The best books that immerse you in a fictional universe

Who am I?

Shadow Lands of the Gods is a product of over 30 years of research and pondering, folllowed by 4 months of intense writing and editing. It began while reading Genesis with the question, “What if this is literally true?” while I was still a Christian Minister—but I was first and foremost an engineer with a brutally honest curiosity. It took over 30 years for me to process a crisis of faith that led me on a mission to understand the history of humanity. The similarities of many multi-theistic, pagan myths inspired the characters and many intertwined stories in my book. All that was necessary was to imagine plausible events memorable enough to be passed down. 


I wrote...

Shadow Lands Of The Gods

By Bill Kuykendall,

Book cover of Shadow Lands Of The Gods

What is my book about?

Shadow Lands of the Gods draws on many ancient documents to recreate life on Earth before the Great Flood. Its style is Science Fiction. Its characters and plots are plausible portraits of the Myths that permeate ancient religions.

You might just find yourself believing that this is what really happened.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Bill Kuykendall Why did I love this book?

Although these books total more than 1500 pages, I find myself re-reading them every few years. Several years ago they were made into movies (which I have thoroughly enjoyed many times), but the experience just isn’t the same. The books are mesmerizing.

The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate story of Good vs Evil, and of struggle, determination and hope in the face of seemingly impossible odds. It illustrates how the simplest act by the smallest person can make the difference between victory and defeat at a global scale. Its lessons are at least as relevant today as they were when written over a half century ago.

All this takes place in Middle Earth – a place you will want to return to again and again.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings 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?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…


Book cover of Stranger in a Strange Land

Bill Kuykendall Why did I love this book?

Stranger in a Strange Land is about a boy named Michael who was raised as a Martian by Martians, who was brought back to Earth.  

Heinlein was a master at creating fictional cultures and weaving them into his tales. In truth, Michael is mostly the figurehead of that culture. The real story is about how he affected the lives of Heinlein’s other vivid characters and how the world at large reacted to him.

The story is so compelling that nearly an entire generation (myself included) adopted the language and customs of the water-sharing cult that Heinlein described.

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Stranger in a Strange Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The original uncut edition of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Hugo Award winner Robert A Heinlein - one of the most beloved, celebrated science-fiction novels of all time. Epic, ambitious and entertaining, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND caused controversy and uproar when it was first published and is still topical and challenging today.

Twenty-five years ago, the first manned mission to Mars was lost, and all hands presumed dead. But someone survived...

Born on the doomed spaceship and raised by the Martians who saved his life, Valentine Michael Smith has never seen a human being until the day a…


Book cover of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Bill Kuykendall Why did I love this book?

In this, another tour de force by Robert Heinlein, the star of the book is not the protagonist, but rather the setting. The Lunar Colonies have been so thoroughly imagined in every detail that you will find yourself being sucked into the storyline. 

The characters and plot are engaging also. This, too, is a story of conflict, determination, and hope.

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2075, the Moon is no longer a penal colony. But it is still a prison...

Life isn't easy for the political dissidents and convicts who live in the scattered colonies that make up lunar civilisation. Everything is regulated strictly, efficiently and cheaply by a central supercomputer, HOLMES IV.

When humble technician Mannie O'Kelly-Davis discovers that HOLMES IV has quietly achieved consciousness (and developed a sense of humour), the choice is clear: either report the problem to the authorities... or become friends.

And perhaps overthrow the government while they're at it.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has been called…


Book cover of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Bill Kuykendall Why did I love this book?

I started reading this book, quite frankly, because C.S. Lewis was renowned as a Christian author. Within a few pages however, I was immersed in this masterpiece that became the anchor of an entire series – without becoming the least bit preachy.

Lewis’s Narnia is yet another example of a highly imaginative fictional Universe. He relates this so deftly that you barely notice that many of the characters are talking animals and other impossible creatures.

The plot of this book is yet another epic tale of Good vs Evil. It, too, has stood the test of time.

By C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Lucy steps into the Professor's wardrobe - but steps out again into a snowy forest. She's stumbled upon the magical world of Narnia, land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns... and the wicked White Witch, who terrorises all. Lucy soon realises that Narnia, and in particular Aslan, the great Lion, needs her help if the country's creatures are ever going to be free again...


Book cover of A Confederacy of Dunces

Bill Kuykendall Why did I love this book?

I’ve always wanted to see New Orleans but I’ve never had the pleasure. After reading this book however, I feel as if I have seen a rare view of it in the 1960s through the eyes of a local.

Unlike my other picks, this is not Science Fiction, but like my other picks, the author’s ability to transport the reader to the scene of his novel is what I crave most in a book, and Toole definitely had that gift.

By John Kennedy Toole,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Confederacy of Dunces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF THE BBC'S 100 NOVELS THAT SHAPED OUR WORLD

'This is probably my favourite book of all time' Billy Connolly

A pithy, laugh-out-loud story following John Kennedy Toole's larger-than-life Ignatius J. Reilly, floundering his way through 1960s New Orleans, beautifully resigned with cover art by Gary Taxali
_____________

'This city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians . . . don't make the mistake of bothering me.'

Ignatius J. Reilly: fat, flatulent, eloquent and almost unemployable. By the standards of ordinary folk he is pretty much…


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A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

Book cover of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

Janet Hulstrand Author Of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Editor Francophile Minnesotan Once and forever Brooklynite

Janet's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This memoir chronicles the lives of three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel. The story begins in 1992 in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn as the author reads a notebook written by her grandmother nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year search to find her grandmother’s journals and uncover the hidden interior lives of her mother and grandmother.

Her adventures take her to a variety of locations, from a small town in Iowa to New York, Washington, London, and Paris—and finally to a little village in France, where she is finally able to write the book that will tell her own story, intertwined with the stories of her mother and grandmother.

A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

What is this book about?

This story, about three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel, begins in 1992, in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn, as a young writer reads journals written by her grandmother as a schoolgirl nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year quest to uncover the hidden lives and unfulfilled dreams of her mother and grandmother. In this coming-of-middle-age memoir, the author comes to realize that the passion for travel and for literature that has fueled her life's journey is a gift that was passed down to her by the very role models she was…


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Interested in good and evil, cults, and lions?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about good and evil, cults, and lions.

Good And Evil Explore 129 books about good and evil
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Lions Explore 24 books about lions