Best Space Books and Sci-Fi: A Space.com Reading List
Space.com's editors present a reading list for space and sci-fi lovers, as well as children who are interested in astronomy and spaceflight.
Credit: Space.com/Jeremy Lips

There are plenty of great books out there about space — so many, in fact, that it can feel a little overwhelming to figure out where to start. So the editors and writers at Space.com have put together a list of their favorite books about the universe. These are the books that we love — the ones that informed us, entertained us and inspired us. We hope they'll do the same for you.

We've divided the books into five categories, which each have their own dedicated pages. On this page, we feature books we're reading now and books we've recently read, which we will update regularly. Click to see the best of:

We hope there's something on the list for every reader of every age. We're also eager to hear about your favorite space books, so please leave your suggestions in the comments, and let us know why you love them. You can see our ongoing Space Books coverage here.

By Carrie Nugent

"Asteroid Hunters" (Simon & Schuster, 2017) by Carrie Nugent.
"Asteroid Hunters" (Simon & Schuster, 2017) by Carrie Nugent.
Credit: Simon & Schuster

The solar system is a wild place, and even Earth's immediate neighborhood is much more chaotic than maps would suggest — researchers discover more than 100 near-Earth asteroids every month. A new book by Carrie Nugent, an asteroid researcher from Caltech, goes through how we find asteroids and near-Earth objects and what we would do if one was heading toward us. "Asteriod Hunters" (Simon & Schuster, 2017) is a quick overview of the growing field, giving a feel for how science is done and where we'll have to pick up speed to protect Earth — plus, a visceral understanding of exactly how much risk is out there. ~Sarah Lewin

Read an interview with Nugent on the book and the latest in asteroid hunting here.

By David Grinspoon

"Earth in Human Hands" (Grand Central Publishing, 2016) by David Grinspoon
"Earth in Human Hands" (Grand Central Publishing, 2016) by David Grinspoon
Credit: Grand Central Publishing

Over the past century, humankind's influence over our environment has increased dramatically. Astrobiologist and planetary scientist David Grinspoon argues that our species is arriving at a point that lifeforms across the galaxy may face — become self-sustaining or perish. In "Earth in Human Hands," Grinspoon explores the ways that, for good or bad, humans have seized control of the planet. The choice is whether we do so mindlessly, or whether we act in a responsible, considerate manner. Such a dilemma may be common to all life, and the most successful, long-lasting civilizations in the galaxy may live on planets they have engineered to be stable over extensive periods of time, making them more difficult to identify than rapidly-expanding societies. ~Nola Redd

You can read an interview with Grinspoon (and watch video clips of him discussing the book with Space.com) here.

By Rod Pyle

"Amazing Stories of the Space Age: True Tales of Nazis in Orbit, Soldiers on the Moon, Orphaned Martian Robots, and Other Fascinating Accounts from the Annals of Spaceflight," by Rod Pyle.
"Amazing Stories of the Space Age: True Tales of Nazis in Orbit, Soldiers on the Moon, Orphaned Martian Robots, and Other Fascinating Accounts from the Annals of Spaceflight," by Rod Pyle.
Credit: Nicole Sommer-Lecht/Prometheus Books

Spaceflight writer and historian Rod Pyle's new book brings together tales of the most incredible and at times bizarre space missions ever conceived. Some of the missions and proposals discussed in the book will likely be well-known to space history buffs, but others are more obscure: Pyle dug deep to find mission concepts buried by history. There are stories of Wernher von Braun's plans for sending humans to Mars, an idea backed by Freeman Dyson to create a nuclear-powered rocket (with the unfortunate side effect of increasing cancer rates among people living near the launch site), and a briefly considered proposal to build a military base on the moon in anticipation of the U.S. engaging in lunar battles with the Soviets. These stories provide a good perspective on just how many space missions ultimately fail for every one that succeeds. ~Calla Cofield

You can read an interview with author Rod Pyle here, and and excerpt from "Amazing Stories of the Space Age" here.

By Don Pettit

"Spaceborne" by Don Pettit
"Spaceborne" by Don Pettit
Credit: PSG

NASA astronaut Don Pettit's stunning space photographs fill the pages of "Spaceborne," a glossy photo collection that spotlights the ever-changing Earth, streaking stars and the details of the International Space Station. Over the course of Pettit's three space missions, he captured hundreds of thousands of photographs documenting an astronaut's view — and the best of them are collected here.

Pettit's photographs of cities at night feature alongside Earth's natural wonders, auroras and glowing atmosphere, often framed by the space station's outstretched solar panels and modules. Long-exposure photos create psychadelic streaks on Earth and whirling star trails above, taking full advantage of an astronaut's unique vantage point, and Pettit talks readers through the sights and how he captured them. ~Sarah Lewin 

Read Space.com's Q&A with Pettit on space photography here, and see a gallery of "Spaceborne" images here.

By Dava Sobel

"The Glass Universe" follows the women of the Harvard College Observatory and their groundbreaking measurements of the stars.
"The Glass Universe" follows the women of the Harvard College Observatory and their groundbreaking measurements of the stars.
Credit: Viking

"The Glass Universe" highlights the remarkable story of how a group of women, called "computers," shaped the field of astronomy during the mid-19th century — when women were not typically employed outside the home. At that time, astronomers relied on grounded telescopes to record nightly observations of the stars. Women computers at the Harvard College Ovesrvatory were then tasked with interpreting those observations, captured on photographic glass plates. Author Dava Sobel follows the stories of several women, which she collected from old diaries, letters and published observatory log books. Based on their calculations, these women — including Williamina Fleming, Antonia Maury, Henrietta Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon and Cecilia Payne — made some of the most fundamental discoveries of our universe. ~Samantha Mathewson

Read a Q&A with Sobel about the book here.

 

Again, check out our full lists here:

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