The best books for science fiction beginners

Who am I?

I grew up loving science fiction in both books and movies. Not until I wrote a sci-fi trilogy did I realize I may be in the minority. There are much more popular genres out there, and many people who have never liked or experienced good science fiction. For me, science fiction encompasses all the magic that make up a great story, but wrapped in a scientific view of our world. It is my hope that this list will encourage others to give science fiction a try.

I wrote...

Flash Back

By John Turiano,

Book cover of Flash Back

What is my book about?

The time is 1942, the place is Chicago, a key scientist is brutally murdered. While in the midst of a world at war, nations are racing to harness the power of the atom. Sam Reilly plunges into a mystery taking him back to another era. A mysterious flash drive leads to Sam's abrupt reassignment to a secret project researching time travel. He soon discovers a pattern of scientists who died or disappeared dating back to 1942. He travels back in time to investigate but soon finds himself isolated with no way home. He is hunted by the killer and facing a dilemma: Can he stop a murder? Knowing it could alter history, should he? A debut novel, Flash Back is a story of hope amidst a technologically changing world.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Humans

John Turiano Why did I love this book?

An alien is sent to earth to prevent an important breakthrough, a giant technological leap forward for the human race. The alien takes the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a prominent mathematician who made the discovery. The visitor moves into Martin's home with his wife and teenage son. Tasked with eliminating anyone with knowledge of the discovery, he searches for people Martin may have told. Knowing nothing of their ways, the alien is at first repulsed by humans. But over time, his views change. He develops a bond with the son and grows to love Martin's wife. But he has a mission to accomplish and he is being watched.  

The book dives deeply into the core of what it means to be human. It has both humorous and emotional moments that will tug at your heartstrings. I highly recommend The Humans.

By Matt Haig,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Humans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


After an 'incident' one wet Friday night where he is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, Professor Andrew Martin is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst an alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he's a dog.

Who is he really? And what could make someone change their mind about the human race . . . ?

Book cover of Dark Matter

John Turiano Why did I love this book?

Jason Desson has a happy life but harbors a few regrets. One night, on the way home from a local pub, he is abducted. He wakes up in a bizarre world, surrounded by strangers. Closely watched and fearing for his life, he escapes only to later discover he never married, and his son was never born. On the run from his abductors, he struggles to solve the mystery. Jason finds himself in a life-or-death struggle to return home, but that may not be possible in this strange world. Brilliantly plotted and mind-bending, I could not put it down. It will keep you on the edge of your seat to the end. Whether you are a sci-fi fan or not, I would highly recommend this book.

By Blake Crouch,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Dark Matter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Brilliant. . . I think Blake Crouch just invented something new' - Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series.

From Blake Crouch, the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human - a relentlessly surprising thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we'll go to claim the lives we dream of, perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Ready Player One.

'Are you happy in your life?'
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakes to find…

Book cover of 11/22/63

John Turiano Why did I love this book?

November 22, 1963, a day that forever changed the course of history. Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher who has a chance to go back in time and prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Unlike any other King novel, this one leaves out much of the gore, but none of the excitement and intricate storylines. King is a master of character development and plot. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good time-travel story with a twist.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked 11/22/63 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major TV series from JJ Abrams and Stephen King, starring James Franco (Hulu US, Fox UK and Europe, Stan Australia, SKY New Zealand).

WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11.22.63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless . . .

King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of…

Book cover of Project Hail Mary

John Turiano Why did I love this book?

Alone and drifting in space, Ryland Grace wakes from a coma with no knowledge of how he got there. As memories return he discovers he was sent on a mission to save the world from destruction. Along the way he meets an alien who was sent for the same reason, to save his planet. The alien, who he calls Rocky, and Ryland develop a bond working towards a common goal. There is some technological jargon which may be a bit much for first-time sci-fi readers, but the story of friendship and trust developed with a strange being will warm your heart. I highly recommend this one.

By Andy Weir,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Project Hail Mary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space…

Book cover of Flowers For Algernon

John Turiano Why did I love this book?

This is a classic I read back in high school. Charlie Gordon is born with an unusually low IQ. He has a job and is self-sufficient. He is offered a procedure that could greatly increase his intelligence, and eventually accepts. The experiment is initially a success and his intelligence grows, eventually surpassing everyone around him. But with his intelligence comes new-found problems, and Charlie has difficulty dealing with them. I will not ruin the ending but suffice it to say this is a heart-warming, coming-of-age story dealing with the complicated social and development issues we all experience. A must-read if you have not read it or seen the movie, Charly, adapted from the book.

By Daniel Keyes,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Flowers For Algernon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Charlie Gordon, a retarded adult, undergoes a brain operation which dramatically increases his intelligence.

Charlie becomes a genius. But can he cope emotionally? Can he develop relationships?

And how do the psychiatrists and psychologists view Charlie-as a man or as the subject of an experiment like the mouse Algernon?

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By Linda Kass,

Book cover of Bessie

Linda Kass Author Of Bessie

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Bookstore owner Learner Reader Historical novelist Long distance cyclist

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In the bigoted milieu of 1945, six days after the official end of World War II, Bess Myerson, the daughter of poor Russian immigrants living in the Bronx, remarkably rises to become Miss America, the first —and to date only— Jewish woman to do so. At stake is a $5,000 scholarship for the winner.

An intimate fictional portrait of Bess Myerson’s early life, Bessie reveals the transformation of the nearly six-foot-tall, self-deprecating yet talented preteen into an exemplar of beauty, a peripheral quality in her world. It is the unfamiliar secular society of pageantry she must choose to escape her roots as she searches for love and acceptance, eager to make her mark on the world.


By Linda Kass,

What is this book about?

Just days after the close of World War II, Bess Myerson, the college-educated daughter of poor Russian Jewish immigrants living in the Bronx, is competing in the Miss America pageant. At stake: a $5,000 scholarship. The tension and excitement in Atlantic City's Warner Theatre is palpable, especially for traumatized Jews rooting for one of their own. So begins Bessie.

Drawing on biographical and historical sources, Bessie reimagines the early life of Bess Myerson, who, in 1945 at age twenty-one, remarkably rises to become one of the most famous women in America. This intimate fictional portrait reveals the transformation of the…

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