Best Book Series to Escape Reality

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My husband, Zack, makes fun of me because recently I can’t pay attention to movies to save my life.  I’m too easily distracted and a movie has to be realllllly good to hold my attention.  But.  I love reading.  I’m especially into fantasy/sci-fi series right now . . . in our political climate we can all use a little escapism, right??  I, for one, look forward to crawling into bed at the end of the day (or sometimes during the day . . . #pregnancyproblems) and reading the latest installment of whatever series I’m currently obsessed with.

Here are some of my recent favorites, in no particular order:

  1. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

    • After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
    • I actually started these books after I read Maas’ Court of Thorns & Roses Series (see below), but this series quickly became my favorite.  I can’t wait for the 7th book to come out in October of this year.
  2. A Court of Thorns & Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas

    • When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
    • I devoured these three books (fourth one is due out in May of this year) and even had Zack listen to them on our long road trip this past summer (he liked them).  There’s obvious allusion to Beauty & the Beast, but the story goes beyond that theme and these books are incredibly sexy.
  3. The Kingfountain Series by Jeff Wheeler

    • King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.
    • I read these books right after I watched The White Princess on Starz and found myself recognizing the parts of the storyline.  Wheeler often borrows ideas, characters, or storylines from history and explains how at the end of each of these books.  I loved all six books (and so did Shana!)
  4. Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

    • Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone… 
      Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
    • Six of Crows is a heist story . . . think Ocean’s Eleven but set in a fantasy world with teenagers instead of George and Brad.  So far there’s only two planned books for this series (both out) but Bardugo said she may write more many years down the road.
  5. Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix

    • Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. . . .
    • I read the first three books of this trilogy years ago after finishing Harry Potter and was looking for another series with magic and fantasy.  I just noticed that two more have been published since, so I’ll be reading these soon.
  6. Bartimeaus Series by Jonathan Stroud

    • Nathaniel is a magician’s apprentice, taking his first lessons in the arts of magic. But when a devious hot-shot wizard named Simon Lovelace ruthlessly humiliates Nathaniel in front of his elders, Nathaniel decides to kick up his education a few notches and show Lovelace who’s boss. With revenge on his mind, he summons the powerful djinni, Bartimaeus. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal Lovelace’s greatest treasure, the Amulet of Samarkand, he finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder, and rebellion.
    • I was looking for a series to fill the void after finishing Harry Potter and found this one.  LOVE these books . . . they’re funny, creative and engrossing from chapter one.  If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’ll love this series.
  7. Red Rising Series by Pierce Brown

    • If you loved Hunger Games & Divergent, this series is for you.  I’m currently on the second book and can’t wait to read it every night.  Four out of five books have been published, with the 5th due Sept 11 of this year.

Ok, now your turn!  What other recommendations do you have for people who like fantasy and sci-fi like me?




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  1. I’ve been rereading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books for the last year and a half. They’re fantasy, so it’s escapism, but they’re also funny, relevant satire.

    • Second that, and Ernest Cline’s other book too. They’re more sci fi and less fantasy, though just as fantastical as any you mentioned, Scotti.

  2. The “Outlander” series by Diana Gabeldon is THE BEST EVER. One of the best love stories of all time, plus some time travel and a good dose of witch craft and Scottish history!

  3. Thank you for all the great reading recommendations. I love a good fantasy series. Recently I read a two book series by Alexandra Bracken: Passenger and Wayfarer, that I loved. It is a time travel series with a kick ass heroine, crazy adventures, and is extremely well written. And congratulations on the pregnancy. Mothering is the ultimate adventure!

  4. I’m another ya fan too! I’d recommend ember in the ashes and steelheart (both have multiple books in the series out now)

  5. allisongryski on

    Oh I loved the Sabriel books. Have you read any Diana Wynne Jones? She wrote something like 40 books and there are so many of my favourites among them. Intended age ranges from children to YA to adult. I suggest Deep Secret or Howl’s Moving Castle or Charmed Life to begin. You probably would also like Robin McKinley (try Spindle’s End or The Blue Sword) and Patricia McKillip (try Od Magic ). Oh and Sharon Shinn (start with Archangel or Troubled Waters- each the first of a series). Happy reading! I can’t wait to try some of your recommendations.

  6. I recently enjoyed The Shifting Tides series by James Maxwell (4 book series, all available). Ancient Greek/Roman inspired fantasy, with some themes that I think translate well to how to treat others in the current day.

    And obviously Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, the Hunger Games. The Kingkiller Chronicle (planned trilogy, 2 books available now) by Patrick Rothfuss is another commonly cited favorite fantasy series, but while I enjoyed it it definitely wasn’t my favorite.

    The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin is next on my list! Books 1 & 2 won the Hugo Award for 2016 & 2017!

  7. I loved The Name of the Wind and the following books (The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss), but I’ll warn you that the last books ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and the next book doesn’t have a firm publication date as far as I know. Also, pretty much anything by N.K. Jemisen is fantastic (I think the Dreamblood books were my favorite, but the Broken Earth series was also amazing). I also loved The Bone Clocks, but that one is not quite so much fantasy as it is dystopian sci fi. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are light, fun fairy tale/sci fi/fantasy books, and I thought the Grisha Verse books by Leigh Bardugo were really good and bit different than the standard fare. I also echo the vote for Ready Player One!

    • Yes! The Kingkiller Chronicles and NK Jemisen’s Broken Earth series are both recent favorites of mine! On straight SciFi, I just finished The Three Body Problem trilogy, which was mind-blowing…

  8. John Varley’s Thunder and Lightening series is my favorite of all time. I’m also a big Arthur C Clark fan. I pretty much exclusively read non-distopian sci-fi, but I don’t read much fantasy. I’ll check out a few of your recommendations to see if I can stomach some of that fantasy. 🙂

  9. Such a great post, I’m a huge fantasy and Garth Nix fan!
    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke is a stand alone book but is fantastic.
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly is another favorite.
    I also loved American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    The Magicians series by Lev Grossman is on my list to read next, and I love the Syfy TV show based off of it.

  10. These books were all amazing! If you enjoyed them, you would love most of Amy Bartol’s series’ as well as the Kingkiller Series by Patrick Rothfuss!

  11. Thank you Scotti, I love this post!

    I’ll add anything by Anne Bishop, especially the Others series (book one is Written In Red). The world building is fantastic. I also really like The Voice, but it’s a stand alone.

    Sci-fi mixed with fantasy would be the Innkeeper Chronicles from Ilona Andrews (first book is Clean Sweep). This husband/wife writing team are refereed to as the Authorlords by their “book devouring horde.” They are incredibly generous and have been releasing each Innkeeper book in sections for free on their blog. Then when the book is complete you can buy it fully edited, and often with extended extras. I’ll read anything they write, the Kate Daniels’s series, Hidden Legacy (do not be fooled by the god awful covers), the Kinsmen series, etc…

    Then there is the fantasy assassin series (with a little sci-fi) from Steven Brust about Valad Taltos (first book set is The Book of Jhereg). This classic series was not published in chronological order, and there is some debate as to which is the best method to use when reading through the books. Some readers feel you should follow the story in chronological order, but I’m a dork and prefer to read it in the order the author published.

    I just finished a short, but growing series from Zoe Parker (first book Elusion, Facets of Feyrie #1). This was different take on the Faye world. I will say the first book has some really dark themes that I am usually against reading. However; Parker uses this background to help the reader understand the path the main character takes as the series progresses. Some content was uncomfortable to read, but it’s done with purpose. Her character development is very good.

    I could go on forever, truly. Reading, especially fantasy and sci-fi, is my jam! I’ve even read the book series based of the World of Warcraft video game. Yep, if you can write a decent story about a cool made up world, I’m totally there!

    Thanks again for the recommendations!

  12. The Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder is a wonderful series of books about a food tester. A prison can be saved from a hanging to become the King’s food tester instead and this book is a great sci-fi read from start to finish. It starts one place and ends somewhere you don’t think it will. Highly recommend.

  13. THIS IS MY JAM! Definitely The Outlander Series! I also highly recommend the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness & The Tearling Trilogy by Erika Johansen. The Invisible Library series. There’s also a female Sherlock Holmes rewrite that is so gooooood.

  14. This may be among my favorite posts ever (: I agree with a lot of these recommendations. Also the Wrath and the Dawn series and the Red Queen series.

  15. Sydney Oswald on

    100% the best book I’ve ever read is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. It’s the first book in the Chaos Walking series and has this amazing world of alien life and mankind’s attempt to survive. It’s one of those books I wish everyone would give a chance.

  16. I really liked the Throne of Glass books. Will definitely check out some of the other titles you mention. And I support the recommendation of Ilona Andrews! My favorite fantasy author these days is Brandon Sanderson. Everything he writes is brilliant. Complex characters (strong and interesting women), great plots and amazing world building. I started by reading the Mistborn trilogy and loved it. I just finished “Oathbringer” which is the third book in the Stormlight Archives series, and I think it’s the best fantasy books I’ve ever read (that coming from someone who’s been addicteed to fantasy for over 20 years).
    For those of you who are more into urban fantasy I recommend the books by Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs.

  17. Robin Hobb, start with the Farseer Trilogy and then the Fitz and the Fool series. I enjoy young adult fantasy, I really do, but sometimes I need “more” and Hobb delivers every time. She is my most read author. I think it’s the way she writes with depth and heart, big themes that mean the most.

  18. My daughter is an avid reader and this is her favorite genre. She’s read Hunger Games, Divergent…she started with Harry Potter in 2nd grade! It’s hard to keep up with her. So I’m constantly looking for new recommendations for her that aren’t TOO mature (although she is pretty mature). Do you have any recommendations for her? Also, how do I get her to branch out? It seems like dystopian fiction and sci-fi is all she reads this day – is there such thing as “too much” of a good thing when it comes to this particular genre?

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