100 books like Red Rising

By Pierce Brown,

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

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

Book cover of Contact

Arnie Benn Author Of The Intrepid: Dawn Of The Interstellar Age

From my list on sci-fi classics that offer insight into human nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since childhood, I have been obsessed with understanding everything — science and the universe. Now, in this age of the JWST and a burgeoning space industry, I do sub-quantum mechanics research at an international physics think-tank, The Quantum Bicycle Society. My own hard sci-fi novel is intended to help publicize these scientific advances, as well as the behavioral psychology concepts that are the subject of my next nonfiction book, The Animal In The Mirror. The books on this list represent the foundation of inspiration that propelled my formative sci-fi journey, stories that also shine the light of insight onto our shared, instinctive nature.

Arnie's book list on sci-fi classics that offer insight into human nature

Arnie Benn Why did Arnie love this book?

This is my favorite hard sci-fi classic. I love the beautiful mix of real science (wormholes excepted), compelling story, and characters, and it touches on both first contact and the way in which human nature might cause us to react to it. That is the power combo, in my opinion!

The movie of the book was very good — Robert Zemeckis is a brilliant director — although it left out some fantastic details that, as a math and science fan, I really loved! (I won’t spoil it here; it’s too good.)

By Carl Sagan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In December 1999 a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there?

Book cover of The Road

Stephen M. Sanders Author Of Passe-Partout

From my list on dystopian and sci-fantasy novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a sci-fi/fantasy fan ever since my dad introduced me to the original Star Trek (in reruns) and The Lord of the Rings in my youth. I’ve always loved thinking about possibilities—large and small—so my work tends to think big when I write. I also write poetry, which allows me to talk about more than just the everyday or at least to find the excitement within the mundane in life. These works talk about those same “possibilities”—for better or worse, and in reading, I walk in awareness of what could be.

Stephen's book list on dystopian and sci-fantasy novels

Stephen M. Sanders Why did Stephen love this book?

Cormac McCarthy does the impossible in this book—he writes an emotionally satisfying, literary-minded travelogue of horrors. It shatters the reader but then lifts them up with its beautifully wrought prose.

Be patient: the novel gets brutally dark before the light.

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

31 authors picked The Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • A searing, post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son's fight to survive, this "tale of survival and the miracle of goodness only adds to McCarthy's stature as a living master. It's gripping, frightening and, ultimately, beautiful" (San Francisco Chronicle).

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if…

Book cover of Dune

Johnny B. Truant Author Of Dead City

From my list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I was an author, I was a scientist pursuing a PhD in molecular genetics. When I left the lab and started writing, that scientist’s need for real-world sense stuck with me and became a theme in everything I write. The authors I like understand that “suspension of disbelief” is a limited resource, so they’d better only ask readers for it when it counts. Get the baseline facts and logic right, and I’ll believe and enjoy the fantastical stuff spun from it so much more. 

Johnny's book list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things

Johnny B. Truant Why did Johnny love this book?

This has been one of my favorite books since I was a kid. I love it for two main reasons: The first is that I’m a fiend for exploring the real limits of ability (which the Bene Gesserit and Fremen do). The second is that as fantastical as the world is, it’s grounded in real science. 

There are no giant sandworts on my own planet, but I completely believe why and how they’d exist on Arrakis. Herbert even includes an appendix to explain how it works, called “The Ecology of Dune.” 

Fiction requires a leap of faith, but the real-science grounding in Dune makes that leap a whole lot easier because I believe where it’s coming from.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…

Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

Jeffrey Dunn Author Of Wildcat: An Appalachian Romance

From my list on big imagination and creative punch.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a happy child until I went to school. When my teacher turned her back, I ran home. My mom sent me back. The umbilical cord broken, I held a grudge. That enmity remained until my ninth-grade English teacher read us Richard Brautigan’s post-apocalyptic, proto-hippie fantasy In Watermelon Sugar. There was much to imagine: a multicolored sun, an infinite garbage dump, and mathematical, parent-eating tigers. Like the narrator, I wanted to live in a shack, not have a regular name, and hook up with a proto-hippie, hot cake-making artist girlfriend who made “a long and slow love” possible. Since then, I have devoured fiction, poetry, art, film, you name it. 

Jeffrey's book list on big imagination and creative punch

Jeffrey Dunn Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Maybe you’ve read this book, but maybe you haven’t. The kids like me who used to carry the 95¢ Dell paperbacks are now dead or thinking about it.

The author, Kurt Vonnegut, was an American prisoner of war and spent 24 hours underground in a meat locker during the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany. He said of his experience the bombing “killed 250,000 people in 24 hours and destroyed all of Dresden—possibly the world’s most beautiful city. But not me.” It’s fair to say that this book was his imagination’s way of dealing with the war. “One” acts as a preface, so the novel really begins with “Two,” “Listen:/Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time,” and then imagination fights its way out.

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked Slaughterhouse-Five as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had…

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Dianne Scott Author Of Final Look: A Christine Lane Mystery

From my list on Canadian novels with intriguing female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

All of my recommended books feature female protagonists with complex lives. They are layered with friends, families, work, and romantic challenges. They are not superheroes. Yet they are. They all find a way to do the hard thing in difficult circumstances and at great personal peril. And that’s what bravery is. It’s not Captain Marvel coming in to save the world. It’s a woman with responsibilities and problems who digs deep to act with integrity. And she may not get accolades. Her act may be unseen. But she does it. And I love reading about these everyday women with grit.

Dianne's book list on Canadian novels with intriguing female characters

Dianne Scott Why did Dianne love this book?

From its first publication, this was my favorite book—a post-apocalyptic look at a world where women have lost their rights and are siloed into specific gender roles. I held my breath when the protagonist, Offred, finds ways to rebel, despite the risk of any visible state protest.

I love the complexity of the plot, where women sometimes help each other and other times join the persecution of women for self-survival. And I couldn’t read fast enough to see if Offred, riddled with fear yet finding her core of strength, finds a way out.

It’s a scary read, as it foretells of a totalitarian world, but I felt compassion for all the players as victims of this terrible world. And I knew from the start that Offred was a compelling protagonist whose deep compassion and strength would lead the way.

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

35 authors picked The Handmaid's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Go back to where it all began with the dystopian novel behind the award-winning TV series.

'As relevant today as it was when Atwood wrote it' Guardian

I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford -…

Book cover of 1984

S R Kay Author Of All Measures Necessary

From my list on political thrillers that are not about entertaining.

Why am I passionate about this?

I see no distinction between the personal and the political. All art is, therefore, a political act, and literature especially, since the author gets inside the reader's head. In 1984, the use of a pen is punishable, never mind having an unorthodox opinion; novels are written by machines—commodities like jam or bootlaces, to pacify the proles. (A.I. novels outcompeting human ones?) Yes, novels entertain, and that's OK, but the best way to change your outlook is to let you understand the human condition a little better. That is why I want more from a political thriller than just the same old lies, corruption, sex, and power at the heart of government.

S's book list on political thrillers that are not about entertaining

S R Kay Why did S love this book?

I keep returning to this and reading different things into it every time. As with Little Man, this is not the West Wing/Thick of It classic political thriller, but it is told from the perspective of an ordinary Joe. Unlike Little Man, where the political message is woven in seamlessly, 1984 is a full-on polemic written by a man with little time left in an attempt to shape opinion. It is, though, well-plotted and hangs together really well as a novel (barring the sections where Smith reads from the book).

Often read as an anti-communist allegory, I see it as so much more: sending us a warning against all who think only they are right, seeking to impose their will on others, be they autocrats like Putin, Trump, Xi Jinping, or Farage.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

46 authors picked 1984 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


1984 is the year in which it happens. The world is divided into three superstates. In Oceania, the Party's power is absolute. Every action, word, gesture and thought is monitored under the watchful eye of Big Brother and the Thought Police. In the Ministry of Truth, the Party's department for propaganda, Winston Smith's job is to edit the past. Over time, the impulse to escape the machine and live independently takes hold of him and he embarks on a secret and forbidden love affair. As he writes the words 'DOWN WITH BIG…

Book cover of Brave New World

Stephen Wunker Author Of The Innovative Leader: Step-By-Step Lessons from Top Innovators For You and Your Organization

From my list on passionate innovators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an innovator. I’ve been one since I was a kid. Since then, I’ve started a couple of non-profits and four companies, and I’ve advised hundreds of clients on innovation opportunities. I’ve also led the team that created one of the world’s first smartphones. Over the past dozen years, I’ve written four books on the strategy and capabilities of innovation. Innovation is one of the essential characteristics that make us human. It can get the world into trouble, but it does more good than harm on balance. My mission is to make us better at innovation and make the world a better place.

Stephen's book list on passionate innovators

Stephen Wunker Why did Stephen love this book?

Perhaps you read this one in school, but most haven’t revisited the work since. I urge you to do so! People passionate about innovation need to keep humans foremost in their minds, not the machines (of any sort) that they create.

Huxley’s tale is famous because it’s both simple and profound. It’s also remarkably prophetic. As we focus intently on creating the new, this book reminds us of the bigger picture and calls into question the overall endeavor.

Early in my career, I was responsible for one of the world’s first smartphones. It was a wonderful achievement. But this book makes me think twice about whether I should be so proud.

By Aldous Huxley,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Brave New World 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**

EVERYONE BELONGS TO EVERYONE ELSE. Read the dystopian classic that inspired the hit Sky TV series.

'A masterpiece of speculation... As vibrant, fresh, and somehow shocking as it was when I first read it' Margaret Atwood, bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale.

Welcome to New London. Everybody is happy here. Our perfect society achieved peace and stability through the prohibition of monogamy, privacy, money, family and history itself. Now everyone belongs.

You can be happy too. All you need to do is take your Soma pills.

Discover the brave new…

Book cover of Wool

Jennifer Lauer Author Of The Girl in the Zoo

From my list on cozy sci-fi and fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sci-fi and fantasy give us permission to go places we might not go in this world. I am a big daydreamer and always have been. One of the most magical things about being a writer is that you get to design a world that lives only in your mind, and then share it with the reader. Like George R. R. Martin wrote, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Jennifer's book list on cozy sci-fi and fantasy

Jennifer Lauer Why did Jennifer love this book?

The story of people living in an underground Silo who don’t know why they're there, and only that the outside world is toxic and they must survive.

The characters in this story are heroic and relatable. I just wanted this book to keep going, and luckily there are two more in the series – Shift and Dust. The TV series is also a great addition and keeps a similar tone to the book.

By Hugh Howey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Thrilling, thought-provoking and memorable ... one of dystopian fiction's masterpieces alongside the likes of 1984 and Brave New World.' DAILY EXPRESS

In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.

Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.

To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others…

Book cover of The Hunger Games

Johnny B. Truant Author Of The Dream Engine

From my list on YA books that do not insult our intelligence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had a healthy dose of skepticism, having been a scientist before I was an author. I look for the con when something’s too good to be true, even in fiction…so don’t insult me by saying, “a magic amulet that makes everyone nice all the time.” If you want me to believe in pixie dust, tell me what’s in place to keep pixie dust smugglers from rigging the system. I raised smart, critical-minded kids, so I always pointed them to my own favorite young-audience books: those that felt real, even if they were fantastical, instead of ones with the more common “just trust me” attitude. 

Johnny's book list on YA books that do not insult our intelligence

Johnny B. Truant Why did Johnny love this book?

I love the thought that went into building the world of the Capital and the districts: not just the dystopian aesthetic and the could-easily-be-overdone teen angst it creates, but instead the whole idea of class rebellion and the inevitability of comeuppance. Power corrupts, no matter the person who holds that power…and those without power will never be suppressed for long. 

You have to stick with the whole series to see the full cycle, but this book doesn’t dumb down the “karmic cycle of revenge” like some other YA books do. There are two sides to everything, and while this book has plenty of evil and plenty of good, there are also those oh-so-crucial-to-believability characters who walk the gray areas in between.

By Suzanne Collins,

Why should I read it?

49 authors picked The Hunger Games 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?

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...

Book cover of Storm Front

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?

What I enjoyed most about these books was the pure entertainment, blending moments of tension, thrilling suspense, and poignant emotions that resonated deeply. Loved the way it blended the occult with your classic detective novels.

I also really enjoy the character of Harry Dresden and the rich supernatural world crafted by Butcher, where Dresden operates as a supernatural detective (or wizard for hire). Plus, the writing is very similar to the detective noir styles of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, which brings unique vibes.

By Jim Butcher,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Storm Front as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files series, Harry Dresden’s investigation of a grisly double murder pulls him into the darkest depths of magical Chicago…

As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dystopian, terraforming, and space horror?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dystopian, terraforming, and space horror.

Dystopian Explore 567 books about dystopian
Terraforming Explore 14 books about terraforming
Space Horror Explore 23 books about space horror