best book series for adults

9 Best Book Series For Adults You Have To Read

I’ve put together nine of the best book series for adults you might not be aware of. This is a different list from others and focuses on a series of books on a variety of different topics.

You have a series on British monarchs, great ideas and short introductions to hundreds of different topics.

These are good book series for adults if you’re looking to learn about new topics, expand your knowledge or read some lesser-known and brilliant works.

I’ve personally read at least one book from these various adult book series and highly recommend all of them.

So, if you’re looking for book series for adults to get stuck into, then some of these should fit the bill!

Best Book Series For Adults

Penguin Great Ideas

The Penguin Great Ideas series is a collection of short books from some of the most important writers of the past two thousand years. You’ll find a wide variety of writers touching on numerous topics.

There are 120 books in the series, split into six different groupings, each with its own colour on the spine of the book. I’ve bought many of these books such as Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and some of George Orwell’s fascinating essays like Some Thoughts on the Common Toad.

The beauty of the Penguin Great Ideas series is that the books are short, most are around 100 to 150 pages, and will introduce you to ideas and writers you might not have heard of. I wasn’t aware of Italo Calvino for example, before reading his book in the collection.

The breadth and rigour of some of the books in this series make them a great read if you want to learn more about certain subjects or read the thoughts of some of the best thinkers in history.

A Very Short Introduction

If you want to quickly learn about a new topic, then the Oxford University A Very Short Introduction Series is a must!

They have topics on almost everything from chaos theory to the Ice Age and much much more. There are over 600 books, so you’re likely to find the topic you’re interested in covered by one of the books.

Each subject is written by an authority on the subject, and they are almost always longer than 100 pages but shorter than 200. Despite the short size, these books pack a lot of information.

I read the Cold War book to get a better understanding of what happened, and although it was only around 100 pages, the author covered the subject in great detail. These books are the go-to if you want to get to grips with a subject or get a quick primer.

Penguin European Writers

The Penguin European Writers series focuses on forgotten classics by European authors that aren’t widely known.

There are only seven books in the series so far, but if you want to read some beautiful and riveting series, then they’re worth checking out.

I read The Train Was on Time by Heinrich Böll, who I’d never heard of and later found out had won the Nobel Prize for Literature! It was an enthralling read about a soldier during the darkest period of Europe’s past in the Second World war.

European literature has a long and proud heritage with many brilliant authors. However, a lot of them have been forgotten about or not as appreciated as they should be. The Penguin European Writers puts that right and makes these amazing stories accessible to everyone.

Penguin Green Ideas

The clue is in the name of this series. Penguin Green Ideas is a set of twenty books that focus on climate change and the environment.

It was launched by Penguin in 2021 to bring more awareness to climate change and the threat it poses to the natural world. The books range in topics from Big Oil to the effect of dams on the natural environment in China.

What’s great about this series of books is that they offer a wide perspective on climate change. Jared Diamond’s The Last Tree on Easter Island is stark about what can happen following an ecological collapse, while George Monbiot’s This Can’t Be Happening does a great job of portraying the surreal nature of the potential future we all face.

Again, the books are only short, with most around the 100-page mark, but they sure pack a punch despite their small size!


You might also like:


Penguin Monarchs

As a historian, this is my favourite of the series on the list. Penguin Monarchs takes you from the first English king Athelstan, all the way through to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

They’re short biographies of every English, and then British King and Queen. It’s an amazing project and you’ll want to read the books if you’re as fascinated by history as I am.

The great thing about the Penguin Monarchs series is that every monarch is featured. I’m English, and even though I studied history at university, there were some monarchs I knew little about, and some I hadn’t heard of. This was true of the earliest monarchs.

I love this series and hope Penguin decided to do some more on monarchs from other countries like France and Spain!

Penguin Great Loves

As the name suggests, the Penguin Great Loves series is based on the theme of love and details some of the best writing on love in all its various forms.

As with almost all the series on this list, the list of writers is a mix of those you may have heard of such as F Scott Fitzgerald and Katherine Mansfield to more obscure writers such as Giovanni Boccaccio and Francoise Sagan.

I read the first in this series which is Doomed Love by Virgil, which is extracted from the Aeneid, his famous work. It was a brilliant read and made me want to check out the full work.

If you’re looking for some good love stories or you want to read something different from what you might otherwise read, then the Penguin Great Loves is worth checking out.

Penguin Science Fiction

The Penguin Science Fiction series is a collection of short science fiction stories that are brilliant.

Science fiction can be overlooked as a genre due to the eclectic nature of some of the novels, but there are plenty of great works out there. Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain and Solaris are a few that come to mind.

While the books in this series aren’t as long as those, they’re still fascinating and detail a wide range of topics. I read Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott, which is regarded as the prototype for the science fiction novel and was impressed.

Science fiction can be inspirational, terrifying and transport you to distant and incredible worlds. If that sounds good, then the books in this series will be right up your street!

Penguin Great Journeys

Travel is one of my passions and an activity that inspires many great pieces of writing. The Penguin Great Journeys series bring some of these stories to life.

There are twenty books in the series and they range from James Cook’s notes while travelling around New Zealand in the 18th century to some of Marco Polo’s writing from his travels in India.

It’s interesting reading these works as a lot of them are historically significant. Cook was one of the first Europeans to interact with the Maori natives of New Zealand. It’s interesting to see his initial reactions to the lands he came across and the people that inhabited them.

Nowadays, we know much more about the remotest corners of the glove than some of these writers did about their one continent. Reading these book will highlight just how integral travel and adventure has been to the human race since our earliest days.

Penguin Modern

The Penguin Modern series contains the shortest books out of all the ones listed here. Most of them are around 50 to 75 pages in length and are short stories by some of the most famous writers in modern history.

What’s great about this series is that you’ll find works by great writers such as John Steinbeck and James Baldwin that you might not be aware of. I didn’t realise Steinbeck had written any of the stories in The Vigilante until I bought the book.

Despite the short length, the stories are engrossing and will keep you entertained for the short period you’ll be reading them. They’re also the cheapest books on the list due to their short length.

The beauty of this series is that it highlights just how good these writers were and that they could write compelling short stories as well as epic full-length novels.