July 2nd was World UFO Day, so how about some aliens for your summer reading? Some are literary, some are campy, some are scary, and some are pure fun. This list is a mix of adult, YA, middle grade, and picture books, but don’t limit yourself—adults and older teens would enjoy all of these!
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers — For those who love character-driven stories and rich, detailed worldbuilding. Follow Rosemary Harper as she joins the crew of the Wayfarer, an ailing ship with an eccentric and diverse crew that makes a living tunneling wormholes. Winner of many awards and “Best Book of 2016” lists.
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex — The inspiration for the absolutely wonderful animated movie Home. 11-year-old Tip goes on a quest to rescue her mother, who was abducted by the Boov, and save the planet from disaster with the help of an alien mechanic friend.
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson — Aliens abduct Henry Denton and give him an ultimatum: Push the button, or the world ends. Seems like a simple choice, but Henry has had a rough life and is dealing with a lot: his grandmother’s Alzheimer’s, his overworked mother, his boyfriend’s suicide, and his occasional hook-up’s bullying. The end of the world doesn’t seem so bad.
Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis — Yelfred and Omek have been best frints since they were little blobbies, but when Omek borrows Yelfred’s spaceship without asking and crashes it, they get in their biggest fight ever. A fun lesson in understanding made-up language via context clues.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin — A literary science fiction classic. A lone human ambassador is sent to a world where the people can change gender at will. The goal is to foster an alliance, but our two cultures have very different beliefs. It’s been optioned for a mini-series a la The Handmaid’s Tale.
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi — Retirement-age folks have the option to be made young again in exchange for a short commitment to the Colonial Defense Force. Too bad most people don’t live through their service, because the war is far tougher than anyone back on Earth knows. Great sense of humor in this first book from the now-famous Scalzi.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Stapes — This award-winning adult graphic novel series follows two soldiers from opposite sides of a generations-long war as they become parents for the first time while on the run. Absolutely stunning, hilarious, a personal favorite.
Adaptation by Malinda Lo — All across the nation, flocks of birds hurl themselves at planes. People die, communication breaks down, martial law is declared—and Reese’s car is run off the road, nearly killing her. But when she and her friend wake up in a secret facility in Nevada, a month has passed and they’ve received some experimental treatment that drags them into a government conspiracy. An X-files-esque thriller with a sequel to wrap up the cliffhanger.
The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers — When a boy flies a plane all the way up to space and runs out of gas, he encounters a martian whose spaceship has broken down. They’re both scared, but friends can be found in the most unexpected places.