15 Octavia Butler Books That Should Be Read By Everyone

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Shatakshi Tomar

11 months ago|7 min read


Books hold a lot more value in the hearts of passionate readers. They are not simply a means of entertainment or educating oneself, but finding oneself. 

They unfold the reality of society and the world. And so were the books written by Octavia Estelle Butler. Let's get to know more about her before jumping to Octavia Butler's books, the intriguing section of this article. 

About Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler was a popular and celebrated African-American writer. She wrote novels and books, centered around the science-fiction genre. She was born on June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California. 

She was the only child her parents had. She had a pretty hard time during the early days of her life and career. Her father (Laurice James Butler) was a shoeshine. 

He died during the early phase of Octavia's life. Her mother, Octavia Margaret Guy Butler who was a maid, somehow managed the upbringing of her daughter. The renowned writer took her last breath on February 24, 2006, at the age of 58. 

Being Dyslexic and introverted had brought a lot of miseries during her school days. Never been able to socialize much, she chose writing as a medium to keep her entertained.

In 1968, she received her degree from Pasadena Community College. Afterward, she went to California State University. And finally, she joined UCLA to take writing classes. 

While attending a workshop in Los Angeles, Octavia met an established writer, Harlan Ellison. He encouraged her to join the 'Clarion science-fiction workshop'. Taking inspiration from him, she published her very first short story, 'Crossover'.

An interview hosted by Charles H. Rowell (JSTOR collection), confirmed that she used to work several jobs to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. 

One thing that kept her going in between, was writing. That's something she cared about. And that's the prominent reason behind Octavia Butler's award-winning books. She won several awards for her stories and novels, including two Hugo and two Nebula awards within the period of (1984-2000). 

In 1995, she was honored by MacArthur Fellowship also called 'Genius' Grant. She was the first woman African-American writer to achieve this reward. 

These are the highlights of her life. It's time to introduce you guys to Octavia Butler's books that should be read by everyone; the most awaited fragment of this article. She had categorized her books and novels into four divisions as follows. 

Patternist series 

The very first series in the list of Octavia Butler's books is the Patternist series.

1. Patternmaster

Octavia Butler, books, must-read, sci-fi, fiction, book nerds, read
Patternmaster | Octavia Butler Books

This is the first novel written by Octavia Butler in 1976. But, the last one considering the chronological order of reading these books. 

It depicts a futuristic world where different divisions of society exist. Consisting of Patternists (people with telepathic ability), Mutes (humans with no such superpower), and Clayarks (hybrids having human's head and cat's body).

She has raised the ideas of power, community, responsibility, and communication in the novel. 

2. Mind Of My Mind

This Octavia Butler's book was written in 1977. It shows an immortal father, Doro, who's stealing others' bodies to fulfill his pursuits. Desire to create more telepaths draws him to his daughter, Mary. She is psychic. Mary revolts when she gets to know his intentions. 

What an amazing story! Depicts the concept of power. 

3. Survivor

Published in 1978, Survivor is another part of the patternmaster series, though a little bit different in the plot.

 It portrays a female protagonist, Alanna, who has an African-American and some sort of Asian background, and deals with a plague that has spread worldwide. The plague is what we encountered in the Patternmaster, 'Clayarks'. 

The major theme that revolves around this plot is race and religion. (This book was later disaffirmed by Octavia herself). 

4. Wild Seed

The wild seed was published in 1980. The story deals with an immortal Doro who's been wandering for thousands of years until he met another being just like him (immortal). Her name is Anyanwu. What makes them contrasting is the helping trait of Anyanwu. She uses her abilities to help and heal others. 

Butler has portrayed Anyanwu as a strong female protagonist with patience and kindness. 

5. Clay's Ark

Clay's Ark displays a plot where the protagonists, a father who's a doctor, and his twin daughters get caught up in an inescapable situation. 

They have to deal with a deadly virus that keeps invading human bodies. It compels them to infect others and reproduce more species of that kind. This Octavia Butler's book was published in 1984. Its plot is sort of different from the others. 

Octavia has manifested the idea of domination and war, whether to hold on to humanity and save the world or surrender it to the deadly virus. 

6. Seed To Harvest

Seed to Harvest is an Octavia Butler's book that is a compilation of the Patternist or patternmaster series. 

But it doesn't include 'Survivor'. It's a better option to invest your money and time in a complete single book if you wish. 

Xenogenesis series 

7. Dawn

This Octavia Butler's book, published in 1987 will leave you amazed. Butler introduced the audience to aliens here. 

Quite an engaging book as you'll witness an alien race looking out to resettle the devastated earth along with the humanity residing in it. But Lilith (the human) has to pay a price for it, as in not money but something more expensive. 

The story has twists and lots of DNA exchange and mutations across the universe involved. Give it a read to know more. 

8. Adulthood Rites

The second sequel in the xenogenesis series. It was published in 1988. Taking the story a little further, Lilith's mutated son 'Akin' has shown up in the novel. It shows the complexities he goes through being a different kind of species.

9. Imago

Octavia Butler, books, must-read, sci-fi, fiction, book nerds, read
Imago | Octavia Butler Books

Coming to the last sequel of the xenogenesis series, Imago was published in 1989. It concludes the whole plot and story. You'll get to know about a new character Ooloi. Ooloi can manipulate genes. 

It can activate or remove any sort of genes from the human body. 

This series is all about creating a new race that has the genes of humans and aliens. It touches upon the themes of race, consent, gender, and a lot more. 

You might get a lot of questions while reading it, after all, it's a complete package of thrill, horrible, and what not sort of experience. 

10. Xenogenesis

The whole Xenogenesis series is available in one Octavia Butler's book called Xenogenesis. It makes it easier not to buy each book and get it all in one place. 

11. Lilith's Brood

Lilith's Brood is again an omnibus version of the xenogenesis series. You can get the complete version of these three Octavia Butler's books in this one. 

So many options to choose between. 

Parable series (also called the Earthseed series) 

12. Parable Of The Sower

This Octavia Butler's book was published in 1993, describing a dystopian world around the 2020s. It was set with the idea of what the near future would be like. 

It mentions all those calamities and devastations that the world would face if people keep overusing or destroying its resources. It's told from the perspective of a girl named 'Lauren Olamina' who has the power to feel others' pain and pleasure. 

This one is quite famous among Octavia Butler's books. Give it a read and you will connect to it on a different level. 

13. Parable Of The Talent

Next in the series is Parable of the Talents, published in 1998 as a sequel to the previous one. 

It's kind of taking the story forward where Lauren has to suffer and fight the evil, eventually succeeding in her aim to make America a better place to live. Octavia Butler won a Nebula award for this piece of art. 

It's sort of a mixture of various themes running around like humanity, religion, the devastation of the earth, enslavement, and so on. Must give it a read. 

14. Kindred

One of the most loved among Octavia Butler's books. It was published in 1979. It depicts the concept of time traveling. 

Dana, the protagonist, time travels to the 1800s every time her ancestor needed to be saved. 

Here Butler has shown the practice of slavery, power control, race. The story is quite interesting. Worthy of giving your precious time to it. 

15. Fledgling

Octavia Butler, books, must-read, sci-fi, fiction, book nerds, read
Fledgling | Octavia Butler Books

Fledgling, the last novel to add to this Octavia Butler's books list. Demonstrating the concept of vampires, who feed on humans, fledgling came into the market in 2005. 

Its protagonist is again a black woman named Shori. The vampire community is known as the Ina species in the novel. 

A perfect book for those looking for thrills and chills in a novel. 

So, that concludes the list of Octavia Butler's books that are a must-read for everyone. Hope it helped you in finding a perfect book for yourself.

Do let us know us know in the comment box which of these Octavia Butler's books, you like the most.

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Shatakshi Tomar

Hey, I'm Shatakshi, putting my best efforts here. Hope you'll like and be a part of this journey.



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