When you think of beloved book series, it’s fair to say that most of them fall into a few categories. While there are of course exceptions, it tends to be fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, and thriller stories that warrant series - or at least popular or commercially successful ones. This is wonderful for countless millions of people around the world who love nothing more than to dive right into these specific genres. The Lord Of The Rings represents everything from foundational fiction to a moral code to many readers; Harry Potter helped shape a generation; something like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series can effectively lie dormant for years before exploding (as it has recently) back into popular relevance.
Again, this is wonderful for fans. There are few things as rewarding as it can be to dive into a series that simply plucks you from the real world. But what about people who simply don’t relate to those genres? Again, there are some exceptions here and there - series that have made it in other genres - but there really aren’t many of note, which is why I thought it would be fun and interesting to put forth some ideas.
Who knows? Maybe someone will be inspired to write something like one of the following….
A Family Through History
There have been various books and series to chronicle multiple chapters in history in sequence. Some have even stuck with individual narrators, or versions of them, through time. Perhaps the most famous example would be David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas - a novel that is many things (most of all extraordinary, despite its widely-panned film adaptation), including a chronicle of history through (in part) reincarnation. But it’s hard to think of a series that follows a single family through history in one cohesive story.
One could imagine something like this taking the shape of Forrest Gump but stretched longer such that multiple generations highlighted the significant moments of sequential eras. Or perhaps it could be arranged like so many fantasy histories (Game Of Thrones being a relevant example), but set in the real world, in real kingdoms and countries and surrounding actual historical figures. Such a tale told with the same magical quality of a great fantasy would undoubtedly thrive despite being grounded in the real world, and it would give those who prefer history and reality to pure fantasy something to fall in love with.
A Fictional Sports Team
Needless to say, sports are popular all over the world. But those who don’t pay close attention may not realize how close society is coming to embracing purely fictional sports. People use video games to customize leagues and create entire rosters’ worth of imagined athletes. Millions build fantasy rosters to compete with real players in artificial circumstances. Some of the latest online sportsbooks, many of which are now available in some American states, include simulated activities (typically horse races or tennis matches) among the things people can bet real money on!
Given all of this, would a fictional sports series be too far-fetched? It’s something that to my knowledge has only ever been tried in the form of a children’s series or one-off book, but might a whole, sprawling collection of stories detailing a made-up athlete’s journey inspire something close to fanhood? Might people, indeed, even speculate about sporting outcomes in books to come, or even bet on results, the same way they wonder who might perish in a fantasy? It may sound strange to fans of more typical genre fiction, but for countless sports fans it may be a delight.
A Real Science Adventure
Finally, there’s real science to consider as well! Some science fiction certainly comes close, or at least touches on real concepts and principles. Indeed, a few years ago Barnes and Noble wrote up a very nice list of thriller writers who don’t cheat when it comes to science - and that was only a start. But has there ever really been a truly science-based fiction series, written to entertain and engage?
As far as I’m aware, the closest thing to such an idea might actually be the often-mocked works of Dan Brown. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Brown is a scientist, nor that he’s a flawless storyteller. But he is somewhat unique in that he’s used real academic disciplines to create a brand of thriller based at least loosely on knowledge. I suppose Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could be another example. Whatever the case, something similar in which real, fascinating science were at the core of a series of thrillers, or a detective’s methods, could make for a wonderful series.