Parable of the Sower

By Octavia E. Butler,

Book cover of Parable of the Sower

Book description

The extraordinary, prescient NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling novel.

'If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it's one written in the past that has already begun to come true. This is what makes Parable of the Sower even more impressive than it was when first published'…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

21 authors picked Parable of the Sower as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I used to be paid to ponder the end of the world as we know it: I was a health editor during the early years of the COVID pandemic; at the same time, I was editing environmental stories.

What I loved most about this book is that the worst has already occurred, and the protagonist, a teenager, chooses her own new way to navigate what’s still to come. I was engaged by the concepts of resilience as a survival skill, reinvention as a necessity, and rebirth as an act of personal and global faith.

I am not a fan of…

From Joanne's list on digging out when life just buries you.

Nobody does bleak futures laced with racial politics in the way that Octavia Butler does them. This book is not something you read and forget; it burns a special place in your brain and lives there forever.

Through first published in 1993, it holds an astonishing relevance for today’s burning realities since one of its central themes is the calamity that climate change will bring. Match that with the funky, fascinating protagonist Lauren Olamina and the new religion, EarthSeed, and you have a novel that you can get lost in and never want to emerge from. I’ve read it three…

Shifting gears into the adult space, Parable of the Sower is a dystopian Afrofuturist novel of survival and resistance that is, at its heart, about embracing a world of change.

Originally published in the early nineties, it’s a disturbingly prescient novel that tells the story of Lauren Olamina, a teen coming of age in a world of extreme societal unrest, inequality, and environmental catastrophe, where the wealthy live in protected compounds while everyone else lives in a destitute world of addiction, starvation, and fear.

The novel follows Olamina as she leaves the protection of her walled-in enclave, discovers her abilities…

The Constant Tower

By Carole McDonnell,

Book cover of The Constant Tower

Carole McDonnell Author Of Wind Follower

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Armchair anthropologist Asian drama addict Christian Perseverer

Carole's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Carole's 10, and 12-year-old's favorite books.

What is my book about?

This is a multicultural epic fantasy with a diverse cast of characters. Sickly fifteen-year-old Prince Psal, the son of warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands. But his clan disdains the disabled.

When the mysterious self-moving towers that keep humans safe from the Creator's ancient curse rebel, Psal attempts to find the Constant Tower and break the power of the third moon. Psal must risk losing the little respect his father has for him and face the dangers of the unmaking night to find the Constant Tower and save all of humanity.

The Constant Tower

By Carole McDonnell,

What is this book about?

Sickly fifteen year old Prince Psal, the son of the nature-blessed warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands. A priest-physician like his friend Ephan, Psal lacks a warrior's heart, yet he desires to earn Nahas's respect and become a clan chief. If he cannot do this, he must escape his clan altogether. But his love for Cassia, the daughter of his father's enemy, and his own weaknesses work against him. When war comes, Psal defends Ktwala and her daughter Mahari, wronged by Nahas, and speaks out against the atrocities his clan commits, further jeopardizing…

When writing about any apocalypse, the way society responds to the disaster is one of the most important worldbuilding aspects to address.

For anyone looking to develop an apocalyptic society—especially one in the midst of a collapse—Parable of the Sower is a masterclass in worldbuilding in which Butler creates a realistic world on the brink of ruin and populates it with real people who are doing their best to survive.

This was particularly helpful to me in later installments of my saga where the dominant society was much more isolated from the horrors of the outside world.

From Cassiopeia's list on writing a “realistic” zombie apocalypse.

This book was uncomfortable to read, and disturbing. I nearly stopped reading it all together. But past the first half, I became engrossed. Wouldn’t it be nice if, in life, actions were clearly right or simply wrong, such as murder. In actuality, life can be complicated and ethics are sometimes grey, not at all black and white. In this book, what counts as morality is perplexing. In fact, the moral integrity of Lauren, the main character, comes into question. Hers is a crumbling world of anguish, suffering, and loss, where all that matters is survival. Even though I found it…

From Rosalyn's list on people who show moral courage.

Released in 1993, the dystopian story it tells begins in 2024. This grabbed me because back when I read George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1984 seemed like the distant future. I didn’t think anything in the book could happen in my lifetime. But history proved me wrong. Butler’s version of 2024 is overwhelmingly negative, and there are some elements that ring true now. But the plot is interesting and kept me reading even when the story was grim. I like Lauren, the main character, because she keeps looking for ways to survive and help others. She believes if we…

It is difficult to go wrong with any of Butler’s work. Her work is poignant in its translation of real-life experience. In The Parable of the Sower, she uses the diary of the visionary main character to take the reader on a journey of an all too real battle to save the goodness of mankind even if it puts her life in danger. Journal you say?? I was immediately intrigued by this concept.  

Octavia Butler was an award-winning science fiction writer and formative influence on Afrofuturism. First published in 1993 and set in the mid-2020s, this dystopian novel tells the story of Lauren Olamina, a Black teenager learning to survive and thrive amid ecological and societal collapse. Between journal reflections on her life in a world of pandemics, urban wildfires, and rampant violence, she writes verses of Earthseed, a new religion in which "God is Change" and the living must learn to work with that change, to go with its flows, in order to participate in positive transformations. Raised by a Baptist…

In Octavia Butler’s essential novel, the main character Lauren reveals a belief system she calls Earthseed, which departs from the religions she was taught growing up in an apocalyptic Los Angeles. When I first read Parable of the Sower years ago, I felt terror and grief for the characters as they traveled the landscape of my childhood—most of my stories now are set on the West Coast. I also felt in the Earthseed writings a sort of peace or balance, and only later learned how mythologies reflect their cultures of origin, that the stories can convey, literally or figuratively, shared…

I’d been reading science fiction for many years when I came across this book. While I was already a big fan of Ray Bradbury, Ursula Le Guin, and others, Butler’s work showed me a new perspective through the story of empath Lauren Olamina, an African American teenager in a dystopian future California. Her struggles to survive a world in chaos, to manage her power, and to begin a movement to save the human race remain with me.

From Valerie's list on young women saving their own lives.

Want books like Parable of the Sower?

Our community of 9,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like Parable of the Sower.

Browse books like Parable of the Sower

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dystopian, African Americans, and race relations?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dystopian, African Americans, and race relations.

Dystopian Explore 541 books about dystopian
African Americans Explore 708 books about African Americans
Race Relations Explore 233 books about race relations