The best books for rethinking UFOs and the paranormal

Why am I passionate about this?

Joshua Cutchin has written seven books. If you find yourself beside him on an airplane and ask what he writes about, he’ll say, “Speculative non-fiction.” If he warms up, he’ll explain that he writes about supernatural mysteries—UFOs, Bigfoot, ghosts, etc.—all through the lens of folklore. A suspicion that all these phenomena are connected undergirds his writing. In addition to his books, Joshua regularly contributes to essay collections and, in 2019, appeared on the hit History Channel series Ancient Aliens. Joshua has appeared on countless paranormal programs, including Coast to Coast AM. He regularly speaks at events nationwide, most recently Rice University’s 2023 Archives of the Impossible conference.

I wrote...

Thieves in the Night: A Brief History of Supernatural Child Abductions

By Joshua Cutchin,

Book cover of Thieves in the Night: A Brief History of Supernatural Child Abductions

What is my book about?

In Thieves in the Night, Joshua Cutchin explores the resonances between modern UFO contact and ancient beliefs surrounding "the fairy folk." While relegated to fantasy in the modern mind, fairies share a number of correspondences with our newer fringe mythologies, particularly an interest in adolescents. Both fairies and modern "extraterrestrials"—if that is indeed what they are—prey upon our most vulnerable population.

Whether or not this phenomenon is real, human beings have long believed it to be real, and some continue to live in this fear today. From straightforward abductions to tales of changelings—inhuman "others" substituting human victims—Thieves in the Night traces the influence of supernatural kidnappers from antiquity through the modern era, using a scholarly approach combining folklore, medicine, science, and spirituality.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld

Joshua Cutchin Why did I love this book?

Contemporary thought surrounding the supernatural has become rigid, mired in demands for “proof” like photographs and video recordings.

These phenomena rarely offer anything so compelling. Their genesis lies more in imagination than the material world, straddling the line between both. To better understand what might be going on, this rigid thinking must be broken.

Few books do that as elegantly as Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality. Drawing upon Classical philosophy and Jungian psychology, Harpur obliterates the usual traps of distinction we rely upon: internal versus external, objective versus subjective.

While Harpur’s interpretation remains speculative, anyone with an open mind will find themselves liberated by the ideas he proposes. Daimonic Reality offers supernatural phenomena a foothold into the realm of the possible simply by acknowledging their impossibility.

By Patrick Harpur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lake monsters, Yetis, UFOs, crop circles, guardian angels and visions of the Virgin Mary can all be described as apparitions, and this book weaves together an account of them. It argues that only in the last three centuries or so, and only in Western culture, they're as lively as ever. But, the author suggests, they can be made intelligible again by appealing to a different world-view. Three of the chief models for understanding mind and world are Jung's "Collective World", which is used to illuminate the links between the apparently disparate experiences being dealt with.

Book cover of Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers

Joshua Cutchin Why did I love this book?

Dr. Jacques Vallee has always approached the UFO topic with academic rigor and intellectual honesty.

Faced with undeniable correspondences between older folklore and contemporary sightings, he penned Passport to Magonia in 1969. It was among the first books to acknowledge similarities between UFO contact and older, sometimes even ancient, interactions with supernatural beings, especially Western European fairies.

Within, Vallee argues that UFOs might not come from the stars but rather from right here—an unseen, ephemeral place inches from your nose as you read this. Whether residing in some mystical Otherworld or another dimension is immaterial.

The salient point is that we have interacted with nonhuman intelligences for millennia—and that our outdated interpretations may be closer to the truth than modern concepts like extraterrestrials.

By Jacques Vallee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Our age has generated, and continues to generate, mythical material almost unparalleled in quantity and quality in the rich records of human imagination. More precisely, people have very frequently reported the observation of wonderful aerial objects, variously designated as flying saucers, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), and so on. But investigators have neglected to recognize one important perspective of the phenomenon: the fact that beliefs identical to those held today have recurred throughout recorded history and under forms best adapted to the believer's country, race, and social regime.

Emissaries from these supernatural abodes come to earth, sometimes under human form and…

Book cover of The Trickster and the Paranormal

Joshua Cutchin Why did I love this book?

Paranormal literature contains both entry-level texts and advanced reading.

George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal firmly occupies the latter category; it is best digested a paragraph at a time. Anyone taking the plunge is rewarded with an erudite argument for understanding the paranormal, one yielding ever-increasing dividends the more it is applied: everything supernatural, from the phenomenon itself to those who study it, is subject to the influence of a subversive Jungian archetype known as The Trickster.

This is not an entity but rather a set of pervasive characteristics manifesting independently: transgressive, self-negating, liminal, playful, and, dare it be said, dangerous. Hansen’s speculation makes a little more sense of the insensible, including why irrefutable evidence of the paranormal yet eludes the scientific establishment.

By George P Hansen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Trickster and the Paranormal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Hansen, George P

Book cover of The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained

Joshua Cutchin Why did I love this book?

1987’s Communion made Whitley Strieber the world’s most famous alien abductee. Since then, many have derided him as a fantasist or even a charlatan.

Most attacks stem from his critics’ insistence on viewing Strieber’s experiences literally. Few stop to consider whether or not that approach may be misguided. In this collaboration with Rice University professor Dr. Jeffrey Kripal, Strieber’s firsthand accounts are placed in dialogue with religious scholarship, providing a useful framework for navigating the treacherous waters between the objective and subjective.

The Super Natural acknowledges that these things are—at least partially—"real" in a sense that modern culture would recognize. Their meaning, however, may well be something else entirely, best apprehended through our never-ending attempt to make sense of our place in the cosmos.

By Whitley Strieber, Jeffrey J. Kripal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two of today's maverick authors on anomalous experience present a perception-altering and intellectually thrilling analysis of why the paranormal is real, but radically different from what is conventionally

Whitley Strieber (Communion) and Jeffrey J. Kripal (J. Newton Rayzor professor of religion at Rice University) team up on this unprecedented and intellectually vibrant new framing of inexplicable events and experiences.

Rather than merely document the anomalous, these authors--one the man who popularized alien abduction and the other a renowned scholar and "renegade advocate for including the paranormal in religious studies" (The New York Times)--deliver a fast-paced and exhilarating study of…

Book cover of King of Morning, Queen of Day

Joshua Cutchin Why did I love this book?

If the paranormal is somewhat interiorized and subject to the fluid expectations of culture—as many of the above books argue—then can fiction further our understanding?

Enter King of Morning, Queen of Day, perhaps the best fictional representation of fairies ever written. Ian McDonald follows three generations interacting with these intelligences, who are just as slippery and ineffable as their real-life counterparts. Slight misgivings regarding the third act notwithstanding, McDonald’s execution is practically flawless, weaving together actual folklore with contemporary speculation.

Yet the core of his book is decidedly human, reminding us that—no matter how much we talk of UFOs from outer space or fairies at the bottom of the garden—their importance derives entirely from what their existence says about us.

By Ian McDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King of Morning, Queen of Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Three generations of Irish women--Emily, Jessica, and Enye--struggle to tame the ancient magical powers that imbue the countryside and themselves, each with varying degrees of success

You might also like...

American Flygirl

By Susan Tate Ankeny,

Book cover of American Flygirl

Susan Tate Ankeny Author Of The Girl and the Bombardier: A True Story of Resistance and Rescue in Nazi-Occupied France

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Susan Tate Ankeny left a career in teaching to write the story of her father’s escape from Nazi-occupied France. In 2011, after being led on his path through France by the same Resistance fighters who guided him in 1944, she felt inspired to tell the story of these brave French patriots, especially the 17-year-old- girl who risked her own life to save her father’s. Susan is a member of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, the Air Force Escape and Evasion Society, and the Association des Sauveteurs d’Aviateurs Alliés. 

Susan's book list on women during WW2

What is my book about?

The first and only full-length biography of Hazel Ying Lee, an unrecognized pioneer and unsung World War II hero who fought for a country that actively discriminated against her gender, race, and ambition.

This unique hidden figure defied countless stereotypes to become the first Asian American woman in United States history to earn a pilot's license, and the first female Asian American pilot to fly for the military.

Her achievements, passionate drive, and resistance in the face of oppression as a daughter of Chinese immigrants and a female aviator changed the course of history. Now the remarkable story of a fearless underdog finally surfaces to inspire anyone to reach toward the sky.

American Flygirl

By Susan Tate Ankeny,

What is this book about?

One of WWII’s most uniquely hidden figures, Hazel Ying Lee was the first Asian American woman to earn a pilot’s license, join the WASPs, and fly for the United States military amid widespread anti-Asian sentiment and policies.

Her singular story of patriotism, barrier breaking, and fearless sacrifice is told for the first time in full for readers of The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck, A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell, The Last Boat Out of Shanghai by Helen Zia, Facing the Mountain by Daniel James Brown and all Asian American, women’s and WWII history books.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the paranormal, UFO, and the supernatural?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the paranormal, UFO, and the supernatural.

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