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 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!
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:
‘Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution’ (Penguin Press, 2019)
By Lee Smolin
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.
‘Apollo’s Legacy’ (Smithsonian Books, 2019)
By Roger Launius
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 Launiuis 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.
‘Finding Our Place in the Universe’ (MIT Press, 2019)
By Hélène Courtois
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.
‘The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney’ (Schwartz & Wade, 2019)
By Alice B. McGinty, Illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle
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 Space.com’s interview with the author here.
‘Delta-v’ (Dutton, 2019)
By Daniel Suarez
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.
Again, check out our full lists here: