The best books about golem

Many authors have picked their favorite books about golem and why they recommend each book.

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The Golem and the Jinni

By Helene Wecker,

Book cover of The Golem and the Jinni

America in the late 19th and early 20th century was a fascinating place of both turmoil and opportunity. Wecker takes what is already an interesting historical era and makes it even more fun by asking, “what if two of the immigrants to this new land were supernatural?” 

The Golem, created by a rabbi for a man who died on the journey, tries to find a new life in the Jewish neighborhoods of New York, except that she doesn’t really fit in among normal humans. 

The Jinni also struggles to fit in, and you get a lot of his backstory where we learn how poorly Jinni and human interactions usually turn out. Even though they are completely opposite creatures, you just hope these crazy kids will find a home in each other.


Who am I?

I started writing urban fantasy because that’s what I wanted to read more of, and at the time there wasn’t much on offer. I started the Kit Melbourne series with the aim of creating a world in which magic was real, but most people don’t believe in it. I aim for believable, realistic characters with plausible relationships. I’m not a fan of prophets, noble bloodlines, or destiny; magic in my worlds are much more egalitarian. Vampires are not sexy superheroes. Faeries are more like aliens than pinup girls. My inspirations are mystery, true crime, anthropology, psychology, history, natural sciences, ecology, and neo-Paganism—and books like those on this list!


I wrote...

Mulberry Wands

By Kater Cheek,

Book cover of Mulberry Wands

What is my book about?

Don’t get me wrong, I love vampires and shapeshifters, but I wanted a break from that when I started the Alternate Susan books. Mulberry Wands is the second book in the series, but in some ways I think it’s the most creative thing I’ve ever done. I have an exotic culture of tiny desert-dwelling people, entrepreneurs selling magic, shapeshifting owl-women, a time-traveler love interest, cash-strapped young roomates, and a murder trial where a human is taking a fall for a cat. It’s about friendship and loyalty and ecological conflict in a version of Arizona where animals have magic too.

Sweep

By Jonathan Auxier,

Book cover of Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

What if justice is helped along by a magical soot golem? In a fantastical Victorian London, an orphaned girl Nan works as a chimney sweep, a job which can only be done by children skinny enough to fit through the chimney pipes. (Mary Poppins lied to us!) When she’s nearly killed while trapped in a tight bend, she’s saved by the “char” her former guardian, known only as the Sweep, left with her, who grows into a soot golem that Nan then must care for. Their adventures lead them to fight to bring awareness to the plight of chimney sweeps and justice for the children forced to risk their lives in the flues.


Who am I?

As a parent, I’ve been struck by the fierce sense of justice my children have, from the unfairness of one getting more screen time to bigger injustices, like bullying or discrimination. Kids have an innate sense of what’s right, of what’s fair, but they can also lack a sense of nuance and have rather Byzantine notions of what justice requires. I wrote Wayward Creatures to explore a different way of thinking about justice and accountability. Restorative justice practices seek to bring the offending party together with the people hurt by their actions to acknowledge the harm caused and find a solution together. These five books explore other aspects of what it means to seek justice.


I wrote...

Wayward Creatures

By Dayna Lorentz,

Book cover of Wayward Creatures

What is my book about?

Twelve-year-old Gabe is frustrated with his family, his friends—his whole life, if he’s perfectly honest. In a desperate attempt to recapture the attention of his friends, Gabe sets off fireworks in the woods near his house and ignites a forest fire. A coyote named Rill—tired of her family and longing for adventure—is caught in the chaos of the flames. 

Gabe’s and Rill’s paths irrevocably cross when Gabe is tasked with cleaning up the forest through the court’s restorative justice program. The damage to the land and both their lives is beyond what the two can imagine. But together, they discover that sometimes it only takes one friend to find the place where you belong.

Golem

By David Wisniewski,

Book cover of Golem

Golem’s illustrations are certainly not detailed in the same way as the others on this list; the imagery in this retelling of the Golem of Prague story is composed entirely of colorful cut paper, layered and woven into bold, dynamic scenes. Whereas the first four books I’ve recommended invite hours of poring over worldbuilding detail and density of information, Golem compels readers to marvel over the construction of its illustrations. How does the golem pierce through the spidery paper web of paper smoke? How are the sheets stacked to imply depth and shadow? Is this seriously all paper?! 


Who am I?

When I fall in love with a fantasy world, I want to consume as much of that world as possible. That’s why I’m drawn to illustration that is so dense with worldbuilding elements. In my own work, I started indulging this obsession by creating tiny one-by-three-inch books that contained fully-illustrated alien worlds before eventually moving on to bigger books like A is for Another Rabbit, a book crammed so full of hidden jokes, Easter eggs, and thousand-rabbit-wide crowd scenes that my hand hurt by the end of it. Extreme detail is a way of prolonging the delight and discovery inherent in reading picture books, and I intend to keep pushing it to the limit!


I wrote...

A is for Another Rabbit

By Hannah Batsel,

Book cover of A is for Another Rabbit

What is my book about?

In A is for Another Rabbit, a rabbit-obsessed narrator makes an owl increasingly irate by refusing to play by the rules of a conventional alphabet book. Every entry is about bunnies, from "delightful, dynamic, daredevil rabbits" to "xylophone rabbits and rabbits on drums!" Readers will pore over scenes of bunnies at the circus, in a tiny town, at the museum, even in a motorcycle gang. Author-illustrator Hannah Batsel takes readers on a delightful romp through the alphabet and keeps them laughing all the way to the ridiculously fun conclusion.

Kiln People

By David Brin,

Book cover of Kiln People

Speaking of noir, Kiln People is basically Mickey Spillane with replicants. This book posits a future where the well-off use temporary copies of themselves to do things that are dangerous or difficult or just boring. The copies fall apart after a few days, at which point they ideally merge their memories back into their original. Brin’s protagonists are a private detective and one of his copies who decides he’d rather spend the few hours of life he’s given doing something more interesting than his original’s scutwork. I came to this story for the fun premise, but I stayed for the deeper exploration of the morality of creating an army of sentient beings whose only hope is to live long enough to be re-absorbed into the mind that created them.


Who am I?

Like many SF nerds, I watched a lot of Star Trek when I was a kid. I liked the adventures. I liked the ethos. I did not like the transporter. Everybody seemed to believe that they were being… well… transported, but it seemed obvious to me that actually they were just getting dissolved, and then somebody else who looked like them was getting created at the other end. This question (transported or replaced?) is the essence of the teletransport paradoxa puzzler that’s bedeviled philosophers since at least 1775. All of these books (including mine) are at their hearts an exploration of this problem. I know my answer. Do you?


I wrote...

Mickey7

By Edward Ashton,

Book cover of Mickey7

What is my book about?

Mickey Barnes is an Expendable. Trouble in the reactor core? He’s on it. Need to test a sketchy new vaccine? He’s your guy. Need to know if the bathtub absinthe you cooked up is poisonous? He’ll get a glass, you bastards. After six deaths, Mickey understands the terms of his deal, and why it was the only colonial position that wasn’t filled when he signed on.

When he unexpectedly survives after being abandoned on the ice world of Niflheim, Mickey7 returns home to find that Mickey8 has already taken his place. Meanwhile, Niflheim’s natives are becoming curious about their new neighbors, and that has Mickey’s commander very afraid. Mickey may hold the key to survival for both species—if he can just keep from dying for good.

The Golem

By Harry M. Collins, Trevor Pinch,

Book cover of The Golem: What You Should Know about Science

The thing you should know about science is that it’s a human enterprise. As a result, it’s dependent on human factors like social consensus and prejudice. In this series of case studies of famously expensive and difficult-to-replicate experiments probing the limits of scientific understanding from biology to theoretical physics, Collins and Pinch show how scientific knowledge gathering is rarely straightforward because there are always alternative explanations available for the data. Was the phenomenon real or was the experiment set up badly? We can never know for sure, but we decide collectively what we believe. Scientists are experts participating in human culture, they argue, not mysterious clergy issuing declarations of absolute truth.


Who am I?

I studied statistics and data science for years before anyone ever suggested to me that these topics might have an ethical dimension, or that my numerical tools were products of human beings with motivations specific to their time and place. I’ve since written about the history and philosophy of mathematical probability and statistics, and I’ve come to understand just how important that historical background is and how critically important it is that the next generation of data scientists understand where these ideas come from and their potential to do harm. I hope anyone who reads these books avoids getting blinkered by the ideas that data = objectivity and that science is morally neutral.


I wrote...

Bernoulli's Fallacy: Statistical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science

By Aubrey Clayton,

Book cover of Bernoulli's Fallacy: Statistical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science

What is my book about?

There is a logical flaw in the statistical methods used across experimental science. This fault is not a minor academic quibble: it underlies a reproducibility crisis now threatening entire disciplines. In an increasingly statistics-reliant society, this same deeply rooted error shapes decisions in medicine, law, and public policy with profound consequences. The foundation of the problem is a misunderstanding of probability and its role in making inferences from observations.

Aubrey Clayton traces the history of how statistics went astray, beginning with the groundbreaking work of the seventeenth-century mathematician Jacob Bernoulli and winding through gambling, astronomy, and genetics. Clayton recounts the feuds among rival schools of statistics, exploring the surprisingly human problems that gave rise to the discipline and the all-too-human shortcomings that derailed it. 

The World That We Knew

By Alice Hoffman,

Book cover of The World That We Knew

The World That We Knew blends realism and magic as a golem—a mystical human-like being, required to follow the demands of its maker— is invoked to protect a 12-year-old girl, Lea, escaping the horrors of the Holocaust. As the golem gains more humanity, the dangers and poignancies mount. A lyrical, heartrending novel about sacrifice, connection, love, and loss. 


Who am I?

I love stories about human connection and creativity. I came to writing later in life; I was moved to research and write a memoir about raising our two daughters, both of whom were born deaf. I discovered in my Jewish ancestry two deaf great-great aunts who tied strings to their babies’ wrists at night so that when their babies cried, they would feel the tug in the darkness and wake to care for them. This innovation of connection has shaped me as a mother, a writer, and a reader. In my novel, The Yellow Bird Sings, a mother and daughter stay connected through music and the power of imagination.


I wrote...

The Yellow Bird Sings

By Jennifer Rosner,

Book cover of The Yellow Bird Sings

What is my book about?

As Nazi soldiers round up Jews in their town, Róża and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róża tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden: The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. 

In this make-believe world, Róża can shield Shira from the horrors that surround them. But the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róża must make an impossible choice: to keep Shira by her side or give her the chance to survive apart.

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