Before we spent the weekend watching the entire season of “House of Cards,” the original form of binge-entertainment was, of course, the book series. So go ahead and get your fill. The only thing you’ll have to feel guilty about is all that popcorn you’re still planning to eat.
1. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Anyone with a morbid streak will appreciate the cynical and sarcastic narration of Lemony Snicket. With amusing word play that breaks the fourth wall and broadens our vocabulary, this not-necessarily “made for children” compilation is what it would look like if Tim Burton and JK Rowling had a kid.
2. Spurious by Lars Iyer
The friendship between narrator Lars Iyer and the “slightly more successful” W. is like an unrelenting gale: fierce. The two British philosophers find themselves on a meandering journey for enlightenment (and to escape Iyer’s moldy house), looking for less irksome literary types and better gin. Also, for that pesky thing called the meaning of life.
3. He Died With His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond
Margaret Thatcher’s London and the Department of Unexplained Deaths; no, this is not the next Harry Potter, but Derek Raymond’s original English noir suite, The Factory Series. To figure out “who done it” Detective Sergeant has nothing to go off of except the middle-aged, alcoholic victim’s cassette tape diaries. In the process Sergeant becomes obsessed with the man’s life and his love, the vixen Barbara.
4. The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem
Written by the author of Solaris, and relayed with typical dry, Eastern European humor, the Ijon Tichy Series is science fiction at its best. References to theory, history, religion, strange civilizations, and past and future selves make this philosophical collection worth time-capsuling.
5. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Oh my days! The neighbor’s horse has a broken leg? The cow across the field needs help birthing her calf? These are the sort of everyday troubles a young English veterinarian runs into on the rural Yorkshire countryside in 1930. But with a light C.S. Lewis-esque touch, Herriot’s memoirs turn mundane moments into miracles.
6. New Moan: A Parody by Stephfordy Mayo
Tired of the zombie romance hype and just really feel like punching a tweenage vampire in the face? We got you. Smite (and lampoon) away with this truly genius parody of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.
7. Blind Switch by John McEvoy
One-time amateur boxer and former ad man Jack Doyle, finds himself fired, divorced, and caught up in the criminal horse racing racket. (Think thoroughbred incapacitation, Tonya Harding style.) When the FBI gets a hold of Doyle, he’s forced to work for the other side.
8. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Elementary, my dear readers, is leafing through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s string of criminal cases. Follow this violin-playing, pipe-smoking, thriller-obsessed sociopath and his bumbling narrator Watson through the streets of London. It’s the best thing before sliced bread, or Benedict Cumberbatch.
9. Happy Birthday, Turk! by Jakob Arjouni
Run-ins with prostitutes, heroin dealers, and crooked cops are just the beginning of hard-drinking, Turkish immigrant Detective Kemal’s problems. Set in Frankfurt, Germany, and written when the author was only 19, The Kayankaya Series is a surprisingly funny crime set with a xenophobic twist.
10. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll’s 150-year-old beloved children’s classic sparks surprising;y adult debates. Like, does Alice’s ingestion of tonics and mushrooms refer to drug use? Did Charles Dodgson have a thing for little girls? Decide for yourself with a more critical read-around of the timeless text and its comparably influential sequel.
11. A Quest of Heroes by Morgan Rice
14-year-old Thorgrin, hated by his family, escapes his walled in life to become a part of the King’s legion. Running into even more disfavor, Thorgrin tries to figure out where he belongs while simultaneously discovering he possesses mysterious powers. Live vicariously through this coming of age story filled with forbidden love, sorcery, and the fight against evil.
12. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The good in this world is always worth fighting for, and the book is always better than the movie: two proverbs to keep in mind when you begin your journey with Frodo and the Dark Lord’s precious ring.