The best books for bending your mind

Why am I passionate about this?

I took an introduction to philosophy class in college and the professor showed us how to think about thinking. Can you know something if it’s actually untrue? Can people in a universe with an omniscient god who knows what they’re going to do have free will? Are there universal principles of justice, or is justice based on circumstances? The class changed my taste in reading. I’d read science fiction and fantasy since I was a child, but after this class, I looked for fiction that made my brain hurt but also told a wonderful story. I try hard to meet this standard in my own fiction.


I wrote...

Resurrection Men

By Steven Harper,

Book cover of Resurrection Men

What is my book about?

Arthur Tor steals the dead for a living. As a resurrection man, he creeps around graveyards, hoping to dig up corpses to trade for medical school tuition. Unfortunately, a local judge has gotten wind of Arthur's activities and has sworn to send him to prison—or the hangman's noose.

Jesse Fair has fled his corrupt family in Baltimore and landed in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he becomes the town gravedigger and undertaker, and he works hard to help grieving families through their pain with warmth and compassion. But his venomous family is still searching for him. Relentlessly. When Jesse catches Arthur in the act of robbing a grave, the two of them form a strange friendship and even stranger partnership that digs deep into social taboos—and into their own souls.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Starplex

Steven Harper Why did I love this book?

The book starts small(ish).

A single starship crewed by three different species and captained by a human explores space using a series of wormholes created by… whom, exactly? No one knows.

Then an unknown ship with no visible propulsion system drops out of a wormhole and we're catapulted into an adventure that brings us to the mind-twisting origins of the universe as we know it.
Rob Sawyer lives across the river from me in Canada, and we ran into each other at several local science fiction conventions.

He gave me a copy of Starplex, and I accepted it with a vague, “I look forward to reading it.” I didn’t actually intend to. But a couple weeks later, I idly flipped it open and started reading—and couldn’t stop.

By Robert J. Sawyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starplex as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twenty years after the discovery of artificial wormholes launches Earth space exploration to unforeseeable heights, Starplex Director Keith Lansing investigates a mysterious vessel that soon threatens the station with intergalactic war. Original.


Book cover of Small Gods

Steven Harper Why did I love this book?

Do worshipers need their gods? Or is it the other way around?

The mighty god Om finds himself in reduced circumstances due to a lack of true believers, and he latches onto Brutha, one of the few true believers left, as his salvation. 

Terry wrote this book when his skill as a writer of satirical fantasy was finding its groove. His earlier work was entertaining, but here is where he really starts asking important questions, all while telling a cracking good story.

The book explores the nature of faith, compassion, and belief, and gently turns your mind inside out.

By Terry Pratchett,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Small Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fans of Sir Terry Pratchett will love this stunning graphic novel adaptation of his bestselling standalone Discworld novel Small Gods. Beautifully brought to life by illustrator Ray Friesen, it takes a close look at religion's institutions, its people, its practices and its role in politics in Pratchett's unique way...

'An intriguing satire on institutionalized religion corrupted by power...' - Independent
'Deftly weaves themes of forgiveness, belief and spiritual regeneration' - The Times
'I loved this book. I wish it could go on and on and on because it was so enjoyable to read. I wish more books are like this…


Book cover of Wild Seed

Steven Harper Why did I love this book?

Most people cite Kindred as Butler's best book, but I vehemently disagree.

Wild Seed takes a hard look at what it truly means to be an immortal who literally can't die. And how much free will do we have when someone can use love as a weapon against us?

Anywanu and Doro are the power couple to two continents, and this book is the grandmother of the modern Afrofuturism genre.

If you pick only one book from my list, pick this one.

Book cover of Titan

Steven Harper Why did I love this book?

Quintessential 1980s science fiction that takes creationism to new levels.

A group of astronauts find a very strange bio-ship orbiting Saturn, and it unexpectedly sucks them inside. When you find out what's really going on, your jaw will drop.

No, seriously. It will.

I’m cheating a little here by recommending a trilogy, but they read like one book.

By John Varley,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Titan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twenty years ago, the Gaean Trilogy dazzled critics and readers. Now a new generation will discover that brilliant world--beginning with Titan.


Book cover of All the Colors of Love

Steven Harper Why did I love this book?

I actually got to read this book before it was published because Jessica Freely was in my writer's group.

I fell in love with the characters and was thrilled whenever we got a new chapter. The plot twists and turns, and the finale is nail-biting suspense with mind-altering twists along the way.

It’s a book I wish I had written. Jessica passed away last year, but this novel is a powerful legacy.

By Jessica Freely,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Colors of Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It sucks being the son of a super villain. At home, Harry spends half of his time getting medical treatments and the other half tied up in his father's underwater lair. It was different when his mother was alive, but she disappeared when Harry was six. He can't seem to stay out of trouble at school, and his new roommate, Antonin, thinks he's a spaz, but somehow Harry has to find a way to stop his father's evil plans. Antonin Karganilla wants to become a comic book artist, but other than that, being gay is the most normal thing about…


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Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

Book cover of Legacy of the Witch

Kirsten Weiss Author Of The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

When I joined the Peace Corps in the early nineties, I wasn’t allowed to take much luggage. I decided to bring a Tarot deck, figuring I’d finally have time to learn it while parked in an Estonian forest. That Tarot deck opened up a world of Renaissance mysticism and magic, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tarot cards and readings feature prominently in many of my cozy mystery novels, not the least of which are the Tea and Tarot mysteries. Now my imaginary Tarot reader from that series, Hyperion Night, has recently written his own Tarot guidebook, The Mysteries of Tarot.

Kirsten's book list on how to read Tarot

What is my book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division, and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths...

Legacy of the Witch is a spellbinding, interactive tale of a woman’s midlife quest to understand the complexities of her own heart. A paranormal women’s fiction murder mystery for anyone who’s wondered if there might be more to their own life than meets the eye…

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

What is this book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths.

All April wants is to start over after her husband’s sudden death. She’s conjuring a new path—finally getting her degree and planning her new business in bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch country. Joining an online mystery school seems like harmless fun.

But when a murdered man leaves her a cryptic message, she catches…


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