Best Space Books and Sci-Fi for 2019

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: © 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.

What We're Reading:

'Delta-v' (Dutton, 2019)

By Daniel Suarez

"Delta-v" by Daniel Suarez

(Image: © Penguin Random House)

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.

'Picturing Apollo 11: rare Views and Undiscovered Moments' (University Press of Florida, 2019)

By J.L. Pickering and John Bisney

"Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments" by J.L. Pickering and John Bisney

(Image: © University Press of Florida)

 In the new book “Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments,” (University Press of Florida, April 2019), spaceflight historian J.L. Pickering and journalist John Bisney paint an incredible, vivid picture of what it was really like to be a part of the Apollo 11 mission. The book features a wealth of images from 1969, primarily from January through the lunar landing in July, which show lesser-seen scenes from the Apollo program. From difficult training moments to mundane meetings, the images in this book really humanize the larger-than-life Apollo 11 astronauts. It is easy to look back at Apollo 11 through a romanticized lens, but this book makes it clear just how gritty, funny and real the mission really was.  ~Chelsea Gohd 

Read more about "Picturing Apollo 11" and page through some of its photos here.

'Lasers, Death Rays, and the Long, Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon' (Prometheus Books, 2019)

By Jeff Hecht

"Lasers, Death Rays, and the Long, Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon," by Jeff Hecht.
(Image: © Courtesy of Prometheus Books)

In the newly released book “Lasers, Death Rays, and the Long, Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon,” (Prometheus Books, 2019), veteran science writer Jeff Hecht details the strange and incredible history of real-life laser weapons. Lasers have captured the public’s excitement for decades, appearing as phasers, ray guns, and more in countless works of science fiction.

In this new book, Hecht explores the influence of these ficticious lasers as well as the reality of laser weapons today and how they have developed over time. From failed experiments to lasers built to be as large as airplanes, the development of laser weapons has been one strange journey that Hecht explains in captivating detail. ~Chelsea Gohd

Read an interview with Hecht about the book here.

'Out There' (Grand Central Publishing, 2018)

By Mike Wall

"Out There" by Mike Wall
(Image: © Grand Central Publishing)

With "Out There: A Scientific Guide to Alien Life, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel (For the Cosmically Curious)," senior writer Mike Wall gets at the most pressing questions of our place in the universe, who else is out there, what they might be like and why we haven't heard from them yet. Wall draws on up-to-date science to answer speculative questions accurately and with good humor, accompanied by Karl Tate's entertaining line drawings.

"Out There" dramatizes the search for life and how we might react to its discovery, and it also explores what a long-term human presence off Earth could look like and whether we will ever make it there. The book offers quick dips into the most interesting aspects of space science, but it never feels shallow. ~Sarah Lewin

Read a Q&A with Wall about the book here, and check out an excerpt here.

'The Calculating Stars' and 'The Fated Sky' (Tor, 2018)

By Mary Robinette Kowal

"The Calculating Stars" by Mary Robinette Kowal.
(Image: © 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 about the books here; read an excerpt from chapter 1 of "The Fated Sky" here.

Again, check out our full lists here:

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