100 books like The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus

By Brian Wilson Aldiss (editor),

Here are 100 books that The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus fans have personally recommended if you like The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ 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 The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories

G.G. Andrew Author Of Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish

From my list on Halloween romance books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong fan of Halloween, from the time I visited my town’s haunted house as a young kid in the 1980s to watching horror movies as an adult. As a writer of romance and romantic women’s fiction, love stories are also my jam. Many people think horror and romance aren’t compatible, but I combined both in my novella series Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish, and the books in this list prove that Halloween and romance are meant to be.

G.G.'s book list on Halloween romance books

G.G. Andrew Why did G.G. love this book?

I return to this dark, sensual collection of Angela Carter stories most autumns, often through audio book. While these are not technically romance stories, they’re what I call romance-adjacent: fairy tales centered on love and passion—and their dangers—with gorgeous language and twists that subvert your expectations.

My favorite story here is “In the Company of Wolves,” but really that’s like choosing a favorite child.

By Angela Carter,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Bloody Chamber as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction by Helen Simpson. From familiar fairy tales and legends - Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires and werewolves - Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.


Book cover of The Dedalus Book of Surrealism: The Identity of Things

Mike Russell Author Of Strange Medicine

From my list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

Some of the stories in this collection, like my own stories, use surreal metaphor, expressing poetic imagery in prose form; others are more about the thrill of absurdity. Though surrealism existed before the term or movement existed (in visual art and literature e.g. Lewis Carroll, Hieronymus Bosch, etc.), Andre Breton and his mates really went for it. Here you can read works by Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, Louis Aragon, Leonora Carrington, and more. What I love about all of these artists is their obvious joy in discovering the surreal or poetic image, a joy I know well, and their absolute passion for the importance and potency of expressing such imagery. 

By Michael Richardson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Comprised of works by authors from 17 countries, these volumes provide the most extensive assemblage of surrealist writing, much of which is here translated into English for the first time. "The Identity of Things" introduces surrealism's reworking of the fairy tale and the Gothic novel, its essays in the myths, desires and mysteries underlying modern reality.

"I went to fetch my car, but my chauffeur, who has no sense at all, had just buried it', writes Leonora Carrington in this captivating collection of tales from 17 languages."
The Observer


Book cover of The Garden of Hermetic Dreams

Mike Russell Author Of Strange Medicine

From my list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

This is a wonderful selection of short stories and novel extracts by early authors of strange, weird, surreal fiction; writers whose subject is the so-called supernatural and who rail against the reduction of life to rational materialism. These works would broadly now be referred to as weird fiction. They are only as weird as the world. The book also contains an excellent introduction by the editor, speaking up for the strange, weird, and surreal.

By Gary Lachman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

' Lachman presents a generous anthology of literary texts inspired by the weird, the supernatural and the gothic. From Beckford's Vathek to Gustav Meyrink's The Golem, there is a successful balance of the well-known, the esoteric and the curious.' Stuart Kelly in Scotland on Sunday 'The first item, from William Beckford's Vathek, indicates the feverish imaginings gathered in this "occult reader". It encompasses drugs, sacrifice, a genii and an Indian who becomes irresistibly arousing by transforming himself into a ball. ETA Hoffman's The Golden Flower Pot shows how this writer's fertile imagination can animate even everyday objects, as in his…


Book cover of The Complete Cosmicomics

Mike Russell Author Of Strange Medicine

From my list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

If, like me, you like to wonder at the cosmos and its apparent absurdity, this is a great collection. A lot of the humour comes from juxtaposing the mundane with the cosmic and taking a simple premise to extremes, rather like Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

By Italo Calvino,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Italo Calvino's enchanting stories about the evolution of the universe, with characters that are fashioned from mathematical formulae and cellular structures, The Complete Cosmicomics is translated by Martin McLaughlin, Tim Parks and William Weaver in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Naturally, we were all there, - dld Qfwfq said, - where else could we have been? Nobody knew then that there could be space. Or time either: what use did we have for time, packed in there like sardines?'

The Cosmicomics tell the story of the history of the universe, from the big bang, through millennia and across galaxies. It is witnessed…


Book cover of Bad to the Bone

Kathleen Jowitt Author Of A Spoke in the Wheel

From my list on cycling novels that put you right in the heart of the action.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a cyclist and a cycling fan. I’ve commuted through the Surrey countryside by tricycle and explored the cycling city of Cambridge by bike. I’ve stood at the side of the road to cheer on the Olympic road race, the Tour de France and the Tour of Britain, and the World Road Cycling Championships. I kept on cycling until I was eight and a half months pregnant and was reading a biography of Beryl Burton when I went into labour. There aren’t a lot of cycling novels out there, but I’m proud of having added one to that small number.

Kathleen's book list on cycling novels that put you right in the heart of the action

Kathleen Jowitt Why did Kathleen love this book?

I wasn’t following professional cycling in the bad old days of systematic doping, but this book made me feel like I was therenot just at the roadside, but in the peloton.

The charactersthe good, the bad, and the downright repulsive, are all caught in a system that grinds down the best and brings out the worst, and I couldn’t look away. I wanted integrity to prevail, I wanted justice done, but most of all, I wanted to know what happened next.

Then there’s the prose, which is so bright and vivid that I found a new favourite line in almost every chapter. It’s compulsive, stylish, and cynicalrather like the sport itself.

By James Waddington,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bad to the Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Waddington employs a cheerful surrealism to convey the superhuman status of his cyclists and the designer violence of his killer. The encounters with death are funny rather than frightening and the narrator is omnipotent, stylish and amused. Waddington's descriptions of racing, and they are many and enthralling, have the rhythm and intensity of poetry. You're riding with your wheel an inch from the author's, carried along by the surge of the pack, normal life and normal people no more than a muted clamour on the roadside. It's exhilarating stuff.'
Joe Cogan in The Independent on Sunday

'Racy thriller in which…


Book cover of The Exploits of Engelbrecht

Rhys Hughes Author Of My Rabbit's Shadow Looks Like a Hand

From my list on underrated offbeat humorous fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

The world is a strange place and life can feel very weird at times, and I have long had the suspicion that a truly imaginative and inventive comedy has more to say about reality, albeit in an exaggerated and oblique way, than much serious gloomy work. Comedy has a wider range than people often think. It doesn’t have to be sweet, light, and uplifting all the time. It can be dark, unsettling and suspenseful, or profoundly philosophical. It can be political, mystical, paradoxical. There are humorous fantasy novels and short story collections that have been sadly neglected or unjustly forgotten, and I try to recommend those books to readers whenever I can.

Rhys' book list on underrated offbeat humorous fantasy

Rhys Hughes Why did Rhys love this book?

The stories that appear in this book were first published in Lilliput in the 1940s, a British monthly magazine. They relate the perilous, often diabolical activities of the Surrealist Sportsman’s Club, a society devoted to playing games that no one else would dream of attempting. Engelbrecht is a diminutive boxer who fights clocks, zombies, witches, and other assorted horrors and marvels, and he generally wins because of pluck combined with luck. Richardson’s prose style here is a blend of gothic horror, period science fiction, and the wisecracking of Damon Runyan, and the reader can expect no respite from the tumult of ideas, images, situations, jokes, and subversion of clichés.

By Maurice Richardson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Published for the first time in a low cost edition, Maurice Richardson's cult classic is one of the strangest works of fiction ever written. Fifteen stories that relate the activities of the Surrealist Sportsman's Club, a society with very dubious morals that spends the time it has left between the collapse of the moon and the end of the universe taking the concept of the 'game' to its logical limit.

A club can't operate without members, and those of the SSC are as strange and astonishing as some of the events they compete in. Most formidable of all, and more…


Book cover of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

James Stoorie Author Of AfterWitch

From my list on supernaturally troubled teenagers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As long as I can remember I have found the world a terrifying yet magical place. My first memories are of reading ghost stories, the best mirrors for my emotional experiences. As a teenager supernatural tales continued to inspire me and still do. Sometimes a starkly realistic approach can prove too dull or intrusive; far better to process or confront issues by presenting them as fantastical. When I return to these books, or discover similar stories, I listen hard to what they are trying to tell me. I won’t learn overnight for, as the villain in The Doll Maker states: “the life so short, the craft so long to learn.”

James' book list on supernaturally troubled teenagers

James Stoorie Why did James love this book?

“I’m still not certain you really are a woman?” Whenever Valerie has her period she is transported to a magical if sinister otherworld (yes, this novel was written by a man). A surreal, Freudian, East European coming-of-age fairytale that lies somewhere between Alice In Wonderland and a gothic pastiche. In the 70s it was also adapted into a film that apparently influenced Angela Carter. Not unjustifiably, the teenage experience is portrayed as a disorientating, eroticized nightmare from which Valerie must use all her wiles to escape, fending off vampiric family members after her inheritance and hypocritical authority figures keen to simultaneously sexualize her and burn her as a witch. At least she owns a set of magic earrings. “I’m acting like a sleepwalker. Is it all a dream?”

By Vitezslav Nezval, Kamil Lhotak (illustrator), David Short (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Valerie and Her Week of Wonders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written in 1935 at the height of Czech Surrealism but not published until 1945, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a bizarre erotic fantasy of a young girl's maturation into womanhood on the night of her first menstruation. Referencing Matthew Lewis's The Monk, Marquis de Sade's Justine, K. H. Macha's May, F. W. Murnau's film Nosferatu, Nezval employs the language of the pulp serial novel to construct a lyrical, menacing dream of sexual awakening involving a vampire with an insatiable appetite for chicken blood, changelings, lecherous priests, a malicious grandmother, and an androgynous merging of brother with sister.

In…


Book cover of Magritte

Mike Russell Author Of Magic: a novel

From my list on questioning the nature of reality and fun to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on questioning the nature of reality and fun to read

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

My first introduction to the surreal in art was Monty Python’s Flying Circus. My first introduction to the art movement of surrealism was seeing Max Ernst’s "Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale". I was astounded that you were allowed to do that. Then I discovered Magritte (and later Escher) and saw that the anarchy of surrealism could be put to the most profound use, that of exploring life beyond the material. Magritte uses conventional representation to undermine that very convention and puncture so-called reality in a way that is a joy to look at. This is a decent book on his life and work. Magritte reminds us things are not what they seem… and that’s a good thing.

By Suzi Gablik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A study of Rene Magritte's basic philosophy and art, and particularly the development of his Surrealist style.


Book cover of The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies

Nadia Choucha Author Of Surrealism and the Occult: Shamanism, Magic, Alchemy, and the Birth of an Artistic Movement

From my list on discovering magic through the arts.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with magic and the occult emerged from growing up in Scotland, which has a long, rich history of witchcraft, fairies, and the 19th century Celtic Revival, which saw a relation between art and magic. For me, the occult is primarily about liberating the imagination and this is what surrealism does. I became enchanted by surrealist art as a teenager which then led me to study History of Art at university. After graduating in 1989, I wrote my book at a time when there was so little available on the relationship between surrealism and occultism, determined to share my passion with other readers. 

Nadia's book list on discovering magic through the arts

Nadia Choucha Why did Nadia love this book?

This well-researched and in-depth account has been translated from French and discusses the various occult movements which inspired the art and ideas of the surrealists. It covers a diverse range of topics including divination, astrology, myth, voodoo, Gnosticism, freemasonry, alchemy, secret societies, and Celticism and shows how various artists and writers took inspiration from these systems. The book contains a selection of images, copious notes, a substantial bibliography, and a good index making this an indispensable research tool for aspiring scholars of surrealism and the occult.  

By Patrick Lepetit,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A profound understanding of the surrealists’ connections with alchemists and secret societies and the hermetic aspirations revealed in their works

• Explains how surrealist paintings and poems employed mythology, gnostic principles, tarot, voodoo, alchemy, and other hermetic sciences to seek out unexplored regions of the mind and recover lost “psychic” and magical powers

• Provides many examples of esoteric influence in surrealism, such as how Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon was originally titled The Bath of the Philosophers

Not merely an artistic or literary movement as many believe, the surrealists rejected the labels of artist and author bestowed upon them by outsiders,…


Book cover of Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell

Jeffrey Hantover Author Of The Three Deaths of Giovanni Fumiani

From my list on what to read when the museum is closed.

Why am I passionate about this?

For four decades, I have written about art for publications in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. I have interviewed, among other artists, Frank Stella, Mary Ellen Mark, Dale Chihuly, Deng Lin (the daughter of Deng Xiaoping), the most celebrated Vietnamese contemporary painters, and the leading Japanese ceramicists. My ideal vacation is to wander the cobblestone streets of Italy, walking into a church to see the art of Caravaggio, Raphael, and Bernini. On a trip to Venice, I saw the immense illusionist ceiling painting by Giovanni Fumiani in the church of San Pantalon. Looking up at angels swirling in heaven, the idea for my second novel was born. 

Jeffrey's book list on what to read when the museum is closed

Jeffrey Hantover Why did Jeffrey love this book?

One of my favorite poets writing about one of my favorite artists. Cornell’s mysterious, alluring dreamscapes in his delicately crafted boxes meet their soulmate in the prose poems of Simic. In this work of only seventy-seven pages of short meditations on Cornell’s life, inspiration, and method, Simic creates the poetic equivalent of Cornell’s visual art. Simic recognizes, as did Cornell, that “The commonplace is miraculous if rightly seen, if recognized.”

By Charles Simic,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dime-Store Alchemy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in Paperback

In Dime-Store Alchemy, poet Charles Simic reflects on the life and work of Joseph Cornell, the maverick surrealist who is one of America’s great artists. Simic’s spare prose is as enchanting and luminous as the mysterious boxes of found objects for which Cornell is justly renowned. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in surrealism, ice cream, and the Universe?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about surrealism, ice cream, and the Universe.

Surrealism Explore 105 books about surrealism
Ice Cream Explore 14 books about ice cream
The Universe Explore 62 books about the Universe