10 Great Reads That Are Actually Part of a Series

It seems these days we’ve been whisked up into an obsession with nostalgia. Amidst a return of vintage clothes, 90’s déjà vu, and the revival of series like Gilmore Girls and Full House, literature appears to be the only thing left unscathed. Instead, the books of today seem to be hopping on the new trend of series, with titles like Harry Potter, Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and so on. It’s the era of the series and it all feels so novel to now. But, taking a second look at popular titles across time, many of our favorite books actually stem from a series! What feels like a temporal staple of our time, is really just the resurgence to a timeless trend. Darn you nostalgia, you win again… 

Check out some of our favorites – they may surprise you!


The One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith

Most of us are familiar with The One Hundred and One Dalmatians, although the memory is probably laden with Disney Images of Cruella de Vil rather than quotes from the book by Dodie Smith. However, less of us are probably familiar with The Starlight Barking, the sequel to The One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Disclaimer, it’s nothing like the movie adaption. In the second book, the Dalmatians we grew so fond of on the first go around wake up to find every human eerily asleep, Cruella included. The dogs get a call from Cadpig in London – who is now the Prime Minister’s beloved pet – and learns the phenomenon has spread world-wide. The dogs summon a delegate to propose a plan, one thing leads to another, and Sirius, Lord of The Dogs, suggests a nuclear attack on the humans. They don’t end up executing the plan (phew), but for its 1967 debut – thinking tenuous Cold War links here – it’s a pretty politically heavy children’s story.


The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Much like The One Hundred and One Dalmatians, most of us are probably familiar with the movie adaption of The Jungle Book. But, before the Disney film crew came along, there was not only The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, but the sequel, The Second Jungle Book. The sequel was published in 1895, just a year after the first novel. The second book continues the story of the first, following Mowgli through vivid scenes of India, wild life, and adventure. The set of five stories were all serialized in magazines under different titles prior to being collected in the sequel.


Psycho and Psycho II by Robert Bloch

back of the cereal box

Take everything you know about the film Psycho and forget it. The film adaption has nothing to do with the novel aside from the shower butchery scene and a few tangential notes. In reality, the Robert Bloch novels were despised by the movie industry for their satirical portrayal of Hollywood creatives, who attempted to propagate fear with fake blood and excessive gore. Unlike the films, the novels follow character Norman Bates, a psychiatric patient and mass murderer who escapes an asylum in the sequel. Following his escape, he heads to Hollywood, where a film is being made about his prior killing streak – a.k.a the events of the first book.

(Don’t worry, we’re drowning in chronological confusion too.)


Watership Down and Tales from Watership Down by Richard Adams

Released over 20 years after Watership Down, Tales from Watership Down continues with 19 stories by Richard Adams. Much like its predecessor, the sequel is all about rabbits, and features both the familiar Lapine language glossary and beautiful epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. The book is deconstructed into three parts, the last of which picks up where Watership Down left off.


The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike

John Updike’s witches of Eastwick return! After thirty years and a handful of turmoil and terrorization in the town of Eastwick, the three witches are reunited and return to town as a token of guilt. Upon their return, however, the women encounter new adversaries and new loss.


All Quiet on the Western Front and The Road Back by Erich Maria Remarque

Remember all the high school books you read (or didn’t read)? Have they kept you curious if you’d finally enjoy them removed from the throes of adolescence and apathy? Well, they have for us, and All Quiet on the Western Front hits a high spot on the list. Now that we’re the most sophisticated and mature of adults, it’s time to revisit the western front and follow it up with Remarque’s forgotten sequel, The Road Back. In the sequel, World War I is finally over and Ernst can return home. But even out of the trenches the world is a treacherous place, and Ernst must deal with food shortages, civil unrest, and loss.


Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained by John Milton

Theology and blank verse galore, Paradise Regained is the follow up to its predecessor, Paradise Lost. In the second epic poem, John Milton addresses the temptation of Christ a la Gospel of Luke. Unlike the first text however, the second is much shorter (4 books rather than 10) and told with a simpler, less ornate voice.


Tom Sawyer Series and Tom Sawyer, Detective by Mark Twain

After The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain wrote Tom Sawyer, Detective. The book was published in 1896, in the heyday of the detective novel. In the third novel, Sawyer attempts to solve a murder mystery when he and Finn come face to face with a man being persecuted by a couple of no-good thugs.

Although the first two books usually steal the lime light, this book is equally praised for its remarkable first person narrative and burlesque era antics. Did you know there’s even a fourth book to follow up Tom Sawyer, Detective? Tom Sawyer Abroad, check it out.


Things Fall Apart and the rest of The African Trilogy (No Longer at Ease/Arrow of God) by Chinua Achebe

The familiar read, Things Fall Apart, is actually part of a three-book series by Chinua Achebe. It begins with the widely remembered text, and is followed by the less known, but equally rich, two titles, No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God. Together, the three develop a vision of African tradition at odds with colonialization, new power relations, and the slow creep of Western culture.


Holes and Small Steps by Louis Sachar


Shifting the focus from the first book, Sachar leaves Stanley Yelnats to follow the life of Armpit – the exceptionally smelly Camp Green Lake detainee – in Small Steps. In this second book, Armpit is home from camp and working on piecing his life together again, one small step at a time.


Did we miss anything? Let us know which lesser-known series you’d include in the comments!