The best books about Apollo 11

2 authors have picked their favorite books about Apollo 11 and why they recommend each book.

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The Full Cicada Moon

By Marilyn Hilton,

Book cover of The Full Cicada Moon

This book is set in 1969, before the onslaught of cell phones and social media, when all eyes gazed upward toward the moon. Apollo 11 was preparing for its launch to the heavens, and the main character, Mimi Oliver dreams of becoming an astronaut. But first, as the daughter of a Japanese mother and Black father, Mimi needs to discover her own identity here on earth. The Full Cicada Moon illustrates my core belief that books build bridges between time and culture— just as Mimi does. 

The Full Cicada Moon

By Marilyn Hilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Full Cicada Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what’s right

It's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi's appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers…

Who am I?

Technology advances, scenery changes, but the human heart remains the same. As a writer, I hope to honor lives unnoticed or forgotten and have found that writing in verse affords me the truest, most uncorrupted pathway into the human heart. Each of the verse novels I’ve written or recommended here is spun from the strongest threads of time, place, and character. My hope is that the spare words within each book will build bridges across time and culture, and that those of us willing to open our hearts and cross these bridges will help create a more tolerant and peaceful world. 


I wrote...

Flooded: Requiem for Johnstown

By Ann E. Burg,

Book cover of Flooded: Requiem for Johnstown

What is my book about?

My most recent book, Flooded, Requiem for Johnstown, tells the story of the Johnstown Flood of 1889. Johnstown Pennsylvania was a working-class factory city. Above the soot-soaked streets, an elite fishing and hunting club, built on a pristine man-made lake, drew America's wealthiest business barons. Though repeatedly urged to fix the deteriorating dam that held the lake, club members disregarded these warnings. When heavy rains came, the dam collapsed and plunged the city into chaos.

While set in a different century and told through the experiences of characters whose daily lives were much different than our own, the events which unfolded in Johnstown reflect the same attitudes and issues we face today. History has much to tell us if we are listening.

Carrying the Fire

By Michael Collins,

Book cover of Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys

Michael Collins walked in space on the Gemini 10 mission in 1966, and three years later orbited the Moon as the Command Module Pilot on Apollo 11. But in addition to being an adventurous and thoroughly competent astronaut, Collins was also a fabulous writer. Detailed, evocative, thoughtful–philosophical, even, and often subtly humorous–Michael Collins weaves a fascinating story about his experiences on Earth and in space. If you only ever read one book penned by an astronaut, make it this one. It’s almost as good as being in space yourself.

Carrying the Fire

By Michael Collins,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Carrying the Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reissued with a new preface by the author on the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 journey to the moon

The years that have passed since Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins piloted the Apollo 11 spacecraft to the moon in July 1969 have done nothing to alter the fundamental wonder of the event: man reaching the moon remains one of the great events―technical and spiritual―of our lifetime.

In Carrying the Fire, Collins conveys, in a very personal way, the drama, beauty, and humor of that adventure. He also traces his development from his first flight experiences in the…


Who am I?

Hot Moon, my new alternate-Apollo thriller set entirely on and around the Moon, is my labor of love and the book I always wanted to write. I grew up in Yorkshire, England, far from Cape Kennedy and Mission Control, but was always obsessed with the Apollo Program and with astronomy and space in general. This passion (nudged along by shows like Doctor Who, UFO, and Star Trek) eventually led to degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from Oxford. I now live in the US and work for NASA studying black holes and other bizarre celestial objects.


I wrote...

Hot Moon

By Alan Smale,

Book cover of Hot Moon

What is my book about?

Apollo 32, commanded by career astronaut Vivian Carter, docks at NASA’s Columbia space station in lunar orbit en route to its main mission: exploring the volcanic Marius Hills region of the Moon. Vivian is caught in the crossfire as four Soviet craft appear without warning to assault the orbiting station. In an unplanned and desperate move, Vivian spacewalks through hard vacuum back to her Lunar Module and crew, and escapes right before the station falls into Soviet hands.

Their original mission scrubbed, Vivian and her crew are redirected to land at Hadley Base, a NASA scientific outpost with a crew of eighteen. But soon Hadley, too, will come under Soviet attack, forcing its unarmed astronauts to daring acts of ingenuity and improvisation. 

Moon Lander

By Thomas J. Kelly,

Book cover of Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module

I visited Grumman in Bethpage, New York after Apollo 14 and had the rare privilege of entering the cavernous cleanroom where the final moon landers were being assembled. Grumman loved me because my software fix had kept their defective switch from ruining the mission. I believe Tom Kelly was at the table in the executive dining room that day. His book is a gritty account of how, finally, after many failures, many frustrations, NASA pressure, managerial chest-thumping, test and retest, the lunar modules were finally delivered. Even the book’s flaws are interesting, such as how he spins certain inflight events, of which I believe my own account is more balanced.

Moon Lander

By Thomas J. Kelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moon Lander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chief engineer Thomas J. Kelly gives a firsthand account of designing, building, testing, and flying the Apollo lunar module. It was, he writes, “an aerospace engineer’s dream job of the century.” Kelly’s account begins with the imaginative process of sketching solutions to a host of technical challenges with an emphasis on safety, reliability, and maintainability. He catalogs numerous test failures, including propulsion-system leaks, ascent-engine instability, stress corrosion of the aluminum alloy parts, and battery problems, as well as their fixes under the ever-present constraints of budget and schedule. He also recaptures the exhilaration of hearing Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong report…

Who am I?

I have read most of the books written about Apollo, especially those ostensibly written by my fellow participants. I have read these books for pleasure, to find out about parts of the moon effort that I did not see first-hand, and to learn what I could from the authors’ mistakes and successes — with a view to the writing of my own book. The books I have come to value the most are the books that seem to have been created for some other reason than commercial gain, the books unmarred by ghostwriting or heavy-handed editing, the books where the author’s authentic voice speaks from the page.


I wrote...

Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir

By Don Eyles,

Book cover of Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir

What is my book about?

I was in the room and my eyes and ears were open. Almost by chance, I was hired to work on the Apollo project and they handed me the most dangerous and complex part of the mission to program in the LM’s onboard computer — the lunar landing itself. My role took me to interesting places and interesting people, astronauts for instance. I knew my way around Cape Canaveral. My code figured in several inflight dramas, one of which brought me fame for finding the solution. With all this — not to speak of my counter-culture adventures in 1960s Boston — my book is bound to thrill anyone interested in the moon mission.

Team Moon

By Catherine Thimmesh,

Book cover of Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

As a former teacher and librarian, I adored sharing this extensive book with my students about the national effort to put land men on the moon. From flight directors to factory workers, this non-fiction account with spectacular photos reads like a documentary about the Apollo 11 mission and shares captivating stories about the people who worked behind the scenes. 

Team Moon

By Catherine Thimmesh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Team Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For Apollo 11, the first moon landing, is a story that belongs to many, not just the few and famous. It belongs to the seamstress who put together twenty-two layers of fabric for each space suit. To the engineers who created a special heat shield to protect the capsule during its fiery reentry. It belongs to the flight directors, camera designers, software experts, suit testers, telescope crew, aerospace technicians, photo developers, engineers, and navigators. Gathering direct quotes from some of these folks who worked behind the scenes, Catherine Thimmesh reveals their very human worries and concerns. Culling NASA transcripts, national…

Who am I?

I love reading about space and the dedication and commitment astronauts must have to eventually be placed on a mission. Their courage seems superheroic and legendary. But I also know that it takes ordinary individuals to make space missions happen. My mother grew up in a textile community and many of my maternal relatives worked in a textile mill that produced a fabric used in the Apollo spacesuits. These workers could never have dreamed of working for NASA or becoming astronauts, but their work was integral to the process of putting men on the moon. Any great achievement requires a legion of hardworking hands to see it through to completion. 


I wrote...

Papa Put a Man on the Moon

By Kristy Dempsey, Sarah Green (illustrator),

Book cover of Papa Put a Man on the Moon

What is my book about?

Papa Put a Man on the Moon is a story that grew out of my own family history. My mother grew up in a small textile community that played a key role in the Apollo Space Program. The book highlights the role ordinary workers played in putting a man on the moon. Marthanne narrates the story of her father’s work in accomplishing this mission: The fabric he weaves at the textile mill forms one layer in the astronauts' spacesuits. Marthanne knows his work is part of history, and she can hardly wait for the Apollo astronauts to blast off. When Neil Armstrong finally takes his first steps on the moon, Marthanne watches in wonder. She knows her papa played an important role in putting a man on the moon.

Moon's First Friends

By Susanna Leonard Hill, Elisa Paganelli (illustrator),

Book cover of Moon's First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship

I absolutely adore this book for a few key reasons. I fell in love with the premise of a lonely Moon on the lookout for new friends--who hasn’t felt that way before? The author does an incredible job of weaving in facts about the first modes of transportation while keeping the book fun and relatable to children. The illustrations are beautiful and by the end of the book you’ll definitely be rooting for Moon to get her first visitors.

Moon's First Friends

By Susanna Leonard Hill, Elisa Paganelli (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moon's First Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller!
A heartwarming story of a friendship-seeking moon that also celebrates the extraordinary 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!
From high up in the sky, the Moon has spent her whole life watching Earth and hoping for someone to visit. Dinosaurs roam, pyramids are built, and boats are made, but still no one comes. Will friends ever come visit her?
One day a spaceship soars from Earth...and so does her heart.
Includes bonus educational pages about the moon mission!


Who am I?

I am a nurse, mother, and writer, and as such, consider myself a life-learner. When my children come to me with questions, I love being able to grab a beautiful picture book to begin exploring whatever topic is on their minds. I can’t answer all their questions perfectly, but I enjoy searching for the answers with them and hope to impart that love of learning as they grow. Astronomy has always fascinated me, and the books I’ve picked do a fantastic job of discussing everything from gravity to aliens to the first African-American female in space. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!


I wrote...

Book cover of Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America's First Published Poet

What is my book about?

The inspiring story of a Puritan woman whose passion for writing poetry broke barriers. Late at night, with her children tucked into bed and her husband away on business, Anne Dudley Bradstreet composed poems by candlelight. She let her thoughts from the day tumble out, memorizing each poem line by line before daring to shape the words onto scraps of scarce parchment. Puritan women in the 1600s weren't allowed to be writers. But when the world learned about Anne's poetry, even she was astonished by what happened next.

This charmingly illustrated picture book tells the inspiring story of how a Puritan woman overcame the obstacles facing women of her era to become one of the most famous poets in history. A gifted writer of deep faith, Anne Bradstreet blazed a trail for the rights of women to study, write, and achieve.

Book cover of Man on the Moon (a day in the life of Bob)

This is one of my all-time favourite books I used to read to my children at bedtime.

It has all the beauty of a completely stylized, detailed, and yet seemingly believable world both on earth and on the moon, yet includes aliens! I think the marriage of story and pictures works perfectly, with the reader finding aliens on every page, seemingly unbeknown to the writer!

It makes for fantastic squeals of delight as children find aliens, more seeming to appear on each consecutive read. I think it’s a great book to let the imagination run as well as stimulating conversations about what really might be on the moon. Brilliant!

Man on the Moon (a day in the life of Bob)

By Simon Bartram,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Man on the Moon (a day in the life of Bob) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2017 is the 15th anniversary of the creation of Bob, Man on the Moon, celebrate with this anniversary edition. Enjoy the stunning artwork Simon Bartram has become famous for. Bob is everyone's favourite man on the moon; follow him on his daily adventures. Bob has a special job - looking after the moon. He keeps it clean and entertains passing space tourists as well as giving guided tours. He knows everything about the moon and that there is definitely no such thing as aliens!

Who am I?

I usually enjoy painting pictures for storybooks about nature I know, so it was a treat to depict an imaginary place that I’ve never actually seen! I was so inspired to illustrate Mary’s story about the moon, as I could focus on creating an other-worldly atmosphere, adding to the drama that could have happened anywhere. The story focuses on Molly and her family moving to the moon and includes scientific facts about how gravity would impact their everyday life. I used Mary’s knowledge as reference to underpin the imaginative side of my process. Painting the inside of a moon module enabled me to use textures, colours, and lighting in such a fun, expressive way!


I illustrated...

Molly on the Moon

By Mary Robinette Kowal, Diana Mayo (illustrator),

Book cover of Molly on the Moon

What is my book about?

Award-winning science fiction author Mary Robinette Kowal consulted with a NASA astronaut to craft her first picture book story, accurately describing how living on the moon differs from life on Earth. Beautifully illustrated by Diana Mayo, Molly on the Moon is the tale of two siblings adjusting to their new home. Inspiring and imaginative, Molly on the Moon also includes fascinating facts about the moon’s environment, revealing how the differences in gravity, temperature, and time would affect our lives.

Illustrator Diana Mayo’s art is an intriguing study in contrasts. She envisions the moon as a world that seems both strange and familiar, vast but confined, cozy yet intensely isolated. The deep blue colour palette of her mixed media images feels appropriately lunar and a little mysterious.” – Bookpage.com

Enterprise Stardust

By Karl-Herbert Scheer, Walter Ernsting,

Book cover of Enterprise Stardust

So some of you are sitting there thinking “Perry who?” well imagine him as the West German (it was first published in 1961) alternative to our Flash Gordon.

In book number one, Rhodan and his crew take off and make the first moon landing, their mission is disrupted by a crashed spacecraft. This is where they meet the Arkons, a sort of tall, large-headed alien with silver eyes, or hair, or both… it’s been a long time so don’t hold me to any of the details!

So these aliens from a super-intelligent species (Rhodan later in the series uses a device similar to the one in Battlefield Earth to increase his intelligence and psionic powers above even that of the Arkons) assist Rohdan in ending the cold war on Earth and uniting the planet.

The series runs for 126 books, mostly novellas, it’s typical Flash Gordon when it’s action time,…

Enterprise Stardust

By Karl-Herbert Scheer, Walter Ernsting,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enterprise Stardust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fate of Earth depended on one man deep in space.

Who am I?

I like this topic/theme because I’ve always enjoyed alien contact (in the future) in all forms of entertainment, also it is what I first took to when I began writing and I find this subject comes to me most readily. I guess it’s always on my mind since I’ve written every day for the past 13 years, mostly sci-fi novels/novellas of a similar theme, all these books influence my writing, even the comedy.


I wrote...

The School of Hard Knocks

By Oliver Strong,

Book cover of The School of Hard Knocks

What is my book about?

Rick and his crew live where the law is what you make it and the taxman doth fear to tread. While a war rages he profiteers on the misery of others, a parasite of dignity.

Despite his plan to sit it out from the sidelines he's drawn in. As time passes the choice between his conscience and cold hard cash is not so simple.

Moonbound

By Jonathan Fetter-Vorm,

Book cover of Moonbound: Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight

If you’re exploring space history, Apollo 11 is THE moment above all others – the first footsteps on another world. In Moonbound, Fetter-Vorm both captures and contextualizes that moment brilliantly, using the words of the astronauts themselves to share the story of the mission, while also giving the big picture that got them there – in the process unpacking everything from Galileo to the layers of a spacesuit.

Moonbound

By Jonathan Fetter-Vorm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moonbound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a summer night in 1969, two men climbed down a ladder onto a sea of dust at the edge of an ancient dream. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on lunar soil, the moon ceased to be a place of mystery and myth. It became a destination.

Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of that journey, Moonbound tells the monumental story of the moon and the men who went there first. With vibrant images and meticulous attention to detail, Jonathan Fetter-Vorm conjures the long history of the visionaries, stargazers, builders, and adventurers who sent Apollo 11 on…


Who am I?

When I was five years old, my father sat down with me in front of the television and we watched together as the Space Shuttle Columbia launched for the first time. Four decades later, I’ve authored a history of those early shuttle missions, been a part of developing future space missions, and, most importantly of all, watched several space firsts with my own son. Space exploration is humanity at its greatest – working together using the best of our abilities to overcome incredible challenges and improve life here on Earth – and I’m always grateful for the opportunity to share that inspiration with others.


I wrote...

Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story

By David Hitt, Owen Garriott, Joe Kerwin

Book cover of Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story

What is my book about?

As the United States and the Soviet Union went from exploring space to living in it, a space station was conceived as the logical successor to the Apollo moon program. But between conception and execution there was the vastness of space itself, to say nothing of monumental technological challenges. Homesteading Space, by two of Skylab’s own astronauts and a NASA journalist, tells the dramatic story of America’s first space station from beginning to fiery end.

Homesteading Space is much more than a story of technological and scientific success; it is also an absorbing, sometimes humorous, often inspiring account of the determined, hardworking individuals who shepherded the program through a near-disastrous launch, a heroic rescue, and an exhausting study of Comet Kohoutek, as well as the lab's ultimate descent into the Indian Ocean. 

Spacefarers

By Christopher Wanjek,

Book cover of Spacefarers: How Humans Will Settle the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

I don’t know who will reach Mars first, Elon Musk, NASA astronauts, or Chinese Taikonauts. Whoever does must deal with serious problems of long-duration space flight, including lethal radiation and life support, plus issues of living, breathing, and raising food on Mars or other objects, such as Callisto, Jupiter’s second-largest moon. No natural object in the solar system other than Earth is inhabitable. Chris Wanjek, a science writer with NASA experience and solid knowledge of medical matters and nutrition, writes with humor; he was a contributing joke writer to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Wanjek advocates terraforming Mars to support human colonists. That means engineering changes in the planet to enable people to live there without resources from Earth. If you’re thinking of relocating from Earth, read Spacefarers first.

Spacefarers

By Christopher Wanjek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spacefarers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Telegraph Best Book of the Year

A wry and compelling take on the who, how, and why of near-future colonies in space. From bone-whittling microgravity to eye-popping profits, the risks and rewards of space settlement have never been so close at hand.

More than fifty years after the Apollo 11 moon landing, why is there so little human presence in space? Will we ever reach Mars? What will it take to become a multiplanet species, colonizing the solar system and traveling to other stars?

Spacefarers meets these questions head on. While many books have speculated on the possibility of…


Who am I?

I’ve studied space for 60+ years, including spotting Sputnik from atop 30 Rock for Operation Moonwatch; monitoring an exploding star for a PhD at University of Michigan, leading the Remotely Controlled Telescope project at Kitt Peak National Observatory, hunting pulsars from Arizona and Chile, and helping develop scientific instruments for the Hubble Space Telescope. I worked for 5 years at Kitt Peak and 35 years for NASA. As Press Officer (now retired) of the American Astronomical Society, I organized press conferences on many notable cosmic discoveries. Minor Planet 9768 was named Stephenmaran for me, but I haven’t seen it yet. What I have spotted are five exceptional books on space.  Enjoy!


I wrote...

Astronomy for Dummies

By Stephen P. Maran,

Book cover of Astronomy for Dummies

What is my book about?

Do you know the difference between a red giant and a white dwarf? From asteroids to black holes, this easy-to-understand guide takes you on a grand tour of the universe. Featuring updated star maps, charts, and an insert with gorgeous full-color photographs, Astronomy For Dummies provides an easy-to-follow introduction to the night sky. Plus, this new edition also gives you the latest theories, explanations, and insights into the basic workings of the universe.

Intimacy

By Hanif Kureishi,

Book cover of Intimacy

Jay, a selfish, self-absorbed screenwriter, reflects on his failings as a lover, husband, and friend on the eve of leaving his wife and children. From the way Jay describes his marriage and his approach to fatherhood, it’s clear he’s more than willing to throw his comfortable life away and damage three innocent people for no other reason than he’s bored, shallow, and desperate to blame his incompetency on those closest to him. What keeps the reader engaged is how painfully funny it all is – Jay’s obliviousness provides ample opportunity for mature audiences to chuckle and shake their heads at every meanspirited quip he makes at his family’s expense. By the end of the book, readers can only feel relief that he’s done them an incredible, and long overdue, service.

Intimacy

By Hanif Kureishi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Intimacy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'It is the saddest night, for I am leaving and not coming back.'

Jay is leaving his partner and their two sons. As the long night before his departure unfolds he remembers the ups and downs of his relationship with Susan. In an unforgettable, and often pitiless, reflection of their time together he analyses the agonies and the joys of trying to make a life with another person.

Who am I?

I find “difficult” characters fascinating because their humanity isn’t easily discerned. They’re often complex and richly drawn and show us aspects of ourselves we may not want to admit to others. Examining the ugly, the hidden, can be exhilarating.


I wrote...

The Voices In Between

By Charlene Challenger,

Book cover of The Voices In Between

What is my book about?

Adoni lives in a downtown apartment with her mother, an abusive alcoholic. One evening, she finds herself drawn to the enchanting voice of a man singing in the alley beneath her bedroom window. The man brings Adoni to The Welcome, a colony of the In-Between world, where young people who have been rescued from harm are kept safe by their sworn immortal protectors, the Pipers. But when The Welcome is attacked by Changelings—led by the vicious and charismatic Sylvester—and a centuries-old grudge spills over the edge and threatens to destroy the colony and everyone who lives there, Adoni must find the strength and courage within to stop the oncoming war.

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