the truth is out there

So You’ve Decided You Care About Aliens

Photo: Historia/REX/Shutterstock

As you may have read in the freaking New York Times this past Memorial Day weekend, or in the freaking New York Times in December 2017 (!!!), UFOs — defined as unidentified flying objects — are definitely real, and the United States government definitely knows it. This doesn’t mean for sure that UFOs are aliens (many think what’s being seen are super-secretive military crafts and/or drones), but that is my personal belief. So, as a long, long-time, self-described ufologist and alien enthusiast, I, for one, am vindicated. I am also annoyed. I told you this already, and nobody took me seriously. Being endorsed by the paper of record is actually the worst possible alien-related outcome (except an invasion, lol), because everyone has to believe, and nobody cares anyway. Before, when nobody cared and nobody believed, those of us who did could consider ourselves better informed and therefore superior. Now we’re just sad.

On the one hand, I don’t want to reward anyone who is only getting into aliens now that they’ve received mainstream credibility. But on the other hand, the UFO community is literally dying. (The Greatest Generation is also the Roswell Generation, and without living memory of that era, I worry we’re losing touch!!!) I need all the allies I can get. So if you read one or both Times UFO stories and came away wanting to know more, I have a reading list for you. The truth is out there. Welcome.

UFOs by Leslie Kean
Leslie Kean is legit. She co-authored the Times’s UFO stories, and she’s a well-respected investigative journalist who, before getting into aliens, wrote a book about the Burmese liberation struggle (among other things). UFOs was originally published in 2010, and became a national best seller, probably because it rules. I read this book in a day, wide-eyed and screaming. The sources (including many government officials and pilots) cited seem so credible, and the details are so specific, that it’s impossible to come away from this one not thinking something is up.

Area 51, by Annie Jacobsen
Annie Jacobsen is another good introductory ufologist author because she’s the real deal: she’s a journalist, author, and Pulitzer Prize finalist for her book The Pentagon’s Brain. As you may have guessed by its title, this book focuses on Area 51, the shadowy (but REAL!) military base in Nevada with rumored ties to extraterrestrial research and development. (Please note here that Roswell and Area 51 are not the same place, nor are they in the same state. People say that to me a lot and I get mad. Roswell is a town in New Mexico, where some believe a UFO crash landed. Area 51 is a government site in Nevada.) This book is rather thick, and it focuses much more on the government secrecy side of things than the others on this list, but it is still SHOCKING and worth your time.

Communion, by Whitley Strieber
Alongside Barney and Betty Hill’s, Whitley Strieber’s is the definitive alien abduction story, though he refrains from labeling it as such — detailing his abduction from an upstate New York cabin in 1985, Strieber calls his captors “the visitors,” a show of restraint that (to my mind) makes him all the more credible. I don’t really get into abduction stories much (one has to draw the line somewhere), but Communion is a classic and it’s embarrassing to be a UFO enthusiast who hasn’t read it.

Encounter in Rendlesham Forest, by Nick Pope
For the uninitiated, Nick Pope is THE British UFO guy. (In England they take UFOs a lot more seriously than we do here, which I find inexplicable and hilarious when juxtaposed with, like, the Royal Family.) He worked at the British Government’s Ministry of Defence, where it was his literal job to investigate reports of UFO sightings. And this book is about the very best British UFO sighting there is, if you ask me — known as the “Rendlesham Forest Incident,” it involves numerous military eyewitnesses, elevated radiation readings, and honestly what sounds like a truly gorgeous spaceship. I love this one.

The Day After Roswell, by William J. Birnes and Colonel Philip J. Corso
I love a book that describes itself as a “landmark exposé,” which this one does, and you know what: true! Colonel Philip J. Corso was an Army intelligence officer and member of President Eisenhower’s National Security Council at the time of the alleged crash landing of a spacecraft in Roswell, New Mexico (which, I’m sure you know, was 1947), which means he was there. According to Corso, U.S. military officials took pieces of spaceship and reverse engineered them, paving the way for many of today’s technologies! What! Why would he make that up???

Witness to Roswell, by Thomas J. Carey and Donald R. Schmitt
Okay, to be honest, this is the craziest freaking book I’ve ever read in my entire life. Of the books on this list, this one is definitely the, ah, most fanciful. (Think, like, full-on deathbed confessions from people who were supposedly on-site when alien bodies were recovered from the Roswell crash landing, details about how they were buried in children’s caskets … it’s nuts.) The authors aren’t academics so much as long-time researchers and fans, and their websites look like this and this. If even 5 percent of the events described by this book actually happened, it would be Earth-shattering. Either way, I had the time of my LIFE reading this one, and you will too.

So You’ve Decided You Care About Aliens