Happy World Book Day to all voracious readers who are finally getting through their libraries of books they always meant to read some day! The same wishes go to all others stuck at home wondering what to do.
If you find yourself in either camp, why not check out the list of books below? It’s designed to help you chew through the time inside, as all of these works contain at least a dozen novels, with some stretching into the many dozens.
The Oz Books by L. Frank Baum
While most readers are likely familiar with The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum’s first entry in the series – made immortal by Judy Garland and the ruby slippers – but Baum actually produced 14 novels and a number of short stories set in the magical fairyland of Oz. Dorothy and Toto get into many adventures with an ever-expanding cast of colorful characters that never see the light of day in the movie. Baum’s novels are now in the public domain, making them accessible to parents stuck at home wondering what to read to their children.
Baum died in 1919, leaving The Magic of Oz and Glinda of Oz to be published posthumously. From there, Baum’s estate allowed the already extensive Oz library to be expanded by Ruth Plumly Thompson, Oz illustrator John R. Neill, Jack Snow, and others. The canonical series currently stands at 50 novels, with the latest published in 2014, a publication run of 114 years at present.
The Allan Quartermain Series by Sir H. Rider Haggard
Debuting in King Solomon’s Mines, Allan Quartermain is a professional big game hunter and adventurer who’s literary existence covers 50 years of his life, mostly set in the scramble for Africa. Holding some surprisingly enlightened views of Africans for books written in the late 19th and early 20th century, Haggard pioneered the “lost world” genre, inspiring authors including Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. P. Lovecraft.
Haggard used Quartermain in 13 novels and two collections of short stories. Some characters Quartermain encounters in his adventures have their own novels – also penned by Haggard – with the expanded universe totaling 18 novels in this fashion.
The Arsène Lupin Series by Maurice Leblanc
The anti-Sherlock Holmes, Arsène Lupin is a gentleman thief, master of disguise, and do-gooder who operates on the wrong side of the law. Usually doing his harm to villains worse than himself, the Frenchman Lupin also goes head to head against England’s most famous detective, though a legal objection from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle led Leblanc reframing the name into Herlock Sholmes.
Lupin featured in 17 novels, dozens of novellas, and numerous short stories penned by Leblanc, published between 1905 and 2012. This long time span occurred thanks to the 21st century discovery of an unpublished Lupin novel, originally penned around 1936.
The Hercule Poirot Series by Dame Agatha Christie
The prolific Dame Agatha Christie wrote 66 novels and innumerable short stories during her long and storied career, with several detectives taking center stage in her work. Miss Marple bears mentioning for appearing in 12 novels and numerous short stories, but it is the mustachioed Belgian (not French!) detective Hercule Poirot who dominated Christie’s work.
The punctual detective uses the “little gray cells” in his brain to logically work his way through mysteries in 33 novels, two plays, and more than 50 short stories. Poirot’s career under Christie came to a close with 1975’s Curtain, but was resurrected in 2014 through the work of Sophie Hannah, with Christie’s estate permitting three novels from Hannah thus far.
Extraordinary Voyages by Jules Verne
It was Jules Verne’s editor Jules Hetzel who came up with the idea to group Verne’s works under a general collection title. Three novels that came to be labeled in this series had already been published when Hetzel introduced his marketing feat, later claiming the goal of the Extraordinary Voyages sequence was “to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astronomical knowledge amassed by modern science and to recount, in an entertaining and picturesque format...the history of the universe.”
While not a series in the most commonly understood sense (there are few linked characters or plots) Verne’s sequence of adventure and science fiction novels comprises 54 volumes. Based on the loose understanding of “series” in this context, there is no need to read these in any particular order. The sequence includes all of the father of science fiction’s best known works, including “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
So grab some tea, a few snacks, and gather the family around! Believe it or not, there will come a day when we long for the time to be quiet and lose ourselves in a good book series. Make use of this time while you have it!
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