Top 5 Popular Series That I’ve Never Read (and Probably Never Will)

I got this idea from the brilliant @ May’s Book Vault, so please check out her post after mine! I thought this was the perfect follow on from my childhood favourites series, because instead of hearing about the books I have read, you get to hear which ones I haven’t!

I’ve decided to just focus on popular series that I haven’t read, but I might do a similar post for stand-alone books in the future.

Without further ado, let’s begin looking at the big gaps in my reading of popular literature!

The Divergent Series

This series followed The Hunger Games (which I have read) to dominate popular culture when I was a teenager. I actually own all the books, but I just never got round to them. I was told not to watch the films until I’ve read the books, and subsequently I’ve completely missed the Divergent series.

I think it was purely just a timing problem, because I think I bought them at the same time as the Maze Runner series, which went on to being one of my favourites. I don’t really see why I would read these now, especially considering I remember hearing some more negative things about the later books. This was definitely a series I should’ve read in my teenage years.

The Mortal Instruments Series

This is one I am quite sad that I missed, and once again it is a simple matter of timing. I actually borrowed City of Bones from the library, but I was reading Pride and Prejudice at the time so I had to return it before I got the chance to start it. I’ve seen rave reviews about it, and everyone on BookTube was obsessed with these books years ago, so it really is on me.

The main reason that I wouldn’t read this series now is because I think I’ve outgrown them. It’s also a matter of buying books that aren’t my favourite genre just for the sake of it (I’m really trying to reduce my book buying). I’d never say never, but my never reading them is as close as possible.

The A Song of Ice and Fire Series

A.k.a The Game of Thrones series. What could be more popular in modern times that this TV show? Unfortunately, I never started watching it, and by the time I realised it was something I should watch it was far too big of a task to catch up. The same applies for the books; it’s not my favourite genre, and the books are all very long, so I’ve just never felt the urge to read them.

I know a lot of people read the books because of the TV show, so I think it’s quite logical that I would have not read them. I’m not too sad about missing out on this one, because I know they wouldn’t be my favourite. There are a lot more long books out there for me to tackle that would be more to my taste, so I think I’m fine with avoiding these!

The A Court of Thorns and Roses Series

I know, booktok is going to hate me for this one. I’ve heard a lot of people praising this series as being amazing, and I’ve had a lot of people urge me to read them, but I just can’t see it happening. I’m not really a series reader anymore, and honestly I don’t think I’d ever reach for them.

Fantasy is something I don’t read much of anymore, and if I do I like to stick to stand-alones. I think if this series had been popular in my early teens I would’ve read them for sure, but unfortunately I think that time has passed for me.

The His Dark Materials Series

Finally, we move onto the series I feel most guilty about not reading. I really don’t know what went wrong with this series, because I do own The Golden Compass. Maybe it was the film that didn’t click with me and put me off reading the book, or maybe it was starting with the second book in the series. Whatever it was, I begrudgingly have memories of being actively disinterested in this series when I was younger.

For similar reasons that I’ve mentioned above, I just don’t see myself ever reading this series. Now when I read literature aimed at younger age groups, it tends to be re-reads or by authors I know I like. I just don’t see where these books would fit into my tbr, and if they did I think they would just consistently be pushed to the bottom.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the series I’ve managed to skip over the years. I’m sorry if your favourite was listed- try and convince me otherwise in the comments!



Top 5 Surprising Books I’ve Studied at University

When a lot of people think about studying literature at university, they usually think of a very classics-dominated syllabus. Chaucer, Eliot and Dickens are probably among the names that spring to mind. I know this is partially what I was expecting, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

Of course, these books are on the syllabus somewhere, however I’ve been lucky enough to go to a uni that allows a lot of flexibility in terms of modules you can take. As a result, there have been times when I’ve been genuinely surprised by the books on my reading list for a multitude of reasons.

I think it would be really interesting to talk about five books that I’ve had to study on my literature course, and I also think it would help to reduce the misconception that all literature courses are narrow and restrictive. I’m sure I have been lucky with my university’s willingness to give us lots of freedom to choose modules that suit our research goals and personal taste, but it might be interesting for you to see the variety of books it’s possible to study at university.

Intellectual snobbery is something I’m very passionate about reducing, so I hope this helps to show that literature is worth reading even if it isn’t a classic!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

We studied this on a module called ‘Law and Literature’, and we focused on the theme of surveillance and control for this novel. Anyone who has read The Hunger Games will know that this book perfectly exemplifies these themes, but for some reason I didn’t think YA would be included on a reading list unless we were specifically looking at YA literature.

I know a couple of my friends on other courses were very surprised when I told them I was reading this in my final year of university, but I honestly think that just shows how far spread intellectual snobbery has gotten. Some of these people barely read themselves, yet they felt comfortable enough to judge the value of a book based on its target audience.

Honestly, as well as the fact I already owned and had read this book, I really liked studying this. It was really interesting to see how the serious messages that Collins included were tailored for a YA audience, and how scarily accurate its take on surveillance and state control compared to things in the real world. It showed how the dystopian genre can be used to highlight problems in our society without directly criticising current governments, and I think that really valuable research could arise from analysing this novel in this area of study.

This is Not a Werewolf Story by Sandra Evans

In a similar vein to the last book, this was surprising to me because it’s written for children. At a masters level, you wouldn’t necessarily expect an academic to choose this for one of the main weekly readings, but it is!

I read this for a module called ‘Evolutions of Popular Literature’ which looks at how popular themes and myths are passed down through the literature of different eras. When you think about that specific research goal, using a children’s book that focuses on a werewolf makes complete sense, and is really valuable in its own right. We are comparing this to stories about werewolves from centuries earlier and looking at how certain elements are dropped or adapted to create a story that is engaging for a modern reader.

Considering children’s literature is a really important part of popular literature, it seems silly that some people would overlook it just because it’s not considered ‘high’ academic work. If you really like figures from myths and legends, looking at children’s literature and its presentations of those figures is a really interesting perspective that not many people have probably taken!

Cloud Nine by Carol Churchill

Okay, so not technically a book, but I studied this play in one of my first year core modules. I’ve included it because, firstly, it shows the different types of literature I got to study, even when I didn’t have the chance to pick my modules.

I also think the content of this play is different to what I’d expect from a literature degree. It’s split into two acts, with the first focusing on racist violence and power in colonial times, and the second on homophobia and familial power in modern times.

It’s quite an explicit play, that shows people getting shot, having gay sex and one particularly crude moment where a man receives oral sex on the London Underground. Although talking about this was awkward at first in seminars, it was really great to tackle serious and adult topics after being at school where everything seems a little bit watered down and sheltered.

If you think that classics are the main texts studied on a literature course, it might shock you to hear that a play so explicit and modern would be included!

A Girl Called Eel by Ali Zamir

This book surprised me less because of its content as it’s context. This is a book that was originally written in French by Comoran author Zamir, and was subsequently translated and published in English.

Before I came to university, I had heard that you really had to seek out modules that contained books written by non-White non-British authors. The module I chose wasn’t specifically aimed at this, but instead looked at ‘Literature at Sea’.

We did read the classic Moby Dick, but we also looked at several writings by other authors less well-known. What made me even more surprised about this book was that it was translated, adding even more interesting areas of analysis. We were considering the role of a translator and how important their choices were in terms of shaping the narrative and making comment about certain themes, as well as the original author’s choices.

I think this is probably an area that my university is quite good as, as there are often multiple books on the reading list by authors outside Britain and America.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

This is a little bit of a cheat because I technically didn’t study this, but my housemate did so I think it can just about count towards this list.

In final year, there was an optional module that looked at regency and modern romances, and the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey was one of the readings for it. Now, I don’t think it was necessarily picked because of the quality of the book, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used to contribute to research in the field!

I think this surprised me for a lot of reasons. Firstly, reading something very sexually explicit with a seminar tutor sounds like an awkward experience, but also that the novel wasn’t just dismissed as smut and cast aside. There are academics who look at modern hits like Fifty Shades to see how a range of trends and conventions have adapted in today’s world.

What I learnt from this is just because the book you’re reading might be about something that doesn’t seem very academic, doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth reading or it can’t have academic value.

I would love to hear from any fellow literature students about your experience of the range of literature you’ve gotten to study! I hope everyone has been as lucky as me, but I know that isn’t always the case, so I’d love to start a discussion about it in the comments!

I’m thinking of making a little university series of blog posts where I talk about other aspects of my degree, so if you’d like that let me know in the comments and give me suggestions for what you’d like to hear!


Childhood Favourites: Teenage Series

Following on from my blog post about the first series that I remember reading and enjoying as a child (you can read that post here), this is a collection of the series that I loved when I was a teenager. A lot of the earlier series were fantasy, and more specifically contained magical elements. It’ll be interesting to see how my tastes developed into my teenage years, and once again compare them to what I currently read!

The Twilight Series

Of course, this series is very obvious and probably features on a lot of people’s ‘most loved’ teenage series in my generation. However, I do think that The Twilight series shows a really interesting transition in my reading tastes. Although the story is about vampires, and therefore shares elements with fantasy novels, there is also a transition here more towards romance and stories set in our world.

I remember really liking these books (I wasn’t as fond of New Moon from memory though), and as cringey as they seem now, I think reading something that I viewed as more mature was really important for carrying reading as a hobby into being slightly older. I think I read these right at the turning point of me going to secondary school, so this was a great starting point for entering into the realm of YA. I also referenced Twilight in an essay I wrote about the Gothic in my second year of university, so I guess I can thank teenage me for giving myself material there.

The Kane Chronicles Trilogy

Moving on from reading the Percy Jackson series, I read the Kane Chronicles, another trilogy from Rick Riordan. Once again, here the development in my reading can be seem simply in the length of the books I was reading. Clearly I loved reading about mythology and enjoyed the comedic writing style used in these books, so I did the sensible thing and stuck to reading things by the same author. Not the most adventurous, but it worked.

Once again, this trilogy probably helped to lay the framework for my love of historical fiction and anything to do with mythology. Interestingly, I remember that this book helped me realise that I don’t love narration written from multiple perspectives. I think getting older is when you really start to pinpoint what tropes you like and dislike more so than when you’re younger, and it’s an opinion that I still hold and consider when choosing books today.

I would happily re-read these books, but my tbr pile is too long with books I haven’t already read, so unfortunately I won’t be doing so in the foreseeable. Maybe if I get into a reading slump…

The Maze Runner Series

I think the Maze Runner again shows how I moved away from magical fantasy and into more dystopian, sci-fi novels as I got older. Ironically, this is now one of my least favourite genres, so unfortunately this didn’t influence my adult reading habits so much. At the time though, I was devastated when I finished the last book in this series, and it put me in a reading slump for a long time. It’s not really a plot that would really interest me now, but I think again it was a step in me reading books that were founded more on reality than the books I read as a child. The movies were pretty good as well (despite completely changed the plot of the final book).

What this series did influence was me being active in a fan community for a series of books. When I read these books I had a twitter account, and so I was able to experience the great feeling of being immersed in an online book community. My friends at school also read these at the same time as me and we became obsessed with them for a while as a group, which is a nice call-back to my Harry Potter fan club that I had in primary school. In this sense, I guess the Maze Runner series introduced me to the idea that reading didn’t have to be a solely independent hobby, and that it was something you can share with other people. The fact I’m writing this blog now is testament to the influence that this idea had.

The Hunger Games Series

I actually had to re-read the first book for one of my modules last year, which is not something I thought I would ever do again (especially as part of the final year in an English Literature degree- take that intellectual snobbery). Once again, another dystopian series that I probably wouldn’t be interested in picking up now. Looking back though, the concept felt so ground-breaking to me, and yet felt very real and believable. If we’re talking about cultural impact, The Hunger Games will be remembered for a long time.

I wasn’t as big of a fan of Mockingjay as the other books, but it definitely made me cry (this might have been the first time I ever cried at a book- and it was at an airport). Overall, this series introduced me to books with darker themes, and started to push me towards reading books that made some kind of political or societal comment rather than just being entertaining.

Overall, my taste in series seems to have tilted more towards the dystopian side of fantasy, rather than the magical. Of course, my tastes became more mature and there’s definitely more of a focus on romance and darker themes in these books.

Interestingly though, I think I started to move away from series in my teenage years, and today I rarely read series. When I was younger, most of the books I read were part of series, or were written by the same author and were part of the same group of books. I guess as my autonomy over what I was reading expanded, I started to get more comfortable with reading a wider variety of books and didn’t rely on picking series as a safe way to ensure I liked what I was picking up.

I hope you enjoyed reading through my picks for my teenage favourite series, and maybe it brought back memories of your teenage years!


Childhood Favourites: First Series

This week I reorganised my main bookshelf and I found some of the first series that I remember loving as a child. I’ve been feeling nostalgic about these books and my memories of reading them when I was younger ever since, and thought it might be fun to share them on here.

When I think about the books I read and enjoy now, I think my tastes have changed quite a lot since reading these series, but maybe this will show how certain books helped this development to happen. It might even encourage me to revisit certain genres or tropes that I’ve abandoned in recent years.

These are a selection that I enjoyed up to about the age of 12, and I will probably make another blog post that features YA series that I loved when I was a teenager. I think this could be a really nice idea for a series that tracks my main reading likes and dislikes over the years.

Hopefully some of these trigger some nostalgia in you, and maybe even inspire you to take a walk down memory lane and rediscover some of your childhood favourites!

The Harry Potter Series

The Harry Potter Series

You probably guessed that this would be featured on this list, but I couldn’t not include this just to be less predictable. This is the first series that I remember reading that I really immersed myself in the world and the first thing I would’ve called myself a ‘fan’ of (me and my childhood best friend had a secret harry potter club, it was really cute). This cemented my enjoyment of reading as a hobby rather than something that was required by school, and it’s where my book buying habits started (I have 3 copies of each book).

I don’t really read fantasy anymore, but I’d like to start getting back into that genre again. Even if this hasn’t had a lasting influence on my reading tastes, I’m sure I wouldn’t be half the bookworm I am today without this series.

The Percy Jackson Series

The Percy Jackson Series

Another potential obvious selection for this list, I haven’t met many avid readers who didn’t at least read the first Percy Jackson book at some point. I remember finding these books really funny, and I definitely still look for that same sense of humour in the books i read today. It also showed me how much I loved history and introduced me to the idea that the two could go hand in hand (enter historical fiction and the basis of my degree). I also just recently read Stephen Fry’s Mythos (you can read my review here), which is a re-telling of Greek mythology, so clearly Percy Jackson still influences my reading tastes.

Overall, they’re just exciting and well-written, and I refuse to let my memory of how great this series is be tainted by the awful movie adaptions. Speaking of awful things, I’ve included a picture of my copies of the series so you can share the pain of them not matching.

The 13 Trilogy

The 13 Trilogy

Onto a more obscure one now: the 13 trilogy. I don’t remember the general plot of these very well, but what I do remember is that there was a girl who could see fairies and goblins who gets sent to her grandmother’s house that is full of secrets. It was a classic fantasy series, and it helped me to realise I like the genre in general, not just the Harry Potter series. I also became obsessed with charm bracelets for a while (a charm bracelet is important in the first book), so it was probably the first time that reading a book influenced my fashion choices as well.

As I mentioned before, I don’t really read fantasy book anymore, but I do like the Gothic, so I wonder whether reading these books about houses with secret passageways and rooms had any role in that.

The Gallagher Girls Series

The Gallagher Girls Series

I remember the Gallagher Girls series because it was the first time I had read that kind of female character, and it was so refreshing (even at the age of 9). I really loved the school for spies idea and it started to take my interest beyond the magical fantasy bracket and into a more YA/romance genre. It might be cheating to include this because I know there are more books in this series than I’ve read (I’ve only read the five books in the picture above and I think there are two or three more), but I’m counting it.

I think of all the series I’ve included this is the one that’s closest to what I read now, and probably had the most influence on the books I read in my teenage years.

The Animal Ark Series

The Animal Ark Series

I got most of my Animal Ark books from various charity shops, and I don’t think I ever had the complete collection, but getting these books is almost as fond of a memory as reading them. This probably is another cause of my current book buying problem. I love animals, and reading about a young girl getting to interact with all the animals you could ever imagine in often funny and unusual ways was very entertaining. I’m definitely going to give my copies to any children that I or another family member might have, because they’re just so pure and lovely.

I can’t really say that these books are very close to or have influenced my current reading tastes that much, but they helped with my general desire to read.

The Rainbow Fairy Series

I was just going to stick to five series for this list, but I wanted to include these books as a bonus pick. The Rainbow Fairies books were another series I loved to collect, and although they didn’t form a cohesive narrative (as far as I can remember) they were a childhood staple. My sister and I are very different, and she hated reading, but we both loved these books so I have a lot of fun memories because of this series. I was also a very big fan of having my name on a book, especially when a fairy was named after me too!

Once again, I can’t really say that these have influenced my reading tastes more than just sustaining my desire to read. One interesting thing I do remember is choosing which books to buy based on the fairy on the cover, so maybe that’s where my habit of buying books with pretty or interesting covers comes from?

I hope you enjoyed that journey down memory road, and took something from this indulgence in my nostalgia. It’s always interesting to look back on where your reading journey started, and this has shown me that maybe I should take more inspiration from the genres my younger self enjoyed.