Mohsin Hamid recommends books that feature alien life-forms: The Telegraph
If it’s a pre-9/11 sensibility you’re hankering for, that bygone era when Arab-seeming tribes of natural-resource controlling jihadists could still be cast as heroes in an American bestseller, look no further than Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965). For advice, check out Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series (1979-1992), in which you will be informed that the secret to flying is throwing yourself at the ground and missing. To transcend gender, crack open Ursula K LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). To enter a family (while leaving, or at least twisting, the space-time continuum), seek out Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (1962).
And, last but not least, to soar out into the universe and grasp at a perspective that might be called divine, there is Olaf Stapledon. Star Maker (1937). Hallelujah.