A Baker's Dozen Out of This World Books

With the cost of gas soaring alongside the temperatures this summer, it's been fun offering bookish alternatives to traveling (also known as staycation ideas). In case you missed the first two in this three part series, click here for an unforgettable trip to Devonshire, England, that is full of mystery and suspense; and here for your choice of two trips (one traveling back through time & space to Regency Era England; the other deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico).

In this third and final installment in the series, we shift focus to A Baker's Dozen Out of This World Books - adventures inside the pages of novels involving the extraterrestrial - both here (where we have the home-planet advantage) and there (in the great blue yonder).

Whether you choose a "done for you" adventure complete with a bookish souvenir delivered to your door in a few days (Option 1), or you choose to DIY an end-of-summer adventure by selecting one of the twelve novels listed (Option 2), prepare yourself to have an adventure that is out-of-this-world fun!

Option1: Done for You

Looking for an awesome adventure to end the summer with, but don't have the time to hunt down just the right book? I've got just the thing for you - complete with a souvenir and access to a special bonus exclusively for you when you choose Option 1*!

The Book

More than any other, one particular classic is continually credited as being the granddaddy of the sci-fi genre. First published in 1898 and set in late Victorian England, this novel not only influenced a slew of blockbusters, but it is also credited with inspiring other authors to contribute & grow the genre (like those listed in Option 2).

The author I'm talking about is none other than H.G. Wells and his fantastic tale titled The War of the Worlds is that little book that made such a splash that we're still feeling the spray over 100 years later!

The Souvenir

When I first read The War of the Worlds with my kids roughly twenty years ago, we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. When we learned that the novel was made into a radio drama in 1938 that incited public panic, we were hooked!

That radio drama in the late 1930s was the inspiration behind the souvenir that is paired with this vintage-inspired edition of the novel in The War of the Worlds Book Box.

The Escape

Never has a British occupation been more fun than when England was overrun with Martians! Enjoy saving the Brits (nay, the planet!) in the original alien invasion story that reads like a true-to-life memoir. If you book your adventure with The War of the Worlds Book Box, you'll also get exclusive access to our top takeaways from members inside the Monthly Book Box (Pretty Literate's monthly subscription box + online book club) - points of connection with the author, the title, and each other - as a free bonus! (*while supplies last)

(Click here to watch an unboxing video I did this week for The War of the Worlds Book Box.)

Option 2: Do-It-Yourself

Looking for an awesome adventure to end the summer with, but enjoy the hunt of sourcing your own books and don't want the added souvenir or a sneak peek inside our Monthly Book Box? I've got just the thing for you - a list of 12 tried-and-true adventures (all of which have stemmed from the Granddaddy of them all - The War of the Worlds!).

  1. Choose your adventure.
  2. Track down the book.
  3. Grab your go-to beverage.
  4. Hunker down for an end of summer staycation that is Out of This World fun!

Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1942)

From the back cover: "For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save humankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation." 

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)

From the back cover: "The Earthmen came by the handful, then the hundreds, then the millions. They swept aside the majestic, dying Martian civilization to build their homes, shopping malls, and cities. Mars began as a place of boundless hopes and dreams, a planet to replace an Earth sinking into waste and war. It became a canvas for mankind's follies and darkest desires. Ultimately, the Earthmen who came to conquer the red-gold planet awoke to discover themselves conquered by Mars. Lulled by its ancient enchantments, the Earthmen learned, at terrible cost, to overcome their own humanity."

Dawn by Octavia Butler (1987)

From the back cover: "Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth—the last stage of the planet’s final war. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali—who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth. Now it is time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world, but life among the Oankali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before.

The Oankali survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations—whether their new hosts like it or not. For the first time since the nuclear holocaust, Earth will be inhabited. Grass will grow, animals will run, and people will learn to survive the planet’s untamed wilderness. But their children will not be human. Not exactly."

Who Goes There? by John Campbell (1938)

From the back cover: "The novella that formed the basis of The Thing is this John W. Campbell classic about an antarctic research camp that discovers and thaws the ancient, frozen body of a crash-landed alien. The creature revives with terrifying results, shape-shifting to assume the exact form of animal and man, alike. Paranoia ensues as a band of frightened men work to discern friend from foe, and destroy the menace before it challenges all of humanity!"

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)

From the back cover: "Intense is the word for Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S GAME. Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses - and then training them in the arts of war from the time they are 6 years old. The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of ''games,'' both physical and computer-assisted. Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games. At the age of 10 he is assigned to Command School. He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?"

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke (1953)

From the back cover: "The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city - intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war. With little rebellion, humankind agreed, and a golden age began.

But at what cost? With the advent of peace, man ceases to strive for creative greatness, and a malaise settles over the human race. To those who resist, it becomes evident that the Overlords have an agenda of their own.

As civilization approaches the crossroads, will the Overlords spell the end for humankind...or the beginning?"

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (1955)

From the back cover: "On a quiet fall evening in the peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovers an insidious, horrifying plot. Subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms are taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, friends, family, the woman he loves, and the entire world as he knows it.

First published in 1955, this classic science fiction thriller {is} about the ultimate alien invasion and the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy."

The Thing: A Novel by Alan Dean Foster (1982)

Goodreads synopsis: "It fell from the sky and lay buried in ice for 100,000 years. Soon it will be free...

Trapped in the Antarctic.

Discover the intruder.

Battle the alien force.

Agonise for the answer.

Desperate to be spared.

Consumed one by one.


They will all die.
Unless something, anything stops...


Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (1959)

Amazon synopsis: "A recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe—and into battle against mankind’s most alarming enemy...

Johnnie Rico never really intended to join up—and definitely not the infantry. But now that he’s in the thick of it, trying to get through combat training harder than anything he could have imagined, he knows everyone in his unit is one bad move away from buying the farm in the interstellar war the Terran Federation is waging against the Arachnids.

Because everyone in the Mobile Infantry fights. And if the training doesn’t kill you, the Bugs are more than ready to finish the job..."

The Taking by Dean Koontz (2004)

Goodreads synopsis: "In The Taking he tells the story of a community cut off from a world under siege, and the terrifying battle for survival waged by a young couple and their neighbors as familiar streets become fog-shrouded death traps. Gripping, heartbreaking, and triumphant in the face of mankind's darkest hour, here is a small-town slice-of-doomsday thriller that strikes to the core of each of us to ask: What would you do in the midst of The Taking."

Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1986)

Goodreads synopsis: "They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth. Since the ringed planet carries no life, scientists deduce the mysterious ship to be a visitor from another star.

The world's frantic efforts to signal the aliens go unanswered. The first contact is hostile: the invaders blast a Soviet space station, seize the survivors, and then destroy every dam and installation on Earth with a hail of asteroids.

Now the conquerors are descending on the American heartland, demanding servile surrender--or death for all humans."

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951)

Goodreads synopsis: "Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever."

What do you think?

Which titles would you recommend from my Baker's Dozen?

Which books would you add for an out-of-this-world adventure?


  • I just ordered my Wat of the Worlds book box and can’t wait to get it! I’ve seen the movie with Tom Cruise but have never read the book. I’ve read Dean Koontz before but not this book, I don’t think. Also, Orson Scott Card is amazing and I love Ender’s Game! And, thanks to your list, I’ve saved the “Dawn” trilogy on my Amazon list. Thanks for the great suggestions!

  • I have heard of all the classic sci-fi authors mentioned and Dean Koontz although Koontz and Wells are the only ones I have read. I have read other books in this genre though and I will probably read a couple of the older classics mentioned. I have become a huge fan of Wells and will definitely read more of his. I would suggest a novella by Stephen King called “The Mist” and one of his earlier short stories called “The Shortcut” as science fiction from an author not known for that genre but who is a fan. These stories are shorter so they don’t require a huge investment of time but are very satisfying and a great way to “test the waters”. “Full Dark, No Stars” is a sci-fi offering from Christopher Paolini and I recommend it highly. It reads like watching a movie because of his descriptions but it can also bog down a bit during some highly technical passages.

    Lynda A.

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