Lovers of the Outlander series and the like, take heed: this article is for you. This article will tell you about 20 books similar to Outlander that I have read or am going to read.
I didn’t spend a lot of time looking extensively for these. There are a few I found on Amazon, but most of them I found myself after reading the Outlander series and being desperate for more good books like it.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War – Max Brooks:
World War Z is a New York Times bestseller written by Max Brooks. As an oral history, the book consists of first-hand accounts from the main characters describing their experiences with Zombies during and post Zombie War (WWZ). The book follows different people from various countries as they narrate their stories to an unknown interviewer who has a prominent recurring role in the book.
Some of the accounts follow a government official trying to convince influential people on whether or not WWZ is real, a Marine fighting his way across Europe, Russian Cosmonauts stranded in space, scientists who worked on “the walking dead” virus and many more. Brooks uses these stories as an opportunity to discuss many different topics, including cultural hallmarks and political concepts. This book is a great read for anyone who likes zombies or scary books, but it may not be appropriate for younger children because there are some violent scenes that involve shooting zombies in the head to kill them.
The Passage – Justin Cronin:
The Passage, written by Justin Cronin is about Amy Bellafonte, who is chosen for an experiment on twelve death row inmates. Their goal was to turn them into some type of super soldier so they could battle the species responsible for killing most of humanity: a virus carried by a type of bat.
While many prisoners died during testing, seven of them gained special abilities such as mind control and telekinesis. When the compound was breached, all seven escape taking Amy with them. They begin to hunt down anyone they come across for food because it is revealed that the virus hasn’t left them mindless zombies but instead given them an intense hunger for human flesh.
The book follows the journey of Amy, who was only six at the beginning of the book, as she travels with these men trying to find a permanent home for herself.
3. Secondhand Souls – Christopher Moore
The book is about a man named Joey, who died of lung cancer on his wedding day. He wakes up in some white space and meets the Grim Reaper who makes him an offer: if he goes back to Earth and gets one soul before tomorrow morning, he can stay on Earth for good.
Joey takes the offer and finds out that his target is a man named Christopher Carrion, who also happens to be on Earth hunting for souls. The two end up together and do everything they can to get rid of each other while trying to get treasured items Joey wants back from Carrion.
The book is part fantasy and part comedy, and is definitely a must read for those who enjoyed the first book: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff.
4. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is a thriller that tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne. The book follows their relationship leading up to their fifth wedding anniversary, where Amy goes missing.
The police spend the whole first half of the book trying to figure out what happened to Amy while Nick claims his innocence. Things change when evidence starts coming out proving that Nick was responsible for Amy’s “disappearance” and the rest of the book follows his trial.
The way Gillian Flynn switches between past and present, while telling two stories about how the lives of these characters intersect is interesting. It allows readers to get a better understanding of what has happened in their past by seeing what they go through in the present.
5. Eragon — Christopher Paolini
Eragon, written by the fifteen-year-old Christopher Paolini is about a boy named Eragon who finds a blue stone while hunting in the Spine. When he takes it back to his uncle Garrow and cousin Roran, they realize that it is actually an egg containing a dragon.
After hatching, Saphira bonds with Eragon and they start training while trying to stay under the radar of the King’s servants who are looking for dragon riders. After an attack on Garrow by Galbatorix, Eragon starts to train in order to fight off more attacks by Morzan, one of the king’s magicians.
Eragon is a classic fantasy book that still holds up to today’s standard.
6. A Discovery of Witches — Deborah Harkness
This book is about a witch named Diana, who after an accident involving her live-in boyfriend decides to do some research at Oxford University. After she gets involved with the world of demons and vampires, she finds herself falling for a vampire named Matthew.
A Discovery of Witches is part history and part fantasy. The book focuses on information that had been forgotten in history and the magical world that co-exists with our own.
7. The Time Traveler’s Wife — Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a unique love story about a man named Henry DeTamble who has a genetic disorder that causes him to travel through time. This means he will often show up on doorsteps of his future wife Claire at different stages of her life from when she was six, all the way until she is forty-six.
The book follows their relationship and how it changes when Henry’s time traveling makes him disappear from Claire’s life, but leaves clues behind for her to figure out where he went.
9. The Shining Girls- Lauren Beukes
The Shining Girls follows a serial killer named Harper Curtis, who is able to open a door in a house that sends him back to the 1930’s. When he manages to travel back to the Chicago 1933 World’s Fair, he meets a girl named Kirby Mazrachi and stalks her until she becomes one of his victims. Things change when Harper discovers that Kirby is still alive and realizes that she has the ability to find his house (and door) and destroy it, which means he can no longer travel back through time.
The book switches between past and present as we follow Harper’s attempts to stop Kirby from finding him and destroying his access to the past. This leads to a climatic ending as to whether or not he will be able to kill her.
10. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
This book follows two main characters, Celia and Marco. They are both students at a magical academy who have been chosen to fight each other in a game that is lead by their adoptive fathers. Yet when they start falling in love with each other, they realize there is more at stake than just the game.
The Night Circus ends up being a love-triangle, but it’s different from other mainstream love-triangles because the “other man/woman” is also a main character. This allows things to get complicated when Celia and Marco start questioning their own hearts and desires.
11. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
This book is about two men, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell who are both magicians in early 19th century England. After years of claiming to be the only magician left in England, Mr. Norrell meets a man who is able to do magic without using spells and realizes he has met his match in Jonathan Strange.
During this time, the two magicians are asked to help save England by using magic against Napoleon. The story continues as they clash over their beliefs about how magic should be used and who gets the credit for saving the country.
12. The Magicians — Lev Grossman
In The Magicians, Quentin Coldwater has been accepted into a college for magicians. Even though he spends most of his time studying and trying to get better at magic, something about it isn’t enough for him. Quentin would rather be transported to a world where magic is commonplace.
When he finally finds the way through a secret entrance to Fillory, a world where all the characters he read about in children’s books exist, he meets some interesting people and starts to rethink his life.
13. Ready Player One — Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, most people can barely afford to buy food and water never mind going on a vacation or owning their own entertainment system. However, Wade Watts escapes from his bleak reality through his avatar in the Oasis, a virtual world that has taken over what used to be the internet. In this world, there are puzzles hidden throughout the Oasis that give away money and control of the company.
When Wade figures out a clue to one of these puzzles, he becomes famous overnight and everyone wants to find him and kill him in order to get their hands on the prize.
14. Code Name Verity- Elizabeth Wein
This book is told in alternating chapters between two girls, Julie and Maddie. Julie is a British spy who has been captured by the Gestapo. Her only hope of survival is to give them information about her mission which involves Maddie (who had flown planes for Britain).
The story explains how these two girls became friends, what their mission was, and how their friendship develops throughout it. This book is for a more mature audience because of the topics it discusses, but it’s a fast read with a powerful ending.
15 . Dark Matter- Blake Crouch
This book follows Jason Dessen after he is kidnapped and wakes up in an alternate reality. While his friends think he’s dead, he finds himself trapped in this new world with no way of finding out how or why it happened.
After years of not knowing what had become of him, Jason is given the chance to jump back into his old life. Yet once he does, he realizes that there are some things about his family and friends’ new lives that are just too good to be true.
This book is similar to Outlander because it includes a love-triangle that gets complicated when the main male character has to chose between his wife in the “real world” or the alternate version of his almost perfect life.
16. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K Le Guin
This book is about a young boy named Ged who lives on an island and doesn’t fit in. He’s too smart, has strange dreams, and everyone says he should become a sorcerer.
Ged finally gets to attend the school for sorcerers where he becomes friends with another boy who will be his rival forever after. Throughout the book, Ged struggles with his pride and learns about the dangers that come along with using magic.
17. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
This book follows a girl named Door and her guardian, the Marquis de Carabas. They live in an alternate version of London where people don’t realize they’re being watched by angels, demons, death-dealers, and other mystical creatures from Neverwhere.
Door gets kidnapped and everyone bands together with the Marquis to get her back. But the characters soon find out about a much bigger plot to overthrow London and they must make sure Door’s family, who created this world, get home safe and sound.
Like Outlander, this story takes place in multiple time periods before coming together at the end. This book will be enjoyed by those who like stories of magic and fantasy.
18. The Girl with All the Gifts – M R Carey
Melanie is a special 10 year old girl who lives in a cell, receives her lessons from the Warden and eats people’s brains for sustenance. She’s basically like all of the characters in The Walking Dead.
However, Melanie doesn’t want to eat anyone and wants to learn instead (although she’d probably make a better zombie than most of the TWD characters). But Melanie’s teacher, Miss Justineau, begins to suspect that there might be more to her than meets the eye. She also realizes that Melanie isn’t as alone as she used to believe.
This book is for those who are looking for zombie books with a plot twist. This one will definitely surprise you about half way through.
19. Redshirts- John Scalzi
This book starts with the main character, Andrew Dahl, joining a spaceship crew and experiencing something extremely odd: everyone wearing red shirts is killed. In fact, as he continues to meet new characters, he realizes that they all end up dying as well.
It’s clear that there is some kind of curse going on but no one wants to admit it or figure out how to break this terrible pattern.
The story perfectly combines humor with horror and has some serious twists by the end. This book will keep you guessing until the very last page.
20. Push — Sapphire
Pregnant Precious uses heroin to make her life tolerable, but still wants a better future for her unborn baby boy. Enchanted by his blue eyes and the idea of raising a black son in a poor neighborhood, Precious decides to get clean and improve her life.
However, even when she tries to go straight, Precious is met with frustration and judgement. She must learn that her situation isn’t hopeless if she wants to survive the ignorance of those around her.
This book is for those who enjoy reading about grim realities where people are still trying to make a life for themselves, despite the odds being stacked against them.
Common themes include poverty, addiction, racism, and motherhood.
I have finally finished the 20 books similar to Outlander. Like any research, I started with the most promising candidates, read them over a period of roughly 9 months and went on to try out other possibilities after some time.
I am by no means an expert on the genre, but I do enjoy quite a few romances with some spicy scenes, so it should be easy to see whether my suggested books are worth reading.
I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did. If not, at least you can give your friends one or more books and let them come to their own conclusions.