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 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 Caleb Scharf, illustrated by Ron Miller and 5W Infographics

"The Zoomable Universe" (2017) by Caleb Scharf, illustrations by Ron Miller and 5W Infographics
"The Zoomable Universe" (2017) by Caleb Scharf, illustrations by Ron Miller and 5W Infographics
Credit: Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

In "The Zoomable Universe," astrophysicst Caleb Scharf takes readers from the size of the observable universe step-by-step down to the shortest theoretical measurable length. Along the way, Scharf and the book's illustrator, Ron Miller, explore the formation of the universe, our galaxy and Earth, the makeup of life and quantum physics, and the complexity that develops when you look beyond the surface at any scale.

The large, colorful book has a lot of ground to cover, but it delves into enough detail to spark readers' curiosity, and additional graphics by 5W Infographics pack more information into less space. As it speeds through orders of magnitude, from the largest to the smallest, it stops in lots of fascinating corners of the universe along the way. ~Sarah Lewin

Read an interview with Scharf on the book and the biggest changes coming to our understanding of physics 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.

Again, check out our full lists here:

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