100 books like The Windup Girl

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Here are 100 books that The Windup Girl fans have personally recommended if you like The Windup Girl. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Overstory

By Richard Powers,

Book cover of The Overstory

Sue Burke Author Of Semiosis

From the list on making you love plants.

Who am I?

A house plant in my living room attacked another plant, wrapping itself around it and killing it. Then another plant tried to sink roots into a neighbor. I began to do a little research, then a lot of research, and learned that plants accomplish amazing feats. They can tell by the angle of the sun when spring is coming, and they can call parasitic wasps to rid themselves of caterpillars. Plants vastly outweigh and outnumber animals, so they run this planet. What if, on another planet, they could think like us… and that’s why I wrote a novel.

Sue's book list on making you love plants

Why did Sue love this book?

Now for some fiction about trees, or rather, how people react to threats against trees and are drawn together to defend them.

The interlocking stories of a dozen characters take place over decades, much as a tree grows, connecting each life to lives that last far beyond them. In our world, we often endanger trees without a thought. This novel won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction because it can make you think. If your mind were only a slightly greener thing,” a tree says early in the novel, “we’d drown you in meaning.”

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…

American War

By Omar El Akkad,

Book cover of American War

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

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

Who am I?

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”

Why did Mal love this book?

The widening partisan divide between Red and Blue in the United States today gives me nightmares.

I read a lot of history, so I know how closely today’s divisions resemble those before the Civil War. Which is why Omar El Akkad’s American War resonates so deeply with me.

In 2074, four Deep South states secede over the passage of new legislation banning fossil fuels—and a Southerner assassinates the President.

The Red and Blue states are now at war again. And that’s my nightmare brought to life. 

By Omar El Akkad,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked American War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the Year: The Guardian, The Observer, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post.

2074. America's future is Civil War. Sarat's reality is survival. They took her father, they took her home, they told her lies . . .

She didn't start this war, but she'll end it.

Omar El Akkad's powerful debut novel imagines a dystopian future: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague and one family caught deep in the middle. In American War, we're asked to consider what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and…

Player Piano

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Book cover of Player Piano

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

From the list on technology interacting with American society.

Who am I?

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

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?

Guy Morpuss Author Of Black Lake Manor

From the list on speculative crime.

Who am I?

I grew up reading the crime and thriller books on my parents’ bookshelves. As a teenager I got into science fiction, reading everything I could. Speculative crime fiction mixes the best of both genres. You twist one aspect of the real world, add a dead body, and play with the consequences. I have written two novels that do this: in my first, I imagined a world in which five people share a body, and one of them is trying to kill the others; in my second, a killer who can turn back time. I love books that toy with reality in this way, and read all that I can.

Guy's book list on speculative crime

Why did Guy love this book?

For me speculative fiction is about twisting one aspect of the real world, and then playing with the consequences. I love the way that Philip K Dick does this.

Some of his ideas seem absurd, but as a reader you quickly buy into them. This is not a traditional crime novel in any sense, but is about a bounty hunter tracking down escaped androids. As he confronts questions about his own humanity, it raises ethical issues for the reader as to what it is to be human.

Like all Dick’s works it is clever, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

12 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…

Parable of the Sower

By Octavia E. Butler,

Book cover of Parable of the Sower

Peter Kalu Author Of One Drop

From the list on bleak urban futures that give you a sense of hope.

Who am I?

I spent most of my childhood hiding under the table reading science fiction and fantasy books to avoid having to communicate with the weird people claiming to be my family up in the world above. After a while, the local library turned me away saying they had no more books left on those shelves, so I started writing my own. I like a mix of urban themes like in Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and dystopias like George Orwell’s 1984. That said, I love most futurist novels that have a love story at their centre, because despite everything I’m a romantic.

Peter's book list on bleak urban futures that give you a sense of hope

Why did Peter love this book?

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 times so far - my guilty pleasure.

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Parable of the Sower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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' GLORIA STEINEM

'Unnervingly prescient and wise' YAA GYASI


We are coming apart. We're a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.

America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to…

Zero History

By William Gibson,

Book cover of Zero History

Janet Stilson Author Of The Juice

From the list on novels that wonder about the future.

Who am I?

There are days when it seems like all I do is imagine what the future holds. I love reading “wonder tales,” as I’ve heard Margaret Atwood call them – novels that imagine how our world might change or fantasize about completely different realms. At the same time, they reflect on conditions in our world today. That’s what I do with my own creative writing. I was trained to think about the future as a journalist, talking with media executives about how their content and technology are evolving. My stories have appeared in Asimov's; they’ve been selected by the Writers Lab for Women; and my novel The Juice was published in February.

Janet's book list on novels that wonder about the future

Why did Janet love this book?

This novel represents a sharp turn for me. Until I snapped up Zero History in an airport bookstore many years ago, the science fiction I’d read seemed like dry, intellectual exercises. The characters didn’t have depth. They never made me laugh (or cry). But Zero History unleashed a passion in me for speculative fiction, and eventually, it turned my own writing in that direction as well. To this day, it’s one of my all-time favorite novels. While it’s the third book in a William Gibson trilogy, it is entirely complete on its own. There’s a pop culture, cool vibe about it as the story taps into the lives of three people with unusual gifts – which a global marketing magnate dearly wants to use in various ways.

By William Gibson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Gibson is having tremendous fun' Independent



Hubertus Bigend, the Machiavellian head of global ad-agency Blue Ant, wants to uncover the maker of an obscurely fashionable denim that is taking subculture by storm. Ex-musician Henry Hollis knows nothing about fashion, but Bigend decides she is the woman for the job anyway.

Soon, though, it becomes clear that Bigend's interest in underground labels might have sinister applications. Powerful parties, who'll do anything to get what they want, are showing their hand. And Hollis is…

New York 2140

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Book cover of New York 2140

Carl Abbott Author Of Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn from Them

From the list on science fiction with really cool cities.

Who am I?

I discovered science fiction at age nine with Rocketship Galileo and Red Planet and have never lost my love for speculative worlds, even after growing up to follow a career teaching and writing about the history of cities and city planning. In recent years, I’ve also begun to write about the field of SF. So it is one-hundred-percent natural for me to combine the two interests and explore science fiction cities. I try to look beyond the geez-whiz technology of some imagined cities to the ideas of human-scale planning and community that might make them fun places to visit or live in if we could somehow manage to get there.  

Carl's book list on science fiction with really cool cities

Why did Carl love this book?

For me, the worst thing about New York is getting stuck in traffic.

In the New York of 2140, that’s not a problem because rising sea levels have drowned much of Manhattan and motorboats zip through the flooded streets like it’s a high-rise Venice. Future New York is also a city whose residents are coping with the planet’s new reality.

In the midst of climate gloom, it is refreshing to imagine a scenario where New Yorkers can come together through cooperative action to take control of their own future.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked New York 2140 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A towering novel' - Guardian

'Relevant and essential' - Bloomberg Businessweek

As the sea level rose, every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.

New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson delivers a bold and brilliant vision of New York in the next century.

'New York may be underwater but it's better than ever' - New Yorker

'Massively enjoyable' - Washington Post

'Gripping . . .…

Never Let Me Go

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Book cover of Never Let Me Go

Suzanne Heywood Author Of Wavewalker: A Memoir of Breaking Free

From the list on coming-of-age that will rip your heart out.

Who am I?

I'm fascinated by these books about coming of age because they all share elements of my own experience. While I was growing up, I was told by my parents that my life on board our boat Wavewalker was ‘privileged’ and that I was lucky not to live a ‘boring’ life like other children. It took me a long time to question this view, and even longer to find an escape. As an adult looking back, I now know that many of the things I was told by my parents were not true. That experience of growing up and discovering that what you have been told is not right is deeply disturbing, while also being liberating.

Suzanne's book list on coming-of-age that will rip your heart out

Why did Suzanne love this book?

I love Kazuo Ishiguro’s work and this is my favourite book of his.

Never Let Me Go is the fictional story of a childhood that initially seems acceptable, despite the early indications that something strange is going on. As the story proceeds, however, it becomes clear that this is a horrific world, one in which children are being grown for their organs.

But the power of the story for me is not the revelation itself but the way in which it is revealed, layer by layer, as the characters become older and more knowing. That experience of becoming aware that all is not right with your world, and then trying to come to terms with that, is something I can resonate with.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Never Let Me Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most acclaimed novels of the 21st Century, from the Nobel Prize-winning author

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense…

Gideon the Ninth

By Tamsyn Muir,

Book cover of Gideon the Ninth

Hannah Fergesen Author Of The Infinite Miles

From the list on queer stories about time and space travel.

Who am I?

I am a queer writer whose early love of science fiction and fantasy gave me an outlet for my creativity and new ways of seeing myself in the world. It was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and Timeline by Michael Crichton that first introduced me to time and space travel in fiction, but it was the new Doctor Who and shows like Twelve Monkeys that made me realize how mad and wonderful stories about time and space travel could be. And once I came to terms with my own queer identities, I saw an obvious space for my own contribution to the time travel canon. 

Hannah's book list on queer stories about time and space travel

Why did Hannah love this book?

Okay I’m fibbing a bit again with this one, but the books in this series are unabashedly queer and weird, and the method of space travel is like nothing you’ve ever seen.

These books fall much more clearly on the line of space fantasy than straight-up sci-fi, but they are wild and unforgettable reads. Gideon Nav is the titular character of Gideon the Ninth. She’s hilarious, goofy, loyal to an absolute fault, and utterly filthy. The other characters will break your heart and patch it up multiple times over the course of this book and the others.

Thankfully, most of them are necromancers and the scars will be seamlessly healed each time, even though the memory of them will be seared on your heart.

By Tamsyn Muir,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Gideon the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

15+ pages of new, original content, including a glossary of terms, in-universe writings, and more!

A USA Today Best-Selling Novel!

"Unlike anything I've ever read. " --V.E. Schwab

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!" --Charles Stross

"Brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through." --NPR

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as…

All Systems Red

By Martha Wells,

Book cover of All Systems Red

Douglas Phillips Author Of Quantum Space

From the list on hard science fiction published this century.

Who am I?

As a scientist, I love hard science fiction, especially when the story makes me think about the true nature of reality or takes me on an adventure to places unknown. We’ve all read the classics from Clarke, Heinlein, Bear, or Asimov. But books written decades ago are becoming increasingly dated as society progresses into a new century. (Will people of the future really chain smoke? And why are all the characters men?) Never fear, modern hard sci-fi is alive and well. Here are five recent books that tell an intriguing, uplifting, or awe-inspiring story. Even better than the classics, it’s hard sci-fi for the 21st century!

Douglas' book list on hard science fiction published this century

Why did Douglas love this book?

I usually point readers to authors who are less well known, but I’ll make a slight exception for Martha Wells (famous in the Fantasy genre but less so in sci-fi).

All Systems Red, her sci-fi novella about a non-conformist android is simply a whole lot of fun. Just read the first paragraph, what authors call “the hook”. In three sentences, Martha will pull you into the personal story of Sec Unit (aka murderbot).

This murderbot might be a heartless killing machine but now that her governor module has been disabled, she has a new sense of fairness. Plus, she’s discovered 397 episodes of her new favorite television show: Sanctuary Moon. Don’t miss this book!

By Martha Wells,

Why should I read it?

14 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…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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