Light from Other Stars

By Erika Swyler,

Book cover of Light from Other Stars

Book description

A Long Island Reads 2020 Selection * A Real Simple Best Book of 2019

From the bestselling author of The Book of Speculation, a “tender and ambitious” (Vulture) novel about time, loss, and the wonders of the universe.

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Light from Other Stars as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

It is my sincerest belief that science fiction loses its purpose when it focuses too much on the science and too little on the humans (or aliens, or sentient spores) at the center of the story.

No one can accuse Swyler’s Light from Other Stars of that. Straddling the line between literary and science fiction, this novel is about space travel, yes, but it’s also about parent-child bonds, friendship, and the people of a small town in Florida in all their idiosyncrasies, virtues, and flaws.

This novel will make you think (mostly about physics), but it will also make you…

I’m a sucker for books set in the ‘80s and for books set in the future, and this book is both! You’ve got time travel and astronauts and danger, but alongside the action, Swyler has crafted beautiful, multi-layered characters. I fell in love with them all, particularly Nedda, who loves space as a child and loves it just as whole-heartedly when she’s a crew member on a spaceship.

The novel tapped into a couple of my favorite themes: 1) the bonds of parents and children and 2) what it means to do the right thing. I’m always more interested in…

This book has practically nothing to do with climate change. Instead, it’s about space, and fathers, and memory. But more than that, it’s about grief, and loss, and the effort to preserve something that’s already gone, which makes it a pretty perfect fit. This book was my favorite read of 2020 and made me sob (and sob and sob and sob). It feels like such a true expression of how it feels to watch the possibility of a “normal” future get further and further away, and how it feels to want to, in turn, look to the past, and hold…

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