The most recommended books about Neil Armstrong

Who picked these books? Meet our 8 experts.

8 authors created a book list connected to Neil Armstrong, and here are their favorite Neil Armstrong books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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

Don Eyles Author Of Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir

From my list on by Apollo insiders.

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.

Don's book list on by Apollo insiders

Don Eyles Why did Don love this book?

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.

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…

Book cover of Flight: My Life in Mission Control

Patrick Chiles Author Of Frozen Orbit

From my list on space history that read like novels.

Who am I?

I’ve been obsessed with space exploration since watching the Apollo missions as a child. As an adult, I devoured every book I could find on the subject while nursing my own desire to create “what if” stories that were not too far removed from present day. A career in managing flight operations gave me some appreciation of the technical challenges and personality types, experiences which I’ve extrapolated into my fiction. Some of my novels have been described as “Airport for the 21st century” and “Apollo 13 meets The Hunt for Red October.” The books on this list were the foundation of my early research and remain favorites to this day.

Patrick's book list on space history that read like novels

Patrick Chiles Why did Patrick love this book?

This is an enlightening memoir from the founder and driving force of Mission Control at the beginning of the space program. Kraft’s account offers a more complete understanding of this era, with behind-the-scenes perspectives which are no less gripping than those of the more celebrated astronauts.

He deftly illustrates the tension of making rapid-fire decisions with life-or-death consequences, often with incomplete information. While both controllers and astronauts had strong technical backgrounds, and equally strong personalities, flight directors required a different mindset which Mr. Kraft likens to conducting an orchestra. His accounts of certain events, when juxtaposed against those of the astronauts involved, demonstrate why the people doing the flying are not necessarily the ones who should be running the program—which can be a staggeringly hard sell when pitted against forceful characters hailed as national heroes.

By Christopher Kraft,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his New York Times bestseller, Chris Kraft delivers an unforgettable account of his life in Mission Control. The first NASA flight director, Kraft emerged from boyhood in small-town America to become a visionary who played an integral role in what would become the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It's all here, from the legendary Mercury missions that first sent Americans into space through the Gemini and Apollo missions that landed them on the moon. The great heroes of space are here, too-Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Buzz Aldrin-leading the space race that would change the…

Book cover of A Kite for Moon

Kristy Dempsey Author Of Papa Put a Man on the Moon

From my list on for kids who love space.

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. 

Kristy's book list on for kids who love space

Kristy Dempsey Why did Kristy love this book?

I expected to have a bit of a hard time suspending my disbelief in this sweet exploration of a boy’s friendship with the moon. But happily, it wasn’t difficult to identify with the boy’s dream of becoming an astronaut and his commitment to fulfilling their friendship with an in-person visit. For the child who looks up at the moon and dreams of being an astronaut, or the child who must face a struggle to reach a different kind of finish line, this book will be a poetic handbook for the journey.

By Jane Yolen (, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Matt Phelan (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Kite for Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Dedicated to astronaut Neil Armstrong, A Kite for Moon is the perfect children's book to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first United States moon landing. Written by New York Times bestselling author of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Jane Yolen and her daughter, Heidi Stemple, this book is a heartfelt story about a young boy's fascination and unlikely friendship with the moon.

What would it be like if the moon was your friend? Find out as you walk alongside a little boy who journeys through life to achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut. And then blast off…

Book cover of Live from Cape Canaveral: Covering the Space Race, from Sputnik to Today

Rebekah Lyn Author Of Undaunted

From my list on on space exploration.

Who am I?

Growing up on the Space Coast, with my dad working on the Space Shuttle, and launches a regular occurrence, over time I took the program for granted. When the last Shutte launched, though, it left a hole in my heart. Gradually a desire to write about my hometown and its place in space history gave birth to the Jessie Cole trilogy. A combination of stories from my dad’s childhood in Titusville, conversations with docents at our historical society, and scores of books, magazine articles, and archived news footage helped reshape my view of space exploration. It was hard to choose just five books to highlight. More are noted in the Research Library section of my website.

Rebekah's book list on on space exploration

Rebekah Lyn Why did Rebekah love this book?

This is a must-read for anyone who wants to follow the history of the US Space program from the very first launch onward. Barbree was the only journalist to cover every launch and while doing so met many of the astronauts and provides behind-the-scenes stories of dedication and comraderie. I had the privilege to participate in a book signing with Mr. Barbree at the US Space Museum in Titusville, FL in 2014. He’s a funny man who has loved all things space since the launch of Sputnik. This book is filled with humor, personal stories, and an understanding of how the media coverage of the space program and NASA has changed over the years. Barbree has also written an outstanding biography of Neil Armstrong, completed just prior to this pioneer’s death. 

By Jay Barbree,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Live from Cape Canaveral as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“From Sputnik to the International Space Station, Jay Barbree has seen it all, and reported it well. ‘Live from Cape Canaveral’ encapsulates the most technically exciting half century in history.” –Neil Armstrong

Some fifty years ago, while a cub reporter, Jay Barbree caught space fever the night that Sputnik passed over Georgia. He moved to the then-sleepy village of Cocoa Beach, Florida, right outside Cape Canaveral, and began reporting on rockets that fizzled as often as they soared. In "Live from Cape Canaveral," Barbree—the only reporter who has covered every mission flown by astronauts—offers his unique perspective on the space…

Book cover of Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures

Mike Errico Author Of Music, Lyrics, and Life: A Field Guide for the Advancing Songwriter

From my list on non-songwriting books for songwriters.

Who am I?

People come to songwriting from all different directions. Some have wanted to do this since they were little kids. Some like to make their parents mad. Some are wildly talented but crippled with doubt. All I can say is that no matter which way you’re facing, I think I can help you. I say this because I’ve been teaching college-level songwriting for years now, and every semester I have students who want to meet with me for office hours. They’re all repeat customers and I’ve noticed that many of them ask repeat questions. The point of my book, Music, Lyrics, and Life, is to try to address those repeat questions because chances are good that you have them, too. 

Mike's book list on non-songwriting books for songwriters

Mike Errico Why did Mike love this book?

A series of poetry lectures not intended for publication, they combine to form an astounding journey into language and art. You don’t need to be a poet to love the casual way she delivers bomb after bomb, and to wish you’d been her student. I guess this is as close as I’ll get, and it’s taken a long time (I’m still not done) because I can just sit on a phrase or a page for an entire subway ride. Definitely would have failed her class, but having the lectures written out is like getting an extension without needing to grovel for it.

By Mary Ruefle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Madness, Rack, and Honey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is one of the wisest books I've read in years...--New York Times Book Review No writer I know of comes close to even trying to articulate the weird magic of poetry as Ruefle does. She acknowledges and celebrates in the odd mystery and mysticism of the act--the fact that poetry must both guard and reveal, hint at and pull back...Also, and maybe most crucially, Ruefle's work is never once stuffy or overdone: she writes this stuff with a level of seriousness-as-play that's vital and welcome, that doesn't make writing poetry sound anything but wild, strange, life-enlargening fun. -The Kenyon…

Book cover of Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

Michael Soluri Author Of Infinite Worlds: The People and Places of Space Exploration

From my list on space exploration, astronauts, the moon, and beyond.

Who am I?

I’ve followed the history of space exploration since I was a kid! Although I spent decades photographing assignments in exotic international locations and co-authored visually driven books on astronomical phenomena, my dream was to photograph in NASA’s restricted space exploration work cultures. Never giving up, I achieved unprecedented access into the shuttle mission that saved the Hubble Space Telescope and, for more than a decade, with the New Horizons team that first explored the Pluto system. I’ve been published in media like Smithsonian, Nat Geo, WIRED, New Scientist, and NPR. Honored that my photographs of astronaut space tools are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum.   

Michael's book list on space exploration, astronauts, the moon, and beyond

Michael Soluri Why did Michael love this book?

Influenced by the Apollo era, “I applied to be an astronaut four times and was rejected three times before I was accepted. So, it’s about following your dream and not giving up.” This is from the son of a New York City fireman, where work ethic, never giving up, and lots of humor frame Mike’s achievement to becoming an astronaut (and even a guest on The Big Bang Theory). I’ve known Mass since 2007 and those ingrained qualities make for an inspirational narrative. Perhaps the most poignant: trying to avoid tearing up during his first EVA spacewalk on the Hubble Space Telescope when he experienced seeing the wonder of our blue-dot, water-world Earth from space.  

By Mike Massimino,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mike Massimino's compelling memoir takes us on a brilliant journey where the nerdiest science meets the most thrilling adventure to reveal what 'the right stuff' truly is. Many children dream of becoming an astronaut when they grow up, but when NASA rejected him, he kept on trying. Even being told his poor eyesigh would mean he could never make it didn't stop him; he simply trained his eyes to be better. Finally, at the third time of asking, NASA accepted him.
So began Massimino's 18-year career as an astronaut, and the extraordinary lengths he went to to get accepted was…

Book cover of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

Christopher Mari Author Of Ocean of Storms

From my list on history of space exploration.

Who am I?

My love of space exploration is an old one. I remember learning about the Apollo missions when I was very young, both from television and children’s books, and was amazed that people had worked together to achieve such a monumental task. I was also massively disappointed to discover that no one had been back to the Moon since 1972! Since then, I’ve read deeply on the history of space exploration and wished intensely that every new NASA plan would bring us back out to explore our solar system. Part of the reason I wrote Ocean of Storms with my buddy Jeremy K. Brown was to create a reality in which that return to the Moon actually came true. 

Christopher's book list on history of space exploration

Christopher Mari Why did Christopher love this book?

Neil Armstrong was an American hero not just because of his skills as a pilot during the Korean War or because of his prowess as an astronaut or by becoming the first man in history to touch the lunar surface. He is a hero because he did all of those things without ever bragging or seeking to make a profit from his success. His commitment to duty, as well as his sacrifice and humility, are lessons for every generation. 

By James R. Hansen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a major film starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and Kyle Chandler, directed by Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle, First Man by James Hansen offers the only authorized glimpse into the life of America's most famous astronaut, Neil Armstrong - the man whose "one small step" changed history.

In First Man, Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over 50 hours of interviews with the intensely private Armstrong, who also gave Hansen exclusive access to private documents and family sources, this "magnificent panorama of the second half of the American twentieth century" (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review) is an unparalleled biography…