Best space books for 2023

Space Books Recommended Reading's editors present a reading list for space and sci-fi lovers, as well as children who are interested in astronomy and spaceflight. (Image credit: 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 gift or your next engrossing read. So the editors and writers at 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.

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"The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy"

by Moiya McTier

The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy$27now $23.28 from Amazon

The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy | $27 now $23.28 from Amazon

Astronomers have written the Milky Way's story many times over; scientists have traced violent collisions in its past and future and peered into the supermassive black hole lurking at its heart. But if our galaxy could tell us its story, what would it say? Astrophysicist and folklorist Moiya McTier tells that story in her delightful new book, "The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy." McTier's Milky Way makes for a prickly narrator as the book zips through everything from the formation of the universe through the ways scientists think it might come to an end. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with Moiya McTier
Read an excerpt from "The Milky Way"

Buy "The Milky Way" on Amazon

"A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman"

by Lindy Elkins-Tanton

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman$29.99now $22.49 from Amazon

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman | $29.99 now $22.49 from Amazon

Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University is the principal investigator of NASA's Psyche mission, a spacecraft designed to explore the asteroid of the same name, which appears to be primarily made of metal. But the path she followed to get to that position is full of intriguing side trips she shares in her new memoir, "A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman." The book covers everything from her experience conducting field research in Siberia to her work supporting healthy culture in the ivory tower. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with Lindy Elkins-Tanton

Buy "A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman" on Amazon

"Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science"

by James Poskett

Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science," James Poskett$30now 20.99 from Amazon

Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science," James Poskett | $30 now 20.99 from Amazon

What if everything we're taught about the history of astronomy and physics is wrong? In his new book, "Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science," James Poskett, a historian of science and technology, focuses on how science has always been a global endeavor and how that story was overshadowed by a biased Westernized version. Astronomy and physics play key roles in the story he tells, with cameos from key figures such as Ptolemy and Isaac Newton, although the book spans several scientific fields, including natural history and evolution as well. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with James Poskett

Buy "Horizons" on Amazon

"Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space"

by Fred Scharmen

Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space | $26.95now $21.91 from Amazon

Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space | $26.95 now $21.91 from Amazon

Like plenty of kids, Fred Scharmen was fascinated by the depictions he saw of what life in space might look like. But Scharmen grew up to be an architect and urban designer, which taught him to see all the silent assumptions, fears and hopes that were hidden in those images. In "Space Forces," Scharmen examines seven different visions of life in space, exploring the cultural beliefs they betray and asking us to think more critically about why we want to go to space and how to translate our values into exploration. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with Fred Scharmen
Read an excerpt from "Space Forces"

Buy "Space Forces" on Amazon

"Back to Earth: What Life in Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet ― And Our Mission to Protect It"

by Nicole Stott

Back To Earth $30 now $20.41 on Amazon. 

Back To Earth $30 now $20.41 on Amazon

Retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott is one of the fewer than 600 people to have reached space, and she hopes the stories of that experience will inspire readers to take a planetary perspective on their daily lives. She offers new philosophies for living on Earth informed by her experience in orbit and melds her experiences in space with stories of people on Earth who act on the same value she sees as so crucial to spaceflight. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with Nicole Stott
Read an excerpt from "Back to Earth"

Buy "Back to Earth" on Amazon

"The Apollo Murders" (Mulholland Books, 2021) 

By Col. Chris Hadfield

The Apollo Murders $28 now $14.63 on Amazon. 

The Apollo Murders $28 now $14.63 on Amazon

New York Times bestselling author, YouTube star, international speaker, and popular Twitter personality, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, has a creative eye on the moon in his first dive into fiction, "The Apollo Murders." It's a rousing adventure placed amid the tense days of the U.S.-Soviet Union space race in the 1970s following America's lunar landings. The alternative history is set in 1973 when NASA launches a final top-secret mission to investigate a crewed Soviet space station called Almaz. The clandestine flight continues to the moon as both Russian and American crews target a huge bounty hidden on the lunar surface.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about writing the book
Read an excerpt from "The Apollo Murders"

Buy "The Apollo Murders" on Amazon

"Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space" (Harper, 2021) 

By Stephen Walker 

Beyond $29.99 now $16.49 on Amazon. 

Beyond $29.99 now $16.49 on Amazon

On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to leave Earth's orbit and travel into space, marking a significant milestone in the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. In "Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space" (Harper, 2021), author and documentary filmmaker Stephen Walker recounts intimate details of the months, and years, leading up to Gagarin’s historic flight, revealing the true stories of the Soviet space program as the agency prepared to launch the first human into space — only weeks before American astronaut Alan Shepard's suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. Walker also discusses the historical impact of Gagarin's flight and how it set the stage for NASA's Apollo program. ~ Samantha Mathewson

Buy "Beyond" on

"The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred" (Bold Type Books, 2021)

By Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

The Disordered Cosmos $28 now $14.74 on Amazon.

The Disordered Cosmos $28 now $14.74 on Amazon. 

Theoretical physics is supposed to be about pure, crisp ideas. But physics is done by humans, and human society brings messiness to any endeavor. That reality means every aspect of physics is marked by the social constraints of who is allowed to do physics in harmony with their identity and who is not. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a theoretical physicist at the University of New Hampshire, tackles the implications of that reality in her thought-provoking new book. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read's interview with the author here.

Buy "The Disordered Cosmos" on

"The Relentless Moon" (Tor, 2020)

By Mary Robinette Kowal

Relentless Moon now $17.60 on Amazon. 

Relentless Moon now $17.60 on Amazon

Mary Robinette Kowal's Lady Astronaut series imagines what would have happened if Apollo-era spaceflight had continued at the same pace, pushed forward by the existential threat of meteor-caused climate change. This third book follows astronaut Nicole Wargin on an investigation of threats to a lunar base, exploring how life on the ground continues amid ambitious space exploration. ~ Meghan Bartels

Buy "The Relentless Moon" on

"The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World" (Crown, 2020)

By Sarah Stewart Johnson

The Sirens of Mars $28.99 now $21.16 on Amazon. 

The Sirens of Mars $28.99 now $21.16 on Amazon

Planetary scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson shares the human story of the search for life on Mars in this compelling book. A host of hidden moments about scientists' views of the Red Planet decorate the book's pages, and Johnson explores how scientists have found and lost hope in the process of studying our nearest neighbor. ~ Meghan Bartels

Buy "The Sirens of Mars" on

"See You in Orbit?: Our Dream of Spaceflight" (To Orbit Productions, 2019)

By Alan Ladwig

See You In Orbit?: Our Dream Of Spaceflight now $18 on Amazon. 

See You In Orbit?: Our Dream Of Spaceflight now $18 on Amazon

Alan Ladwig, a former NASA manager, dives into the promise of public spaceflight in this new book, which comes as Blue Origin, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and more take aim at private and commercial space travel.

Read's interview with the author here

Buy "See You In Orbit?: Our Dream of Spaceflight" on

"Identified Flying Objects" (Masters Creative LLC, 2019)

By Michael Masters

Identified flying objects now $22.95 on Amazon. 

Identified flying objects now $22.95 on Amazon

Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have captured the public's attention over the decades. Rather than aliens, could those piloting UFOs be us — our future progeny that have mastered the landscape of time and space? Perhaps those reports of people coming into contact with strange beings represent our distant human descendants, returning from the future to study us in their own evolutionary past. The idea of us being them has been advanced before, but this new book takes a fresh look at this prospect, offering some thought-provoking proposals. ~Leonard David

Read's review here

Buy "Identified Flying Objects: A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO Phenomenon" on

"They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers" (Pegasus Books, 2020)

By Sarah Scoles

They Are Already Here $27.95 now $17.30 on Amazon. 

They Are Already Here $27.95 now $17.30 on Amazon

Do you remember reading a New York Times story in 2017 that claimed to unveil a Pentagon program dedicated to investigating UFOs? Did you hear rumors about why the FBI closed a solar observatory the next year for then-undisclosed reasons? Are you confused about why there seem to be so many documentaries about alien sightings? "They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers" by freelance journalist Sarah Scoles, tackles these questions and many more. Read an excerpt from "They Are Already Here," and read's interview with the author here

Buy "They Are Already Here" on

"The Andromeda Evolution" (Harper, 2019)

By Daniel H. Wilson

The Andromeda Evolution now $7.50 on Amazon. 

The Andromeda Evolution now $7.50 on Amazon

There's finally a sequel to Michael Crichton's 1969 classic about extraterrestrial life trying to take over humanity from, of all places, Arizona. In "The Andromeda Evolution," author Daniel H. Wilson continues Crichton's work and brings the terrifying tale into outer space. ~Elizabeth Howell

Read's review here

Buy "The Andromeda Evolution" on

"For Small Creatures Such As We" (G.P Putnam's Sons, 2019)

By Sasha Sagan

For Small Creatures Such As We $26 now $14.45 on Amazon. 

For Small Creatures Such As We $26 now $14.45 on Amazon

In her new book "For Small Creatures Such as We," Sasha Sagan, daughter of "Cosmos" co-writer Ann Druyan and famed astronomer Carl Sagan, dives into the secular side of spirituality. Upon starting a family of her own, Sagan wanted to have rituals and traditions that would bond them together. But being non-religious, she reevaluated what these traditions could be and this book explores how rituals like holidays can be inspired by the "magic" of nature, space and science rather than religion. ~Chelsea Gohd

Read's interview with the author here

Buy "For Small Creatures Such as We" on

"Dr. Space Junk Vs. the Universe" (MIT Press, 2019)

By Alice Gorman

Dr. Space Junk Vs The Universe $27.95 now $20.69 on Amazon. 

Dr. Space Junk Vs The Universe $27.95 now $20.69 on Amazon

What happens to satellites when they die, and come to think of it, when do they die? Alice Gorman is an Australian archaeologist who studies objects related to spaceflight, and what we can learn by thinking about space through the lens of archaeology. Her book is an engaging story of the ways being human shapes how we go to space. From Aboriginal songs tucked on the Voyagers' Golden Records to the importance of the size of a spacecraft, Gorman offers a new perspective on the history — and future — of space. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read a Q&A with Gorman about the new book and the archaeology of space here.

Buy "Dr. Space Junk Vs. the Universe" on

"Einstein's Unfinished Revolution" (Penguin Press, 2019)

By Lee Smolin

Einstein's Unfinished Revolution $28 now $23.55 on Amazon. 

Einstein's Unfinished Revolution $28 now $23.55 on Amazon

Although many believe that the quantum-mechanics revolution of the 1920s is settled science, Lee Smolin wants to disrupt that assumption. Smolin, a theoretical physicist based at the Perimeter Institute in Toronto, argues that quantum mechanics is incomplete. The standard quantum model only allows us to know the position or trajectory of a subatomic particle — not both at the same time. Smolin has spent his career looking to "complete" quantum physics in a way that allows us to know both pieces of information. Smolin's very engaging new book, "Einstein's Unfinished Revolution," offers this unique perspective honed through four decades at the forefront of theoretical physics. ~Marcus Banks

Read a Q&A with Smolin about the new book and the state of quantum physics here.

Buy "Einstein's Unfinished Revolution" on

"Apollo's Legacy" (Smithsonian Books, 2019)

By Roger Launius

Apollo's Legacy now $27.95 on Amazon. 

Apollo's Legacy now $27.95 on Amazon

How do we understand a transformative event like the Apollo missions to the moon? Many present it as proof of American ingenuity and success, but there's much more to the story. In "Apollo's Legacy: Perspectives on the Moon Landings," space historian Roger Launius probes the impacts Apollo had technologically, scientifically and politically, as well as analyzing what we can draw from it to understand the country's modern space program. The slim volume is written as a scholarly text, but it's accessible to anybody with an interest in space history and the circumstances that spawned Apollo. ~Sarah Lewin

Read a Q&A with the author here

Buy "Apollo's Legacy" on

"Finding Our Place in the Universe" (MIT Press, 2019)

By Hélène Courtois

Finding Our Place In The Universe now $24.95 on Amazon. 

Finding Our Place In The Universe now $24.95 on Amazon

In "Finding Our Place in the Universe," French astrophysicist Helene Courtois describes the invigorating quest to discover the Milky Way's home. In 2014 Courtois was part of a research team that discovered the galactic supercluster which contains the Milky Way, which they named Laniakea. This means "immeasurable heaven" in Hawaiian. 

In this engaging and fast paced book, Courtois describes her own journey in astrophysics and highlights the key contributions of numerous female astrophysicists. The reader is right there with her as Courtois travels to the world's leading observatories in pursuit of Laniakea, and it's easy to see why the challenge of discovering our galaxy's home became so seductive. Readers who want them will learn all the scientific and technical details needed to understand the discovery of Laniakea, but it's also possible to enjoy this book as a pure tale of adventure. ~Marcus Banks

Read a Q&A with Courtois about her book and the hunt for Laniakea here.

Buy "Finding Our Place in the Universe" on

"The Girl Who Named Pluto" (Schwartz & Wade, 2019)

By Alice B. McGinty, Illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle

The Girl Who Named Pluto $18.99 now $17.99 on Amazon. 

The Girl Who Named Pluto $18.99 now $17.99 on Amazon

How did an 11-year-old English schoolgirl come to name Pluto? In "The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney," Alice B. McGinty recounts one child's history-making turn on a fateful morning in 1930. Although the book is aimed at kids ages 4 to 8, there's plenty for older children to connect with as well. And the vintage-flavored illustrations by Elizabeth Haidle make the experience a visual delight. 

Venetia had connected her love of mythology with her knowledge of science to christen the new planet after the Roman god of the underworld, refusing to let her age or gender to hold her back. 

McGinley says she hopes Venetia's tale inspires her readers — girls, in particular. "I hope girls read it and feel empowered to be part of the scientific process," she said. "I hope boys read it and feel empowered, too, and understand how important girls are to science." ~Jasmin Malik Chua

Read's interview with the author here

Buy "The Girl Who Named Pluto" on

"Delta-v" (Dutton, 2019)

By Daniel Suarez

Delta-V now $28 on Amazon. 

Delta-V now $28 on Amazon

In "Delta-v," an unpredictable billionaire recruits an adventurous cave diver to join the first-ever effort to mine an asteroid. The crew's target is asteroid Ryugu, which in real life Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has been exploring since June 2018. From the use of actual trajectories in space and scientific accuracy, to the title itself, Delta-v — the engineering term for exactly how much energy is expended performing a maneuver or reaching a target — Suarez pulls true-to-life details into describing the exciting and perilous mission. The reward for successful asteroid mining is incredible, but the cost could be devastating. ~Sarah Lewin

Read a Q&A with the author here.

Buy "Delta-v" on

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News and editorial team is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.