time from 1945 to 1743 Scotland, where she meets Scottish highlanders before the Jacobite risings. With elements of fantasy, romance, mystery and historical fiction, there’s a little to appeal to everyone. —Leslie Bernstein, Mott Haven
Crime writer James Ellroy brings American history to life in the Underworld USA trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood’s a Rover. Historical figures and Ellroy’s own creations mingle as he imagines the intersection of American politicians and the criminal underworld between 1958-1973. I think he described the theme of the trilogy best when he stated, “The essential contention of the Underworld USA trilogy…is that America was never innocent.” —Charlie Radin, Inwood
To start the New Year, read the books that started the Nordic Noir wave: the Martin Beck series of 10 crime novels by the Swedish husband-wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. The Beck books were first published in 1965–1975, and their popularity has scarcely waned since, in Sweden and around the world. Roseanna, about the mysterious body dredged out of a cross-country canal, is the first in the series; there’s a list of the titles in order here. —Kathie Coblentz, Special Collections
I have to recommend My Struggle by Karl Ove Knaugaard. The first four have already have published English translations, and they’re each pretty long. It’s enough to keep you company until the weather gets warm again. There’s no murder mystery, but if you like people-watching, books set in Scandinavia or autofiction, they are pretty tough to put down. —Alexis Walker, Epiphany
Transport yourself into medieval Norway with the trilogy of well-researched books that form the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. This series won Sigrid Undset the Nobel Prize when it was originally written in the 1920s and has since captivated readers by its authentic depiction of the everyday hardships and strict religious and moral codes proscribing rural life in the Middle Ages. —Jeremy Megraw, Library for the Performing Arts
Manga & Graphic Novels
I have to forcibly look in another direction if anything from the world of Neil Gaiman’s dark fantasy series The Sandman is within eyeshot. I might say the same for the Japanese manga series about cooking Oishinbo. Both are quite different from each other, but are similarly addictive. —Melisa Tien, Library for the Performing Arts
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi is the binge-worthy beginning to the greatest space romance ever told in panels, in which the bumbling and ordinary blossoms into the epic and extraordinary. Featuring what is arguably the most beautiful art in manga, with a full cast of relatable characters, the tale told within these pages is a rare confection that will elicit smiles, tears, and a belief that even the least likely to succeed can find a hero inside. —Daniel Norton, Mid-Manhattan
I’m a fan of the Wake trilogy—Wake, Fade, Gone—by Lisa McMann. They’re about Janie, a 17-year-old high school student who is inexplicably pulled into the dreams of others in close proximity to her. She has no power to stop it, which proves to be chilling and intriguing. —Maura Muller, Volunteer Office
Reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is like eating popcorn for me...one handful after another with a smile on my face. One for the Money introduces Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter in Jersey with a trash-talking grandmother, an on-and-off boyfriend, and some questionable partners. —Melissa Scheurer, Mid-Manhattan
Alexander McCall Smith is my go-to author for binge reading. He has so many series that take a reader on a journey to foreign countries, usually Botswana and Scotland, and by the end of each book, he’s painted vivid portraits of the recurring characters while you’ve laughed and empathized as they solved mysteries. My favorite series are The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street. —Shayla Titley, Membership Programs
When you run out of books in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, you realize that Camilla Läckberg writes a very similar style of book, where she uses character arcs to get you pulled into the storyline and make you want to read more. Try The Ice Princess and its numerous following books. —Erin Arlene Horanzy, Francis Martin
I was thrilled to discover the thrilling Victorian William Monk series of mysteries by Anne Perry. (The first one is Face of a Stranger, available only as an e-book.) Not only did I have many more Monk mysteries to discover, but I could also circle back and pick up on her other series, featuring the socially mismatched Thomas and Charlotte Pitt. —Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Library for the Performing Arts
A Touch of Humor
Thursday Next is a literary detective who jumps—literally—into books to solve mysteries and keep wayward characters in line. In the first installment, The Eyre Affair, Thursday has to chase Hades (really) through the pages of Jane Eyre to rescue Bronte’s heroine and save the day… and the madcap action only gets crazier and funnier from there. Perfect for anyone looking for a literary laugh. —Gwen Glazer, Readers Services
If you’re jonesing for some 1930s, screwball comedy look no further than prolific mystery writer Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series. Starting with Her Royal Spyness, our amateur sleuth is Lady Georgianna Rannoch, 34th in line for the English throne (not that anyone is counting). The mysteries are slight, but the cast of screwball characters, royal family cameos, and Georgie’s indomitable spirit make for loads of yummy fun! —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street
In addition to Harry Potter, my favorite binge read series, I have to add Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series. The first book is Etiquette and Espionage. It’s a fun steampunk YA series with humor and suspense all in one. —Dawn Collins, West Farms
John Fante's The Saga of Arturo Bandini. The four semi-autobiographical novels are readable and comically self depreciating. Read as a series, we view the whole of a life of limited potential and mediocrity, relatable to many of us. I found them hard to put down. —Seth Pompi, Ottendorfer
Wool, the first book in the Hugh Howey’s Silo series, captivated me from the get-go. The postapocalyptic mystery set in a subterranean city starts out by following a sheriff’s search for the reasons behind his wife’s death. The twists and turns had me racing through the rest of the books; as soon as one mystery was solved, another quickly developed. —Rosa Caballero-Li, Ask NYPL
I highly recommend the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. It’s the story of a girl named Tally who expects to undergo a medical procedure that will make her pretty when she turns 16, but she learns that the procedure is not what she expects. It’s the beginning of a YA dystopian science fiction series that will make readers think about identity, standards of beauty, and brave new worlds. —Andrea Lipinski, Kingsbridge
Sagas of Families and Friendship
The Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block is so intensely vivid that it is worth binge re-reading. These stories of free-spirited youth living in LA and dealing with love, friendship, and heartache will make you wish for a Secret Agent Lover Man all your own. Block’s poetic and musical writing style creates a unique voice that will stay with you. —Rebecca Dash Donsky, 67th Street
My favorite book of all time is the first in a series. In Ten Tiny Breaths by KA Tucker, Kacey Cleary survived a car crash that killed her parents, best friend, and boyfriend. Now she is trying to leave her past behind using her mother’s advice to take 10 breaths when times get tough, as she moves herself and her sister to Miami. This is a story of redemption, forgiveness, and second chances as Kacey falls for her neighbor Trent. Each book in the series tells a different person in the friends’ story. The second book is One Tiny Lie, third is Four Seconds to Lose and the fourth is Five Ways to Fall. —Morgan O’Reilly, Aguilar
The Dollanganger/Flowers in the Attic series by V.C. Andrews was my go-to binge-read as an angsty tween. Not only did it improve my budding vocabulary by introducing concepts such as “dopplegangers,” but it has a wealth of Southern Gothic embellishments that drip off the pages like wisteria on a late spring evening. This twisted family saga has the stuff that series addictions are made of. —Sherri Machlin, Mulberry Street
Jenny and the Cat Club series by Esther Averill. It’s a real oldie, beautifully reissued by the New York Review of Books. You cannot find a better role model than Jenny Linsky, the adventurous red scarf-wearing black cat whose New York stories are captured in such books as The School for Cats, The Hotel Cat, and Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure. I think I love these books more now than when I read them as a child. —Jeff Katz, Chatham Square
As a kid, I loved reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. The author never talked down to his readers, and I learned quite a lot of vocabulary words from these richly detailed adventure books, which feature a large cast of animal characters. —Christina Lebec, Bronx Library Center
I recommend this series to everyone, even if they aren’t asking for my opinion! I am obsessed with Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. Red Rising is the first of the series. When Darrow learns the truth about society’s caste system and his own status, he is determined to bring it down by any means necessary. The last book in the trilogy will be coming out this year! —Susen Shi, Mid-Manhattan
Tamora Pierce (Gets Her Own Category!)
I read the Immortals series by Tamora Pierce nearly every year. The series, originally intended for younger readers, begins with Wild Magic and tells the story of Daine, a young girl who finds that she has a remarkable gift: She can talk to animals. This four-book series has a lot of adventure, a ton of magic, and an unforgettable cast of characters. I find myself not only reading it over and over, but recommending it just as often. —Alexandria Abenshon, Yorkville
Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series. I recommend First Test to patrons looking for books about strong girls who don’t let themselves get pushed around. —Louise Lareau, Children’s Room
Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.
Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!