A few years ago, I finally abandoned my Kindle. The convenience was nice, but I missed the connection I formed with physical books; the tiny details of their covers I memorized while reading them, their familiar weights as I tucked them into totes. I especially missed the feeling of being about a quarter of the way into a good one, chunks of pages before and after in my hands, a sense of so much left to go coursing through me. What’s better than that feeling?
I was recently thinking about how often I felt that as a kid, when every book I read was part of series, sometimes (ideally) one that stretched into the double digits. Back then, when I finished a book, I didn’t need to hug it to my chest wistfully like I do today. I simply cracked open the next one and the next one. Why don’t novels for adults ever do that? I want a part two of The Art of Fielding! Or Normal People! Or The Goldfinch! Adulthood so rarely promises sustained goodness — it’s all about accepting ebbs and flows, that good things don’t last — but must that apply to books?
This dearth of adult series occurred to me when I heard about Outline by Rachel Cusk, a work of literary fiction that’s part of a three-part series, the other two being Transit and Kudos. It seemed so unusual I bought it immediately, eager to love a set of characters and then love them a second and third time, like I did as a kid. (I’ll report back as to whether that happens.) It made me wonder: Am I out of the adult series loop? Which made me think: I should ask the Man Repeller community.
The book series most often recommend by adults, in my experience, are works of young adult fiction, which definitely have their place, but one that’s rarely for me. I’m curious about something a little more mature. Literary works that stand on their own two feet but also extend beyond themselves. Elena Ferrante’s books come to mind (which I enjoyed), but few others. Are they out there? Have you read them and loved them? For me and anyone in search of the euphoria of holding onto something good and having so much left to go, what’s an incredible book series written for adults?
Graphic by Madeline Montoya.