66 books like Babel-17/ Empire Star

By Samuel R. Delany,

Here are 66 books that Babel-17/ Empire Star fans have personally recommended if you like Babel-17/ Empire Star. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Sara Jo Easton Author Of A Dream of Light

From my list on LGBTQ+ to annoy the people trying to ban them.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Sara Jo Easton, and I’m the bisexual author of the Zarder novels, a fantasy series where a race of dragon-like creatures called Onizards learns to get past their prejudices. When I was at a book signing for my third book, The Blood of Senbralni, a strange man loudly declared I was part of an agenda to turn people to homosexuality and Satan with my evil dragons. To be clear, I am not and will never be affiliated with Satan. I made a vow that every book I wrote from that point forward would have at least one LGBTQ+ romance with a happy ending to annoy people like that man.

Sara's book list on LGBTQ+ to annoy the people trying to ban them

Sara Jo Easton Why did Sara love this book?

If you’re like me, you are a sucker for stories about an outsider finding themselves in a new society and having to struggle and adapt to circumstances they don’t fully understand.

Genly Ai is a man who is sent to the planet Gethen to convince the people there to join a planetary alliance. The problem is Genly is so fixated on his manhood and personal identity that he can’t adapt culturally in a world where everyone is genderfluid.

Genly’s political mistakes get him into a lot of trouble that his lone ally Estraven tries to save him from, and it is only by learning to accept differences and listen to Estraven that Genly finally succeeds in his quest.

You can’t go wrong with the engrossing worldbuilding in this book, and as a bonus the people trying to ban LGBTQ+ books will be extremely annoyed if you read a book where…

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Left Hand of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION-WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY DAVID MITCHELL AND A NEW AFTERWORD BY CHARLIE JANE ANDERS

Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction-winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants' gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an…


Book cover of Kindred

Hajar Yazdiha Author Of The Struggle for the People's King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement

From my list on understanding revisionist history politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied forty years of the political misuses of the memory of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement as a sociologist at USC and the daughter of Iranian immigrants who has always been interested in questions of identity and belonging. My interest in civil rights struggles started early, growing up in Virginia, a state that celebrated the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday alongside Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I wanted to understand how revisionist histories could become the mainstream account of the past and how they mattered for the future of democracy.

Hajar's book list on understanding revisionist history politics

Hajar Yazdiha Why did Hajar love this book?

I am, to put it lightly, obsessed with the way Octavia Butler revolutionizes the timescape and invites us to speculate about worlds that could be. In this and so many of her books, her vision of Afrofuturism is one that reminds us that our ancestral pasts and our imagined futures are always connected. 

I thought a lot about the future when I wrote my book, and I share Butler’s conviction that there is collective healing and liberation in revisiting and reimagining the past.

I also love that my neighborhood library in Pasadena is the one Octavia Butler used to frequent!

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Kindred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Parable of the Sower and MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Nebula, and Hugo award winner

The visionary time-travel classic whose Black female hero is pulled through time to face the horrors of American slavery and explores the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.

“I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.”

Dana’s torment begins when she suddenly vanishes on her 26th birthday from California, 1976, and is dragged through time to antebellum Maryland to rescue a boy named Rufus, heir to a slaveowner’s plantation. She soon…


Book cover of Meet Me at Infinity

Mike Cooley Author Of Crystal Warrior

From my list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing fantasy and science fiction, I enjoy writing about strong female characters and strong female leads. I also like exploring fundamental questions such as what it means to be human. I grew up reading all the science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on, and that vast landscape of stories has influenced my writing in many ways. I love to explore the limits of consciousness and darkness. I hope the books on this list inspire you and make you think. They have all influenced me in one way or another and made me a better writer.    

Mike's book list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes

Mike Cooley Why did Mike love this book?

James Tiptree Jr. is really Alice Sheldon. She wrote under a male pseudonym for many years due to the male domination of science fiction at the time. Meet Me at Infinity is a great introduction to her work, as it contains both fiction and biographical pieces. She’s a tremendous writer who I found to be very inspiring. Her ability to craft impactful stories with strong female characters is amazing. The Tiptree Award is named after her. 

By James Tiptree,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Meet Me at Infinity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of the writings of Alice B. Sheldon (1915-1987) who produced science fiction under the name of James Tiptree Jr. It includes an early story published under her own name in the New Yorker and many of her colourful non-fiction pieces.


Book cover of Light on the Sound

Mike Cooley Author Of Crystal Warrior

From my list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing fantasy and science fiction, I enjoy writing about strong female characters and strong female leads. I also like exploring fundamental questions such as what it means to be human. I grew up reading all the science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on, and that vast landscape of stories has influenced my writing in many ways. I love to explore the limits of consciousness and darkness. I hope the books on this list inspire you and make you think. They have all influenced me in one way or another and made me a better writer.    

Mike's book list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes

Mike Cooley Why did Mike love this book?

Light on the Sound is a fascinating story and was a big inspiration for me. From the teenage, female protagonist who resists her oppression, to the fantastic creatures and imaginative ideas, this story has everything. Somtow writes with a vivid style that works well for the story, and he weaves everything together in unexpected ways.  

By S.P. Somtow, Mikey Jiraros (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Light on the Sound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Inquestor Series was a classic science fiction series of the 1980s — and has now been reincarnated for the 21st century, with more adventures, more spectacle, and more extras.  Tachyon bubbles, people bins and galactic empires — and profound family conflicts — Greek tragedy writ large.  Light on the Sound, the book that started it all, begins with one lonely planet and three lost souls, and ends with galactic revolution.

For twenty thousand years, the godlike Inquestors have held sway over the one million worlds of the Dispersal of Man.  S.P. Somtow’s limitless imagination has created a universe of…


Book cover of The Prince of Tides

David Michael Dunaway Author Of Angry Heavens: Struggles of a Confederate Surgeon

From my list on celebrating an author’s literary style.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifetime, passionate reader. During the summer vacations, my brother and I would often ride with our father to his job in downtown Mobile and walk to Mobile Public Library, where we would spend all day exploring and reading. Well-written novels with remarkable but believable characters—such as those I've noted here are my passion. I have included novels in my list where I can identify personally with the protagonist. My list of books is varied. They have one thing in common: believable characters who struggle with life—authored by legitimate wordsmiths. When I wrote Angry Heavens as a first-time novelist, it was my history as a reader that I used as a writer.

David's book list on celebrating an author’s literary style

David Michael Dunaway Why did David love this book?

When Pat Conroy died in 2016, I knew what the late Southern gentleman-writer, Lewis Grizzard, meant when he wrote, Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself.

Pat Conroy understood the Southern male in ways that only fellow Southerners can know in all its fullness. I felt less Southern at his passing than I had felt in a long time. Pat Conroy was my better self as a Southern male. He understood me without knowing me.

The Prince of Tides protagonist, Tom Wingo, is undoubtedly filled with the simplicity and complexity, goodness and evil, connection to history that describe the southern male who often will define being Southern as a fundamental personal value.

Want some insight into the Southern male, and who wouldn't? The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy is where one should start.

By Pat Conroy,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Prince of Tides as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pat Conroy's inspired masterpiece relates the dark and violent chronicle of an astounding family: the Wingos of Colleton, South Carolina. No reader will forget them. And no reader can remain untouched by their story.

All Wingos share one heritage ... shrimp fishing, poverty and the searing memory of a single terrifying event - the source of Tom Wingo's self-hatred and of his sister Savannah's suicidal despair.

To save himself and Savannah, Tom confronts the past with the help of New York psychologist Susan Lowenstein.

As Tom and Susan unravel the bitter history of his troubled childhood, in episodes of grotesque…


Book cover of The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s

Heather Clark Author Of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

From my list on group biographies of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Heather Clark is the author of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath which was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography, and a Book of the Year at The Guardian, O the Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Times (London), Lit Hub, Good Morning America Book Club, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a new group biography about the Boston years of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, and Maxine Kumin, under contract with Knopf. She is a professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England.

Heather's book list on group biographies of women

Heather Clark Why did Heather love this book?

Maggie Doherty tells the story of five women artists—Anne Sexton, Maxine Kumin, Barbara Swan, Tillie Olsen, and Marianna Pineda—who were among the first fellows at Radcliffe’s new Institute for Independent Study. The fellowship was originally designed for women who needed a room (and a paycheck) of their own to resume work interrupted by marriage and motherhood. Doherty weaves a history of Radcliffe’s pioneering venture with moving stories of the first fellows, whose friendships strengthened their resolve to pursue art in the face of male skepticism.

By Maggie Doherty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD

In 1960, Harvard’s sister college, Radcliffe, announced the founding of an Institute for Independent Study, a “messy experiment” in women’s education that offered paid fellowships to those with a PhD or “the equivalent” in artistic achievement. Five of the women who received fellowships—poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, painter Barbara Swan, sculptor Marianna Pineda, and writer Tillie Olsen—quickly formed deep bonds with one another that would inspire and sustain their most ambitious work. They called themselves “the Equivalents.” Drawing from notebooks, letters, recordings, journals, poetry, and prose, Maggie Doherty weaves a moving…


Book cover of Just Kids

John Glynn Author Of Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer

From my list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi! I'm John Glynn, and I'm excited to share some book recommendations inspired by one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs, "Cruel Summer."  To me, this song perfectly encapsulates the heightened emotions of summer love—a theme at the heart of my memoir Out East. I chose books that capture the "fever dream highs" of the season. But at the same time, as Taylor sings, "Summer's a knife," filled with longing and heartache, primed for nostalgia. All of these books carry the kind of moonlit shimmer I crave in a smart beach read. As a Swiftie, a beach lover, an avid reader, and a hopeless romantic, I hope you enjoy.

John's book list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”

John Glynn Why did John love this book?

This might be my all-time favorite memoir. Every time I sit down to write, I tend to read a few pages of it to absorb the rhythm of Patti Smith’s unadorned, lyrical writing.

Like Taylor Swift, Patti Smith is a music icon, a poet, and a genius wordsmith. For me, this book totally captured the radiant nostalgia of a bygone era and a romantic love that evolves into something more permanent and transcendent.

By Patti Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

“Reading rocker Smith’s account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, it’s hard not to believe in fate. How else to explain the chance encounter that threw them together, allowing both to blossom? Quirky and spellbinding.” -- People

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence…


Book cover of Rosewater

Jendella Benson Author Of Hope and Glory

From my list on introducing you to Black London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Much of the Britain that's exported to the world is fed by the monochromatic myth of nobility and royalty, but the heart of Britain is multifaceted and multicultural. I didn’t grow up in London, but grew up visiting family here and ‘The Big Smoke’ had an allure for me. The people were all different colours and ethnicities and it truly felt like the most exciting place in the world. I moved here the week I turned 18, and I haven’t left. It's a harsh, expensive city, and it's much too busy to provide anyone with any lasting sanity, but here I found a version of Black Britain that I was missing in my hometown.

Jendella's book list on introducing you to Black London

Jendella Benson Why did Jendella love this book?

Besides the fact that I love a messy, sexy love story, Rosewater captures the very real feeling of being in your mid-20s in a beautiful but harsh city and trying to work your ish out.

Elsie, the main character, is a poet, which I feel leads a song-like quality to the narrative. This is for dreamers and lovers and those who kind of know what they want but are scared of throwing themselves at it fully. 

By Liv Little,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A TODAY and LGBTQ Reads Most Anticipated Book of 2023 * A Goodreads Buzziest Debut Novel of the New Year * An Electric Lit Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Book of Spring 2023 * A Bustle Most Anticipated Book of Spring & Summer 2023 * A Nylon April 2023 Must-Read Book * An Ebony Required Reading Pick for April

For fans of Bolu Babalola and Tia Williams comes a "tender, soulful, and sexy" (Phoebe Robinson) debut novel about finding love in an unexpected place.

Elsie is a sexy, funny, and fiercely independent woman in south London. But several things in her life…


Book cover of The Summer Without Men

Gail Crowther Author Of Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton

From my list on rebellious women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer who loves writing about women. All sorts of women. Strong, witty, complicated, unlikeable, and intelligent. It is important for me to understand the lived experience of women both inside and outside my own time and cultural context. So many women live with intersecting social characteristics, norms, expectations, nearly all of which hinder or harm. Yet so many women resist and rebel to change life for others. It is this sense of solidarity through history, one group of women paving the way for others, that I find especially fascinating and hopeful. And it is why rebellious women are so crucial. They cannot, and will not, be ignored.   

Gail's book list on rebellious women

Gail Crowther Why did Gail love this book?

The protagonist of this novel, Mia Fredricksen, experiences love, loss, and emotional breakdown. But what I love about this book is when Mia starts to rebuild herself and her sense of identity (her doctor tells her “tolerating cracks is part of being alive”) we move into a joyful narrative of female strength, power, and the solidarity of female friendship. And, as the title suggests, a summer without men. What I love about this novel is the message that even if you are badly betrayed, healing is possible. 

By Siri Hustvedt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Summer Without Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Out of the blue, your husband of thirty years asks you for a pause in your marriage to indulge his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman. Do you:

a) assume it's a passing affair and play along
b) angrily declare the marriage over
c) crack up
d) retreat to a safe haven and regroup?
Mia Fredricksen cracks up first, then decamps for the summer to the prairie town of her childhood, where she rages, fumes, and bemoans her sorry fate as abandoned spouse. But little by little, she is drawn into the lives of those around her: her mother and her…


Book cover of Extraterrestrial Languages

Wil Mccarthy Author Of Beggar's Sky

From my list on peaceful alien contact.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a science fiction writer since I was old enough to read, and I’ve spent probably way too much of my life reading and writing and researching and thinking about aliens. I’ve worked in the aerospace industry, launching rockets to the moon and Mars and Saturn, and five of the books I’ve published have touched on alien life in one way or another. I’ve worked as a contributing editor for WIRED magazine and the science and technology correspondent for the SyFy channel, and I hold patents in seven countries, including 31 issued U.S. patents.

Wil's book list on peaceful alien contact

Wil Mccarthy Why did Wil love this book?

This nonfiction book takes a hard look at humanity’s various attempts to craft a universal language that might, just might, let us one day communicate with extraterrestrials.

What symbols could we use? What encoding? How would we start, and once we’ve started, what would we talk about?

These aren’t easy questions, and we probably still don’t have all the right answers, but I loved the way Oberhaus walked us through the work that has already been done and the directions that future work might take.

By Daniel Oberhaus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If we send a message into space, will extraterrestrial beings receive it? Will they understand?

The endlessly fascinating question of whether we are alone in the universe has always been accompanied by another, more complicated one: if there is extraterrestrial life, how would we communicate with it? In this book, Daniel Oberhaus leads readers on a quest for extraterrestrial communication. Exploring Earthlings' various attempts to reach out to non-Earthlings over the centuries, he poses some not entirely answerable questions: If we send a message into space, will extraterrestrial beings receive it? Will they understand? What languages will they (and we)…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in extraterrestrial life, space horror, and language?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about extraterrestrial life, space horror, and language.

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