Friday Fun — Books for aliens

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

This week’s question is part of a series based on 100th episode (“Ask The Readers Anything” ) of the UK-based podcast, The Readers. We thought it would be interesting (and fun!) to answer these questions from the perspective of writers who also (obviously) love to read. 

QUESTION: Picture this. Aliens are coming and you’ve been charged with selecting five books for them to read. The idea is to educate them about the human race. Which books do you choose and why?


Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: OMG. Um. I have no great answer for this one! My thoughts on aliens are that they can just ‘absorb’ information, so don’t need to actually read anything – more along the lines of being mind readers. If someone comes to visit NH who’s never been here before, I don’t want them to sit and read something – I’d rather have them experience it. So, same in this situation — I’d rather have the aliens join a community and learn about us that way.

I’m curious to read the other answers and your suggestions – as I can’t think of any relevant books. History books all have a bias – and are there any uplifting history books about how humans treat each other?


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: This is a Really Hard question. On The Readers, the panelists selected books that were pretty heavy and tried to give a sense of the (not so nice) nature of human being. They picked books like Animal Farm and, if I remember correctly, Lord of the Flies. Yikes! I would rather provide the aliens with a look at the “softer” side of humanity. With that in mind, I think I’d opt to share some children’s books … maybe A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books for starters. Looking at my own shelves, I could also offer up The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. For a slightly older audience, maybe Watership Down by Richard Adams and Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I would look for books that, though they may illuminate some of the harsher sides of humanity and life in general, ultimately focus on the wonders of courage, friendship, and loyalty. And then, just because life really is too important to take seriously, I’d have them read selections from Douglas Adams (probably The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe – who could resist?) and Kurt Vonnegut (maybe Galapagos – one of my favorites).

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: Wow, this is a tough one. What five books would I say define the human experience? Going to be narrow here, based on the human experience of me. Persuasion by Jane Austen, to explain love and longing. To Kill A Mockingbird to talk about race, and justice. Cider House Rules, because I love that book. The Accidental Tourist to talk about life choices. And Murder on the Orient Express to talk about revenge.


dll2013Deborah Lee Luskin: I’m with Julie on Persuasion for love and longing and To Kill A Mockingbird for race and justice. For revenge, I’d probably go with Hamlet, and for where we are now, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, which I just read and thought was terrific. And Ake: The Years of Childhood, a memoir by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, about growing up in Nigeria. But I could easily pick five other works of literature, depending on where the aliens were from and what they were interested in.

8 thoughts on “Friday Fun — Books for aliens

  1. I think:
    The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel ~ “Beginnings”
    The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough ~ “Passionate living”
    Texas, James A. Michner ~ “History”
    The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy ~ “A woman’s life overwhelmed”
    Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes ~ “Spiritual reconnection”

    (Now… I think that I would like to reread all of them 🙂 , so Thanks!!)

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