The truth is still out there, The X-Files fans! If you’ve been living under a rock since 1993, it’s a show about FBI agents who investigate unexplainable occurrences like supernatural murders, spooky mutant monsters and alien abductions. It’s one of the longest-running science fiction series in TV history, and features two of the most memorable characters in pop culture: Special Agents Fox Mulder, the zany and sarcastic conspiracy theorist, and Dana Scully, the skeptical realist who performs way too many autopsies. While the original series ended in 2002, the show is returning for a six-episode miniseries run on FOX starting January 24, to the alternating delight and anxiety of the sci-fi thriller’s die-hard fans. Either way, series stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny seem to be excited about returning to the roles that made them household names, and the Sunday premier of the new episodes is guaranteed to be a TV phenomenon. We’re clearly crazy for this show.
Whether you’re new to the series, or a returning fan who wants to believe that the revival will answer all your unanswered questions, here are some book recommendations to get you in the mood for the return of The X-Files:
If you like creepy stories of alien abduction:
Communion: A True Story by Whitley Strieber (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2008)
Pulled off Mulder’s imaginary bookshelf, Communion tells the “true” account of Whitely Strieber’s encounter with visitors from “elsewhere” after an abduction from a remote cabin in upstate New York. It’s one of the most well-known accounts of otherworldly abduction to ever be published. Whether you believe in alien abduction or not, this book will definitely mesmerize and frighten you until you realize that its original 1987 cover art was hilarious enough to be parodied in The X-Files Season 3 episode, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.”
If you like monsters-of-the-week:
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer (Tor Books, 2012)
One of the most famous elements of The X-Files are the uncanny monster-of-the-week episodes, which were comprised of standalone stories where our heroes discovered a creepy creature at the bottom of a mystery. If you’re looking for the same feel in book form, look no further than this “weird” anthology, edited by Southern Reach Trilogy author Jeff VanderMeer and his frequent collaborator and wife, Ann. The anthology travels the full history of eerie short fiction and features short stories by Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Haruki Murakami, just to name a few.
If you like charismatic characters pulled into vast conspiracies:
11/23/63: A Novel by Stephen King (Gallery Books, 2012)
Speaking of Stephen King, his 2012 novel about a man sucked into a time-traveling conspiracy to prevent the assassination of JFK is a perfect mood-setter for the new season of The X-Files, especially if you liked the time-travel or conspiracy-themed episodes. Plus, when you finish the book, you can binge-watch the J.J. Abrams-produced television adaptation, starring James Franco and Chris Cooper, on Hulu starting February 15.
If you like romantic tension between FBI Agents:
The Heist: A Novel by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (Bantam, 2014)
While The Heist doesn’t have the eerie mysteries that make the dynamic between Mulder and Scully so juicy, it does have a pair of funny and attractive crime-solvers working for the FBI. Special Agent Kate O’Hare teams up with ex-con man Nicolas Fox to thwart the titular heist. Authors Janet Evanovich, famous for her plucky heroines, and Lee Goldberg, who used to write for the television series Monk, are a pleasure to read. Plus, if you love The Heist, there are seven more books in the series!
Extra-Credit Alien Freakiness:
Fire in the Sky, Travis Walton (Marlowe & Company, 1997)
If you’re looking for the most straight-up, disturbing and famous story of alien abduction, look no further than Travis Walton’s Fire in the Sky, which was also made into a nightmare-inducing feature film in 1993. Both the book and the film tell the story of Walton’s mysterious five-day disappearance while working with a logging crew in Arizona, which he alleges was a violent alien kidnapping. It’s one of the most strongly defended accounts of extraterrestrial capture by UFO believers, due to the fact that Walton’s story is corroborated by other loggers who witnessed his abduction, who gave their accounts during a polygraph test.