The best books that explore fantastic worlds

The Books I Picked & Why

Mistborn: The Final Empire

By Brandon Sanderson

Book cover of Mistborn: The Final Empire

Why this book?

Brandon Sanderson is someone I’ve met and who lives in a nearby community here in Utah. It makes me think that if he managed to become so successful, then maybe I have a chance as well. I’ve always loved his books, and this one really turned me into a fan for life. He focuses so much on worldbuilding, delving into things like art, religion, and politics in a way that make his worlds come alive. This work has inspired my own by showing me how to do worldbuilding correctly. And it’s an amazingly fun and satisfying read, and the start of a blockbuster series.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Hiding Place

By Corrie Ten Boom, Elizabeth Sherrill, John Sherrill, Tim Foley

Book cover of The Hiding Place

Why this book?

There are many books about the horrors of World War II, but none of them have inspired me so much as this account of a Dutch concentration camp survivor. It shows not only the horrible things that happened to her, but it shows how she overcame the terrible circumstances of her life to create many beautiful things. It shows her journey of faith and how she overcame her own hatred for her captors. I truly recommend this book to everyone. 

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak

Book cover of The Book Thief

Why this book?

As a German teacher and WWII history buff, I loved this touching account of the good-hearted normal Germans who were so devastated by the war. It is told from the viewpoint character of Death and how even he is haunted by humans and their ability to transcend their circumstances. It is a story that has left a longstanding impression on me long after I read it. 

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Hobbit

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Book cover of The Hobbit

Why this book?

I love this book because it is one of the first ones that got me excited about reading fantasy fiction and eventually writing it. I think that on some level, I’ve always identified with Bilbo Baggins and his dilemma between wanting to stay safe and comfortable at home and wanting to find adventure in the wide world. It showed me that ordinary people can make a difference and that you have to go outside your comfort zone to reach your full potential. 

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.


By Frank Herbert

Book cover of Dune

Why this book?

This book transports readers with some of the best worldbuilding around. Its plot is layered and satisfying and it has many parallels to our own society. It also laid the groundwork for many sci-fi epics to come and still holds up after all of this time. Not only that, but it is the basis for a whole series of books that cover vast swaths of time and space--exactly the kind of transportation sci-fi readers crave. 

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists