The most recommended action books

Who picked these books? Meet our 2,645 experts.

2,645 authors created a book list connected to action, and here are their favorite action books.
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Book cover of Of Giants and Ice

Mary DeSantis Author Of Grimmfay: The Circus of Fairy Tales and Dreams

From my list on retelling that tangle multiple fairy tales.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a steady diet of Disney movies, and while I knew they didn’t stay true to the original tales, that didn’t stop me from loving them. Fast-forward through an MFA in genre fiction from Seton Hill University, and I landed a gig writing study guides for fiction novels, where I put my love of fairy tales to good use. In particular, retellings fascinate me because they bring something new to something old. The books on this list stayed with me because of their deep ties to stories that shaped who I am, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Mary's book list on retelling that tangle multiple fairy tales

Mary DeSantis Why did Mary love this book?

I once pitched this to a friend as “Percy Jackson but with fairy tales.” I stand by that.

It occurs to me that most of my picks for my list have been middle grade titles, and this book gets to the heart of why. It has all the magic and wonder of the school experience I wished on a star for as a child. The combination of princesses and magical engineers, political intrigue and romance—I fell in love with it and found myself swept away.

If I could go back in time and go to Bach’s school instead of my middle school—I don’t have to tell you it would be a no-brainer.

By Shelby Bach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Of Giants and Ice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When Rory realizes fairy tales are the real deal at Ever After School, she embarks on a classic quest to fulfill her destiny in this "fast-paced combination of middle school realism and fairy-tale fantasy" (Kirkus Reviews).

Rory Landon has spent her whole life being known as the daughter of a famous movie star mom and director dad. So when she begins a new after-school program and no one knows who her family is, Rory realizes something is different. After she ends up fighting a fire-breathing dragon on her first day, she realizes the situation is more unusual than she could…


Book cover of The Queen of Nothing

Victoria McCombs Author Of Oathbound

From my list on YA with surprising plot twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Victoria McCombs, the author of Oathbound from Enclave Publishing. I live in Nebraska with my husband and three wildlings, spending our days homeschooling, golfing, or dreaming of the mountains that are rudely located so far from us. Oathbound is a darker YA fantasy. It follows Emme who has run from the sea after her mother became a ruthless pirate and Arn who ran towards them after first sailing for the king. A twist of fate leaves them bound together on a journey to a dangerous island, while both harbor secrets darker than the deep that threaten to drown them all.

Victoria's book list on YA with surprising plot twists

Victoria McCombs Why did Victoria love this book?

Holly Black delivered a lush world within the Cruel Prince trilogy, and each book got better and better. The ending of book two, The Wicked King, had me running to the library to get the third book and I couldn’t put it down. It’s set in a land of the fae where a mortal girl refuses to be outmatched by their power, proving herself to be a foe much more dangerous than any of them predicted. As she gets closer to the throne, things become more dangerous, and she must be lethal and cunning if she is to survive.

Each book has plot twists, but the third was my favorite. This is a finished trilogy perfect for those who love the fae, fierce heroines, enemies to lovers, or political intrigue.

By Holly Black,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen of Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

GOODREADS BEST FANTASY YA 2020. The intoxicating and bloodthirsty finale to the New York Times bestselling The Cruel Prince, nominated for the CARNEGIE MEDAL, and New York Times bestseller The Wicked King, Best YA Fantasy in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019.

After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watching reality television, and doing odd jobs, including squaring up to a cannibalistic faerie.

When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking a favour, Jude jumps at the…


Book cover of The Way Back Home

Diana Mayo Author Of Molly on the Moon

From my list on for children who love space and science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I usually enjoy painting pictures for storybooks about nature I know, so it was a treat to depict an imaginary place that I’ve never actually seen! I was so inspired to illustrate Mary’s story about the moon, as I could focus on creating an other-worldly atmosphere, adding to the drama that could have happened anywhere. The story focuses on Molly and her family moving to the moon and includes scientific facts about how gravity would impact their everyday life. I used Mary’s knowledge as reference to underpin the imaginative side of my process. Painting the inside of a moon module enabled me to use textures, colours, and lighting in such a fun, expressive way!

Diana's book list on for children who love space and science fiction

Diana Mayo Why did Diana love this book?

Oliver Jeffers has such a simple way with words (almost as if he is writing as his child self, still) but which always brings a wry, knowing adult smile to my mouth when reading aloud. I love this book too, for being able to make my children smile and feel empathy for the characters.

I love the graphic, simple yet sophisticated illustrations, helping to explain the story along the way. It’s a fantastic blend of the reality of children’s play, along with an imaginative introduction to science fiction. Fabulous!

By Oliver Jeffers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way Back Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Zoom into space on an exciting adventure in this toddler-friendly board book from the award-winning, bestselling creator of How to Catch a Star and Lost and Found.

One day a boy finds an aeroplane in his cupboard. Up, up and away he flies, past clouds and stars until suddenly, phut, phut phut, the plane runs out of petrol and the boy crash lands on the moon. Just as he is beginning to get cold and lonely, a Martian appears from the darkness - could this be the start of an unlikely friendship? And will the boy ever manage to get…


The Circus Infinite

By Khan Wong,

Book cover of The Circus Infinite

Khan Wong Author Of The Circus Infinite

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Creative expression has been one of my most cherished values since childhood. I've always had a creative hobby of some kind since I was a kid. Not sure how that happened – my parents were tolerant of my interests at best. I made my day job career in the arts, fostering the creativity of community members and supporting the work of artists. Art (in the general sense of all forms of creative expression) is, to me, a defining characteristic of humanity, it makes life worth living, and the way it’s devalued under Capitalism both saddens and inspires me as a creator myself. I’m a writer of speculative fiction and I write about creative people.

Khan's book list on how art is more than art

What is my book about?

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn’t take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes’ head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But when the boss sets the circus up to take the fall for his about-to-get-busted narcotics operation, Jes and his friends decide to bring the mobster down. And if Jes can also avoid going back to being the prize subject of a scientist who can’t wait to dissect him? Even better.

The Circus Infinite

By Khan Wong,

What is this book about?

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn't take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes' head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But…


Book cover of The Year of Our War

Stuart Kurth Author Of Blades Lost

From my list on authors who mastered writing fantasy fight scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Without conflict there is no story. It doesn’t always have to be between the forces of good and evil with all of creation hanging in the balance. Nor does it need to entangle complex issues about morality and the human condition. Readers (and writers) can get just as pumped up about Karen from down the street arguing with her neighbour about that damn tree branch hanging over her fence. It just so happens that fantasy conflict, great and small, is my bread and butter. I was born and raised in New Zealand on a diet of anime and video games and I love reading a good honest dust-up. 

Stuart's book list on authors who mastered writing fantasy fight scenes

Stuart Kurth Why did Stuart love this book?

This series is very elegantly written, but that’s not what makes it the most unique on this list. For a start, the protagonist is a skinny womanising drug-addict immortal with enormous wings. Yes, you read that right. He can fly, he drinks coffee, and when he overdoses he trips into a parallel universe. Several, actually. What else inhabits these strange worlds? Giant ants. And it’s these horse-sized monsters that the people of the Fourlands are embroiled in bitter conflict with. They pour through dimensional tears in waves, and the fighting is frenetic, bloody, and gruesome. Swainston has an almost forensic approach to the description of violence in these books, and it adds a dash of realism to an otherwise wildly fantastical setting and premise. A criminally underappreciated series.

By Steph Swainston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The most exciting, original and important new fantasy novel to be published since China Mieville's PERDIDO STREET STATION. A breathtakingly skilful debut.

A superb work of literary fantasy. In a truly original imagined world of breathtaking, sometimes surreal beauty, fifty utterly alien but disarmingly human immortals lead mankind in a centuries-long war.

Jant is the Messenger, one of the Circle, a cadre of fifty immortals who serve the Emperor. He is the only immortal - indeed the only man alive - who can fly.

The Emperor must protect mankind from the hordes of giant Insects who have plagued the land…


Book cover of Fahrenheit 451

Dan Savery Raz Author Of The Qwerty Man

From my list on dystopian books that could actually happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer and drawn to books that look through a window into the "other world." These novels, often dubbed dystopian, are reflections or exaggerations of our own world, and this always appealed to me. Like the question, "What if?”. The premise of “What if we lived in a world where you had to pay for words?” inspired my first novel, The Qwerty Man. Although I love fiction, I’m more of a nonfiction reader these days and interested in Buddhism (as an education, not religion), geography, and history. I’ve also written travel guidebooks for Lonely Planet and a children’s travel poetry book called Rhyme Travels.

Dan's book list on dystopian books that could actually happen

Dan Savery Raz Why did Dan love this book?

I read this book relatively recently, not at school or when I was in my twenties, but when I was in my late thirties. I had heard of the novel, and the concept of burning books was all-too familiar as I studied a module on Holocaust literature at university. However, the premise of Ray Bradbury’s novel, written in 1953, was so simple yet so powerful.

It echoes with our own reality today, as although books are not being burned, we are seeing the art of writing itself being "burned" or minimized by tools such as AI or social media. The virtual burning of honest reportage or poetry for opinionated views and algorithms is one symptom of today’s fast-paced society. 

There were some great quotes in Fahrenheit 451, too; the one that really stuck out was, “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies… A child or a book or a…

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Fahrenheit 451 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hauntingly prophetic classic novel set in a not-too-distant future where books are burned by a special task force of firemen.

Over 1 million copies sold in the UK.

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic…


Book cover of White Trash Warlock

Amara Mae Author Of Pack of Secrets

From my list on urban fantasy with kick-ass world building.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a bit of an anomaly in the author world because I didn’t find my passion for reading until I was a newly married adult. My husband, who is the coolest geek ever, introduced me to the DragonLance Chronicles, opening my eyes to the wonder that is the fantasy genre and turning me into an insatiable reader. It’s taken more than ten years to craft my own urban fantasy world, outline my first 6-book series in the world, and write the first book, but none of that would have been possible without the urban fantasy trailblazers listed above. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have! 

Amara's book list on urban fantasy with kick-ass world building

Amara Mae Why did Amara love this book?

Although White Trash Warlock has fantastic world building and a fresh, unique take on supernatural people and creatures, it was the feels in this book that did it for me. I love a wounded protagonist, and the way Adam fights to live life on his own terms while still helping the family that doesn’t support his sexuality or his magic tugs on all my heartstrings. 

By David R. Slayton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist for the Colorado Book Award

Reading the West Book Award Nominee for Debut Fiction

“The complex world-building, well-shaded depictions of poverty, emotional nuance, and thrilling action sequences make this stand out. Slayton is sure to win plenty of fans.”--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on White Trash Warlock

Not all magicians go to schools of magic.

Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has…


Book cover of Rebellion

Wolfric Styler Author Of Troubled Zen

From my list on action series with characters in the military.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been in various militaries for over 17 years and am proud of my service. Troubled Zen is my first foray into the publishing world and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I enjoy the ex-military hero-style action/ thriller novels because I find that I can understand their mindset and relate well with their characters. I found most were male, ex-special forces so I chose a female Explosive Ordnance Disposal member as I believe that there are plenty of aspects to investigate that can show how a woman can be equally tough, stubborn, ingenious, brave, and determined.

Wolfric's book list on action series with characters in the military

Wolfric Styler Why did Wolfric love this book?

This series about a Bow Street Runner piqued my interest as, like Reacher and Sharpe, he is a bit of a rogue but tries to do what is right while also breaking the rules at times. What appeals to me about his character is that he was unjustly discharged but did his best to secure another profession that tries to help people. The description and action scenes are very believable however Hawkwood isn’t as indestructible as Reacher. His vulnerability and pragmatism are features that I have molded into the main character in my novel too.

By James McGee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rebellion is brewing in Napoleonic Paris, in the new action-packed novel from the author of the bestselling Ratcatcher

October 1812: Britain and France are still at war. France is engaged on two battle fronts - Spain and Russia - and her civilians are growing weary of the fight. Rebellion is brewing. Since Napoleon Bonaparte appointed himself as First Consul, there have been several attempts to either kill or overthrow him. All have failed, so far...

Meanwhile in London, Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood has been seconded to the foreign arm of the Secret Service. There, he meets the urbane Henry…


Book cover of The Moneychangers

Radhika R Author Of A Canopy of Carnations: A Collection Of Heart Touching Short Stories

From my list on tug at your heart and haunt you for days.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have read books of various genres but the dominating theme has always been stories that haunted me and remained in my memory like a movie song lyric. These books are ones that made me feel the story as if the characters lived next door and were well known to me. The nostalgic feel and unexpressed emotions of women, when brought out in the form of stories keep my mind occupied and impacted my life changes too. As a teacher, meeting students of various ages, I am able to subtly identify the feelings that cross children and understand the emotions that dominate their parents and their lives in a family. 

Radhika's book list on tug at your heart and haunt you for days

Radhika R Why did Radhika love this book?

The adrenaline rush I got from this novel, I cannot express by words. I detested banking and related stories until I read this novel. The book gave me a totally different view of banking and the politics involved. I was impressed by the character of the single mom Juanita Nunez and her unique ability to calculate like a machine as she had a photographic memory.

By Arthur Hailey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The #1 bestselling author of the blockbuster thrillers Airport and Hotel takes on the world of high finance: “Cliched, lurid and utterly absorbing” (Philip Hensher, The Guardian).

Ben Roselli, president of First Mercantile American Bank and grandson of the founder, makes the shocking announcement that he’s dying. With no offspring to inherit the company, Roselli knows that executive VPs Roscoe Heyward and Alex Vandervoort are the obvious candidates to succeed him. Heyward, who has been with First Mercantile for two decades, will do whatever it takes to bring in new clients and win the coveted presidency. Vandervoort, a newcomer from…


Book cover of Starplex

Steven Harper Author Of Resurrection Men

From my list on bending your mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took an introduction to philosophy class in college and the professor showed us how to think about thinking. Can you know something if it’s actually untrue? Can people in a universe with an omniscient god who knows what they’re going to do have free will? Are there universal principles of justice, or is justice based on circumstances? The class changed my taste in reading. I’d read science fiction and fantasy since I was a child, but after this class, I looked for fiction that made my brain hurt but also told a wonderful story. I try hard to meet this standard in my own fiction.

Steven's book list on bending your mind

Steven Harper Why did Steven love this book?

The book starts small(ish).

A single starship crewed by three different species and captained by a human explores space using a series of wormholes created by… whom, exactly? No one knows.

Then an unknown ship with no visible propulsion system drops out of a wormhole and we're catapulted into an adventure that brings us to the mind-twisting origins of the universe as we know it.
Rob Sawyer lives across the river from me in Canada, and we ran into each other at several local science fiction conventions.

He gave me a copy of Starplex, and I accepted it with a vague, “I look forward to reading it.” I didn’t actually intend to. But a couple weeks later, I idly flipped it open and started reading—and couldn’t stop.

By Robert J. Sawyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twenty years after the discovery of artificial wormholes launches Earth space exploration to unforeseeable heights, Starplex Director Keith Lansing investigates a mysterious vessel that soon threatens the station with intergalactic war. Original.


Book cover of Devil's Kiss

Bryony Pearce Author Of Raising Hell

From my list on for Buffy lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in the nineties I was a Buffy fan, although that is probably understating things. I have all the Buffy novels, which I read over when waiting for the next series to come out (this was in the days before Netflix!). For me, Buffy had the exact right mix of humour, horror, and deeper complexity, dealing with issues that really impacted me, but in a way that made them accessible. I loved the characters, I loved Buffy herself, I loved her strength and humanity. When I decided to write Raising Hell, I was influenced by Buffy, but there are differences – Ivy is no chosen one, she chose herself.

Bryony's book list on for Buffy lovers

Bryony Pearce Why did Bryony love this book?

Sarwat is another brilliant British writer, whose debut novel Devil’s Kiss remains my favourite of his. Its teen heroine, Billi Sangreal is the last of the knight’s templar and lives her life kicking ass and killing monsters, Buffy style. There is a great level of complexity in this novel, with a bad guy that has really remained with me over the years. 

By Sarwat Chadda,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Devil's Kiss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Grade Level: 7-9 Age Level: 12-14 Listening Level: Grades 7-9 As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilqis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn’t normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a warrior in her order’s ancient battle against the Unholy. Billi’s cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He’s ready to slide back into Billi’s life, but she’s met someone new: amber-eyed Mike, who seems to understand her like…