The best books about lying

3 authors have picked their favorite books about lying and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of Truth Machine

Truth Machine

By James Halperin,

Why this book?

By the early twentieth century, violent crime was the number one political issue in America. In response, Congress passed the Swift and Sure Anti-Crime Bill, which gave a previously convicted violent criminal one fair trail, one quick appeal, then immediate execution. But to prevent abuse of the law, it was necessary to create a machine that could detect lies with one-hundred percent accuracy. It was clear that such a Truth Machine would change the world. But the race to perfect the Truth Machine forces one man to commit a shocking act of treachery. Now he must conceal the truth from…

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Book cover of The Journeyman: The Commons, Book 1

The Journeyman: The Commons, Book 1

By Michael Alan Peck,

Why this book?

The life of a homeless teen is pretty dark. But for Paul Reid, his life is nothing compared to his death. After being taken out by an untimely accident, Paul finds himself caught in a war between the forces of light and dark. Unfortunately, the forces of darkness are winning, and light doesn't seem to care.

This is a horrifying vision of an afterlife run by a faceless bureaucracy, where a newly dead young man will have to defeat all the forces of evil, just for a chance to rest in peace.

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The best indie fantasy books that survived my gruelling test

Book cover of On Bullshit

On Bullshit

By Harry G. Frankfurt,

Why this book?

This book describes how meaningless talk has conquered the world. It explains why so much written text is entirely meaningless and yet it gets published. But bullshit is not just meaningless – it is speech directly or indirectly intended to mislead or obfuscate. Its very acceptance as false reveals a collusion between the writer or the speaker and their audience – a collusion which precludes the audience from challenging what they hear. Bullshit is not just fashionable babble, it is a serious threat to democratic values and to meaningful public discourse.

From the list:

The best books for reigniting meaningful social sciences

Book cover of Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception

Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception

By Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, Susan Carnicero

Why this book?

Is it possible to detect deception? Can you really tell if someone’s lying just by looking at their body language? If so, what are the cues? When I was writing Duped, I decided to take a class with the authors, who were former CIA agents. I learned a ton. 

From the list:

The best books about secrets, lies, deception and double lives

Book cover of Truth and Lies in Architecture

Truth and Lies in Architecture

By Richard Francis-Jones,

Why this book?

For an architect to take an incisive, unflinching look at his own profession is refreshing and enlightening. Francis-Jones positions architecture’s strengths and failings in reflection to society, politics, equity, aspiration, ecology, power, and defiance. As a promoter of architects and what they do, I’m happy to see a title that places architecture in a broader scope, and in the same breath as other creative expressions, such as film, music, and literature. He raises questions and observations about the nature of architects and architecture that make one think: Is there any truth in architecture? Why are we driven to build so…

From the list:

The best books to understand the art and profession of architecture

Book cover of Department of Truth, Vol 1: The End of the World

Department of Truth, Vol 1: The End of the World

By James Tynion IV,

Why this book?

It’s the post-modern apotheosis of all conspiracy theories: convince enough people something is true, it becomes true. Doesn’t matter how far-fetched – the Earth is flat, the world is overcome with Bigfoots, shape-changing lizardmen are secretly controlling everything – convince enough people, and it happens.  Except, who’s trying to convince people? And who’s trying to stop them? And are either of them on our side? It’s really a bottomless hole in the most enjoyable way (if paranoid fables are your thing): no matter how bad you realize it is, it’s actually worse. But wait, it’s even worse than that. And…

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The best books about a world under secret control

Book cover of Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir

Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir

By Lauren Slater,

Why this book?

Love it or hate it, this is a truly unique book. Slater presents herself as the ultimate unreliable narrator, describing her life-long struggles with epilepsy, only to reveal that her diagnosis is a lie. (Or is it? Apparently, even she is not sure.) Which makes the experience of reading Lying a slippery head trip. One becomes easily absorbed in Slater’s evocative prose and haunting descriptions, only to be reminded a sentence later that it may all be complete BS. 

Some readers might be turned off by what is, admittedly, a bit of a mind fuck. Me, I’m fascinated by it.…

From the list:

The best mixed-genre and/or deliciously out-of-the-box memoirs by women

Book cover of The Dry

The Dry

By Jane Harper,

Why this book?

After watching Australia burn up recently from a series of catastrophic wildfires, I’ve come to appreciate what drought means Down-under. In this mystery, Jane Harper sets the narrative against a background of dry tinder, making the reader feel both parched and anxious. The writing is sophisticated and evocative. I don’t have to travel to Australia to feel that I’ve been there and witnessed its menace and charm.

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The best books to take you to unfamiliar places and raise your blood pressure

Book cover of The Pirates Are Coming!

The Pirates Are Coming!

By John Condon, Matt Hunt (illustrator),

Why this book?

I adore this piratey parody of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." As a parent and former teacher, I’ve had the privilege of reading to kids for decades. This picture book is ideal for a giggly good storytime. I especially appreciate how the refrain “The pirates are coming! Quick! Everybody hide!” builds suspense (and silliness!) and creates lots of opportunities for kids to make predictions about what sort of ship is actually out on the horizon. Clever and comedic illustrations amp up the fun.

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The best children’s books for perfectly piratey storytimes

Book cover of The Disasters

The Disasters

By M. K. England,

Why this book?

I’m a sucker for characters with poorly executed good intentions, which is why I loved M.K. England’s The Disasters. After getting booted out of an elite space academy, four washouts are the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization and are turned into the perfect scapegoats. On the run and desperate to clear their names, the group orchestrates a dangerous heist to expose the truth of what really happened that night at the Academy. Diverse characters and non-stop laughs make this book a must-read for sci-fi fans of all ages.

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The best young adult books for readers who want to laugh out loud

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