100 books like Chronic City

By Jonathan Lethem,

Here are 100 books that Chronic City fans have personally recommended if you like Chronic City. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Player Piano

Carroll Pursell Author Of The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology

From my list on technology interacting with American society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been teaching and writing in the field of the history of technology for over six decades, and it's not too much to say that the field and my professional career grew up together. The Society for the History of Technology began in 1958, and its journal, Technology and Culture, first appeared the following year. I've watched, and helped encourage, a broadening of the subject from a rather internal concentration on machines and engineering to a widening interest in technology as a social activity with cultural and political, as well as economic, outcomes. In my classes I always assigned not only original documents and scholarly monographs but also memoirs, literature, and films.

Carroll's book list on technology interacting with American society

Carroll Pursell Why did Carroll love this book?

Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel, was not, he said, “a book about what is, but a book about what could be.” Further, “it is mostly about managers and engineers” and more precisely, about automation and what American society could become if machines took over work, and labor, as we have known it, was made redundant. His imagined city of Illium was socially and physically split between the managers and engineers of its industrial plant and the former workers had been displaced by automation and now led meaningless lives of busy work provided by the government. The engineer Paul Proteus becomes disaffected and joins in a revolution being plotted against the new order. They succeed, but soon realize that the people of Illium were “already eager to recreate the same old nightmare.” The logic of the machine continued its sway.

I like that you have to watch Vonnegut carefully.…

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Player Piano as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Player Piano is the debut novel from one of history's most innovative authors, published on Vonnegut's 100th birthday.

In Player Piano, the first of Vonnegut's wildly funny and deadly serious novels, automata have dramatically reduced the need for America's work force. Ten years after the introduction of these robot labourers, the only people still working are the engineers and their managers, who live in Ilium; everyone else lives in Homestead, an impoverished part of town characterised by purposelessness and mass produced houses.

Paul Proteus is the manager of Ilium Works. While grateful to be held in high regard, Paul begins…

Book cover of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Kaeleb LD Appleby Author Of Crime in Me'tra

From my list on sci-fi fantasy crime stories that will blow your mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

The sci-fi/fantasy/crime genre is probably one I’ve known the least about, and I only really started to dive down the rabbit hole when I began writing my series. I’m glad I did. The world-building and lore that is woven into this genre truly sets it apart from the usual stuff. On top of needing an intricate technological imagination that has some grounding in the real world, these kinds of books also need to have characters that are believable and a narrative that is not so futuristic that it strains credulity. It’s a tough mix to get right, but when I find a story that nails these aspects it really immerses me into the world and narrative like nothing else.   

Kaeleb's book list on sci-fi fantasy crime stories that will blow your mind

Kaeleb LD Appleby Why did Kaeleb love this book?

I liked the concept of this story and the way it provokes the imagination.

The world the author creates is engrossing, and the narrative dives into the exploration of humanity's existential dilemmas. It grapples with concepts like reality vs. illusion, life vs. artificial existence, mind manipulation, intellect vs. cognitive impairment, decay vs. renewal, the significance of religion (whether genuine or imagined), and the importance of individualism vs. conformity.

This story was the source material for the Bladerunner movies and is considered one of the best of the genre, and it is easy to see why.

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the eagerly-anticipated new film Blade Runner 2049 finally comes to the screen, rediscover the world of Blade Runner . . .

World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn't 'retiring' them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal - the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life.

Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard's world things were…

Book cover of The Windup Girl

Mal Warwick Author Of Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction

From my list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was twelve years old, my picture appeared in my hometown newspaper. I was holding a huge stack of books from the library, a week’s reading. All science fiction. I’ve read voraciously for the past seventy years—though much more widely as an adult. I’ve also had a life founding several small companies and writing twenty books. But I’ve continued to read science fiction, and, increasingly, dystopian novels. Why? Because, as a history buff, I think about the big trends that shape our lives. I see clearly that climate change, breakthroughs in technology, and unstable politics threaten our children’s future. I want to understand how these trends might play out—for better or for worse.

Mal's book list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”

Mal Warwick Why did Mal love this book?

Climate change aside, what scares me the most about technology today is the capacity for bioengineering to run amok.

What happens when scientists monkey around with deadly viruses—and one escapes from the lab? What if some rogue researcher creates an entirely new lifeform that proves toxic to humans? Or some experimental microbe—an effort to save the world’s butterflies, for instance—proves to kill off bees instead?

This novel, which won major awards, depicts a frightening future world wrought by bioengineering. And you wouldn’t want to live there anymore than I do. 

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


The Windup Girl is the ground-breaking and visionary modern classic that swept the board for every major science fiction award it its year of publication.

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl - the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko - now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of…

Book cover of All Systems Red

Maria Schneider Author Of Ghost Town

From my list on humor, magic, romantasy and space opera.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to read, and sometimes I want to be lost in a story or world for just an hour or two.  Oh, I’m always sorry when a good story ends, no matter how long or short. But a good novella is like a slice of homemade chocolate cake. I might want to eat more, but if it’s perfectly done, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as that first, warm slice out of the oven.

Maria's book list on humor, magic, romantasy and space opera

Maria Schneider Why did Maria love this book?

This entire series is awesome. The humor is out of this world funny (pun intended). It didn’t take me more than a few pages to warm up to Murderbot, even if he/she is a robot. Oh, there’s enough of a human brain stem left to ensure a soul filled with humor and the best parts of humanity: self-sacrifice, empathy, and cleverness, not to mention a bad attitude towards life and work in general that I could totally sympathize with.

This first adventure includes kidnappings, rescues, intrigue, and burgeoning friendships. These books are a mix of space opera and science fiction. My husband, not much of a reader, listened to the audiobooks and is also a huge fan of the series.

By Martha Wells,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked All Systems Red as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Systems Red by Martha Wells begins The Murderbot Diaries, a new science fiction action and adventure series that tackles questions of the ethics of sentient robotics. It appeals to fans of Westworld, Ex Machina, Ann Leckie's Imperial Raadch series, or lain M. Banks' Culture novels. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans. In a corporate dominated s pa cef a ring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by…

Book cover of Year One

Jali Henry Author Of Cursed Charm

From my list on addictive urban fantasy with strong female leads.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an avid reader as a child. Then I became a teenager and started hating it! Why? Because the teachers at school started pushing classical literature on me. I didn’t read for years until a friend introduced me to fantasy. I fell in love and haven’t looked back. I love commercial fantasy fiction that has lots of action, where the writer focuses less on elegant prose and more on plot and characters. I aim to write the kind of books that readers get addicted to, where they can disappear into another world and forget they are reading – the kind of books I love to read!

Jali's book list on addictive urban fantasy with strong female leads

Jali Henry Why did Jali love this book?

This is a dystopian fantasy set in a future world in which a virus has wiped out most of the planet except those left behind have magical powers.

I love dystopian future books. I also love fantasy so this was a match made in heaven for me. Nora created such a detailed yet believable universe. There is a powerful female lead and she is pitted against the evil version of herself in a battle to end or save the world.

It’s got magic, it’s got action, it’s got romance, it’s got everything! I was hooked from start to finish and devoured all three books in a couple of weeks.

By Nora Roberts,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Year One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A stunning new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts―Year One is an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magick, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives…

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed―and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been…

Book cover of Prep For Doom

Yvonne Ventresca Author Of Pandemic

From my list on on pandemics published pre-COVID.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the author of short stories and novels including my young adult debut, Pandemic, which continues to be a timely read about surviving a widespread deadly virus. After the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 (commonly called Swine Flu), I was fascinated with the idea of a global illness that could be much, much worse. I researched historical diseases, interviewed public health officials, and the idea for my novel was born. Written and published before COVID-19, some of the details are eerily predictive of coronavirus. Pandemic won SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award the year after its publication, and a June 2022 reissue of the original novel includes updated resources and backmatter.

Yvonne's book list on on pandemics published pre-COVID

Yvonne Ventresca Why did Yvonne love this book?

This collection of short stories by twenty different authors explores how a fictional deadly disease affects a range of people, from scientists to government officials to everyday teens. (My contribution is chapter 13, “Escape to Orange Blossom.”) What I especially enjoyed about this anthology is the way that the characters from one story might appear in another. Using a single incident to drive the plot, the collaborative nature sets this collection apart.

By ER Arroyo, Laura Albins, Amy Bartelloni , Brea Behn , Casey L. Bond , TK Carter , Kate Corcino , Harlow C. Fallon , Kelsey D. Garmendia , Caroline A. Gill , DelSheree Gladden , John Gregory Hancock , Casey Hays , Kate L. Mary , Jon Messenger , Monica Enderle Pierce , Cameo Renae , Hilary Thompson , Yvonne Ventresca , Megan White

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the imaginations of twenty authors of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction comes PREP FOR DOOM - an integrated collection of short stories that tell the tale of a single catastrophe as experienced by many characters, some of whom will cross paths.

What begins with a seemingly innocuous traffic accident soon spirals into a global pandemic. The release of Airborne Viral Hemorrhagic Fever upon New York City’s unsuspecting populace brings bloody suffering within hours, death within a day, and spreads worldwide within a month.

An online community called Prep For Doom has risen to the top of a recent doomsday preparation…

Book cover of Survival Instincts

Amy Marsden Author Of Survivors

From my list on post-apocalyptic with a variety of 'apocalypses'.

Why am I passionate about this?

Survivors was actually inspired by a video game, The Last of Us, but after discovering my love of post-apocalyptic stories via games I quickly moved on to books. There’s something freeing about these kinds of stories, to people who feel society can often be suffocating, it’s nice to imagine it burning down and something new and better rising from the ashes. My Survivors duology is the first of many books I hope. I’m a biomedical scientist in microbiology, and while these types of stories always require a certain suspension of disbelief, I’ve used some of my knowledge to create the world of Survivors. I hope you enjoy it! 

Amy's book list on post-apocalyptic with a variety of 'apocalypses'

Amy Marsden Why did Amy love this book?

This is a post-apocalyptic book set well after a war decimated civilisation. We follow two main characters, and it was lovely to see their relationship unfold and grow. Survival and trust are two big themes in this book, as they are in my own, and it was nice to read a similar book. This is for those who are more romantic at heart, as romance is a major part of the book. I really liked the characters. Plus, there’s a dog!

By May Dawney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Civilization ended long before Lynn Tanner was born. Wild animals roam the streets, but mankind is still the biggest threat to a woman alone in the ruins of a world reclaimed by nature. Lynn survives by sleeping with one eye open at all times and trusting no one but her dog.
When she is forced to go on a dangerous journey through the concrete jungle of New York City, Lynn does all she can to scheme her way to safety. Her guard, Dani Wilson, won’t be played that easily, however. As their lives become entwined, Lynn finds herself developing feelings…

Book cover of Enclave

Michael Poeltl Author Of The Judas Syndrome

From my list on apocalyptic.

Why am I passionate about this?

Apocalyptic fiction is my go-to genre and a theme that got me started in my own writing. I love the human stories of struggle in an aftermath that encompasses the world. There is truth in apocalyptic fiction – and a warning to us all. I've been writing since I was a child, creating stories and comics of my own, binding them and circulating them to family and friends. I went to school for visual arts, where I thought my passion was taking me, but returned to writing as my main creative outlet. As of 2022, I've 14 books published. Creativity keeps me sane, and without it I'm not me.

Michael's book list on apocalyptic

Michael Poeltl Why did Michael love this book?

This book has a unique take on the apocalyptic genre and the interest the story and characters offered.

In old New York, living in the tunnels of the ancient subway system, the book documents what might happen to those left to fend for themselves in a city whose social and political construct collapsed due to a violent strain of some virus. (Sound familiar?)

The way the female lead, Deuce, discovers this new world where the sun is a threat and the wide-open spaces, claustrophobic, is a testament to the way the author captured the character’s innocence. Aguirre expertly relates Deuce’s apprehension when discovering anything could be different from the darkness she’d grown up in.

By Ann Aguirre,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enclave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Ann Aguirre's thrilling young adult novel Enclave is the story of two young people in an apocalyptic world--facing dangers, and feelings, unlike any they've ever known.

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters--or Freaks--who seem…

Book cover of Branded

Vivian Murdoch Author Of Dark Hunger

From my list on darker dystopian omegaverse with a large dash of kink.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing since I was in kindergarten. Granted, it started out with poetry, but words are still words. When it comes to omegaverse, I made sure to devour some of the great writers before I even stuck my toe in. The great thing about omegaverse is that you can put it in almost any setting, and it fits. I just happen to like dystopian, and now historical regency England, as my backdrop. I’ve been writing professionally since 2020, and I have never looked back once. This is my passion. This is my calling. This is what I’m meant to do.

Vivian's book list on darker dystopian omegaverse with a large dash of kink

Vivian Murdoch Why did Vivian love this book?

Once again, Addison Cain is on my list for omegaverse, but this time, it’s for a reverse harem omegaverse. Until this time, I had never read reverse harem, but there it was in all its intricate depraved glory. Again, very much on the dark scale, but I still devoured it. There really is no one like her when it comes to darkverse books. She’s literally the one I hold the standard for.

By Addison Cain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Electrifying, dark, and delicious! I devoured every tantalizing word...” Renee Rose, USA Today Bestselling author

Lips brushing my ear, Caspian offers me a fair exchange.

My life in exchange for the freedom of my wards.

Infamous for his cruelty, renowned for his wealth, the most powerful man in the city meets my desperate gaze and smirks.
Aggressive in his appetites, vicious in his demands, Caspian will brook no refusal. So long as I am his, he will enact no restraint, bear no qualms, dress me as he wishes, shower me with riches, and teach me the secrets of pleasure in…

Book cover of The Sound of Stars

Aella Black Author Of Lock Down

From my list on YA about experiments gone wrong.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a former book editor turned writer and a lover of literature in all forms. Young adult literature will forever be my favorite. Though I’m no longer “young,” I have two teenagers who love YA as much as I do and we bond over these stories. Since one prefers contemporary & urban fantasy, and the other likes dystopian & epic fantasy, I read a lot of everything! I particularly enjoy books with characters who triumph over extreme adversity, and if you do too, then you'll like the books on this list.

Aella's book list on YA about experiments gone wrong

Aella Black Why did Aella love this book?

This review perfectly summed up this book but neglected to mention it has a spectacular cover, which I’ll admit was the first thing that drew my eye. The story also features a bi-racial main character, and since my children are multi-racial, I love seeing this representation. Because I’m an unapologetic book nerd, I adored the many literary references. And I always love a good road trip! All in all, this is one character-driven YA novel you won’t want to miss.

By Alechia Dow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“This debut has it all: music, books, aliens, adventure, resistance, queerness, and a bold heroine tying it all together. ”—Ms. Magazine

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an Ilori who loves pop music work together to save humanity?

When a rebel librarian meets an Ilori commander…

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the death of one-third of the world’s population. Today, seventeen-year-old Ellie Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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