Michael Crichton was an amazingly talented author that we lost much too soon. Crichton finished his writing journey in 2008, but I firmly believe his legacy and books will last for eternity.
One of my favorite authors (it’s so hard to try to narrow that list down), I have read almost everything that Crichton wrote. This list is my seven favorites from his collection.
Even though Michael Crichton knew he wanted to be a writer, he initially set out to take the safe course. He pursued a medical career and graduated with an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. He started his writing career while at Harvard, initially writing under the pseudonyms John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. You can read more about Crichton on his official website.
Altogether, Crichton wrote about 30 books, three of which have been published since his passing. In addition, he was the force behind the hit TV series ER, and many of his books, including most of those listed here, have been turned into movies.
His experience helps keep me motivated and patient while I continue working today success. Hopefully, one day, someone will write a post like this about my books.
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The Top 7 Best Michael Crichton Books
I know not everyone will agree with me, but Sphere is by far my most loved book by Michael Crichton. While they did their best to make a worthwhile movie, it does not even shake a stick at the masterpiece Crichton originally wrote.
Sphere takes place at the bottom of the South Pacific ocean. A large spacecraft has been discovered and an elite team of scientists are tasked with exploring it and its wonders. The secrets they uncover and the dangers they face makes this a book that was hard to put down. It will always be my go-to when I need a little heart-pumping action.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It has been a treasured part of my collection since I purchased it in 1990. I have leant my personal copy out more times than I can remember, and recommended others read it probably hundreds of times. It will forever be one of my favorites. It’s been in my mind a lot as I develop my current work-in-progress, Paradise.
Timeline is another masterpiece that, in my opinion, did not get the rave reviews it deserved. In this case, the movie adaptation did do a decent job of portraying the story (and features Paul Walker and Gerard Butler – not related, but would be awesome if he was), but movies will never be able to cover the depth or emotion that can be found in the written word.
The book begins with a man speaking unintelligibly wandering dazed in the Arizona desert. He survives less that 24 hours after he is found.
On the other side of the world, an unbelievable find is discovered by an archaeological team. The discovery leads to the introduction to a secretive, international corporation that gives the archaeologists the chance to not only study the past, but to see the past first-hand.
This fun read is full of action and emotion as the team strives to rescue a beloved friend. If you have not read Timeline, be sure to add it to your reading list. The movie is worth watching after you read the book.
3. Jurassic Park
Perhaps the most well-known and most beloved of Michael Crichton’s books is Jurassic Park. Don’t think that you know this book just because you have seen the movies. While the movies were masterfully done (except for maybe The Lost World), the book gives you much more detail and more insight into the characters than is possible with film.
I hardly need to go into detail, but Jurassic Park centers around a new theme park idea. An island has been transformed into a new home for dinosaurs. The dinosaurs have been resurrected thanks to the ingenuity of technical science.
Sometimes the best of plans lead to terrible consequences, and that is exactly what happens in Jurassic Park. Don’t think that any of the heart-racing moments are lost on the written page. In fact, I think the book scared me more than the movies did. This is a classic that everyone should read at least once.
To me, Prey is both exciting and terrifying. The story could easily take place today.
It centers around the Xymos Corporation based in the Nevada desert. Xymos is a leader in nanotechnology, but their latest invention has gotten the upper hand on them. When eight people become trapped by a cloud of nanobots, it will take all the ingenuity they have to survive – if they can.
I loved this book because it feels like something that could happen in today’s world. It’s the story of both technological triumphs and the warning of how technology could turn against us.
Everyone would enjoy this book, but especially those fans of speculative fiction. The simple idea of what could happen is sometimes more scary that what does happen.
5. Rising Sun
Rising Sun is a break from the science fiction genre that Michael Crichton may be best known for. The book begins in downtown Los Angeles. The Japanese super-corporation, Nakamoto, is celebrating their grand opening for their United States headquarters, when the body of a young woman is discovered on the 46th floor of their building.
The death leads to an intense chase full of industrial intrigue and unexpected twists. The Japanese have a saying, “Business is war.” This tale takes that war to a whole new level.
I loved Rising Sun for its fast pace and the depth of the different characters. Not everything is as it seems, so you have to make sure you are paying attention. This is a great book to introduce you to Crichton’s writing style if you have not already read any of his other works.
For those of you that want to cheat, there is a movie adaptation. It stars Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.
Disclosure is another fast-paced tale of corporate intrigue. The main character, Tom Sanders, works for the computer firm DigiCom and is quickly making his way up the corporate ladder. His future is bright until a meeting behind closed doors alone with his new female boss sends everything into a death spiral.
This book is just as timely today as when it was written, and perhaps more so, as the Me Too movement continues to gain traction. It tells the story from the other side, a what-if scenario where a man might be accused of something he didn’t do.
There are more secrets than just the ones involving Sanders. What he learns in his struggle to clear his name will forever alter his view of his beloved company.
I loved this book for its ripped-from-the-headlines feel. Michael Crichton was not afraid to feature a subject that many might have felt taboo at the time of his writing. Still as relevant today, it is a book that everyone will enjoy reading.
Again, there is a movie version of Disclosure. It stars the talented Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, and Donald Sutherland.
7. State of Fear
Last in my list is State of Fear. It revolves around Peters Evans, an environmental lawyer that is working to keep the world a safe place to live. Battling against an eco-terrorist group that is conspiring to cause natural disasters fueled by the weather, Evans’ work is cut out for him.
State of Fear takes you around the world from Antarctica to the Solomon Islands and many more locations. Full of action and science that could realistically be happening in our world today, it highlights issues like global warming and how man is affecting the weather.
It made my top seven list because it was full of facts that really made me think about what is happening with weather today. In addition, it is full of action and highly entertaining. Again, I had a hard time putting the book down and read it in one weekend. If you are at all concerned about the weather issues we keep seeing, you will be enlightened by this book.
This list of Michael Crichton books is hardly exhaustive. In fact, he wrote close to 30 books, three that were published posthumously, including Dragon Teeth, which was just published in 2017. It is one of the few books of his I have not read but will add it to this list later on.
I can’t say I loved all his books. To be honest, I was rather disappointed with both Airframe and Next. That said, even my least favorite books by Crichton were good enough that I read the book in its entirety. I’m not saying the books were bad. You may in fact love the books, but the seven listed above are my favorites. The two mentioned here just did not resonate with me.
Do you have a favorite by Crichton that I have not listed? Share your title and why you loved it in the comments below.
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