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

"The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe.
"The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe.
Credit: Macmillan

Tom Wolfe's iconic profile of the first group of Americans to go to space is nonfiction, but it sometimes reads as though it were written by the characters rather than the author. Wolfe dives deep into the mind-set of the people involved in the early days of American space exploration, including the astronauts, their wives, the press core and the American public. To accomplish this, Wolfe takes some creative liberties with his storytelling, but the final result highlights the emotions and motivations that drove this incredible enterprise. At the end of this page-turner, readers will understand what it means to say that someone has "the right stuff." ~Calla Cofield

Tom Wolfe died May 14, 2018 at age 88; read about his life and nonfiction work here.

By Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

"Chasing New Horizons" (Picador, 2018) by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon.
"Chasing New Horizons" (Picador, 2018) by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon.
Credit: Picador

This book chronicling the New Horizons mission to Pluto, written by Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, and astrobiologist and author David Grinspoon, is a deep — but speedy — dive into the development and execution of the lightweight probe that flew by Pluto in July 2015. The mission wasn't easy to get approved and seemed to face obstacles at every turn before finally making it to launch day, and its troubles weren't over then. But somehow it managed to deliver breathtaking views of the distant dwarf planet that revolutionized how we thought about the solar system and the planets that inhabit it. Stern and Grinspoon's narrative delivers an in-depth view of how to design a space mission, shepherd it through the hurdles of approval and design, and send it toward the unknown when you have just one shot to get it right. ~Sarah Lewin

Read an interview with Stern about the new book and New Horizons here; read an excerpt from the book here.

By Emma Newman

"Before Mars" (Ace, 2018) by Emma Newman
"Before Mars" (Ace, 2018) by Emma Newman
Credit: Ace

Emma Newman's latest book set in her "Planetfall" universe, "Before Mars," sees a geologist arriving at a small Mars base after a lengthy journey only to realize that things aren't as they seem. The base's AI is untrustworthy, the psychologist seems sinister, and the main characters finds a note to herself she has no memory of writing. In a world of perfectly immersive virtual reality, can she trust what she sees? Or did the long trip take a toll on her sanity? "Before Mars" takes place on an eerie, largely empty Mars after a giant corporation buys the rights to the planet.

It's a thrilling read but — like Newman's other "Planetfall" books — also a deep dive into the protagonist's psychology as she grapples with what she discovers on the Red Planet. "Before Mars" and the other books in the same universe ("Planetfall" and "After Atlas") can be read in any order, but highly recommends giving them all a look. ~Sarah Lewin

Read a Q&A with Newman here and an excerpt from "Before Mars" here.

By Michael Benson

"Space Odyssey" (Simon and Schuster, 2018) by Michael Benson
"Space Odyssey" (Simon and Schuster, 2018) by Michael Benson
Credit: Simon and Schuster

In honor of its 50th anniversary, "2001: A Space Odyssey" chronicler Michael Benson digs deep into the making of the iconic film, profiling the writer Arthur C. Clarke, the director Stanley Kubrick and the nuances of their partnership to create the "proverbial 'really good' science fiction movie." Along the way, readers tour the groundbreaking technological developments that made the film possible and the creativity of the large team that lent its ideas and expertise to the project.

By focusing on letters and written text — including Kubrick's handwritten, pre-publication edits on feature pieces and interviews about the making of the film — Benson is able to give a particularly personality-driven view of the filmmaking process. The techniques and decisions that lead to the movie are there, but they're always in the context of the people and circumstances that created them. And there's plenty of behind-the-scenes drama to go along with meditations on the film's legacy. ~Sarah Lewin

You can read an interview with the author here, and read a high-flying excerpt from "Space Odyssey" here.

By Oliver Jeffers

"Here We Are" (Philomel Books, 2017) by Oliver Jeffers.
"Here We Are" (Philomel Books, 2017) by Oliver Jeffers.
Credit: Philomel Books

"Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth," the latest picture book by bestselling author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers, is many different things. It's a love letter to his newborn son. It's a toddler-friendly guide to the big, blue marble we call home. Or, as Jeffers' editor joked, it's a book for "new babies, new parents and misplaced humans." But most of all, it's a manual for how to be a standup human being, one who is tolerant, respectful and unfailingly kind.

Jeffers's jewel-toned renderings, liberally sprinkled with details that invite closer inspection, evoke the planet's immensity with warmth and gentility. Yet for all its enormity — at least, from our vantage point — Earth barely registers in the vast expanse of space. We are impossibly fragile. And, for better or worse, we're all in it together.

"We may all look different, act different and sound different … but don’t be fooled, we are all people," Jeffers writes. "There is enough for everyone." ~Jasmin Malik Chua

Read a discussion with the author on the book's inspiration here.

Again, check out our full lists here:

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