The best books for making sense of our existence in the Universe

Christopher Riley Author Of Where Once We Stood: Stories of The Apollo Astronauts Who Walked On The Moon
By Christopher Riley

The Books I Picked & Why

God's Debris: A Thought Experiment

By Scott Adams

Book cover of God's Debris: A Thought Experiment

Why this book?

I like short books that don’t feel too daunting to read. This very readable, brief tale, described by Adams as a thought experiment wrapped in a story, reminds us how to see the world differently. Something we could all do with, to challenge our prejudices and lift us from our echo chambers. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

By Carl Sagan

Book cover of The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

Why this book?

This book, by one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, offers a personal insight into understanding and appreciating the vastness of the Cosmos. It’s a book that spans so much and paints the most accurate picture I’ve read of how we might fit into the Universe.  


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Hector and the Search for Happiness

By Francois Lelord

Book cover of Hector and the Search for Happiness

Why this book?

This book, tells the story of a journey the author, embarks on to search for something he feels he’s missing in his life. Lelord is a psychiatrist and has an insightful perspective on the human condition. I love his simple use of language – which brings a refreshing, child-like wonder to observing the world and what makes life worth living. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Wind, Sand and Stars

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Book cover of Wind, Sand and Stars

Why this book?

This book, by the author of The Little Prince, is an autobiographical account of Antoine’s adventures during WWII – as a pilot, reflecting on the meaning and significance of life from a humanistic philosophy and how perceptions of life are shifted when you are tested to your limits. A good lesson for anyone grappling with their existence and purpose in life.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Easy Travel to Other Planets

By Ted Mooney

Book cover of Easy Travel to Other Planets

Why this book?

Easy Travel to Other Planets by Ted Mooney, is a fictionalised story of an attempt at another Moon shot idea; the building of an interspecies communication bridge between humans and dolphins. This was a real experiment attempted in the 1960s, by neuroscientist John Lilly – which I made a film about, for the BBC, called The Girl who talked to Dolphins. Like God’s Debris, Mooney’s book challenges our perceptions of reality, and like Varieties of Scientific Experience, it tries to shed light on what it is to be human. Not only does it cover these grand ideas, but it also touches on some very prescient themes – such as our current epidemic of information overload and our existential environmental crisis.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists