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19 of the Best Books of 2021

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A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk. Whether you read memoirs or young-adult (YA) novels, 2021 was a fantastic year for book lovers. While we can’t squeeze in all of our favorites from 2021, we’ve rounded up a stellar sampling of must-reads. Here’s some of the year’s best books. 

“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner

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In her profound memoir Crying in H Mart , Michelle Zauner shares an unflinching view of growing up as a Korean American person — all while reflecting on losing her mother to terminal cancer. Author Dani Shapiro notes that the Japanese Breakfast musician “has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief.”

“The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.

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In Robert Jones, Jr.’s lyrical debut novel, The Prophets , Isaiah and Samuel are two enslaved young men who find refuge in each other — and their love becomes both sustaining and heroic in the face of a vicious world. Entertainment Weekly writes that “While The Prophets’ dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison… Its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly.” Now that’s a compliment.

“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

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At President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman read her electrifying poem, “ The Hill We Climb .” Since then, it has been praised for its call for unity and healing. Vogue captures the feeling of reading the poem well, calling it “deeply rousing and uplifting.” 

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney

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New York Times bestselling author Sally Rooney has returned with a sharp, romantic drama, Beautiful World, Where Are You . Two separate relationships are in chaos, threatening to ruin friendships. Vogue  declares that the author has “invented a sensibility entirely of her own: Sunny and sharp.” 

“Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford

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Ashley C. Ford’s coming-of-age memoir, Somebody’s Daughter , centers on her childhood. Ford, a Black girl who grew up poor in Indiana, recounts how her family was fragmented by her father’s incarceration. With rich, unflinching writing, Ford has penned a debut for the ages. The memoir’s publisher perhaps puts the core of the book best, noting that Ford “embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.” 

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo

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Everyone remembers their first all-consuming love — and for Lily Hu, the teenage protagonist of Malinda Lo’s queer YA novel, that love is Kathleen Miller. Set in the 1950s in San Francisco,  Last Night at the Telegraph Club  is not just one of the year’s best, but one of Lo’s best. O: The Oprah Magazine notes that the novel is “proof of Lo’s skill at creating darkly romantic tales of love in the face of danger.”

“¡Hola Papi!” by John Paul Brammer

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In his memoir, ¡H ola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons , advice columnist John Paul Brammer delves into his experiences growing up as a queer, biracial person. The  Los Angeles Times  writes that “Brammer’s writing is incredibly funny, kind, and gracious to his readers, and deeply vulnerable in a way that makes it feel as if he’s talking to only you” — and we couldn’t agree more. 

“Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers

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In Morgan Rogers’ novel Honey Girl , Grace Porter is an overachiever — and certainly not the type of person to marry a stranger in Las Vegas. Or, at least, she didn’t think she was that type of person. As Grace navigates the messiness of adulthood, Rogers takes us on a journey that’s both heartfelt and unflinching, illustrating that love is all about risks — even when it comes to loving ourselves. 

“Aftershocks: A Memoir” by Nadia Owusu

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Nadia Owusu’s memoir, Aftershocks , reflects on her experience of being abandoned by her parents at a young age. Entertainment Weekly notes that “Owusu dispatches all of this heartache with blistering honesty but does so with prose light enough that it never feels too much to bear.”

“Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro

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What if an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant had feelings? In Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel,  Klara and the Sun , Klara is an Artificial Friend who wonders if friendship is possible. The Financial Times called the Never Let Me Go author’s latest “a deft dystopian fable about the innocence of a robot that asks big questions about existence.”

“100 Boyfriends” by Brontez Purnell

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Brontez Purnell’s romantic, intoxicating book, 100 Boyfriends , is a look at the romantic lives of queer men who are striving to find out not just where they belong, but where they can shine. Author Bryan Washington praised the collection, writing that “Each story in 100 Boyfriends is a minor eclipse: stunning in scope, technically blinding, and entirely miraculous.”

“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

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In Casey McQuiston’s big-hearted romance novel, One Last Stop , August meets Jane on a New York City subway — but she doesn’t realize just how fateful their chance encounter is at first. New York Magazine called the novel “an earnest reminder that home — whether that means a time, a place, or a person — is worth fighting for,” and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the  Red, White & Royal Blue author. 

“Afterparties: Stories” by Anthony Veasna So

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In Afterparties , Anthony Veasna So weaves together tenderhearted stories about the lives of several Cambodian American characters. Although the stories vary quite a bit in terms of content, author George Saunders writes that they are all “powered by So’s skill with the telling detail,” and are much like “…beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.”

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Malibu Rising , readers meet four famous siblings as they throw their annual end-of-summer party in Malibu. However, over the course of 24 hours, family drama ensues. The Washington Post calls this read “a fast-paced, engaging novel that smoothly transports readers.”

“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” by Joan Didion

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Between 1968 and 2000, award-winning journalist and essayist Joan Didion wrote 12 pieces about a variety of well-known figures, ranging from Ernest Hemingway and Nancy Reagan to Martha Stewart. Now, these works have been gathered in the essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean . Bret Easton Ellis writes that Didion’s “prose remains peerless,” so, if you’re a fan of the iconic writer, this is a must-read. 

“Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura

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Intimacies is Katie Kitamura’s fourth novel, following 2017’s critically acclaimed A Separation . In it, an interpreter for the International Court at the Hague gets drawn into a political scandal after agreeing to translate for a former world leader and potential criminal. The novel is a fascinating investigation into the instability of language and how it influences identity. Dana Spiotta describes Intimacies as “a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller.”

“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters

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In Detransition, Baby , Torrey Peters tells a witty and nuanced story about partnership, parenthood and identity. About the novel, Ginny Hogan from the New York Times states “[Detransition, Baby upends] our traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like.”

“Second Place” by Rachel Cusk

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In Rachel Cusk’s novel Second Place , a follow up to her brilliant Outline trilogy, a woman invites an artist she admires to live in her remote guesthouse for the summer. As the stay unfolds, a series of unexpected events spurs revelations about womanhood, marriage and security. About Second Place , Jenny Singer from Glamour writes “there is mayhem; surprising sweetness and brilliant observations tumble from every page.”

“Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore ” by Dan Ozzi

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In Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore , rock critic Dan Ozzi traces the stories of eleven separate bands that transitioned from the indie scene to achieve mainstream success in the ‘90s. Including interviews and anecdotes from bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182, this is a must-read for any music lover.


robert heinlein books ranked

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Complete Nora Roberts Book List

Nora Roberts releases several new romance novels every year, making her one of the most prolific authors of our time. From series to individual stories, she has published more than 200 novels in total—some sweet, some suspenseful, and some fantasy.

Roberts has hit the  New York Times  Best Seller list regularly. Thanks to her dedicated fans and the fact that she was an early pioneer in communicating with them online, it is rare that a new release does not hit that esteemed book list. In fact, since her first appearance in 1998, every Nora Roberts book has made it.

To keep up with her prolific output—and to give her more freedom with genre—publishers suggested Roberts write under a pseudonym. This was the birth of J.D. Robb, to whom the "In Death" series is attributed. Those titles are included in this master list of Nora Roberts books.

A Career Beginning

Roberts started writing during a blizzard in 1979. It forced her two sons to stay home from school, and she was going stir-crazy. Though her writing may have started as a creative escape, it quickly turned into a long and lasting career.

If you're looking for her earliest work, she published six titles within the first two years of her debut. This volume for a new author is astounding in itself, and it was just a prelude to the amount of work she would produce in the coming decades.

1983: The Legacy Begins

In 1983, Roberts began a legacy of publishing many books each year—that would set the pace for her entire career. A tip for this year of her work: If you're going to read "Reflections," be sure to follow up with "Dance of Dreams" as those two stories are connected.

1984: A Prolific Year

1984 was an interesting year for Roberts—it was one of her most prolific years but was comprised entirely of single books. She would not debut her first series until 1985.

1985: Meet "The MacGregors"

In 1985, Roberts debuted one of her most successful series: "The MacGregors." It includes 10 novels total, starting with "Playing the Odds" and ending with 1999's "The Perfect Neighbor." The characters have been featured in other novels throughout the years as well.

1986: A Good Year for Follow-Up Novels

If you read "Summer Desserts," then you have to follow it with 1986's "Lessons Learned" to get the rest of the story. Also, "Second Nature" and "One Summer" should be read in succession. 

1987: Meet "Cordina's Royal Family"

In 1986, Roberts introduced us to the "Cordina's Royal Family" series with the release of "Affaire Royale." Two books in that series followed the next year, though the fourth would not be released until 2002.

If you happen to pick up "Sacred Sins," you'll want to read 1988's "Brazen Virtue" as well, as the two are connected.

1988: The Year of the Irish

Roberts must have had Ireland on the mind because in 1988, she turned her debut novel into a series that would be known as "Irish Hearts." (You'll also find these volumes under the title "Irish Legacy Trilogy.") It includes "Irish Thoroughbred" (1981), "Irish Rose" (1988), and "Irish Rebel" (2000).

The author also spent part of the year introducing us to "The O'Hurleys." After these three novels, you can find them again in 1990's "Without a Trace."

1989: A Trio to Delight Fans

Roberts spent the first few months of 1989 publishing three connected novels. Thus, the first three in the list below are meant to be read in order. At the end of the year she started another story, so when you're done with "Time Was," read 1990's "Times Change."

1990: Meet "The Stanislaskis"

Compared to other years, it doesn't look as if 1990 was particularly productive for Roberts. However, in March she introduced us to "The Stanislaskis." This six-book series would continue regularly through 2001.

1991: Meet "The Calhoun Women"

Four of the five books in "The Calhoun Women" series were released in 1991. Anxious fans had to wait until 1996 for the fifth novel, "Megan's Mate," but today you can fly right through them. You'll also find some of the Calhoun women featured in other novels, especially those published in 1998.

1992: The Year of the Donovans

1992 saw the introduction of the "Donovan Legacy" series. Three of the four books of the series were published this year, with the series closing out in 1999. Many Roberts fans consider this series a must-read.

1993: Just 3 New Books

1993 was a bit slow for Roberts' usual standards, but she did continue two of her popular series. "The Stanislaskis" series was added to with "Falling for Rachel," and the "Night Tales" collection was extended with "Nightshade."

1994: The Debut of "Born In"

"Born in Fire" was the first release in the "Born In" trilogy—it's sometimes called the "Irish Born" trilogy. After this first book, be sure to catch "Born in Ice" (1995) and "Born in Shame" (1996) to complete the trio.

1995: J.D. Robb Makes their First Appearance

This was the year Roberts began writing detective romances under the pen name J.D. Robb. She chose the "J" and "D" from her sons' first initials and took "Robb" from "Roberts." Ever busy, she also began "The MacKade Brothers" series.

1996: Roberts' 100th Book

A milestone year, 1996 saw Roberts publish her 100th book as well as celebrate the decade mark of her writing career. "Montana Sky" was the only book written this year that was not part of a series.

1997: Romance Writers Award

In 1997, Roberts was awarded the Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award. In reality—as you can see from the rest of the list—she was just getting started.

1998: The Best-seller Streak Begins

Roberts' success on the best-seller lists began with "Rising Tides." It was her first novel to be an immediate No. 1, a streak would seem endless as years go by.

1999: Meet the "Gallaghers of Ardmore"

For the second year in a row, Roberts was on a roll. She published a number of books and introduced readers to the "Gallaghers of Ardmore" in the process. This trilogy would wrap up in 2000.

2000: The Finales for Popular Series

Some fan favorites continued—and completed—in 2000. This included the finales for "Night Tales," "Gallaghers of Ardmore," and "Irish Hearts." 2000 also saw the first of three books in the "Three Sisters Island" series.

2001: A Hardcover Best-seller

In November of 2001, Roberts officially moved from best-selling paperbacks to the top of the hardcover list. The book "Midnight Bayou" was her first to go right to No. 1 in this edition.

2002: Cordina's Finale

In 2002, we saw the final novel in the "Cordina's Royal Family" series, as well as other memorable single books. The year also marked the release of "Summer Pleasure," a two-in-one reissue of the popular "Second Nature" and "One Summer" novels from 1986.

2003: "The Key" Trilogy Begins

"The Key" trilogy made its debut on November 2003. This was a series that fans didn't have to wait for—the second and third volumes followed monthly, ending with "Key of Valor" the next January. Because of this publication schedule, all three books in the series held spots on the best-seller list simultaneously, a rare—and impressive—occurrence.

2004: "In the Garden" Trilogy Debuts

While 2004 saw the completion of "The Key Trilogy," it also marked the release of "Blue Dahlia," first in a trilogy called "In the Garden."

2005: Five Fine Novels

Roberts finished up the "In the Garden" trilogy in 2005 and also published the popular "Blue Smoke." The year additionally saw her continue the dual release of her "In Death" series under the J.D. Robb pseudonym, hitting her 20th book in the collection.

2006: "Angel's Fall" Wins

In 2006, Roberts' novel "Angels Fall" won the Quill Award for Book of the Year. The year is also significant because it saw all three novels of the immensely popular "The Circle" trilogy released in rapid succession.

2007: Roberts on Lifetime

Four of Roberts' novels were adapted into TV movies by Lifetime Television in 2007, and more would follow in subsequent years. The year also saw the start of a new trilogy called "Sign of Seven." In celebratory news, Roberts was named one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time during this year.

2008: An Award in Her Name

The Romance Writers of America renamed their Lifetime Achievement Award after Nora Roberts in 2008.

2009: 400 Million Copies Sold

In 2009, Roberts and her books reached a milestone: According to a report from September of that year, there were more than 400 million copies of her books in print. Included in this count was a new series, "The Bride Quartet."

2010: "The Bride Quartet" Wraps Up

The last two novels in "The Bride Quartet" series were released in 2010.

2011: The Beginnings of "The Inn Boonsboro"

It was in 2011 that Roberts debuted her instantly popular "The Inn Boonsboro" trilogy. The first book, "The Next Always," spent weeks at the top of the paperback best-seller lists.

2012: Roberts' 200th Book

In 2012, Roberts released her 200th novel, "The Witness."

2013: Introducing the "Cousins O'Dwyer"

The "Cousins O'Dwyer" trilogy quickly became a hit after the release of the first book, "Dark Witch." Each of the three novels went straight to the top of the  New York Times  Best Seller list.

2014: The "Cousins" Finale

Having started the year before, the "Cousins O'Dwyer" trilogy was completed in 2014.

2015: The 40th "In Death" Book

It all began in 1995, and 20 years later, J.D. Robb published her 40th "In Death" book. Running at two novels per year, fans began to rely on the releases as something they could expect from Roberts. The year also saw the introduction of a new trilogy, "The Guardians."

2016: "The Guardians" Trilogy Concludes

Fantasy abounds in Roberts' "Guardians" trilogy. The series was finished in just over a year, and 2016 saw the series wrap up with what many consider two of the author's most imaginative works.

2017: 222 Books and Counting

With the 2017 release of "Come Sundown," Nora Roberts' list of books hit 222. This is an astonishing library to come from a single author and one of the reasons The New Yorker  has called her "America's favorite author." She also started a new series, "Chronicles of The One."

2018: 500 million

"The Chronicles of The One" series begun in 2017 was followed in late 2018, as well as two more "In Death" books. At this point, there have been 500 million of Nora Roberts' books in print.

2019: "In Death" Continues

The "In Death" series continues strong in 2019. We also see the next installment of the "Chronicles of The One" series, "The Rise of the Magicks."

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20 Best Robert Heinlein Books (2023)

Heinlein, also known as the dean of science fiction writers , was an American author who has written more works with his name than there are states in the US. To be exact, Heinlein lived from 1907 to 1988 and has managed to write 32 novels, 59 short stories, and 16 wonderful collections during his life. 

Many of the thrilling science fiction novels Robert has written have been adapted to some of the most popular sci-fi movies ever made. This includes the movies Starship Troopers, The Puppet Masters, The Brain Eaters, and more. Here are a few of the most popular Robert Heinlein books ever published.

Best Robert Heinlein Books

Stranger in a strange land, valentine smith.

Starting off our Robert Heinlein books list is a story of unpredictability and mystery, and sci-fi, of course. Valentine Michael Smith is the character you get to follow in this book. He is a human who’s been raised on Mars and has finally gotten the opportunity to travel to Earth and be among his people.

It will be hard not to like the main character in the story. Valentine is an unpredictable character whose motivations tend to change from time to time. He makes the story wonderful to read and you get to know him as a person as everything progresses.

Elements of Modern Society

This is exactly what Heinlein wanted to analyze in this book. Now, don’t forget that this book was written in the 1950s so what was modern society then isn’t the same today. There are some sexist elements to the story but remember, much of that was quite normal during that time.

What Robert was trying to do is discuss the many aspects of modern society. Both the religious and technical sides of things are quite interesting to read as you get to learn a thing or two about the tasteless, artificial, and despicable elements of society back then.

Starship Troopers

Elite mobile army.

Robert has written many masterpieces but Starship Troopers presents one of the most exciting stories a military science fiction fan can ever read. The movie that was made from the story of this book was something unforgettable and extremely fun to watch. So, how can this one not be among Robert Heinlein’s best books?

If you’re someone who doesn’t like bugs then this book will be perfect for you. There are lots of them inside but most of the bugs get shot, bombed, dissected, and more. The story follows Juan Rico as he joins the Elite Mobile Army to fight a terrible intergalactic war. The war is between giant bugs and humans. When Robert A. Heinlein’s best books are in question, this one couldn’t get any better.

Expansion of the Human Race

In this distant future that the story is set, humans have colonized much of the solar system and have unfortunately come across a species that doesn’t want to share. But, for much of the book, the intentions of the bugs are uncertain. Humans don’t understand these creatures and are doing everything they can to kill them, without trying to see the full story from their perspective.

It will be hard not to like this book if you’re a fan of Robert and you adore sci-fi. There’s a little bit of everything. The story is filled with action, suspense, a little bit of romance, and more. It is, without a question, probably Robert Heinlein’s best book about war.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Journey towards freedom.

Here is another one of Robert Heinlein’s books that contains too much thrill, making you not want to leave the book after you start reading. This space opera is about oppression and the will and journey towards freedom. All of that is fine on its own, but when you add a little bit of Heinlein to it, then you have a fantastic classic sci-fi novel .

People on the Moon

In this story, the moon was home to a small penal colony but years later, it became home to over 3 million free people. But, the word free might be a bit exaggerated here as these people were still treated like slaves by their masters back on Terra (Earth).

It seems that the people on the Moon couldn’t take this anymore so a revolution starts being planned in the dark. A few of the main characters who will be planning all of this are Davis, Knott, and Prof. Another character, called Mike, will later be inserted into all of this after a few police officers who catch them at their meetings are killed.

Much of the story in this brilliant and one of the best Robert Heinlein novels you can ever read focuses on the planning and execution of the revolution. The heroes gather more people and eventually start making progress and head on the right path to making the moon their own. All they wish is to live freely and independently.

Lazarus Long Series

Fascinating protagonist.

Have you ever wanted to live forever, travel the world, and never run out of time for anything? It does sound great and Lazarus Long is the perfect character to show you how exactly that looks like. Lazarus Long is one of the all-time best Robert Heinlein series thanks to this fascinating protagonist and the plot movers that he constantly comes across throughout the 5 books in the series.

It’s a “Long” Story

Each of the 5 books inside the series reveals more and more about the main character. Heinlein’s Lazarus Long series is a story about how the protagonist roams the world and slowly gets sick of life. The first book, Methuselah’s Children, is among the most interesting ones as both you and Lazarus are clueless about what is going to happen.

The world that he lives in is in the middle of an age where genetic experiments with breeding are constantly undergoing. Those who are experimented on belong to a group called the Howard Families. After a series of experiments, many of the Howard Families’ abilities are suspended and the members are detained. All but Lazarus, of course.

Beyond Just Immortality

The story is not just about being immortal and living forever. There’s much more to it, otherwise, it wouldn’t be a part of this list. Lazarus’ real adventure begins when he hijacks a starship that’s able to travel to distant stars.

Aside from that, there is simply too much that this series has to offer and it’s much more than a few Robert Heinlein book reviews can fit. If you want the full story, the books are going to show you everything you need to see.

The Puppet Masters

“sluggish” aliens.

An invasion is about to begin in Iowa and spread across the entire nation. In the next best Robert Heinlein book, you get to read a story about slug-like aliens who can control humans after simply touching them. This is a story that was adapted to a very popular movie that bears the same title and one that will show you the real meaning of sci-fi thrill.

So It Begins

The aliens had landed in Iowa already but no one was sure whether the UFO sighting was real or not. A secret government intelligence agency sends agent after agent to inspect the situation but they just keep disappearing. Then, two agents manage to discover the truth and get out with their lives. It turns out that aliens have arrived on Earth.

Threat Rises

While the U.S. government was trying to uncover the truth, nearly all of Iowa was under their control. The aliens can learn everything the possessed humans know. This means they now know who the most important humans are to hit to seize control of the entire nation. Will the invasion keep spreading or is there some brave soul out there who has what it takes to save the day in one of the top Robert Heinlein books out there?

The World As Myth Series

This is not your usual Heinlein book series as none of the books inside are connected in terms of having the same characters or plots. No, this is even better and perhaps the best Robert Heinlein series. The books inside are all either stand-alone novels or a part of another series but they do have a few things in common. They all have something to do with either time travel or speeding across other worlds.

Time Enough for Love

The four books inside the series are some of the most memorable stories created by this author. The first novel is from his popular series called Lazarus Long. This one is a story about the joys of living eternally.

The Number of the Beast

The second book talks about two male and two female characters who are trying to survive an alien attack. These characters show you the true meaning of excitement as they speed across space and tackle adventure after adventure.

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

Another global scale event takes over the plot in this book as Dr. Richard Ames is about to be forced into saving a sentient computer. This computer is the key to many secrets inside the book and can alter human history. This can prove quite dangerous in the wrong hands. This one also features Lazarus Long as a supporting character.

To Sail Beyond the Sunset

In the final story of the series, you get to follow Lazarus Long’s mother, Maureen Johnson, and the cat from The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, one of the best-selling Robert Heinlein books ever, on some crazy adventures.

Have Space Suit – Will Travel

Imagination flowing wild.

Finally, we come across one of the best-rated Robert Heinlein books for the younger audience. This is a story that is sure to let the imagination of the young ones flow wild. It features a lot of space excitement, memorable and easy-going characters, and so much fun.

Kip, Peewee, and Mother Thing

Before you get confused with what these names mean, let’s elaborate. Kip is one of the first main characters you get to meet in the story. He had entered a prize-winning contest hoping to win a trip to the moon but instead won a used spacesuit. Don’t worry, that’s not going to ruin this book from being among the best books by Robert Heinlein.

Peewee is a young girl and Mother Thing is an alien creature who, alongside her, lands on Earth with their flying saucer. They bump into Kip and a strong bond is immediately formed. The three, unfortunately, are immediately captured by the nasty creature that was chasing the flying saucer and they’re taken to the moon.

This is the name of the creature that captured the three protagonists and promised to kill them. After Kip, Peewee, and Mother Thing manage to escape with a few injuries, they travel to Mother Thing’s home planet to heal. After that, they attend the trial of the Wormfaces which have proven to be quite dangerous and are a threat to anyone aside from themselves.

Who Is Friday?

Space travel, time travel, artificial intelligence, what will it be this time? Many of Heinlein’s books are full of surprises as their originality never ceases to amaze. This book will mostly be following a character known as Friday, one of the most memorable characters in Robert Heinlein’s books.

To put it simply, Friday Jones is an artificial person, a girl who has been genetically engineered to be above most humans. She is stronger, smarter, faster, more agile, and generally better than nearly all normal humans out there. She is also one of the types of humans that are widely resented as this is something that she must suffer through.

Life of an Artificial Human

As you might guess based on her qualities, Friday is working as a highly trained warrior. To be more exact, she is a combat courier for a quasi-military organization. She lives in a world where it’s legal to have multiple spouses but hers didn’t know what she was at the time.

After surviving a horrible mission where she was tortured and raped, she tells her family the truth and they divorce her. Friday then becomes a fugitive after killing a policeman who was about to arrest her after her organization was shut down. The rest of the story follows her trying to find a new home in colonies on other planets.

Future History or “Heinlein Timeline” Series

Long series.

This is one of the biggest collections of short stories that Heinlein has ever written. These are all Robert Heinlein’s connected stories that feature a huge number of adventures to go on and unforgettable characters to meet. There are 24 books in this collection and way more stories inside each of them.

Future History’s History

This incredible series of some of the most memorable Robert A. Heinlein books first appeared way back in May 1941, when Heinlein published its first draft ever. This first draft was published in Astounding Science Fiction, a popular sci-fi magazine at that time. Most of the stories you’re about to read inside are from Robert’s early days in his career. Don’t let that discourage you as this author was a master even from the very start.

Weird Worlds and Confusing Dimensions

The list of weird things, characters, and places you can expect to find inside this series is simply way too long to list in one best Robert Heinlein books review. You can rest assured knowing that your imagination will thank you for reading these stories as there are some things inside that you could have never even imagined. That’s how the mind of this brilliant author worked as he simply kept spitting out mesmerizing stories all the time.

The Door Into Summer

Favorite family member.

If you have ever wanted your own robot companion that’s going to help out with all of your household activities and chores then this is the book for you. However, let’s not forget that this is still one of Robert A. Heinlein’s best books so expect quite a lot of suspense, and action.

Million Dollar Idea

The year was 1970 when the protagonist of the story, Dan Davis, finally created the invention that was about to change his life. This invention was a household robot that could do a lot more than vacuum the carpet. Little did Davis know that his invention was about to change his life for the worse, not for the better.

Stealing a Million Dollar Idea

Dan’s happiness was through the roof when he finally finished his work and saw it perform perfectly. But, his happiness and luck weren’t about to stay for long as his greedy partner and back-stabbing fiancé managed to steal all of his research and work, thus leaving Dan broke, sad, and robotless.

That’s not even the worst part. Despite losing his life’s work, being betrayed by his partner, and getting stabbed in the back by the love of his life, they seal the deal and trap Dan in suspended animation for thirty years. What happens next is yours to reveal.

Double Star

Lorenzo smythe.

Lorenzo Smythe is the protagonist in this book and is about to see a huge change in his life. It seems that nothing could bring him down more than he already was. Lorenzo was a broke and homeless actor who has been spending most of his days in bars drinking himself out of his misery. One day, that pattern changes when a space pilot offers to buy him a drink.

Lorenzo’s Mission

After accepting the space pilot stranger’s drink offer, Lorenzo kept on drinking until he woke up on an all-expenses-paid trip to Mars. But, this was no vacation as Lorenzo was about to play the role of a lifetime. It turns out that peace between Earth and Mars was at stake and Lorenzo’s mission was to impersonate a very important politician who was kidnapped.

So Much At Stake

Suddenly, Lorenzo’s troubles back on Earth seemed like nothing compared to what he was about to get involved in. To make matters worse, his own life was at stake as well. Failure is not an option here as the consequences would be dire. Now there’s a story that has everything it takes to be the best Robert Heinlein novel of all time. But, if this one doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of others to see here.

Job: A Comedy of Justice

Alex hergensheimer.

This is another Locus Award-winning work by Robert and one with a plot to remember. The story is a breathtaking sci-fi one but one that also has a few religious aspects as well. The main character, Alex Hergensheimer, is a Christian political activist. Another one of the most important characters here is Margrethe, the woman Alex is crazy about and the one who also corrupts him.


There are many fascinating events you read in all of the books written by Robert A. Heinlein, and this book is nothing less. Alex and Margrethe have a very complex relationship. Both of them believe in different gods. The thing that bothers Alex the most is the fact that he can’t stop waking up in different worlds all the time. This mysterious event always happens at the most inconvenient time possible. Sometimes he spends a few hours or days in these places, but other times it’s weeks and even months.

Through Heaven and Hell

One day, Alex finds himself in heaven which is a shock to him. Nonetheless, the most important thing to Alex is that he can’t seem to find Margrethe there. This might have something to do with the fact that she believed in the Norse gods, Odin and Loki. The rest of the story follows Alex as he travels through heaven and hell to find his beloved.

Citizen of the Galaxy

Future slavery.

One of the most difficult things to do here is to list Robert A. Heinlein’s novels ranked so instead, we’ve just compiled 20 of the best ones he has ever written. The next one is Citizen of the Galaxy, a story about slavery in a distant future and in a world where things are not as they seem. This is the story of young Thorby.

Orphaned Boy

Thorby is a young boy who was unfortunate enough to become an orphan at a very young age and be sold as a slave at an auction. Baslim is another character who is here to spice things up and move this book up on any Robert Heinlein books ranked list as he is a character with a very misleading appearance.

Baslim is Thorby’s new owner, he seems like an old disabled beggar but it turns out that he is actually an abolitionist spy. His life is a dangerous one but he makes sure to take care of Thorby and have contingency plans if any scandals should occur.

There’s Something Special About Thorby

We mentioned that Thorby was simply a young orphan who was leading a very difficult life. But, there seems to be something more to this boy and his identity. He will later discover a few secrets that will change everything for him, but not before a few thrilling events go down. The reason this is one of the best Robert Heinlein books ever is that Thorby is a character who must fight his way to freedom and happiness, and the journey will be anything but easy.

Hugo Award Nominee

Glory Road is another Hugo Award nominee and another one of Robert A. Heinlein’s best books you can find. The main character who brings all of the thrill is Evelyn Cyril Gordon. The title of the book itself is a pretty clear picture of what to expect.

Evelyn’s Quest

Evelyn had just been dispatched from a war that took place in Southeast Asia. Now, he has no idea what to do about his future and where to go from here. Lucky for him, it won’t take long for him to receive his new orders. He sees an ad in a newspaper that says “Are you a coward?”. He responds and discovers that this was a message by a Star, a ridiculously gorgeous woman he had previously met.

The Quest Begins

One thing leads to another and the next thing Evelyn knows is that he is going on a quest to retrieve a Phoenix Egg. Many things make this book one of the best Robert Heinlein books that have ever been written. One of them includes a fearsome foe who he comes across on his quest, Cyrano de Bergerac, a famous swordsman and French novelist from the 17th century.

I Will Fear No Evil

Forever young.

At some point or another, many science fiction enthusiasts have wondered what it would be like to transport your mind into a younger body when we get older. This is the story of Johann Sebastian Bach Smith. Johann is very old and extremely rich. He has just decided to transplant his brain into a younger body.

Recently Deceased Eunice

You will find out why as you read the book, but Johann decides to use the body of his secretary that passed away recently, Eunice. She is the perfect host for the job but, as in many of the other best Robert Heinlein books, there is just a slight problem that turns things upside down.

In this case, it turns out that Eunice’s mind hadn’t exactly left her body yet. Smith discovers this as soon as he wakes up after the surgery. He realizes that there’s one more person within the body, Eunice.

Another Guest

Later, as the story progresses, another character gets introduced to the story and ends up inside Eunice’s body as the third person. This event immediately makes the book a lot more interesting and rises the ranks on many Robert A. Heinlein books ranked lists. The ending of this story will most likely have you in tears.

Farnham’s Freehold

Distant future.

The next science fiction masterpiece from our list of a few of the best novels of Robert A. Heinlein is one that talks about nuclear war and a journey into a distant future. The main character taking you along is Hugh Farnham, a survivor who lived to tell the story.

Nuclear War Imminent

Hugh was suspicious of this for a while and eventually came to the unfortunate conclusion that a nuclear war was about to happen very soon. He prepared for this and built a bomb shelter for him and his family.

After the war finally came and nearly destroyed the entire planet, Farnham’s bomb shelter was tossed into the future through a tear that occurred in the fabric of time. Wait, this is not even the best part that makes this one of the best books of Robert Heinlein. That part is yet to come.

2000 Years In the Future

This event sent Hugh and his family in a future where, as being members of the race that nearly destroyed the world, they were only useful as slaves and nothing else. This was very unappealing to Hugh so all that was on his mind was how to reach freedom. But, even if he did, this world is not the one he remembers and there seems to be nothing here for him or his family.

Science fiction stories about our very close neighbor Mars have always been extremely fun to read. Well, this is a story that takes place there and is one of the earlier books by this author if you plan on reading Robert Heinlein’s books in chronological order. The story introduces you to Jim Marlow, one of the most exciting characters in all of his books.

Martian Boarding School

The story was first published as part of Robert Heinlein’s Juvenile books. It takes place in a future where Mars is colonized by humans who live alongside the Martians. The focus is mainly on the boarding school in which Jim Marlow and his friend Frank Sutton have just arrived to begin their academic studies.

These are the two characters that you’ll be following for most of the story. But, there’s one more. Jim’s Martian pet Willis the Bouncer, a small creature that has a few surprises up its sleeve. If you’re looking for one of the best Robert Heinlein books ranked then these three characters will show you around.

Something to Lose

The exciting parts of the story finally arrive when Jim and his friend stumble upon a terrifying political plot that will take away the Martian colonists’ rights. This secret forces these characters on an adventure that will decide whether they lose everything they have or save the day and their people.

Farmer in the Sky

William bill lermer.

William Bill Lermer is one of the main characters who’ll be taking you on the next adventure in another one of the best Robert Heinlein books of all time. This story is also in a future where the population has become overcrowded and food is being rationed. Bill, his father George, and Peggy decide to board the next ship leaving Earth and go straight to one of Jupiter’s moons that is being terraformed to sustain human life.

The Journey Begins

From the second they get on the ship, they discover that Earth wasn’t such a bad place as the dangers of space and other planets are way worse. They quickly realize that this process of adapting will be much harder than they expect. The suspense will get to you as nothing is predictable where they’re going.

This is the name of the planet they are heading for. Upon arriving, almost nothing was as described. The colony was not finished, the farms were far from being completed, and many more complications were occurring one after another. We’ll stop with the spoilers here and allow you to discover why this book is probably the best one from Robert Heinlein’s Juvenile Novels.

Time for the Stars

Young adult audience.

This book was originally titled Heinlein’s Juveniles. It was written during the 1950s and is meant for young adult readers. The story inside features another world that suffers from overpopulation just like in many of the best novels of Robert Heinlein. Humans must find other habitable worlds before it is too late.

Long Range Foundation

Many of the projects and experiments that will be discussed in the story are funded by the LRF. This organization funds really expensive projects for space exploration. They continuously launch torchships, rocket ships Robert came up with that can reach the speed of light but not exceed it.

These torchships are created for one purpose, to explore space and discover any nearby habitable planets for the benefit of humankind. But, the journeys take very long and each ship is well equipped with a large crew for added convenience.

Telepathic Communication

There was one problem that kept setting these missions back, long-range communication was a slow and painful process. Then, it was discovered that there were a few telepathic twins who can communicate with each other instantly without being affected by distance. Could this be the answer to long-range communication and which of the twins would have to stay behind and which would go off exploring the universe?

Waldo and Magic, Inc

Short stories.

And at last, the final book we have to offer is a short story collection. If you’re looking to read Robert Heinlein’s books in order, this is one of the first-ever short story collections you will ever find. It contains the two novellas mentioned in the title.

The first story inside this collection is one that dates back from 1942 and was first published in Astounding Magazine in August the same year. It features Waldo, the main character. He was born quite the weakling who wasn’t even able to lift his arms for quite a while.

Something had to be done so his family paid for the development of a device that could increase his strength. As a result of his weaknesses, Waldo grows up to become extremely rich thanks to his intellect. He buys himself a home on the moon thanks to his hatred for all humans.

This is the second story in the series. This one was originally published in Unknown Fantasy Fiction in 1940. Its initial title was The Devil Makes the Law. Now, known as Magic, Inc, the story inside introduces you to Archie Fraser. Archie owns a building contracting business that is doing better than usual. There is a lot of magic present in this book, same as in Waldo, but Archie doesn’t seem like he needs it a lot.

He strictly works with cold iron, which defies magic. Archie later starts experiencing some problems with other magic users who are tearing apart his business and stealing customers away. Mad about the situation, Archie heads straight to Hell to take care of his troubles for good.

robert heinlein books ranked

Robert Hazley

Robert is a science fiction and fantasy geek. (He is also the best looking Ereads writer!) Besides reading and writing, he enjoys sports, cosplay, and good food (don't we all?). Currently works as an accountant (would you believe that?)

Best Warhammer 40k Book Series Review

The Best Robert A. Heinlein Books

it's important to recommend other Heinlein books which are not only completely different, but infinitely better than Stranger in a Strange Land.

By Josh Tyler

robert heinlein books ranked

Sci-fi master Robert A. Heinlein’s most famous book, Stranger in a Strange Land is now more than fifty years old.  I’ve been reading Heinlein books since I was far too young to actually be reading Heinlein and he is without question one of my favorite authors. And Stranger in a Strange Land is far from his best book.

Unfortunately, because the book had such an impact on the culture of its time, it gets tons of publicity and now anyone looking to explore Heinlein’s work usually starts by reading Stranger … and then they never read anything else. Stranger in a Strange Land is a huge turnoff: narratively unsound, full of more wild ideas than it is with actual story, for people new to Heinlein having them read Stranger in a Strange Land is a sure way to make sure they’ll never read anything else he’s written.

So it’s important to recommend other Heinlein books which are not only completely different, but infinitely better, as a better way for new readers to gain entry into Heinlein’s world. Most of these come from earlier in his writing career, before he wrote Stranger . After Stranger Heinlein kept writing more books like, well, Stranger . If you want to read Heinlein, start with these 5 books instead…

The Star Beast | written by Heinlein in 1954

robert a. heinlein's the star beast

The Star Best was actually written by Heinlein as a novel for young adults but it works well enough that old adults can enjoy it too. This was my first introduction to Robert A. Heinlein at an early age and if you’re looking for an easy window into his worlds this might be the book for you.

The Star Beast is the story of a boy named John Thomas who has a pet alien, brought into his family by a spacefaring ancestor. The pet on the other hand, thinks it’s the one keeping humans and as it grows to adulthood (and reaches a prodigious size), John learns his pet is not just some puppy but an intelligent creature from a powerful race of spacefaring aliens… who want him back.

Tunnel in the Sky | written by Heinlein in 1955

Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky

Tunnel in the Sky is kind of like Heinlein’s Lord of the Flies . A group of students are sent to an alien planet to practice their survival skills. They’re only supposed to be there ten days but no one ever comes to pick them up. They band together to form a community and the book follows one student who eventually becomes their leader, helping them all survive in a harsh and deadly environment. Years pass and things eventually go from bad to worse when they discover a species of viciously deadly aliens threatening to wipe them all out.

Starship Troopers | written by Heinlein in 1959

Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers

Yes this 1959 Hugo Award winner is the book that weird Paul Veerhoven movie from the 90s is based on. Starship Troopers the book has so very little in common with the film they made out of it, it’s almost a completely different thing. Starship Troopers is hard-edged, military science fiction about a young soldier named Johnny Rico, thrust into the midst of a war with an alien race of bugs. He’s a member of the mobile infantry, ground troopers who fight in power armor.

In addition to telling a damn good war story, Starship Troopers contains some pretty savvy political and military themes. Using Rico Heinlein examines all sorts of social ills, while still telling a great science fiction tale.

The Door into Summer | published by Heinlein in 1957

Robert A. Heinlein's The Door into Summer book

The Door into Summer is the story of an independent thinking engineer and inventor (Heinlein’s favorite type of character) named Dan Boone who builds a robotics company, only to be betrayed by his partners and stuck in cold sleep. He wakes up decades later and tries to rebuild his life in a strange future. Along the way Dan rises and falls again, ends up at a nudist colony, and eventually gives up and goes back into cold sleep again.

It’s a complex story about innovation and invention and corporate intrigue. The Door into Summer handles some of Heinlein’s pet topics, tackling issues of sexual freedom and oh yeah, lots of time travel. But it does all of that while still telling a great story. For me this is Heinlein at his best, but you may not want to tackle this one until you’ve fortified yourself with some of his simpler works first.

Farnham’s Freehold | written by Heinlein in 1965

Robert A. Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold book

Farnham is the cold war era tale of a family hiding inside a bomb shelter when nuclear war breaks out. It’s brilliant, particularly early on as Heinlein describes his little group of people, huddled inside their shelter while the world shakes around them. Eventually they leave the bomb shelter, to discover they’ve somehow been transported… somewhere else. Alone in a hostile environment without any of the technology they’re used to, the group tries to form a community and survive, only to discover a place where white men are slaves and the world they knew is buried and gone forever.

Some groups view this book as controversial , claiming they see racist themes hidden within it. Whether that’s the case, I’ll leave for you to judge. Just keep in mind while you read Farnham’s Freehold , the time period in which it was written. Context is king.

Other Great Robert A. Heinlein Books You Should Read

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6 Classic Robert Heinlein Books That Shaped the Sci-Fi Genre

Have you read these iconic novels? 

6 classic robert heinlein books

Often called the “dean of science fiction writers,” Robert Heinlein was one of the first novelists of the form to break into the mainstream, with early publications in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post . He is also, along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke , considered one of the “Big Three” when it comes to English-language science fiction of the so-called Golden Age of sci-fi.

Among his many contributions to the genre, Heinlein was one of the first science fiction writers to heavily prioritize scientific accuracy—at least, as it was understood at the time—and, as such, is a major influence on modern hard science fiction subgenres . His work also proved influential in a number of other ways, and elements of Heinlein’s writing can be found in everything from modern-day scientific thought to Warhammer 40,000 .

Winner of several Hugo Awards—and many more Retro Hugos, awarded posthumously in recognition of his contributions to the field—Heinlein was also a naval officer and an aeronautical engineer , who often bragged about spending days working out the mathematical underpinnings of even the smallest details in his stories. Like many science fiction authors at the time, his political and social views were a complex stew of seemingly-contradictory impulses that evolved considerably over the course of his life, though his stories often favored individualism and even libertarian ideals.

With a career that spans nearly half-a-century and over thirty novels, there’s plenty of Heinlein out there to choose from, even though he passed away as an octogenarian more than thirty years ago. So, if you’re new to Heinlein, or have had just a taste and want to know where to go next, here are a few of the most essential, classic Robert Heinlein books from his prolific and genre-defining career.

starship troopers

Starship Troopers

By Robert Heinlein

First published in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction  in 1959, Starship Troopers may be Heinlein’s best-known and most widely-read work. 

Written as a protest against President Dwight Eisenhower’s suspension of U.S. nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War, Starship Troopers  has been denounced as fascist propaganda by many in the years since. 

Nonetheless, it won a Hugo for Best Novel when it was first released, and has had an enormous impact on science fiction, with many citing it as the progenitor of military sci-fi . It also marked a major turning point in Heinlein’s career, as he set aside the novels for younger readers that he had frequently published before to pursue stories aimed more at adults. The book has been adapted to film by Paul Verhoeven , who turned its pro-militarism message on its head through satire.

RELATED: 10 Compelling Generation Ship Books That Take You on a Journey

starship troopers

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Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

If Starship Troopers is not Heinlein’s best-known novel, then that title must go to Stranger in a Strange Land , the first novel published after Starship Troopers , at the beginning of what is known as Heinlein’s “middle period.” 

The first science fiction novel on the New York Times Bestseller list, Stranger in a Strange Land has been named by the Library of Congress as one of the “88 Books that Shaped America,” alongside such titles as The Wizard of Oz , The Great Gatsby , and  The Sound and the Fury . 

Originally published in 1961, the novel tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who was raised entirely by Martians. Returning to Earth, he becomes the eponymous “stranger in a strange land” as he tries to understand human customs, allowing the author a far-ranging commentary on everything from government to sexuality to religion.

RELATED: 50 of the Best Sci-Fi Books Ever Written

Stranger in a Strange Land

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

A nominee for the Nebula and winner of the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was first published in 1966, near the end of Heinlein’s “middle period.” 

The book, which tells of the revolution of a lunar penal colony against an absentee Earth government, explores many of the author’s libertarian ideals, while also telling a genre-defining tale that involves political upheaval, thinking supercomputers, electromagnetic catapults capable of flinging rocks toward Earth with the power of an atom bomb, and lots more. 

It has also been credited as the originator of the phrase, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch" (or, TANSAAFL). 

the moon is a harsh mistress

The Puppet Masters

Originally published in 1951, The Puppet Masters is one of the best-known (and best-regarded) of Heinlein’s early novels. 

Its groundbreaking story follows a group of slug-like aliens who arrive on Earth in flying saucers and proceed to take over humans by attaching themselves to their nervous systems and directing them around like puppets. This convention that has since reappeared, in various forms, in countless other tales, including a 1994 film adaptation starring Donald Sutherland. 

The novel is also notable for featuring an extremely representative triptych of some of Heinlein’s most often-reused character archetypes, including the ruggedly individualistic protagonist, his hard-nosed (and red-haired) love interest, and the wise but cantankerous older gentleman. 

RELATED: 12 Out-of-This-World Alien Invasion Books

the puppet masters

The Year of the Jackpot

This distinctly Heinleinian novella was the cover story of the March 1952 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction . It centers around a statistician who finds love at what just might be the end of the world. 

Following Heinlein’s tendency to write about subjects which were, at the time, considered hard science, the story deals in concepts like Kondratiev waves, the idea that human social behavior—including politics, religion, social mores, and the economy—follow phases that happen in cycles. 

time enough for love

Time Enough for Love

Written near the end of Heinlein’s “middle period,” Time Enough for Love introduces many of the elements that would appear in the author’s final works. 

Protagonist Lazarus Long was originally introduced all the way back in the novel Methusalah’s Children , first serialized in 1941, but didn’t make his reappearance until this 1973 Hugo, Nebula , and Locus -nominated novel. 

The beneficiary of a complex breeding experiment intended to increase the longevity of its offspring, Long enjoys an extremely lengthy lifespan; one that, at the beginning of  Time Enough for Love , he has decided is no longer worth living. Long would later reappear in most of Heinlein’s final works, including  The Number of the Beast and  The Cat Who Walks Through Walls .

time enough for love

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7 Best Robert A Heinlein Books of All Time

Our goal: Find what the internet ranks as the best Robert A Heinlein books (instead of one person's opinion).

(Updated 2023 )

Starship Troopers

Robert A. Heinlein

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Stranger in a strange land, the door into summer, time enough for love, the puppet masters, farnham's freehold.

How was this Robert A Heinlein books list created?

We searched for "best Robert A Heinlein books", found the top 5 articles, took every book mentioned in 2+ articles, and averaged their rankings.

How many Robert A Heinlein books are in this list?

There are 7 books in this list.

Why did you create this Robert A Heinlein books list?

We wanted to gather the most accurate list of Robert A Heinlein books on the internet.

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Best Robert Heinlein Books Ranked

Robert Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907 and was considered the dean of science fiction novels. One thing that set him apart from other writers is his insistence on scientific accuracy in all of his books, which could’ve been the result of his being an aeronautical engineer. 

He wrote books, short stories, and essays, and they included both fiction and nonfiction work. Some of his books were controversial, most notably the theme of plural marriage in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and militarism in Starship Troopers . He was also ahead of his time and used his writing to explore various political and social ideas, which in the end earned him a lot of fans. He died in 1988 at the age of 80. 

Below are some of his best books.

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47. For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs

For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs

When a regular guy living in 1939 wakes up and it’s 2068, he is ready to explore all of the ways the world is now different. This is an old manuscript that was finally published in the early 2000s.

46. Farnham’s Freehold

Farnham's Freehold

When Hugh Farnham escapes to his bomb shelter during the apocalypse, the war pushes him into a different time 2,000 years into the future. This is a world where his race is now made up only of slaves, and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

45. Sixth Column

Sixth Column

Other beings invade Earth until all of the nations fall. Now, it’s up to six men hidden in the mountains to work on a plan to free the planet.

44. The Number of the Beast

The Number of the Beast: A Parallel Novel About Parallel Universes

Two males and two females are under attack by aliens and they escape into the sky, where lots of things await them, including peril, danger, and even ecstasy.

43. I Will Fear No Evil

I Will Fear No Evil

Johann Smith is very old and very rich, so he has his brain transplanted into a younger body – that of his recently deceased secretary, Eunice. The problem is, Eunice hasn’t completely abandoned her body yet.

42. Beyond This Horizon

Beyond This Horizon

When utopia is achieved, there is no more war, hunger, disease, or poverty in the world, and a man named Hamilton Felix is getting bored. But his life is about to get more exciting, or more troubling, depending on how you look at it.

41. Grumbles From the Grave

Grumbles From The Grave

This is a collection of letters written by Robert Heinlein himself and which he stated he wanted to be published after his death. After he died in 1988, his wife got these letters together and published them in this book.

40. Rocket Ship Galileo

Rocket Ship Galileo (Heinlein's Juveniles Book 1)

The three high-schoolers of the Galileo Club find themselves helping a nuclear physicist build a rocket ship to the moon, but they suddenly find themselves a little more involved than they want to be.

39. Podkayne of Mars

Podkayne of Mars

Podkayne is a Martian maid who wants to be the first female starship pilot, so she joins her uncle on an interstellar journey. The only problem is, she is a political target thanks to her uncle’s power.

38. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

A stranger is shot dead while trying to deliver a cryptic message, and Dr. Richard Ames suddenly finds himself in a world he never knew existed, complete with danger and other dimensions, not to mention a computer that could alter the course of history.

37. Tramp Royale

This book reflects on Heinlein’s travels as he went all over the world to study how the world works. It is the winner of numerous awards and highlights places such as New Orleans, Africa, and the Panama Canal, among others.

36. The Star Beast

The Star Beast (Heinlein's Juveniles Book 8)

Lummox is a family pet who eats everything in sight, wreaking havoc on the entire family. But things go from weird to even weirder when a group of aliens appear and turn what starts out as a family situation into something much more extreme.

35. Orphans of the Sky

Orphans of the Sky

Hugh thinks the Ship is headed to Centaurus, but he starts to question this after a while, especially after he is kidnapped by the muties and finds out the real purpose of this ship.

34. The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

Jonathan Hoag hires a husband-and-wife team of detectives to find out where the mysterious substance under his fingernails is coming from. But something is amiss when both husband and wife have different memories when they go out to investigate the matter.

33. Assignment in Eternity

Assignment in Eternity

This book contains two classic novellas and two short stories written by Heinlein, including Gulf, Lost Legacy, and Jerry Was a Man . The latter was adapted for the TV series Masters of Science Fiction and is now available on DVD.

32. Farmer in the Sky

Farmer in the Sky

Bill always knew the stars were in his future, so when George Lerner took off for Ganymede, he wanted to go along. His father said “no” because it would be too dangerous, and when he worms his way onto the Mayflower, he finds out just how right his father was.

31. Starman Jones

Starman Jones (Heinlein's Juveniles Book 7)

Max Jones wants to go into space, but he has no money or other requirements to make that happen. What he does have, however, are his uncle’s astrogation manuals memorized word for word, page for page. But will that be enough to get him there?

30. Space Cadet

Space Cadet

Matt Dodson has joined the Space Cadets, an elite group of guardians of the solar system. But he is tested to make sure that he is worthy of the task, and the last test he takes part in just might prove that he is not ready for this adventure after all.

29. Revolt in 2100

Revolt in 2100

When America falls under the spell of a religious dictator and stays that way for more than 100 years, things eventually turn back to the way they were before that dictator came along. Now, things have exploded once again, and America needs a new leader that stands for everyone.

28. Job: A Comedy of Justice

Job: A Comedy of Justice

Alec Graham is preparing for Armageddon, and one of his jobs is to convince his beloved heathen Margrethe to change her ways, all the while trying to save the world.

27. Glory Road

Glory Road

Scar Gordon visits an apartment to answer an ad that seemed to require someone just like him. He is greeted at the door by a beautiful woman who instructs him to call her “Star,” and he soon finds out that she is the empress of 20 universes, making this the perfect nickname for her.

26. Between Planets

Between Planets

Don’s mother was born on Venus and his father on Earth, so he enjoys a strange citizenship. But he fights for each of his citizenships in some odd ways. Throw in some scientist-dragons and a rebellious Mars, and this turns into one story you will never forget.


Friday is a secret courier who works for someone known only as “Boss.” Both Canada and the United States have been developed into lots of mini-states, but Friday seems to manage her job with ease, even though it is filled with chaos and constant difficulties.

24. The Menace From Earth

The Menace from Earth

This isn’t just about a woman who’s fighting to keep her boyfriend from falling in love with a beautiful woman. It’s also a collection of stories written by Heinlein, including Goldfish Bowl, Sky Lift, By His Bootstraps, and The Year of the Jackpot, to name a few.

23. Red Planet

Red Planet

Jim and his Martian friend Willis are only allowed to travel so far, so their space plans have been thwarted. But things change when Willis finds out about a plot that threatens everyone on Mars and sets Jim off on an adventure that will either save or destroy all of them.

22. Waldo & Magic, Inc

Waldo & Magic, Inc.

Waldo was a crippled genius who asked to help figure out why a plane keeps crashing. But to get his help, they have to help Waldo out with some of his problems.

21. The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

This hilarious and very interesting tale describes the Stone twins and their adventures throughout the Solar System. It is lighthearted and fun, and it’s a great story about family values.

20. The Puppet Masters

The Puppet Masters

Aliens have landed in Iowa and are taking over the citizens’ bodies and minds, all while the government is telling its citizens that there’s nothing to worry about. When special agents go to investigate the site where it all started, they start disappearing, so how will anyone ever figure out what is really happening?

19. Variable Star

Variable Star (Tor Science Fiction)

Joel and Jinny become engaged, but Joel isn’t sure he has enough money to get married. Jinny then reveals she is a member of the Conrad family, the richest family in the universe, and that he can work for their company. But Joel wants to make it on his own and is soon on an adventure he wasn’t quite prepared for.

18.  The Man Who Sold the Moon

The Man Who Sold The Moon

Part of Heinlein’s Future History series, it tells the tale of two scientists who want everyone to have inexpensive solar power, but that’s not what the status quo wants.

17. Double Star

Double Star

Lorenzo Smythe spends a lot of the time in bars fretting about his career until he gets the job of a lifetime that could finally establish peace with Mars.

16. To Sail Beyond the Sunset

To Sail Beyond the Sunset

When Maureen wakes up one morning, she is in bed with a man and a cat. The cat she recognized; the man she didn’t. And to make things even worse, the man is dead.

15 . Requiem

Requiem: Collected Works and Tributes to the Grand Master

This is a sequel to Heinlein’s book The Man Who Sold the Moon . It gives you a glimpse into his way of thinking about the universe, and many of his fans say this sequel is cathartic. 

14. Methuselah’s Children

Methuselah's Children

America had fallen but is now a true land of justice and liberty for all. That is until a certain group of people promises them immortality – at a cost.

13. Time for the Stars

Time for the Stars

Twins Tom and Pat are being used to help Earth communicate with Mars. One has to be left behind, which means one will grow old as the other one can explore the depths of space.

12. Expanded Universe

Expanded Universe

This is a collection of Heinlein’s finest works, with titles that include The Last Days of the United States, A Bathroom of Her Own, Ray Guns and Rocket Ships, Pandora’s Box, and Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon , as well as others.

11. Have Spacesuit, Will Travel

Have Space Suit - Will Travel (Heinlein's Juveniles Book 12)

Kip wins a stripped-down spacesuit in a contest and answers a distress call from an 11-year-old genius. The next thing he knows, they’re being kidnapped to Pluto and the Moon.

10. Tunnel in the Sky

Tunnel in the Sky (Heinlein's Juveniles Book 9)

Rod is a student taking a test for his survival class, when all of a sudden, the students are thrust into the wilderness with no help to get them back. As such, failure on this test is not an option.

9. Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

Valentine Michael Smith is a human just returning to Earth after spending years on Mars, but he finds that humans are much different than he is, and he wants to figure out why.

8. The Pursuit of Pankera

The Pursuit of the Pankera: A Parallel Novel About Parallel Universes

This is the story of a parallel universe and includes the four characters from the book The Number of the Beast . Zeb, Hilda, Jake, and Deety ride in a spaceship to parallel universes and enjoy some amazing adventures along the way, even though all is not as safe as it seems.

7. Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers

This book is one of the most controversial ever written by Heinlein. It starts when a recruit of the future goes through boot camp then immediately into battle with Earth’s biggest enemy.

6. Time Enough for Love

Time Enough for Love

In this book, you can follow Lazarus Long through numerous worlds and even centuries because he is not near ready to leave this universe.

5. The Door into Summer

The Door into Summer

Dan Davis has invented a household robot that can make people’s lives easier until his partner and fiancée steal it from him and leave him penniless and suspended in animation for 30 years.

4. Citizen of the Galaxy

Citizen of the Galaxy (Heinlein's Juveniles Book 11)

Thorby is a slave boy in a distant galaxy, but his new owner adopts him as a son. But when the authorities close in on the galaxy, Thorby finds out he’s not who he thought he was.

3. The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

Lazarus Long was too young to fight in WWI but is determined to lead a group into another star system.

2. Past Through Tomorrow

Past Through Tomorrow: "Future History" Stories

Written in two volumes, this first book is filled with the stories that make up Heinlein’s Future History series.

1. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

The moon is now filled with threesome marriages, disparate people, a young female agitator, and a computer that has its own reasons for wanting the world to succeed.

Complete Rankings of Novels Written by Robert Heinlein

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Robert A. Heinlein

Nationality, description.

Robert Anson Heinlein (; July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science-fiction author, aeronautical engineer, and retired Naval officer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", He was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction, and was thus a pioneer of the subgenre of hard science fiction. His work continues to have an influence on the science-fiction genre, and on modern culture more generally. Heinlein became one of the first American science-fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science-fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered the "Big Three" of English-language science fiction authors. Notable Heinlein works include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers (which helped mould the space marine and mecha archetypes) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. His work sometimes had controversial aspects, such as plural marriage in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, militarism in Starship Troopers and technologically competent women characters that were strong and independent, yet often stereotypically feminine – such as Friday. A writer also of numerous science-fiction short stories, Heinlein was one of a group of writers who came to prominence under the editorship (1937–1971) of John W. Campbell at Astounding Science Fiction magazine, though Heinlein denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any great degree. Within the framework of his science-fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices. Heinlein was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. Four of his novels won Hugo Awards. In addition, fifty years after publication, seven of his works were awarded "Retro Hugos"—awards given retrospectively for works that were published before the Hugo Awards came into existence. In his fiction, Heinlein coined terms that have become part of the English language, including "grok", "waldo", and "speculative fiction", as well as popularizing existing terms like "TANSTAAFL", "pay it forward", and "space marine". He also anticipated mechanical computer-aided design with "Drafting Dan" and described a modern version of a waterbed in his novel The Door into Summer, though he never patented nor built one. In the first chapter of the novel Space Cadet he anticipated the cell-phone, 35 years before Motorola invented the technology. Several of Heinlein's works have been adapted for film and television.

The best books of all time by Robert A. Heinlein

213 . stranger in a strange land by robert a. heinlein.

Image of Stranger in a Strange Land

This is the epic saga of an earthling, Valentine Michael Smith, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with "psi" powers--telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis, and the ability to take...

1703 . The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Image of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

On Luna - an open penal colony of the twenty-first century - a revolution is being plotted. The conspirators are a strange assortment: an engaging jack-of-all-trades, his luscious blonde girlfriend...

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Best Heinlein Books?

robert heinlein books ranked

So I recently finished my second Heinlein book : Stranger in a Strange Land, and I loved it. I also really enjoyed Starship Troopers. What do you think Heinlein's best books are?

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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is really cool, teaches you a bit about the process of a realistic revolution too and doesn't seem that far fetched as sci fi goes.

My favorite by a mile. TANSTAFL.

I came to recommend this book. It's a must-read if you're even vaguely interested in political libertarianism.

Ya cobber! Send hooors! Thousands and thousands of hoors! I'll marry em I betcha!

Have spacesuit, will travel

My favorite as well.

I really enjoyed The Door into Summer .

The Door into Summer was excellent, left me feeling nice and warm, and worked out very nicely.

Glory Road is an easy pleasant read - more fantasy than SF - kinda an outlier for Heinlein -

Time Enough For Love. It took the concepts of love he introduced in Stranger and really pushed them, like far.

Love this one, but it should be read after you've gotten through more of his works.

Have Space Suit, Will Travel was always a favorite. If you liked Starship Troopers, you should read the unabridged version of The Puppet Masters. Glory Road is also a good one.

The Past Through Tomorrow is a wonderful collection of his pulp stories that were all built around a single "future-history" he mapped out. Terrific stories, even where actual events passed him by. Hard not to feel in many places that his version should've been reality. I'm thinking in particular of private space travel.

Anything other than The Number of the Beast. I have a soft spot for JOB because it was the first SF book I read, although I didn't understand pretty much any of it because I was like 9. Liked it when I read it again at 22 though.

Fully agree.. had the same problem reading it at that age. Lost track somewhere halfway then, just found amother copy in a second hand store last month..30 years later. Gonna retry :)

Job: A Comedy of Justice. It satirizes evangelical Christianity using the biblical tale of Job as it's structure. I put it in the same category as the Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy. A bit dryer but still worth a read. Not to be taken seriously at all.

All you Zombies.

Revolt in 2100 is interesting.

Many of his novels from the 1950s are good (Citizen of the Galaxy, Starship Troopers, Time for the Stars, etc.). The Moon is a Harsh Mistresss is also quite good. In my personal experience, anything published before 1960 is going to be at least a decent read. Books from the 1960s are going to start being hit-or-miss.

The early ones, which are basically kids books.

imo with Heinlein, the more explicit the politics, the worse the book. Even the widely admired "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" falls down on this point for me.

Basically, when he let his politics underlie his books he was a great storyteller. But when his books became vehicles for his opinions they became tedious.

I agree. His best ended up being his shortest in most cases, as he usually added length primarily through exposition.

That's why my pick was solidly "Orphans of the Sky." It was intensely short. It combined post apocalyptic, generation ship, and swashbuckling tropes into something genuinely fun and interesting, with limited speechifying. Its length and style could be compared to his "Citizen of the Galaxy."

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I Grok Bob: Five Robert A. Heinlein Novels to Start With

Like Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Le Guin, McCaffrey and other giants of the SF field, the work of Robert A. Heinlein can be totally overwhelming to an unfamiliar reader scratching their heads in the “H” section of the science fiction shelves in a bookstore or library. Where should you begin? Where should you end? What should you skip and what is essential?

In honor of Heinlein’s 105 th birthday here’s a brief list of 5 titles that fill my personal criterion of “if you read only ONE Heinlein novel.” But if you read all five, you’ll probably realize the awesome diversity and range of themes that the late dean of science fiction was capable of. This is by no means a definitive list, but instead, my personal shortlist for the uninitiated.

robert heinlein books ranked

Cover art by Steele Savage. Edition: Ace Books (1970)

Tunnel in the Sky

Whenever you’re sitting around and thinking to yourself, “You know I could really go for a novel in which is exactly like Lord of the Flies , but only in space,” then this is your book. Funnily enough, this book was published the same year as Golding’s Lord of the Flies and if it were up to me, it would be taught instead. The primary SF conceit of the novel deals with interplanetary colonization through big teleport jumps. Naturally some younger folks get stranded and certain ugly aspects of human nature are revealed. The only one of Heinlein’s “juvenilia” that I feel gets overlooked, and easily my favorite from that period.

robert heinlein books ranked

Cover art by Tim White. Edition: New English Library (1982)

Time Enough for Love

I talk about this book all the time, and by that, I mean I literally bring it up at least once a month in conversations with people about everything from the nature of disease to sexual mores. (Which I guess is all I talk about?) Anyway, the premise is great: a guy becomes immortal through scientific means and as a result lives for a super long time. In doing so, he manages to in essence become the ancestors of generations of people. I wish I could say he becomes his own ancestor, but Heinlein did that for real in “All You Zombies.” The main character, Lazarus Long, appears in other Heinlein novels, notably and first in Methuselah’s Children and then subsequently in The Number of the Beast, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset , the last of which is all about his mom. But if you’re going to read only one Heinlein book about Lazarus Long, then this is the one. ( Methuselah’s Children fans, I wish I could say I’m ready for your retort, but I am not.)

robert heinlein books ranked

Cover art by Barclay Shaw. Edition: Del Rey (1986)

The Puppet Masters

We wouldn’t have Invasion of the Body Snatchers without this one! Though a little slow in sections, and maybe not as horrific as it could be, the notion of parasite aliens taking over our bodies is so classic that it is totally worth reading the original version of this premise. The aliens even come in an honest-to-goodness flying saucer. Though some might say this book is simply an anti-communist novel, reading it without that historical lens lightens up the rhetoric a little bit. I’m sure many might say it’s impossible to read Heinlein this way, but you could try. What I mean is the aliens don’t have to be a red scare metaphor no more than Aslan must be a Christ-metaphor for secular readers of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe . Right?

robert heinlein books ranked

Cover art by Michael Whelan. Edition: Del Rey (1983)

I encountered a version of this novel with a super-racy cover in my middle school library in the 1990s. I would be lying if some of the sex in this one didn’t make me blush a little then (and now) but the story of a robot person employed, as a super-spy assassin is unforgettable. The notion that Friday will be killed if people find out she is an artificial life form makes the science fiction of the story perfectly interwoven with the stakes of the novel. It may not be Heinlein’s most perfectly plotted book, nor his most progressive, but it’s a damn exciting book and I’m shocked it hasn’t been adapted into a stunt-heavy action film yet.

robert heinlein books ranked

Cover art by Ben Feder. Edition: G. P. Putnam’s Sons (1961)

Stranger in a Strange Land

No need to get into the various controversies surrounding certain interpretations of this one, the reason why Stranger in a Strange Land is so great is the originality of the premise. A man from Earth is raised by Martians, and then sent back to Earth. And that’s just the beginning of the novel. Should you read the unabridged version? Probably, though my first experience was with the abridged version and it still threw me for a cultural shock. I wish I could say I fully “grok” the affect this book had on me, but really, there’s just no way to know. Of all his books, the reason this remains Heinlein’s masterpiece is because the book seems to somehow elevate itself out of the author’s own interests. It reads like a non-fiction, ugly warts and all.

Now, surely there are some Heinlein aficionados out there with different opinions on essential reading from this grand master. Let me know below! (I love Starship Troopers too!)

Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com. His father forced him to read Have Spacesuit, Will Travel  when he was 9. Thanks, dad.

Five Tough, Rough, and Rugged Heinlein Stories

A different approach to juvenile sf: rocket ship galileo by robert a. heinlein, five sff worlds threatened by endless winter, so you’ve ruined earth: five stories about fleeing to the next best thing, 126 comments.

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