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 Stephen Hawking

"A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking
"A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking
Credit: Bantam

Stephen Hawking explains the universe. In this best-seller, the renowned physicist breaks down black holes, space and time, the theory of general relativity and much more, and makes it accessible to those of us who aren't rocket scientists. The book is a great primer for anyone who wants to learn more about the origins of the universe and where it's all heading. ~Live Science Staff (Best Science Books)

Hawking's death at age 76 was announced March 14; read more about his life and legacy here.

"A Briefer History of Time," published first in 2005 in collaboration with Leonard Mlodinow, offers a more accessible update on the science of the first book.

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.

By Elizabeth Tasker

"The Planet Factory" (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2017) by Elizabeth Tasker
"The Planet Factory" (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2017) by Elizabeth Tasker
Credit: Bloomsbury Sigma

In her new book "The Planet Factory: Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth," astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker explores what scientists currently know about the mysterious distant planets beyond the solar system. The refreshing tone of her narrative takes readers on a journey through old techniques for spotting exoplanets (some of which were quite dangerous), the oblong orbits of some alien planets, and why the "habitable zone" of a planet does little to support life if too much water drowns out it's rock cycles. The style is good for beginners, and the chapters are full of humorous explanations to grasp this important field of modern astronomy. ~Doris Salazar

Read about a talk by the author here: Pac-Man' and 'Mario Kart': How to Understand Planet Formation

By Will Kalif

"See It with a Small Telescope" (Ulysses Press, 2017), by Will Kalif
"See It with a Small Telescope" (Ulysses Press, 2017), by Will Kalif
Credit: Ulysses Press

"See It with a Small Telescope" is a fun read for those just getting familiar with their new telescope. Will Kalif, who runs the website Telescope Nerd, guides readers to dozens of interesting objects in the sky. Whether you enjoy looking at planets, star clusters, the moon, nebulas or something else, there are a range of fun things to seek out using this book.

The night sky is a very big place to explore, but Kalif narrows it down to what a beginning telescopic observer will enjoy. His star charts are handy guides to help you find your way. He even includes a section on astrophotography if you're interested in taking pictures, including options with unspecialized equipment. Since the text of the book is written at a junior high level, your teenage kids likely will enjoy the book as well. ~Elizabeth Howell

You can read an interview with Kalif here, and read an excerpt about spotting the Orion nebula 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 Andy Weir

"Artemis" (Crown, 2017) by Andy Weir.
"Artemis" (Crown, 2017) by Andy Weir.
Credit: Crown Publishers

In "The Martian" (Crown, 2014) first-time author Andy Weir gave voice to the sardonic, resourceful botanist Mark Watney as he struggled for survival stranded on Mars. In his second novel, "Artemis," he follows Jazz Bashara, a porter (and smuggler) on the moon who's drawn into a crime caper. Weir brings a similar meticulous detail to his descriptions of the moon as the ultimate tourist destination as he did to Watney's misadventures on Mars, but his characterization of Jazz doesn't play to his writing strengths like Watney's log entries did. Still, "Artemis" is an entertaining romp through a really intriguing future moon base, with plenty of one-sixth-gravity action and memorable twists. It's well worth the read. Plus, there's an audiobook version read by Rosario Dawson. ~Sarah Lewin talked with Weir about constructing a realistic moon base here.

Again, check out our full lists here:

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