2014 Phinney Books Gift Guide: Binge Reading

For all the talk about Netflix (and before that, DVD box sets) making binge watching possible for those who prefer to wait and watch a season or an entire show all at once, binge reading has always been possible. If you are the kind of reader who likes to consume a series of books all at once, 2014 has been full of trilogies ending, or at least reaching a third book even if they're not done. Here are some favorites you can disappear with on December 26 and reemerge some time in 2015. 

Rick Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy (An Army at Dawn, The Day of Battle, The Guns at Last Light): The history of the American role in the liberation of Europe in World War II. (Completed in paperback in 2014.)


Margaret Atwood's Maddaddam Trilogy (Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, Maddaddam): a freakishly plausible near-future, satirical and surprisingly life-affirming. (Completed in paperback in 2014.)

Charles Burns's three-part graphic novel (X'ed Out, The Hive, Sugar Skull), which twists the earnest style of Tintin into a grotesque and haunting nightmare. (All three in oversized hardcovers.)

Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay): Ferrante's series of novels following two lifelong friends living divided lives in modern Naples is not finished, but has gained her more American fans with each book. (All three books in paperback.)

Ken Follett's Century Trilogy (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, Edge of Eternity): the master of the historical epic has taken on the twentieth century by following five families through the giant storylines of European and American history. (Edge of Eternity came out in hardcover in 2014.)

Lev Grossman's Magicians Trilogy (The Magicians, The Magician King, The Magician's Land): Grossman embraced the fantasy elements of Harry Potter, Narnia, and Middle-Earth to make a moving and thrilling fantasy series about growing into adulthood. (The Magician's Land came out in hardcover in 2014.)

Karl Ove Knausgaard's multivolume autobiographical novel, My Struggle, has only been halfway translated into English (there are three more books to come), but he's already attracted a rabid American following with his unfiltered, strangely compelling examination of an ordinary Norwegian life.

Colin Meloy's Wildwood Chronicles (Wildwood, Under Wildwood, Wildwood Imperium): The lead singer of Portland's brainy indie-rockers the Decembrists has imagined a fantastic wilderness in the middle of his home city in this trilogy for middle readers (but enjoyed by readers much older). (Wildwood Imperium came out in hardcover in 2014.) 

The Lunar Chronicles, by Seattle author Marissa Meyer, continue beyond volume three (Fairest, volume four, comes out in January) in her smart young-adult retellings of female fairy-tale characters in a science-fiction universe of robots and cyborgs. (Cress came out in hardcover in 2014; the paperback will be available in January.)

Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance), a series of subtle, unsettling journeys into a mysterious wilderness known as Area X, was released in three gorgeous little paperbacks in 2014, which were then collected at the end of the year in an equally gorgeous hardcover titled Area X.

Ben Winters built in an unavoidable ending to his Last Policeman trilogy (The Last Policeman, Countdown City, World of Trouble): an asteroid on a deadly path toward Earth, which gives these mysteries a unique urgency and melancholy. (All three books are in paperback.)