Some of your favorite writers of science fiction, fantasy, and even horror have tried their hands at non-fiction. Here’s part two of our list of 20 books. Missed part one? Read it here!
A Contrivance of Horror
Thomas Ligotti’s bleak cosmic fiction has earned him a place among the greats of horror, but as it turns out, his philosophical writings are nothing to sneeze at, either. The Conspiracy Against the Human Race is an exploration of pessimism as a philosophy, and how it has informed Ligotti’s perspective on life’s big questions: Why are we here? Is there a meaning to suffering and death? Is it better to have not been born at all? If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to spend a few days with True Detective’s Rustin Cohle, here’s your chance. A lot of Cohle’s best lines appear to have been, um, inspired by Ligotti’s book. (Look for a new edition on shelves October 2!)
Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine
Douglas Adams is long gone, and we’re all the worse for it. One can only imagine his take on this topsy turvy world. Fortunately, he did leave us some non-fiction, and Last Chance to See is as (sadly) timely now as it was the day it was published. If you join Adams on his worldwide tour to see some of Earth’s most endangered species, you’ll finish with a renewed sense of urgency to protect what’s left of our planet’s wild spaces.
A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights
Tananarive Due and Patricia Stephens Due
You know Tananarive Due for her novels of dark fantasy and horror — My Soul to Keep, The Living Blood, and The Good House, to name a few — but she’s also an activist, and it runs in her family. Her mother Patricia Stephens Due was a participant in the Civil Rights movement of the sixties, and Tananarive’s childhood was steeped in its principles of justice and addressing inequality where it is found. This memoir looks back on the struggle and those who fought, and sometimes died, to see the dream come true.
Are you surprised to see Jonathan Lethem on a list of science fiction and fantasy authors? You shouldn’t be. Before he wrote novels You Don’t Love Me Yet, and Chronic City, Lethem published novels featuring genetically modified kangaroo detectives, space colonies, and more. He’s written several works of non-fiction, among them The Ecstasy of Influence: a wonderful sampling of his thoughts on writing, online culture, and more.
Reflections on a Writing Life
Madeleine L'Engle; Compiled by Carole F. Chase
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is a classic work of imaginative literature. If you’ve ever wondered where it came from, then wonder no more: Madeleine L’Engle Herself is a door into the writer’s mind and creative process. Any aspiring writer would do well to take a look inside.
Terry Pratchett With a Foreword by Neil Gaiman
Discworld author Terry Pratchett’s non-fiction writings are just as lively and full of humor as his much-loved fiction. In A Slip of the Keyboard, Sir Terry tackled wide-ranging topics from banana daquiris to death itself.
A Spiritual Confession
Anne Rice was raised as a devout Irish Catholic, but lost her faith while dealing with a series of personal tragedies. Nevertheless, her search for a more meaningful existence has continued throughout her career as a writer. About a decade ago, Rice returned to the religion of her youth: an experience she chronicled in Called Out of Darkness. While Rice’s relationship with faith has continued to evolve, Called Out of Darkness remains a compelling account of a writer’s spiritual journey.
Works like The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, and The Island of Doctor Moreau may have made secured H. G. Wells a place in the pantheon of science fiction gods, but fiction was only one small part of his writing life. Wells wrote a lot of political stuff, too. The Rights of Man, a humanist manifesto written in response to World War II, helped to spawn The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Much like H. G. Wells, George Orwell was a political thinker as well as a novelist, and really, his fiction was a way for him to express his political beliefs. Why I Write explores what Orwell hoped to accomplish by putting pen to paper.
A Walk in Portland, Oregon
Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees is a testament to the veracity of the oft quoted phrase “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Palahniuk knows this legendarily eccentric city better than most, and this guide to Portland, Oregon’s hidden places is a must-have for the armchair urban explorer.