Best Space Books and Sci-Fi for the 2018 Holiday Season
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

Searching for the perfect space book for the holidays? 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 for this Black Friday and beyond!

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 Mary Robinette Kowal

"The Calculating Stars" by Mary Robinette Kowal.
"The Calculating Stars" by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Credit: Tor Books

What if space exploration wasn't a choice but a necessity, driven by the knowledge that Earth would soon become uninhabitable and powered by international coalitions built after a catastrophic meteorite impact? That's the alternative history novelist Mary Robinette Kowal explores in her Lady Astronaut series. The books follow mathematician and World War II pilot Elma York, who dreams of becoming an astronaut herself. Kowal intricately melds real history with her fictional plot to create a series that is simultaneously hopeful and pragmatic. The Lady Astronaut offers a powerful vision of how spaceflight could be a positive force in society. ~Meghan Bartels

Kowal talks with Space.com about the books here; read an excerpt from chapter 1 of "The Fated Sky" here.

By Colin Stuart

"How to Live in Space: Everything You Need to Know for the Not-So-Distant Future" by Colin Stuart (Smithsonian Books, 2018)
"How to Live in Space: Everything You Need to Know for the Not-So-Distant Future" by Colin Stuart (Smithsonian Books, 2018)
Credit: Smithsonian Books

Are you interested in going to space? With companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin getting ready to start launching tourists on suborbital flights — and SpaceX planning to send people to the moon and Mars — your dreams may soon be within reach. But before you board a rocket or space plane and wave goodbye to planet Earth, there are some things you need to know about being in space. Whether you're planning a short space vacation or embarking on a one-way trip to the Red Planet, "How to Live in Space" by Colin Stuart has all the important details. This comprehensive handbook covers everything from eating, sleeping and using the toilet in "zero-g" to instructions for how to build a moon base, mine asteroids and terraform Mars. Wherever your space adventures may take you, this guide can help you make the most of your out-of-this-world experience. ~Hanneke Weitering

Read a Q&A with the author here.

By Scott Kelly

"Infinite Wonder" by Scott Kelly
"Infinite Wonder" by Scott Kelly
Credit: Knopf

Scott Kelly spent a record-breaking 340 days on the International Space Station, taking tens of thousands of images of the planet spinning below — making him the perfect guide to show off the wonders of Earth. This new large-format photobook combines images he took of the Space Station and Earth with super-zoomed-in views of unusual parts of the planet's surface, as well as photos of his launch, landing and other parts of the historic mission. The book combines large, colorful images with Kelly's descriptions of the mission and interesting Earth features, and it makes a great companion to his recent memoir "Endurance" or a good stand-alone showpiece. ~Sarah Lewin

Kelly guides Space.com through some of his favorite photos and talks about the book here; look through a short gallery of photo picks here.

By Alec Nevala-Lee

"Astounding" by Alec Nevala-Lee
"Astounding" by Alec Nevala-Lee
Credit: Dey Street Books

Nevala-Lee's fascinating new book "Astounding" follows four titans of the golden age of science fiction who guided the genre during its formative years: Astounding Science Fiction magazine editor John Campbell and authors Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard. The book chronicles how, with their influence, science fiction evolved from adventure stories in space to serious predictors and influencers on the modern world, as well as the beginning development of fan culture, which was surprisingly similar to today's, and their ideas' influences on society as a whole (particularly, a long fascinating look into early Scientology). Nevala-Lee's portrayal of the four is complex, and gives them their due without shying away from the less savory parts of their natures and reputations. He read hundreds of stories from the annals of science fiction history, as well as reams of letters by and to the story's main figures, and that deep research shows.  ~Sarah Lewin

Read an interview with Nevala-Lee about the book here, and read an excerpt from the book's prologue here.

By Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, Illustrated by Frank Morrison

"Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson" by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, illustrated by Frank Morrison.
"Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson" by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, illustrated by Frank Morrison.
Credit: Crown Books for Young Readers

"Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson" by husband-and-wife duo Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer tells the real-life story about a young boy who gazed at the stars one night and has never stopped looking up since.

Lushly illustrated by Frank Morrison in a painterly realistic style, "Starstruck" follows deGrasse Tyson as he works toward adulthood with an eye on unlocking the secrets of the universe, from his first trip to the Hayden Planetarium as a wide-eyed child to a summer astronomy camp in the Mojave Desert in his teens and, finally, back to the Hayden Planetarium, where he lands a job at age 35 and eventually becomes its director.

"We love [deGrasse Tyson's] personality and sense of humor and also the way he can make complex science facts about space easier to understand for the TV viewer," Brewer told Space.com. "He's a genius at distilling information difficult for most of us to grasp. We wanted to try to capture his charisma in a book for children, to inspire them with a hero they should know about." ~Jasmin Malik Chua

Read more about "Starstruck" and see images from the book here.

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