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Plotters vs. Pantsers: Can You Guess Which Side Stephen King and J.K. Rowling Are On?
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on August 26, 2015

Since the dawn of storytelling, there have always been two types of storytellers: the Plotters and the Pantsers. (If you're wondering, yes, Pantsers predate the existence of pants.) Never heard the terms before? It's simple. Plotters outline and plan the structure of their entire story, while Pantsers prefer to write by the seat of their pants.

To further understand the ancient Plotter/Pantser divide, we've taken a look at how six contemporary authors write their books. Which method of story crafting do you like best?

The Plotters
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JOHN GRISHAM
"I don't start a novel until I have lived with the story for awhile to the point of actually writing an outline and after a number of books I've learned that the more time I spend on the outline the easier the book is to write. And if I cheat on the outline I get in trouble with the book."


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R.L. STEIN
"If you do enough planning before you start to write, there's no way you can have writer's block. I do a complete chapter by chapter outline."


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J.K. ROWLING
"I always have a basic plot outline, but I like to leave some things to be decided while I write." (While this may sound like Rowling's verging on pantser territory, take a look at her "basic plot outline.")



The Pantsers
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MARGARET ATWOOD
"When I'm writing a novel, what comes first is an image, scene, or voice. Something fairly small. Sometimes that seed is contained in a poem I've already written. The structure or design gets worked out in the course of the writing. I couldn't write the other way round, with structure first. It would be too much like paint-by-numbers."


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PIERCE BROWN
"Some writers are plotters… I, on the other hand, have the curse and rabid delight of being a pantser. I sit down at my computer every day praying for a lightning strike. Common symptoms include pacing, an abnormally clean house, frantic cups of joe, and middle-of-the-night writing breakdowns."


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STEPHEN KING
"Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters' theses."



Can you tell the difference between a plotted and a pantsed book? Which do you prefer?

15 of Your Biggest Book Pet Peeves
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on August 22, 2015



Last week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: What's your biggest book pet peeve?* Check out the top answers below!


1. "Peeps who leave crumbs behind between pages!! #ew" (Joyce B)

2. "When publishers change book covers mid-series! Biggest book pet peeve EVER…"(Amanda White)

3. "My Kindle battery dying!" (Hannah DesWonn)

4. "Seeing someone turn a book inside out by folding it in half while they read. The front and back should never meet!" (Mopsy Prewett)

5. "People who forget that they borrowed a book from you." (Nadia Malik)

6. "When someone rips out the pages of a book. How is the book supposed to make any sense when there are missing pages in it?" (Trish Welsh)

7. "Those strange mystery stains that are usually found between the pages of library books. Did someone spill coffee? Or slash their fingers open with a paper cut? Who knows?" (Traci Mccarty)

8. "Highlighting! Who are these savages?" (Anna Moloney)

9. "Library books last read by a nose picker." (Grace Minnick Hickox)

10. "Paperback covers that delaminate and warped hardcovers." (Paul Wichert)

11. "Dropping books in the toilet. Not that it's ever happened to me…" (Devyn Price)

12. "Broken spines are okay, unless it's a SINGLE crack right in the middle of the spine. That's the WORST." (Charlie)

13. "Dog-eared pages drive me crazy." (Elizabeth Newby)

14. "Sand stuck between pages from reading on the beach." (Ellen)

15. "Movie edition book covers…shudder." (Hollie Ruthless)


Did your book pet peeve not make the list? Then share it with us in the comments!

*And for those of you who have zero pet peeves, maybe Chhandra Bewtra can speak for you: "None. A book is precious, even with disfigurements."


20 Favorite Last Lines from Books
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on August 18, 2015

Parting is such sweet sorrow, especially when it comes to saying goodbye to a good book. Last week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: What's your favorite last line? Today we've got the top answers. Did yours make the list?

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"I am haunted by waters."
A River Runs Through It
by Norman Maclean


"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."
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Charlotte's Web
by E.B. White



"'Well, I'm back,' he said."
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The Return of the King
by J.R.R. Tolkien



"Isn't it pretty to think so?'"
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The Sun Also Rises
by Ernest Hemingway



"All was well."
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J.K. Rowling



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"But there are much worse games to play."
Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins


"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
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The Gunslinger
by Stephen King


"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."
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A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens



"All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
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The Last Battle
by C.S. Lewis



"Are there any questions?"
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The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood



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"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."
The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger


"The old man was dreaming about the lions."
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The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway



"Tomorrow is another day."
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Gone with the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell



"One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, 'Poo-tee-weet?'"
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Slaughterhouse-Five
by Kurt Vonnegut



"He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."
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To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee



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"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two of things in my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home..."
The Outsiders
by S.E. Hinton


"Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this. "
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Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott



"He loved Big Brother."
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Nineteen Eighty-Four
by George Orwell



"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
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The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald



"I am haunted by humans."
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The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak




Don't see your favorite last line? Then share it with us in the comments!
7 Little Known Facts About William Goldman's The Princess Bride
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on August 13, 2015



Happy birthday, William Goldman! The award-winning American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter turned 84 this week. To help celebrate his narrative genius, we've gathered a few surprising facts about his beloved fantasy classic, The Princess Bride.



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1. Goldman's daughters gave him the title for the book.
Before Goldman began writing The Princess Bride, he told his two young daughters, "I'll write you a story. What do you want it to be about?" One said "a princess" and the other said "a bride."

2. The Princess Bride is as an abridged version of a book that does not exist.
Or at least that's what Goldman would like you to think. He presented his book as an abridged version of the "original" (i.e. fictional) Princess Bride, written by S. Morgenstern (a fictional person). The literary device let Goldman gleefully write only the "good parts" of his own story.

3. Goldman experienced an embarrassing moment of panic on the set of the film adaptation.
Because he wrote the book and the screenplay for The Princess Bride, you might think Goldman would know what to expect on set. You would be very wrong. On the first day of filming, he ruined the first few takes with a barely audible prayer chant. And then, during the scripted scene when Buttercup's dress catches on fire, Goldman panicked and screamed, "Oh my god! Her dress is on fire!"

4. The countries are named after old coins.
The Florin, where Prince Humperdinck reigns, is the name of an Italian gold coin once minted in Florence; and Guilder, the neighboring country Humperdinck was (spoiler alert?) going to murder Buttercup to start a war with, is the name of a Dutch gold coin.

5. If Princess Bride ever got a sequel, it would be called Buttercup's Baby and Stephen King would write it.
Goldman included this juicy tidbit in later editions of The Princess Bride. Unfortunately, King shot it down as a silly joke between friends on his website—but we're not so easily fooled. (Plus, we just really, really want to know what a Princess Bride tale as written by King would look like.)

6. Goldman was able to look back at the book "without humiliation."
"I [don't] like my writing," Goldman said. "I wrote a movie called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and I wrote a novel called The Princess Bride and those are the only two things I've ever written, not that I'm proud of, but that I can look at without humiliation."

7. You can request a missing scene from The Princess Bride.
…You just won't receive it. Instead, you'll get a delightfully nutty automated response from Goldman, detailing the fictitious legal troubles surrounding the missing scene. (A Florinese lawyer named Kermit Shog is involved—you know you want this in your inbox.) "Request" your own missing scene here!




Have you read The Princess Bride? Watched the movie? Tell us what you think of Goldman's tale in the comments!
How “The Girl on the Train” Became a Runaway Success
Posted by Otis Chandler on August 12, 2015

If there's one word that sums up the publishing success story of this year's "it" book, The Girl on the Train, it is "speed." We've never seen any other debut novel achieve this kind of velocity on Goodreads:

  • The Girl on the Train built up more Want to Read shelvings pre-publication than any other debut novel in Goodreads' history.
  • It's been far and away the most searched-for book on Goodreads in 2015, with four times as many searches as the closest contender.
  • Flipping the behavior we see for a typical book, more people have been marking it as "Read" than people adding it to their Want to Read shelves for months.


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Kate Stark, Riverhead Books Marketing Vice President, told us "Goodreads played a major role in helping The Girl on the Train break out to early success. We knew that getting early reviews from Goodreads members would be critical. Once the word of mouth started and readers got excited about the book, the social side of Goodreads amplified the buzz it was getting to astounding levels."

It's the bullet train of books. But what catapulted the book into New York Times bestseller status so quickly? What made it the kind of debut book sales story the industry sees only every few years? With the book passing the epic 3 million copies sold milestone, we thought it was a good time to dig into the data on Goodreads to find out.

The first thing we discovered is that this is a story of how the passion of influential readers helped build that all-important early buzz. It's also a story of how the twin trends of social media and our increasing time on mobile devices helped translate that initial buzz into a word-of-mouth sensation at record speeds. With the growth in mobile, it's not surprising that more and more people are discovering, buying, reading and/or discussing books on their mobile devices. At Goodreads, more than 50% of our traffic comes from mobile (people using our iOS and Android apps, or using our mobile website). Almost half of the activity you see below happened on mobile devices, which was clearly a significant factor in how quickly buzz about the book spread.

Further contributing to the success of the book is the fact that interest in The Girl on the Train has been sustained. Look at the graph below and you'll see that thousands of people have been adding The Girl on the Train to their Goodreads shelves every day since late December.



Tracing the break out of The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train first came to our attention in September 2014, almost four months before it was published, when one of top reviewers, Karen, wrote a rave review. You can see the spike in Goodreads members adding the book to their Want to Read shelves after reading the review on the left of the graph below.



That initial round of interest from a trusted, influential member of the community led the book to briefly become a trending book on Goodreads by pushing it up our Popular Books lists and that helped more people discover the book.

Karen had received one of the 4,000 Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) that the publishers, Riverhead Books, had sent out to booksellers, readers and book critics in the media. (Sending out ARCs is a key part of the marketing by publishers and authors to build buzz around their books in the build-up to publication.)

We talked with Jynne Martin, Riverhead Books Publicity Director, and she told us that ARCs were particularly important for this book: "The whole Riverhead team fell in love with The Girl on the Train. People were reading it under the table in meetings! It's that compulsive. We knew that the key to helping this debut book break out was to get it into as many people's hands as possible. The story would take it from there."

To help kickstart awareness with Goodreads members, Riverhead Books ran two Goodreads giveaways in October 2014 offering members the chance to win one of 50 copies of the book. Almost 2,400 members entered and you can see the spikes in people adding the book to their shelves as a result (and their friends seeing the news in their Goodreads updates feed about people entering the giveaway and deciding to add the book as well).

December is where all of Riverhead's pre-publication work starts to pay off. There's clearly a groundswell of buzz that has built up as the number of searches on Goodreads are increasing (the green area in the chart shows the number of people who are adding the book to their shelves after searching for it). Media coverage is starting to come out, Riverhead's social media campaign is kicking into gear, and more Goodreads members are posting their reviews after reading their ARCs.

For the Riverhead team, seeing this surge of activity on Goodreads and the pre-orders coming in from booksellers further reinforced their confidence that The Girl on the Train had the potential to be a major bestseller. They decided to ramp up their advertising plans, and booked additional media interviews for the author, Paula Hawkins (who flew in from England).

January 2015 — Publication Month!



Publication date for The Girl on the Train was January 13, 2015. A flurry of rave reviews from major media outlets came out the week beforehand, increasing daily searches on Goodreads significantly. And thanks to the social network effect of Goodreads, word-of-mouth about the book grew exponentially as people discovered the book from updates by friends on Goodreads.

As a result of the huge numbers of people who had added The Girl on the Train to their Want to Read shelves and the high average rating from the pre-publication reviews, the book shot straight to the top of our Hot Books of January list and it was featured in our general newsletter and in our New Releases email (which each go out to 31 million readers). This caused a dramatic spike in people adding to the book to their Goodreads shelves in the week before publication.

Marketing around the book also included advertising, and campaigns on Goodreads before and after publication created spikes in interest (see the circled peaks in the visual). Not highlighted on the graph are the two additional giveaways that Riverhead ran in January that drove more than 5,000 entries — another sign of how much interest and demand had built up around this book.

Immediately post-publication, it's clear that the book has already achieved mainstream awareness — it's a rarity for a debut novel to get this popular this quickly. There are huge numbers of people searching for it on Goodreads and adding it to their shelves. More media coverage was coming out (we could only show some of the highlights in the visual) and people were talking about it as "the next Gone Girl."

Just two weeks after publication, news broke that The Girl on the Train had hit the number one spot in the New York Times Bestseller List. It's the kind of news that makes a book even more popular and is the beginning of The Girl on the Train reaching an even wider audience. You can see the huge spike in searches as the news comes out and the searches stay high in the days following. The book was about to go from bestseller to phenomenon — the kind of book that comes along maybe once or twice a decade.

Other influencers started talking about the book. For example, Stephen King — who has kept many a reader awake at night — was the first celebrity to tweet about the book, sharing that it had kept him up most of the night.



What's also very different about The Girl on the Train from other books is the speed at which people have been reading it. This wasn't a book people bought and then added to the pile on the nightstand. The Girl on the Train had become part of the zeitgeist — it was a conversation topic. And to be part of the conversation, you had to read it first, which people did in droves. You can see from the chart below that more people have been reading it than adding it to their Want to Read shelves for months, which is highly unusual for a book.



Many things have to come together to launch a book onto the bestseller list, but what The Girl on the Train shows us is:

  • Word of mouth has always been crucial in the publishing world, but now the growth of social media and mobile device adoption can help break out a book at an unprecedented speed.
  • Getting a book into the hands of influential readers months in advance of publication is more important than ever. While speed is the name of the game once buzz has built up, it takes time for that initial buzz to develop.
  • It takes multiple marketing tactics to promote a book. We've been able to share only highlights from a very successful campaign by Riverhead. Each of the tactics helped amplify the others.


Ultimately, though, at the heart of this story is a book that many readers have found "gripping," "a fantastic ride," and "a tightly woven mystery with painful secrets and startling truths revealed along the way." It's the kind of book readers can't help telling their friends about.

How did you first hear about The Girl on the Train?
6 Reasons to Add the Albena Beach Library to Your Bookish Bucket List
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on August 07, 2015



"No shirt, no shoes, no service" doesn't apply at the Albenia Beach Library. The beachfront library's location—on the coast of the Black Sea—isn't an easy trip for most readers, but that's what bookish bucket lists are for. (And if you don't have a bookish bucket list, this place is a great excuse to start one, don't you think?)


Reason #1: The library holds over 6,000 books in more than 15 different languages.
German architect Herman Kompernas designed the library to foster a love of reading among tourists. The diverse books are arranged by country of publication in order to make discovery easier for readers from around the world.

Reason #2: Waves crash a few feet from the shelves.

See this young girl? She's probably doing some serious browsing before taking a quick dip in the water. Not a bad vacation life at all.

Reason #3: The books are free!
Like most libraries, you don't have to pay to indulge in your reading passion; but unlike most libraries, there's only a loose suggestion that books be returned. Obviously, a band of villainous book thieves would be devastating to the inventory, but the Beach Library wants to promote the love of reading—not the love of returning books on time. If you "accidentally" take a book home with you, the library police won't be after you.

Reason #4: The bookshelves are resistant to sun, wind, and rain.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor accidentally spilled sunscreen can keep this library from its sacred duty. Kompernas and his team built the 140 bright white bookshelves out of a special material that is resistant to sun and wind. In addition, each shelving unit has a vinyl covering for rainy days.

Reason #5: The inventory is constantly expanding because tourists often donate their own books before they go home.
Spreading the love of reading is contagious. After benefitting from a vacation full of free books, tourists can't help but pass on the awesome. "The library is getting richer because of our guests," Yovka Strashilova, Albena's deputy manager, proudly boasts.

Reason #6: The library is surrounded by beach chairs.

Once you pick up a stack of books from the Beach Library, you won't have to look long for a perfect reading spot. Beach chairs and umbrellas stretch out as far as the eye can see. This is what summer reading dreams are made of.


What other places are on your bookish bucket list? Let us know in the comments!
Summer Reading: Quickies and Doorstoppers
Posted by Jade on August 05, 2015



As serious advocates of summer reading, we've given you books on beaches, the perfect audiobooks for long road trips and a list of 14 of the summer's hottest books!

But there are still more ways to organize your summer reading! A train ride, a flight, or a weekend getaway is the perfect time for a quickie—a riveting read under 200 pages. On the other hand, maybe you have endless hours of vacation time to while away; just the right setting for a doorstopper—a thick, juicy slab of story over 500 pages. We've found you four of each, all just published this year.

Would you rather read a quickie or a doorstopper?


QUICKIES
Very Good Lives
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Our Souls at Night
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DOORSTOPPERS
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The Cartel
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The Familiar
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How many hours do you think it would take you to read a quickie? How about a doorstopper?
Celebrate Historical Fiction Week!
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on August 03, 2015

While some scientists are searching for a wormhole to travel back in time, fans of historical fiction have already discovered their own personal time machines, conveniently located on their bookshelves! With the simple turning of a page, historical fiction readers are transported to a different place and time, whether that's Tudor England, 18th century Scotland, or America at the start of the Second World War.

We're celebrating our love for historical fiction by featuring authors, groups, giveaways, and Listopia lists throughout the week. To kick it all off, we asked a few bestselling historical fiction writers this question:





Ask Diana Gabaldon a question!



Ask Philippa Gregory a question!



Ask Sara Gruen a question!



Ask Isabel Allende a question!



Ask John Boyne a question!



There are many more writers participating—check out which of your favorite historical fiction writers are taking questions during Historical Fiction Week, and ask them a question!


14 Hottest Books of Summer
Posted by Jade on July 30, 2015

We've crunched some numbers to come up with this fresh new list of summer's hottest books—and they all have a 4.0+ rating from Goodreads members!

From a powerful family drama to a sexy motorcycle club romance, from a brave exploration of America's racial history to a fairy tale that's been getting nearly universal acclaim, these are the books that everyone will be talking about.

Which ones are going on your to-read list?


FICTION
Inside the O'Briens
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Girl at War
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NONFICTION
Between the World and Me
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Pirate Hunters
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YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Uprooted
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Emma
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MYSTERY & THRILLER
Pretty Girls
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Memory Man
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FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
The Library at Mount Char
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Nimona
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HISTORICAL FICTION
Circling the Sun
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Letters to the Lost
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ROMANCE
Nowhere But Here
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Until July
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Looking for more? Check out the It Books of Spring!
12 Books Series You Should Catch Up on Right Now
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on July 28, 2015

Missed the boat on a few awesome book series? (Or caught the boat and then accidentally fell off?) It's never too late to catch up! Use your summer vacation—or your summer commute—to read through a series. The following all have highly anticipated books on the way. Which ones will you be ready for?

Thriller and Mystery

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CORMORAN STRIKE SERIES
Written by Robert Galbraith
Start with The Cuckoo's Calling
Upcoming book: Career of Evil (10/22/15)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 2

For readers who like… Private investigators, unlucky supermodels, competent secretaries, delicious (and dangerous) twists, murder


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MILLENNIUM SERIES
Written by Stieg Larsson (and David Lagercrantz)
Start with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Upcoming book: The Girl in the Spider's Web (8/27/15)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 3

For readers who like… Grisly crime thrillers, misunderstood geniuses, tattoos, Sweden, hackers, mathematics, "Terminator mode"


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STEPHANIE PLUM SERIES
Written by Janet Evanovich
Start with One for the Money
Upcoming book: Tricky Twenty-Two (11/17/15)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 21

For readers who like… Bounty hunters, high jinks, sidekicks (a grandma and a former hooker), brooding love interests who pack heat


Young Adult

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RED RISING TRILOGY
Written by Pierce Brown
Start with Red Rising
Upcoming book: Morning Star (1/12/16)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 2

For readers who like… Fantasy space operas, dystopian bad guys, Roman mythology, the colors red or gold, jaw-dropping plot twists


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THE LUNAR CHRONICLES
Written by Marissa Meyer
Start with Cinder
Upcoming book: Winter (11/10/15)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 3

For readers who like… Retold fairy tales, the moon, the future, cyborgs with hearts of gold, teenage hackers, evil space queens


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THE 5TH WAVE SERIES
Written by Rick Yancey
Start with 5th Wave
Upcoming book: The Last Star (5/17/15)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 2

For readers who like… Alien invasions, snarky asides, nail-biting thrills, killers who look human but definitely aren't, journaling, viruses


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THRONE OF GLASS SERIES
Written by Sarah J. Maas
Start with Throne of Glass
Upcoming book: Queen of Shadows (9/1/15)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 3

For readers who like… Teenage assassins, tyrannical terrors, court conspiracies, exclamation points, scars, heartbreaking betrayals


Fantasy and Science Fiction

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A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE
Written by George R.R. Martin
Start with A Game of Thrones
Upcoming book: The Winds of Winter (TBD)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 5

For readers who like… Epic fantasy, mind-blowing deaths of main characters, winter, dragons, political intrigue, really tall walls, zombies


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THE DAGGER AND THE COIN SERIES
Written by Daniel Abraham
Start with The Dragon's Path
Upcoming book: The Spider's War (1/26/16)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 4

For readers who like… High fantasy, smugglers, ancient priesthoods, hungry Goddesses, authors who have collaborated with George R.R. Martin


Romance

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CROSSFIRE SERIES
Written by Sylvia Day
Start with Bared to You
Upcoming book: One with You (TBD)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 4

For readers who like… Tumultuous relationships, tortured billionaires, healing, swooning, "happily-ever-afters for the f**ked up crowd"


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DESPERATE DUCHESSES BY THE NUMBERS
Written by Eloisa James
Start with Three Weeks with Lady X
Upcoming book: Seven Minutes in Heaven (TBD)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 2

For readers who like… Regency romance, seductive scoundrels, corsets, time limits, audacious marriage proposals


Historical Fiction

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THE TUDOR COURT SERIES
Written by Philippa Gregory
Start with The Constant Princess
Upcoming book: The Taming of the Queen (8/13/15)
Book(s) to read to catch up: 3

For readers who like… Dramatic historical fiction, royals behaving badly, peasants behaving badly, court deviousness, forbidden romance, Henry VIII



What's your favorite series of all time?

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