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, whether searching for a perfect holiday gift or your next engrossing read. 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 our lists 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 Jill Tarter

"Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" (Pegasus Books, 2017) by Sarah Scoles
"Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" (Pegasus Books, 2017) by Sarah Scoles
Credit: Pegasus Books

Fifty years ago, only a handful of scientists were hunting for signals from other civilizations as part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). In "Making Contact," science writer Sarah Scoles explores the biography of one of the most influential SETI scientists, Jill Tarter. Scoles follows a mostly linear path through Tarter’s life, occasionally breaking into the present to bridge connections. While the biography traces the history of SETI, its primary focus is on Tarter: her childhood relationships with her parents that helped drive her, her education as the sole woman in her engineering class in the 1960s, and her struggle with scientists and bureaucrats who didn’t think hunting for alien signals was worth the time, money or resources. But Tarter continued to fight, helping to found a private agency that would survive government changes, hunting for private donors to look beyond this world and helping move the search for intelligent life from the fringes into mainstream science. ~Nola Taylor Redd

Read an interview with Scoles about the book and Tarter's life here.

By Tim Peake

"Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space" (Little, Brown and Co., 2017) by Tim Peake
"Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space" (Little, Brown and Co., 2017) by Tim Peake
Credit: Little, Brown and Co.

In "Ask an Astronaut," British astronaut Tim Peake walks readers through a long list of questions he was asked after returning from his first stay on the International Space Station in June 2016. From training to fly to space, launch, weightlessness, spacewalks and returning to Earth, Peake hits all the highlights — plus less standard spaceman experiences such as running the London Marathon in orbit and getting emails from Elton John. Peake's explanations are entertaining and easy to follow, but he doesn't shy away from delving into detail about how the technology works that brought and kept him in space. Well-placed diagrams, and two sections of color photos, aid the explanatory process as well. Even avid space readers are sure to find at least one new detail to amaze. ~Sarah Lewin

Read a Q&A with Peake here, and read an excerpt from the book, where Peake describes his first spacewalk, here.

By Kelly and Zach Weinersmith

"Soonish" (Penguin Press, 2017), by Zach and Kelly Weinersmith.
"Soonish" (Penguin Press, 2017), by Zach and Kelly Weinersmith.
Credit: Penguin Press

In "Soonish," cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and biologist/podcaster Kelly Weinersmith delve into the future of technology with a comedic — but factually rigorous — trip through 10 technologies that could improve and/or ruin everything. While only some of those technologies relate to space, the Weinersmiths nevertheless give an in-depth glimpse into the future of spaceflight, building up a reader's basic knowledge of the field and showing off the (sometimes bizarre) concepts that could let future spacefarers defy gravity, gather energy, power their machines and mine the solar system — all the while peppering the discussion with amusing comics and asides on some of the strangest spaceflight concepts. As Zach Weinersmith put it to Space.com: "I like to think we're honest brokers for nerdy people interested in future stuff." So pick this book up if you want an informative, entertaining and sometimes mindblowing guide to what the future might hold. ~Sarah Lewin

Read our interview with Zach Weinersmith on the future of spaceflight here.

By Seth Fishman, Illustrated by Isabel Greenberg

"A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars" (Greenwillow Books, 2017) by Seth Fishman and illustrated by Isabel Greenberg.
"A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars" (Greenwillow Books, 2017) by Seth Fishman and illustrated by Isabel Greenberg.
Credit: Greenwillow Books

In "A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars," Seth Fishman Tackles the numbers that permeate everything around us. Not just any numbers, mind you, but enormous numbers. Gigantic, mind-bogglingly tremendous whoppers of numbers. Numbers that the human mind can scarcely comprehend.

Accompanied by delightful illustrations by Isabel Greenberg, Fishman makes infinitesimal figures like the number of seconds in a year (31,536,000), the distance between the Earth and the moon (240,000 miles), and how many people go shoulder-to-shoulder every day on our big blue marble (7,500,000,000) relatable to the four-to-eight age group.

"A child isn't necessarily going to get the number of raindrops in a thunderstorm (1,620, 000,000,000,000)," Fishman said, "but maybe it'll help them connect with what the word 'trillion' means because they know what a thunderstorm looks like." He also throws in fun facts that pint-size readers will take delight in. Who knew that a great white shark has about 300 teeth? Or that we might eat up to 70 pounds of bugs in our lifetime? Fishman's numbers will thrill, amaze, and elucidate. ~Jasmin Malik Chua

Read an interview with the author here.

By Tyler Nordgren

"Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets" (Basic Books, 2016) by Tyler Nordgren.
"Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets" (Basic Books, 2016) by Tyler Nordgren.
Credit: Basic Books

Throughout history, solar eclipses have transformed from terrifying omens to the subject of scientific study. In "Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets," astronomer-artist Tyler Nordgren traces the natural history of eclipses and how they have inspired eclipse chasers to travel the world and witness the natural phenomenon.

Nordgren's narrative also details how observations of total solar eclipses have contributed to scientific discoveries about the sun, moon and Earth's place in the universe throughout history. ~Samantha Mathewson

Read an interview with the book's author here

By Tim Peake

"Hello, Is This Planet Earth?" by Tim Peake
"Hello, Is This Planet Earth?" by Tim Peake
Credit: Little, Brown and Co.

British astronaut Tim Peake's photo book takes its name from an unusual moment during his six months on the International Space Station — he tried to call his family on Christmas Eve in 2015, but dialed the wrong number instead, confusing the answerer with an unusual greeting: "Hello, is this Planet Earth?"

The book is filled with Peake's favorite photo selections of night and day, oceans and rivers, mountains and deserts,  towns and cities, and the Earth overall, as well as the satellites, cargo craft and other gear that made appearances during his time on the space station. His images are interspersed with descriptions of how he captured the photos and anecdotes about his time in space. ~Sarah Lewin

Read more about the book here, and see a gallery of some of the book's images here.

Again, check out our full lists here:

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