18 Best Michael Crichton Books Of All Time

Prolific author Michael Crichton has millions of books sold, but these are the best Michael Crichton books you will want to add to your Amazon wish list.

With the publication of The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton skyrocketed to the top of bestseller lists, and his books have remained there since. With over 200 million books sold, he is one of the most prolific writers of the last two centuries. In addition to books, Crichton has speeches, screenplays, and essays in his list of works.

He penned 26 books, including some under the pen name John Lange.

Crichton was born in Chicago in 1942 and died in Los Angeles in 2008. He wrote and created the television show ER and the feature film Westworld. He earned an Emmy, Peabody, and Writer’s Guild of America Award throughout his work, and he even had a dinosaur named after him, the Crichtonsaurus bohlini. This list of the best Michael Crichton books is a good starting point to get to know the beloved author. 

Popular Michael Crichton Books

Best Michael Crichton Books

1. Jurassic Park

Few books are as well-known as Jurassic Park, likely due to the Stephen Spielberg movie. Through the power of cloning, scientists bring dinosaurs to life in this book. They opened a theme park on Isla Nublar, only to discover their security protocols would not work well, and the beasts created havoc on the island.

Interestingly, Jurassic Park started as a screenplay Crichton wrote in 1983. He never developed it and repurposed the story into the famous book that hit the bookshelves in 1990. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller and became a film in 1993. Check out our list of the best Paulo Coelho books.

“God creates dinosaurs, God kills dinosaurs, God creates man, man kills God, man brings back dinosaurs.”

Michael Crichton

2. The Andromeda Strain

Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Andromeda Strain is a techno-thriller by Crichton that was the first book he published under his name. It hit bookshelves in 1969 and established Crichton’s work as a techno-thriller writer. It was an American bestseller and helped establish techno-thriller as a literary genre.

The Andromeda Strain explores what happens when an Air Force team goes to recover a military satellite, only to find that everyone in the town where it landed had died. A team led by Dr. Jeremy Stone takes the only two that survived underground, where they discover a microorganism they name Andromeda.

As the Andromeda strain mutates, it escapes, the novel becomes a race against time to fight the bug before it destroys the world. Looking for more sci-fi novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best Cyberpunk authors!

“Human intelligence was more trouble than it was worth. It was more destructive than creative, more confusing than revealing, more discouraging than satisfying, more spiteful than charitable.”

Michael Crichton

3. Eaters Of The Dead

In Eaters of the Dead, readers travel back to the year 922. Arab courtier Ibn Fadlan accompanies a party of Viking warriors back to their home, only to find that the Vikings face grave danger from monsters that devour human flesh.

Many literary critics believe Eaters of the Dead to be based on Beowulf. It uses many pieces from the Nordic poem and the actual writings of the real Ibn Fadlan, and it reads like a real-life account of the journey, blending fiction with the facts of what happened at the time of the Vikings. Crichton published this book in 1976, and it later inspired the film The 13th Warrior starring Antonio Banderas, released in 1999.

“Praise not the day until evening has come, a woman until she is burnt, a sword until it is tried, a maiden until she is married, ice until it has been crossed, beer until it has been drunk.”

Michael Crichton

4. Congo

In Congo, a group of three adventurers set out in search of the lost city of Zinj to find diamonds while also investigating some mysterious deaths. Along the way, they find themselves facing cannibals, volcanoes, and deadly gorillas. With the help of a tame, sign-language speaking gorilla named Amy, the research team discovers a genetic engineering experiment gone wrong, leaving them fighting for their lives against genetically mutated gorillas who want to see them dead.

Crichton published Congo in 1980. He also wrote the screenplay for the 1995 film of the same name. The book was well-received, but the film was less popular.

“The purpose of life is to stay alive. Watch any animal in nature–all it tries to do is stay alive. It doesn’t care about beliefs or philosophy. Whenever any animal’s behavior puts it out of touch with the realities of its existence, it becomes extinct.”

Michael Crichton

5. Rising Sun

Rising Sun takes a step back from the science fiction world and takes on corporate intrigue by taking readers to Los Angeles to explore the competition between American and Japanese business interests. Crichton skillfully weaves several plot twists to create a best-selling novel that starts with a murder and ends in a business war.

Rising Sun came out in 1992 after Jurassic Park. This crime thriller novel clearly shows the differences between how Japanese and American mindsets work around business and corporate culture. 

“But free trade is meaningless unless there is also fair trade.”

Michael Crichton

6. The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery is a 1975 Crichton thriller novel in the historical fiction genre. It follows the story of the Great Train Robbery of 1855, a massive gold heist in Victorian England. The main character, Edward Pierce, concocts a brilliant scheme to steal over 12,000 pounds worth of gold while it travels from London to the Crimean War via train.

Though it is a work of fiction, there is some truth to this particular story because it is based on actual events. Yet it contains enough fiction that it can’t be in the non-fiction genre. 

“Yet there was also widespread public complacency, for the fundamental assumption of Victorians was that progress—progress in the sense of better conditions for all mankind—was inevitable.”

Michael Crichton

7. The Lost World

The Lost World is the sequel to Jurassic Park. Six years after the events in the first book, rumors surface that something survived the island’s destruction. A team of adventurers returns to the island to see what has survived, only to become unwitting prey to the dinosaurs who still roam it.

This book is surprisingly different from the movie by the same title, taking a completely different storyline in many parts. Crichton published The Lost World in 1995. The end of the book left the door open for more stories in the Jurassic Park line.

“All your life people will tell you things. And most of the time, probably ninety-five percent of the time, what they’ll tell you will be wrong.”

Michael Crichton

8. The Terminal Man

The Terminal Man was the second novel Crichton published under his name. This sci-fi novel explores what happens when scientists use electrodes to control seizures in a patient, Harry Benson. Benson becomes extremely violent during the seizures, and the experimental technology is designed to send soothing pulses to the pleasure centres of his brain. After some initial success, the result becomes catastrophic when the patient learns to control the device himself and the seizures spiral out of control.

The Terminal Man was published in 1972 and released as a film starring George Segal in 1974. Despite attracting criticism from the American Epilepsy Foundation, it received good reviews. However, Crichton said it was his least favorite of all his books. You might be interested in exploring sci-fi books, such as the best Edgar Rice Burroughs books.

“She had discovered long ago that you could use a computer without understanding how it worked. Just as you could use an automobile, vacuum cleaner – or your own brain.”

Michael Crichton

9. Airframe

When a plane lands in an emergency off the California coast, rescuers find carnage, including three dead people, when they enter the plane. This discovery launches an investigation that shows corporate corruption and cover-ups that caused the deadly accident. This techno-thriller science-fiction book shows many technical documents that give it a sense of authenticity, but it is entirely fiction.

Crichton spent time on the National Transportation Safety Board’s aircraft accident report archives to research Airframe to learn more about airplane crashes. The novel was published in 1996 and received good reviews from critics. 

“Sometimes I look around my living room, and the most real thing in the room is the television. It’s bright and vivid, and the rest of my life looks drab. So I turn the damn thing off. That does it every time. Get my life back.”

Michael Crichton

10. Twister

Twister is the screenplay of the movie by the same name. Most of the book is the same as the movie, though it has a few changes. It follows the work of storm chasers as they try to put an instrument pack inside a massive tornado to learn what happens in these storms.

Fans of the movie love the screenplay publication. The movie was a commercial success, with records for its opening weekend. It remains one of the 100 top-grossing films of all time even over 20 years later.

“Things go wrong. You can’t explain it, you can’t predict it. Killing yourself won’t bring your dad back. I’m sorry that he died, but that was a long time ago. You gotta move on. Stop living in the past, and look what you got right in front of you.”

Michael Crichton

11. State Of Fear

In State of Fear, one of Crichton’s newer novels published in 2004, the author follows the story of a group of eco-terrorists who are plotting mass murder to show the dangers of climate change. Even though it is a sci-fi, dystopian novel, he uses it as a platform to talk about his views on the environment.

Like many Crichton books, this one takes real-world data and weaves a colorful tale around it to get people to think while also entertaining them. Environmental critics criticized the book as having inaccurate information about climate change, but it contains quite a bit of Crichton’s own opinions.

“Nobody dares to solve the problems-because the solution might contradict your philosophy, and for most people clinging to beliefs is more important than succeeding in the world.” –

Michael Crichton

12. Dragon Teeth

Dragon Teeth was written in 1974, but it was not published until 2017 after Crichton died. It is set in the American West when hunting for fossils was major money. One young student working for paleontologists gets caught up in controversy while coming across the discovery of a lifetime.

Fans will appreciate this one because it was a long-lost manuscript. This book captures the thriller style Crichton is famous for while also offering an interesting work of historical fiction.

“You must first learn patience, if you wish to learn anything at all.”

Michael Crichton

13. Odds On

Odds On is the first-ever Crichton book, but it was published under his pen name John Lange. The book tells of a hotel robbery in a fancy Spanish resort that uses an IMB supercomputer to calculate the crime details. Yet unbeknownst to the thieves, the hotel is filled with femmes fatales, and they have quite the adventure to escape with their lives.

Odds On perfectly shows Crichton’s ability to misdirect the reader to keep them guessing. Readers fans of Crichton will enjoy discovering his earliest works when he lacked the confidence to put his name behind a novel.

“The waiter came, bringing the second course, pollo con ajillo, chicken with garlic. They would both stink frightfully when they were through, Miss Shaw thought; she would have to remember to buy some mints.”

Michael Crichton

14. A Case Of Need

Published in 1968 under the John Lange name, A Case of Need discusses the idea of legalizing abortion long before Roe vs. Wade occurred. It shows what happens when a botched abortion kills a young woman from a wealthy family in Boston. What unfolds is a medical and legal thriller.

Crichton wrote this book while he was enrolled in Harvard Medical School. His medical school training likely gave him the inspiration for the medical theme of the tale. Modern readers may find it a little out of date, but it does show the variety of topics that Crichton can write about.

“Never take a position unless you are certain it can be defined against any onslaught. That may sound like good advice to a general, but then, a courtroom is nothing more than a very civilized war.”

Michael Crichton

15. Micro

Another book published after his death, Micro, was unfinished when the author died in 2008. Richard Preston completed the work, which tells the story of graduate students recruited by a microbiology firm, only to find themselves thrown into the wilderness where they must fight for their lives.

Like most Crichton works, Micro melds scientific fact and future technology with a healthy dose of pulse-pounding fiction. The fact that it is the author’s last work makes it a favorite among Crichton fans.

“Nature was not gentle or nice. There was no such thing as mercy in the natural world. You don’t get any points for trying. You either survive or you don’t.”

Michael Crichton

16. Timeline

A man in his seventies faints in Northern Arizona. He is eventually declared dead on arrival. Later, he is discovered to be a worker for ITC. In France, Professor of Archeology Edward Johnston directs a team of student archeologists. He suspects foul play on the part of ITC and decides to investigate. In his absence, his students find malicious items from his belongings, including his spectacles and an enigmatic message from 1352. The students set out on a time travel journey to rescue Johnston.

What seems to be science fiction about a parallel universe, time travel, and relativity eventually turns into a sword-and-sorcery romp in medieval France. “Timeline” will charm you with how Crichton personalizes the laws of physics to create a magnificent adventure novel.

“…if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything. You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree.”

Michael Crichton

17. Prey

Successful software developer Jack Forman often examines things more deeply than the average person. So after discovering an inside scandal in the multinational technology firm he’s working in, he’s immediately dismissed for reporting the issue. 

He becomes a house-husband while his wife Julia is busy making breakthroughs with nanotechnology. While caring for their sick daughter Amanda, Jack uncovers the horrible experiment that went wrong in the Nevada desert. A swarm of nanoparticles has infected microbots with artificial intelligence designed to hunt. Does Jack have the strength to destroy the nanobots before they wreak havoc and take over humanity?

“Prey” has all the elements Crichton’s readers expect. It’s the novel that introduced the world to nanotechnology back when it was still a new concept. With an explosive storyline and plausible scientific elements, this book fascinates its audience with its artistic delivery.

“…each generation writes off earlier errors as the result of bad thinking by less able minds – and then confidently embarks on fresh errors of its own.”

Michael Crichton

18. Pirate Latitudes

Captain Charles Hunter prefers to live his life on the edge in pursuit of wealth and riches. Set in 1665, as Jamaica remains a British colony resisting Spanish rule, rumors about a hidden Spanish treasure, El Trinidad, reaches Hunter’s ears. 

With the governor’s support, Hunter infiltrates the enemy island, backed by a roughneck crew, to seize the galleon and Spanish gold. When Hunter finally makes it to the island, the impenetrable jungle and the firepower of the Spanish army are all that stand between him and the wealth, making the attack just as dangerous as the gory legends. 

This pirate story from the 17th century is a lighthearted work with enthralling sidebars about the trade and politics of Caribbean piracy. This piece is rough around the edges compared to other Crichton books, which is to be anticipated from an unpublished manuscript.

“I do so think well of a man who dies with finesse.”

Michael Crichton

A Final Word On The Best Michael Crichton Books

Crichton’s works are known for their twists and turns, making them thrilling reads. Yet with so many titles spanning everything from sci-fi to historical fiction, finding the best place to start is sometimes challenging.

This list will give you a starting point as you explore this author’s works. While there are no new books on the horizon, you will find plenty to keep you busy tackling these top choices unless other lost manuscripts surface. If you liked this list of the best Michael Crichton books, you might also like our guide on the best crime thriller authors.

FAQs On The Best Michael Crichton Books

Is Michael Crichton Still Writing Books?

Michael Crichton passed away in 2008, so he is not still writing books. Micro is his final work, as it was unfinished upon his death. However, in 2017, Dragon Teeth was published posthumously.

What Makes Michael Crichton’s Books So Engaging?

Michael Crichton writes thrilling books that keep readers on their seats with startling surprises. This skill makes them ideal for movie renditions, and he even has a few movie screenplays, like Westworld, to his name.

How many books did Michael Crichton sell?

According to his official website, Michael Crichton has sold over 200 million books worldwide. It states: “Michael Crichton’s work reaches every sphere of the world, expanding minds and taking fans on consistently new and thrilling adventures, featuring iconic and memorable characters, time and time again.”

What Michael Crichton books have been turned into movies?

Over 20 books by Michael Crichton have been turned into movies. These include Jurassic Park, Disclosure, Sphere and Congo.

How many Michael Crichton Jurassic Park books are there?

There are just two Jurassic Park books by Michael Crichton. They are Jurassic Park, and The Lost World. The first two Jurassic Park movies are based on Crichton’s novels, but the subsequent films are not.

What order should I read Michael Crichton books?

Michael Crichton books offer a great deal of variety. Experts believe that you should read his books in the following order: first, the Andromeda series, then his Jurassic Park books, which his standalone books can then follow, and finally his works of non-fiction. 

What was Michael Crichton’s favorite book?

We do not know Michael Crichton’s favorite book, but according to an article in The Guardian, the author was influenced by Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and Alfred Hitchcock.

Further Reading 

Join over 15,000 writers today

Get a FREE book of writing prompts and learn how to make more money from your writing.

Powered by ConvertKit


  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.