Alien Encounters: 10 Nonfiction Books That Explore Life Beyond Earth

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There has been a growing push to replace the term “illegal aliens” with “undocumented immigrants.”  The “aliens” we are concerned about here very well might be both illegal and undocumented.  But, they are not of this world.  

They are aliens from beyond the skies, such as those found on science fiction programs.  My concern here, however, is not science fiction books, no disrespect for the many great works out there, including Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon.

I will focus here on the top non-fiction books discussing aliens.  People have a range of views about this subject, but these books are all put out as true accounts.  

Now, I know talking about aliens can be a sensitive subject with much debate about “conspiracy theories” and how “the truth is out there.”  I have a bit of Dana Scully (she’s a forensic scientist on the X-Files) in me on this subject.  So, keep that in mind.  Forgive me if your favorite truth-teller is not included!


Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens by John E. Mack 

A Harvard psychiatrist discusses over sixty cases of alien abduction accounts he has investigated.

Feedback: This is an in-depth analysis of the alien abduction accounts by someone who accepts them as a reflection of possible alien abductions. 

He also concludes that they provide lessons on the complexity of our existence. Readers were impressed with his scholarly approach. Some felt the book was too long and repetitive. 

The Alien Agendas: A Speculative Analysis of Those Visiting Earth by Mr. Richard Dolan 

Richard Dolan, a well-respected UFO researcher, has here uses his knowledge to analyze alien encounters.  The book provides a discussion of the different types of aliens that appear to have visited the earth and their apparent motives and goals.

Feedback: This book provides an interesting speculative analysis from a trusted source.  Most readers have a lot of praise for both the author and this work in particular. A few, however, think the book is somewhat old news, covering old ground.  

And Also: Communion by Whitley Strieber is a classic first-person account of the author’s encounter with aliens.  Readers of Richard Dolan regularly cite it as a standard account. 

Aliens: The Complete History of Extra Terrestrials: From Ancient Times to Ridley Scott by Ron Miller 

A complete history of alien life starts hundreds of years ago, then discusses the basic science involved in alien life studies, and then the cultural effects of the aliens’ phenomenon.  Over 200 illustrations covering a range of topics from old engravings, movie art, alleged aliens encounters, and scientific analysis.

Feedback: Ron Miller is an award-winning illustrator with a specialty in scientific works, including designing commemoratives for the United States Postal Service. There are forwards by a scientist and expert on possible alien languages (xenolinguistics for you scientists). 

Readers found the book interesting and beautiful to look at. A few people thought it did not provide enough information. 

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing “Hoax” by Philip C. Plait 

A good general skeptics account of all things allegedly astronomical by the author of the website.  This book covers all the ground including UFO sightings.  The author, an astronomer himself, includes an appeal for Hollywood and culture as a whole to be more realistic about the science of it all.

Feedback: This book is “popular science at its finest.”  Aliens talk is fascinating but there are also a lot of misunderstandings involved that can be helped by some basic science.  

Readers found the book both educational and enjoyable to read, including finding that the author has a sense of humor.  

Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken (Author), Michael Heron (Translator)

This is the classic bestseller that argues that aliens were involved in ancient technology such as the pyramids. The author argues that there are many signs of alien visitations with ancient civilizations providing a welcome wagon for them.

Feedback: This book as well as follow-ups were best sellers.  As a work of actual history and science, the thesis has been strongly debunked by many experts. Many readers, however, quite enjoyed his rather imaginative theories. 

How UFOs Conquered the World: The History of a Modern Myth by David Clarke

This is a cultural exploration of UFO sightings in the 20th Century.  Dr. Clark is a leading expert on folklore and mythology. He also served as a consultant when official files on investigations of UFO sights were released.

Feedback: This is an autobiographical account of the author’s journey from being a believer in UFOs to a skeptic. Readers found it well-written and respectful given the author’s own journey.  Some note it is not a complete look at the subject matter. 

In Plain Sight: An Investigation Into UFOs and Impossible Science by Ross Coulthart 

Ross Coulthart is a long-time award-winning Australian investigatory journalist.  He tackles UFOs in this recent book, speaking with witnesses, researchers, scientists, and defense and intelligence officials.  

Feedback: Coulthart approaches the subject professionally, impressing readers with his detailed, objective analysis.  Some critics argue his conclusions are not skeptical enough and that his leaving open a “truth is out there” vibe is not backed up by the evidence provided. 

Invasions USA: The Essential Science Fiction Films of the 1950s by Michael Bliss

The 1950s was a prime time for movies about aliens, which often were deep down a response to concerns of the times. This book discusses leading alien films from the era, providing details about the films as well as what they tell us about the people of the time.  

Michael Bliss teaches English and film criticism.  

Feedback: Readers praised this book as a quick and easy read that does not only rehash the usual anti-communist type insights about these films. 

The Roswell Report by the U.S. Air Force

Roswell, New Mexico was the sight of a famous UFO sighting in 1947, one that has gained much notoriety over time.  It has also inspired many fictional accounts, including television shows. 

This is a report by the U.S. government that is intended to provide the complete story.  It contains analysis, witness reports, and interview statements. Many illustrations. 

Feedback: Those who believe that aliens arrived will find this a sort of “cover-up” report, but even they should appreciate the value of having the official story! 

For others, they will find an interesting account of an official government investigation of this bit of UFO history.  Readers were impressed with the book, especially as an important reference volume to have on your shelf. 

UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record by Leslie Kean 

Leslie Kean is an investigative journalist. She provides an investigation into official UFO accounts by scientists, military personnel, and aviators.  

Feedback: Kean, who also has written a book investigating the afterlife, provides a journalist’s take on the whole UFO issue.  

Multiple scientists have praised the serious effort put forth in this study.  Critics have argued she leaves out a lot of evidence that disagrees with her conclusions. Some critics still agree the book is well written and the author does not only provide “sensational” material.  

Bonus: UFO Cow Abduction: Beam Up Your Bovine (With Light and Sound!) by Matt Smiriglio (Author)

This is a fun little toy and discussion starter.  It is a little model “flying saucer” and cow with sound effects to show what happens when aliens have decided to, darn they keep on doing this, abduct your cow. It includes a little book “The Cow Abduction Chronicles.”