The most recommended utopian books

Who picked these books? Meet our 107 experts.

107 authors created a book list connected to utopian, and here are their favorite utopia books.
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Book cover of Auxiliary: London 2039

Tanweer Dar Author Of The Demon

From my list on indie cyberpunk to get your circuits going.

Who am I?

Between Blade Runner and The Terminator, I was hooked on Cyberpunk. Throw in some Ghost in the Shell and Black Mirror, and the obsession was complete. With the rise of Synthwave as a musical genre and as a retro-futuristic aesthetic, I had both the soundtrack and the visual cues to which I could write Cyberpunk. I also feel strongly about our increasing reliance on technology and the blurring lines between biology and technology. This is something I explore in my writing.

Tanweer's book list on indie cyberpunk to get your circuits going

Tanweer Dar Why did Tanweer love this book?

A noir Cyberpunk book set in the UK (which itself makes it distinctive). Great characters, crazy technology, and lots of drama make Auxiliary seriously gripping. If you like Cyberpunk, robotics/Artificial Intelligence, and dark, dystopian thrillers, you will love this! Just a word of warning, though, this is not for the faint of heart...

By Jon Richter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The silicon revolution left Dremmler behind but a good detective is never obsolete.London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel. And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires.…

Book cover of Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

G. Samantha Rosenthal Author Of Living Queer History: Remembrance and Belonging in a Southern City

From my list on genre-bending books on queer pasts and futures.

Who am I?

I am a queer transgender woman living in the Appalachian South. When I moved here in 2015 I threw myself into doing community-based LGBTQ history. I co-founded the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, an ongoing queer public history initiative based in Roanoke, Virginia. As a historian and an avid reader, I am fascinated by how queer and trans people think about the past, how we remember and misremember things, and what role historical consciousness plays in informing the present and future. 

Samantha's book list on genre-bending books on queer pasts and futures

G. Samantha Rosenthal Why did Samantha love this book?

Queer theory can sometimes be head-scratching, but the first time I read Cruising Utopia (on a camping trip in the mountains), I found myself gazing anew at the trees above me and my lover by my side. The late great theorist pushes us to reconsider how queerness is experienced and remembered in quotidian times and spaces. From sharing a bottle of Coke with a lover to memorializing abandoned toilets in the New York City subway, Muñoz revels in the ecstatic potential of “queer utopian memory” and queer world-building. Cruising Utopia is a marriage of critical theory and thoughtful storytelling, giving readers a much-needed injection of hope in these thoroughly anti-queer times.    

By José Esteban Muñoz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A 10th anniversary edition of this field defining work-an intellectual inspiration for a generation of LGBTQ scholars
Cruising Utopia arrived in 2009 to insist that queerness must be reimagined as a futurity-bound phenomenon, an insistence on the potentiality of another world that would crack open the pragmatic present. Part manifesto, part love-letter to the past and the future, Jose Esteban Munoz argued that the here and now were not enough and issued an urgent call for the revivification of the queer political imagination.
On the anniversary of its original publication, this edition includes two essays that extend and expand the…

Book cover of The City Always Wins

Ronnie Close Author Of Cairo's Ultras: Resistance and Revolution in Egypt’s Football Culture

From my list on Egyptian politics and the 2011 Revolution.

Who am I?

I'm a writer and filmmaker based in Cairo for over a decade. I was inspired to move to Egypt when I visited during the 2011 Revolution and fell in love with the vibrance of the city. Since then Cairo has changed and I have lived through an extraordinary history with some difficult times but always with a sense of curiosity for stories. My book, Cairo’s Ultras, began as a documentary film project in 2012 and I have found many other interesting topics during my time in this enigmatic and fascinating place. I will publish a second book next year, called Decolonising Images, that looks at the photographic heritage and visual culture of Egypt.

Ronnie's book list on Egyptian politics and the 2011 Revolution

Ronnie Close Why did Ronnie love this book?

This book is a novel written by an Egyptian activist, Omar Hamilton, who lived through the 2011 period. The fiction approach gives the author greater freedom to explore the inner lives of the Tahrir Square activists who he knew well and the momentous events in Cairo. The non-factual approach of a novel offers something missing even in the best journalism because the author brings to life the motivations and personalities involved in the leftist movements which overthrew the Mubarak regime. His first-hand experience of the time fuels the narrative as these revolutionaries faced the failure of the uprising in the long term. The book explores these harsh realities of politics through well-developed characters and expressionistic writing that brings to life this time in Egypt.

By Omar Robert Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Omar Robert Hamilton brings vividly to life the failed revolution of 2011 on the streets of Cairo, in all its youthful bravery and naive utopianism.' - JM Coetzee

'The City Always Wins is a stirring, clear, humane and immensely savvy novel about political innocence and fearlessness. Its fictive portrayals of the Egyptian 'revolution' of 2011 are nothing less than ground-breaking.' - Richard Ford

'I finished this novel with fascination and admiration. It gives a picture of the inside of a popular movement that we all saw from the outside, in countless news broadcasts and foreign-correspondent reports, a picture so vivid…

Book cover of Arsène Schrauwen

Rikke Villadsen Author Of The Clitoris

From my list on sweeping you to a strange surreal world of dreams.

Who am I?

I have been a surrealist since I discovered Salvador Dali and David Lynch at the age of 14. I have been on a path to combine the art world’s depth in style; symbols and metaphors with storytelling. Becoming a comic artist was a natural path and the media is great for expressing the many complex questions in life; what it is to be human and a woman in this world. I have become an artist who revolves around feminism and surrealism, eros and doubt. 

Rikke's book list on sweeping you to a strange surreal world of dreams

Rikke Villadsen Why did Rikke love this book?

Arsène Schrauwen has the simplicity and length to give you this feeling of never being able to escape your sickness or your loneliness. Olivier Schrauwen works with graphic novels as a contemporary artist. His drawings are so precise and weird, they make me think of great folk art as done by Bill Traylor. We realize the inner truth in his simple line and the awkwardness of life. This book is an experience like a dream; both utterly original and strangely familiar.

By Olivier Schrauwen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1947, the author’s grandfather, Arsene Schrauwen, traveled across the ocean to a mysterious, dangerous jungle colony at the behest of his cousin. Together they would build something deemed impossible: a modern utopia in the wilderness — but not before Arsene falls in love with his cousin’s wife, Marieke. Whether delirious from love or a fever-inducing jungle virus, Arsene’s loosening grip on reality is mirrored by the graphic novel reader’s uncertainty of what is imagined or real by Arsene.

Book cover of Island

Dan Savery Raz Author Of The Qwerty Man

From my list on dystopian books that could actually happen.

Who am I?

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 admit that Huxley’s final novel is a rather difficult one to read. It’s long, it goes on too long in some places, it’s kind of fiction and philosophy together, and it includes a book within a book. However, The Island is a work of genius.

There’s the utopian island of Pala (not dystopian), and all through the book, there’s the threat of the invading Rendang kingdom. It includes some Buddhist ideas with the birds on the island that say karuna (meaning compassion) and "attention" to remind islanders of the now, yet ultimately, in the end, the island is invaded, and the utopia becomes exposed as a fake.

By Aldous Huxley,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For over a hundred years the Pacific island of Pala has been the scene of a unique experiment in civilisation. Its inhabitants live in a society where western science has been brought together with Eastern philosophy to create a paradise on earth. When cynical journalist, Will Farnaby, arrives to research potential oil reserves on Pala, he quickly falls in love with the way of life on the island. Soon the need to complete his mission becomes an intolerable burden and he must make a difficult choice.

In counterpoint to Brave New World and Ape and Essence, in Island Huxley gives…

Book cover of Daughter of Regals & Other Tales

David W. Burns Author Of Heart of Stone

From my list on blending the real with the fantastic.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a kid using all of my allowance to buy comic books, I have been obsessed with the art and craft of storytelling, especially those stories that deal with the struggle between good and evil—in the world, and inside ourselves.  I’ve been fortunate enough to publish short stories and now a novel in the fantasy genre.  But most of all, I am a fan of speculative fiction, and especially urban fantasy, with its blending of the real and impossible, and I’m always eager to see what’s around the next dark corner or down the next mysterious alley in the hidden heart of the world.

David's book list on blending the real with the fantastic

David W. Burns Why did David love this book?

For me, no list of beloved books would be complete without an entry from Stephen R. Donaldson, who took my reading—and writing—to its next level after Tolkien. 

His sophisticated imagination and complex prose is on full display here, in this collection of original stories. Moving seamlessly from gritty medieval taverns to gleaming futuristic cityscapes, Donaldson takes us across the entire spectrum of science fiction and fantasy in just 366 pages, from the high fantasy tale of the title about a world with a unique concept of magic, to a too-safe utopia threatened by any citizen showing the least bit of imagination. 

“Unworthy of the Angel” is a personal favorite, blending noir elements into a story of an unusual divine messenger on a holy mission.     

By Stephen R. Donaldson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daughter of Regals & Other Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A short story collection from the New York Times bestselling author-available in trade paperback for the first time.

"Donaldson proves that he is as adept at the short story as he is at the novel" (Denver Rocky Mountain News), in this superb collection. The famous outtake from The Illearth War, "Gilden-Fire," headlines eight tales of mystics and unicorns, angels and kings-all written with the dazzling style and imagination that have made Stephen R. Donaldson one of the top fantasists of the day.

Book cover of Matched

Marie-Hélène Lebeault Author Of The Ancestors' Key

From my list on YA SFF about utopian societies.

Who am I?

I’m an avid reader turned author. I’m a Canadian YA Speculative Fiction author who takes books along as I hike, cycle, and go to the beach. I love audiobooks! In the years leading up to writing my first novel, I must have read over three hundred books. My favorites were Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction. When I ran out of happy, positive, and wholesome books, I started writing them. I feel like I'm often called back to my favorites, and hope more authors will jump on the happy train! Now that the world has literally turned into a Dystopian Society, perhaps more authors will start writing about hope and change.

Marie-Hélène's book list on YA SFF about utopian societies

Marie-Hélène Lebeault Why did Marie-Hélène love this book?

In this society where people are matched with their jobs, but also with their future mates, arts and culture are carefully selected and limited by leadership. People take mandatory medications.

The most horrifying part, for me, is that they can no longer write without a keypad. Whatever they write on a computer is censured. Can you imagine better ways to control the population? Does it sound familiar?

By Ally Condie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Matched as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in…

Book cover of Utopia

Peter Zarrow Author Of Abolishing Boundaries: Global Utopias in the Formation of Modern Chinese Political Thought, 1880-1940

From my list on utopianism east and west.

Who am I?

When I was a teenager, I thought we could create a perfect world—or if not quite perfect, at least much, much better than the one we are currently destroying. Actually, I still think it’s possible, just a lot harder and a lot more dangerous than I originally thought. I’ve been interested in all the efforts to imagine and create utopias, which sometimes produce hells instead of heavens, ever since. I have evolved (I think it’s progress) from being a high school Maoist to something more mature while watching China’s attempts to improve the lives of its citizens with respect and sympathy.

Peter's book list on utopianism east and west

Peter Zarrow Why did Peter love this book?

This is the OG of utopias—written in 1516 about people living on a distant island. Later writers made up utopias set in the future, but More’s island is still fun to read about. A place where there is no private property, no one desires wealth, all citizens are equal, and all religions are tolerated—though there is no privacy (or premarital sex) either. Nobody knows whether More meant it as satire or longing, or even if we should translate u-topia as “no-place” or “good-place.”

By Thomas More,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in Latin in 1516, Utopia was the work of Sir Thomas More (1477–1535), the brilliant humanist, scholar, and churchman executed by Henry VIII for his refusal to accept the king as the supreme head of the Church of England.
In this work, which gave its name to the whole genre of books and movements hypothesizing an ideal society, More envisioned a patriarchal island kingdom that practiced religious tolerance, in which everybody worked, no one has more than his fellows, all goods were community-owned, and violence, bloodshed, and vice nonexistent. Based to some extent on the writings of Plato…

Book cover of The Fifth Sacred Thing

Karin Schönpflug Author Of Feminism, Economics and Utopia: Time Travelling through Paradigms

From my list on utopian visions of feminist economics.

Who am I?

I studied economics and found it incredibly boring, exclusive, and confusing at the same time. Eventually, I discovered feminist economics and realized that economics is loaded with crazy mathematical jargon aiming to hide exploitation processes such as unpaid work in the household, precarious production especially in former colonies of the “Global South”, as well as environmental destruction. I found that utopian and sci-fi novels are not only fun to read but may also carry antidotes to reshape traditional economic thinking. Check out my TEDx talk where I can tell you more about all this.

Karin's book list on utopian visions of feminist economics

Karin Schönpflug Why did Karin love this book?

This 1993 fantasy novel is set in a future San Francisco, modelled on the Paris Commune, that has become a pagan queer feminist ecotopia that is under siege and threatened to be overrun by an army of war-faring fundamentalists.

It features great adventures of loveable characters and some brilliant ideas for creating alternative societies.

Techniques described in the book are highly subversive; it offers alternatives to valuing money and setting prices, practices to transform soldiers into military deserters, and generally seeks to unhinge democratic practices that will harm nature, plants, animals, children, women, and the old and weak.

I find this is a good read to cheer up and reclaim your trust in friendships. 

By Starhawk,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Fifth Sacred Thing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An epic tale of freedom and slavery, love and war, and the potential futures of humankind tells of a twenty-first century California clan caught between two clashing worlds, one based on tolerance, the other on repression.

Declaration of the Four Sacred Things

The earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different times and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth.

Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the interconnected systems that…

Book cover of Ready Player Two

Jason Jowett Author Of Alchemy Series Compendium

From my list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview.

Who am I?

As an avid explorer having thrice traveled around the world, living and working in over 40 countries, my inspirations as so originally science fiction have found grounding. I looked to level my imagination in the real world and filtered out the impossible from the unnecessary on a path to utopia. Sharing our ideas, exposing misgivings too, all contribute to a shared realization of human potential. This is much of the reason for who I am as a founder of business platforms I designed to achieve things that I envisage as helpful, necessary, and constructive contributions to our world. Those software endeavours underway in 2022, and a longtime coming still, are Horoscorpio and De Democracy.

Jason's book list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview

Jason Jowett Why did Jason love this book?

For the vastly impossible feat of presenting a sequel to a thoroughly immersive narrative, this did impress. The lead out of the original gives the feeling of the impossible and so it was delivered. Brokering A.C. Clarke's range of brilliance plus getting into the popular references of my youth, in the cyberpunk, virtual reality, corporate elite defining drama, aren't we all familiar with dystopia by now? Where or when does the apocalypse become inevitable and what are you steering towards there or then? I was awe-inspired by this handling of ethical uses of hyper-tech which is one I left up to my reader's imagination by the end of my own series. Whether imagined VR can ever become a coded reality, or if it's only ever going to be imagination, this is the challenge of the Age of Aquarius.

By Ernest Cline,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Days after winning OASIS founder James Halliday's contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything.

Hidden within Halliday's vaults, waiting for his heir to find it, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the OASIS a thousand times more wondrous - and addictive - than even Wade dreamed possible.

With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest: a last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize.

And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who'll kill millions to get what he wants.

Wade's life and the…