The most recommended outer space books

Who picked these books? Meet our 74 experts.

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

What type of outer space book?


Book cover of Asteroid Hunters

Gordon L. Dillow Author Of Fire in the Sky: Cosmic Collisions, Killer Asteroids, and the Race to Defend Earth

From my list on giant space rocks that threaten Earth.

Who am I?

In 2016 I was enjoying an early morning cup of coffee on my back porch in Arizona when an eerie red light lit up the dark sky, followed seconds later by a tremendous distant explosion that rattled my cup and set my dogs howling. As a soldier and journalist, I had seen all kinds of human and natural catastrophes and mayhem, but never anything like this. Later I was astonished to learn that this event, which was seen as far away as Texas, was caused by a small asteroid the size of a refrigerator that had exploded in the atmosphere with the energy equivalent of a million pounds of TNT. I wanted to find out more – and I did.

Gordon's book list on giant space rocks that threaten Earth

Gordon L. Dillow Why did Gordon love this book?

This book is about asteroid hunters, written by an asteroid hunter – and she clearly loves her work. Nugent is an assistant professor of computational physics and planetary science at Olin College and worked on NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), which discovered hundreds of Potential Hazardous Objects – asteroids and comets – that could someday threaten Earth. You don’t have to be a scientist to enjoy this book. Nugent patiently walks us through the process of finding and tracking potentially dangerous space rocks with skill and passion for her subject.

By Carrie Nugent,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dr Carrie Nugent is an asteroid hunter - one of the select group of scientists working diligently to map our cosmic neighbourhood. For the first time ever we are reaching the point where we may be able to prevent a natural disaster resulting from an asteroid collision. Nugent will delve into the impact asteroids have had in the past: the extinction of the dinosaurs, the earth-sized hole Shoemaker-Levy 9 left in Jupiter just a few years ago, how the surprise hit on Chelyabinsk in Russia could have started a war and unlucky Ms Anne Hodges - the only person (that…

Book cover of Scharlette Doesn't Matter and Goes Time Travelling

Will Hartzell-Baird Author Of The Taste of Cashews

From my list on science fiction for people who enjoy comedy.

Who am I?

In my teenage years, it was sci-fi (and later fantasy) comedies that made me fall in love with reading. There was just something about exploring worlds where anything could happen mixed with the joy of laughter that kept drawing me back in. Naturally, in the many...many...years that followed, I've read countless novels from a wide variety of genres, but sci-fi comedy will always hold a special place in my heart.

Will's book list on science fiction for people who enjoy comedy

Will Hartzell-Baird Why did Will love this book?

This is a fun, relatively light novel that involves the fate of all humankind, etc., etc. The overarching plot here is enjoyable enough, but the real appeal is taking a somewhat meandering trip through a fun universe and getting to know the characters within. Don’t get me wrong; the plot is more than just a joke, which happens occasionally in comedies. It has a satisfying payoff, and Scharlette has a character arc, but–at least for me–the way the story is told is the real draw, not so much what the story itself is.

By Sam Bowring,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scharlette Doesn't Matter and Goes Time Travelling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ever since Scharlette’s parents gave her a name no one can pronounce, she’s been stuck in a bit of a rut. She hates her job in airport security, making people take their belts off before they fly to exotic locations she can only dream about. She owns a small apartment with large repayments, drinks bargain bin red on a couch that swallows gym memberships, and misses her little sister – lost to an exploding sandwich press, ten years ago.

Scharlette fears she might live her whole life without doing anything or mattering to anyone. Still, it comes as quite a…

Book cover of The Dream of the Ridiculous Man

Brooks Hansen Author Of The Unknown Woman of the Seine

From my list on history, myth, and fantasy, as imagination sees fit.

Who am I?

I like history. I also like myth. And I revere the imagination, the liberal use of which can lead to what many call “fantasy.” Though the portions change, almost all the fiction I’ve written—from The Chess Garden to John the Baptizer to my latest, The Unknown Woman of the Seine—is the product of this recipe. Some moment from the past captures my attention, digs its hooks in, invites research, which begets questions, which beget answers that only the imagination can provide, informed both by experience and by the oldest illustrations of why we are the way we are. Dice these up, let simmer until you’re not sure which is which, and serve.

Brooks' book list on history, myth, and fantasy, as imagination sees fit

Brooks Hansen Why did Brooks love this book?

Another story we discuss in my mental health and literature class, and easily found in any collection of Dostoevsky, The Dream of the Ridiculous Man recounts one desperate and momentous night in the life of the titular depressive and proto-absurdist. His experience revolves around a faith-restoring dream in which (spoiler alert) the narrator shoots himself, is buried alive, pulled from the grave by a black angel, then flown through outer space to an alternate sun with an alternate earth where the local population is enjoying a shamelessly Edinic existence—that is, until the narrator contaminates them with his ego, causing them all to fall from grace, the description of which provides Dostoevsky the opportunity to recap the whole of human history in roughly three pages. Accurately no less. It’s a bravura performance.

Book cover of Phule's Company

Karina Fabian Author Of Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1

From my list on science fiction books that make you laugh (without insulting your intelligence).

Who am I?

I am a writer of science fiction and fantasy, and a humorist. My husband and I fell in love over Star Trek and puns, and we both share a deep abiding hatred of people acting stupidly to further a plot. I read to escape, so I’m looking for laughs but also compelling characters who live their stories rather than act out the author’s wishes. I will toss a book as soon as it insults my intelligence or bores me. Thus, when I write, I let the characters run the show—and they never fail me.

Karina's book list on science fiction books that make you laugh (without insulting your intelligence)

Karina Fabian Why did Karina love this book?

Willard J. Phule, the rich son of a millionaire arms manufacturer, reforms a group of misfits in the Space Legion, a fictional organization similar to the French Foreign Legion, into an “elite fighting force.” What I love about this book is the mix of humor and common sense. I’m a big fan of out-of-the-box thinking in tactical situations, and Phule’s Company uses it in spades.

By Robert Asprin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Willard J. Phule, the rich son of a millionaire arms manufacturer, reforms a group of misfits in the Space Legion, a fictional organization similar to the French Foreign Legion, into an "elite fighting force".

Book cover of The Price of the Stars

Sherwood Smith Author Of Inda

From my list on epic sci-fi series that let you live in another world.

Who am I?

I started writing about another world when I was eight years old. I was already a reader, but books for kids were full of adventuring boys, with girls mostly sidelined. My world started with a gang of adventuring girls, and as I aged up, it kept getting bigger, and deeper, especially as I studied history. All fiction is a mirror to our contemporary society, and in conversation with other fiction; so is epic fantasy written over a lifetime. Many books later, I still get to adventure, wield magic, and be a hero, through my characters!

Sherwood's book list on epic sci-fi series that let you live in another world

Sherwood Smith Why did Sherwood love this book?

This is my favorite type of space opera: bigger-than-life characters, tons of action, with great sense of wonder and a world full of surprises. The women characters are excellent, as well.

There is a touch of fantasy in this series that I found sparked a hint of the numinous.

By Debra Doyle, James D. MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Price of the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When an assassination on the Senate floor threatens the thirty-year peace between the human Republic and the mysterious Mageworlds, the victim's daughter is forced to become accustomed to the galactic intrigue, but the Galaxy may never get used to her. Reissue.

Book cover of Garcia & Colette Go Exploring

Nidhi Kamra Author Of Simon's Skin

From my list on space exploration.

Who am I?

Who doesn’t like space? I love learning about space! Tip: Picture books are easier to comprehend compared to graduate courses – there’s only so much of Newton-Euler dynamics, inertia tensors, eccentricity vectors, etc. one can handle. Plus, there are no nasty mind-boggling equations in picture books. I mean, do you really want to calculate the maximum flight path angle and the true anomaly at which it occurs? Or solve Kepler’s equations for hyperbolic eccentric anomaly? No, right? Always stick to the picture book if you have a choice! I mentioned some fun picture books (fiction and non-fiction) with amusing or complementing illustrations that helped me on my journey to understanding space. Enjoy!

Nidhi's book list on space exploration

Nidhi Kamra Why did Nidhi love this book?

Garcia the bunny craves to shoot up to space while Colette the fox dreams of exploring the deep seas. Garcia builds a rocket and Colette, a submarine. Off they go on their separate adventures with their peanut butter sandwiches, of course! In this cleverly worded book, the author compares the two journeys – their similarities and differences, and how the two friends miss each other’s company. Garcia and Colette finally find a way to enjoy their interests together. The illustrations complement the words perfectly. A great read for little humans.

By Hannah Barnaby, Andrew Joyner (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Garcia & Colette Go Exploring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

-- Kirkus, starred review

Best friends Garcia and Colette are eager to go exploring -- only they can't agree on where to go. Garcia loves everything about space and Colette is obsessed with the sea.

Garcia builds a rocket ship and Colette constructs a submarine, but even though they find amazing things on their journeys, they soon realise they each left something very important back home ...

From new talent Hannah Barnaby and bestselling Australian illustrator Andrew Joyner comes a book about friendship, adventure and compromise.



Book cover of Spirits Abroad: Stories

Dale Stromberg Author Of Melancholic Parables: Being for the Antiselving Reader

From my list on little stories that link to tell big stories.

Who am I?

When I drafted the pieces which eventually comprised Melancholic Parables, I had no plan. Only upon arranging them into a collection did I discover that, surprisingly, they shared emotional moods and thematic elements. In other words, I had stumbled into a linked collection. Writing a single big story is no small feat, as is writing small stories which each intrigue and delight in their own right—but to create and arrange multiple small stories so that they aggregate into a big story, one greater than the sum of its parts (in ways sometimes counterintuitive, sometimes virtuosic) is a special storytelling skill which I think these five authors’ work exemplifies.

Dale's book list on little stories that link to tell big stories

Dale Stromberg Why did Dale love this book?

As an immigrant to Malaysia, I can attest that the delightful stories in this collection are electric with Malaysian spirit.

The magic in these tales is literally magic, sometimes whimsical, sometimes discomfiting, imbued with warm and ironic wit. The throughline linking the stories is that they focus either on experiences of the uncanny in Malaysia, or the uncanny experiences of Malaysians abroad.

The included story “If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again” won a Hugo award, but my personal favourite may be “The Terra-cotta Bride.”

By Zen Cho,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the LA Times/Ray Bradbury Prize

Nineteen sparkling stories that weave between the lands of the living and the lands of the dead. Spirits Abroad is an expanded edition of Zen Cho's Crawford Award winning debut collection with nine added stories including Hugo Award winner "If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again." A Datin recalls her romance with an orang bunian. A teenage pontianak struggles to balance homework, bossy aunties, first love, and eating people. An earth spirit gets entangled in protracted negotiations with an annoying landlord, and Chang E spins off into outer space, the ultimate…

Book cover of Station Eternity

M. Darusha Wehm Author Of Self Made

From my list on science fiction detectives.

Who am I?

I’m primarily a science fiction writer and reader, but mystery is my first literary love, and I was the editor-in-chief of the mystery magazine, Plan B. So, I doubly love it when a mystery story takes place in a science fictional world. In my own work, certain themes keep showing up even when I don’t intend them to because I love them as much as I love a juicy mystery: using technology to change our bodies and environments, the struggle that wealth and corporate greed create, how we can learn to understand someone who is radically different from ourselves. These five books hit all those marks for me. 

M. Darusha's book list on science fiction detectives

M. Darusha Wehm Why did M. Darusha love this book?

I’ve always wondered about those amateur detectives who just happen to be nearby when murder occurs, especially the sixth or seventh time. Surely they are secretly serial killers, or they’re really, really unlucky. It’s the latter for Mallory Viridian, so when the possibility arises she flees Earth to a space station inhabited only by aliens to escape. I love truly alien aliens, and there are plenty of those on board, with strange customs and otherworldly motives for the ever-increasing number of murders. I also really loved how this book delves into the question of why murder seems to follow Mallory around, and the resolution is satisfying and delightfully science fictional.

By Mur Lafferty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Amateur detective Mallory Viridian’s talent for solving murders ruined her life on Earth and drove her to live on an alien space station, but her problems still follow her in this witty, self-aware novel that puts a speculative spin on murder mysteries, from the Hugo-nominated author of Six Wakes.

From idyllic small towns to claustrophobic urban landscapes, Mallory Viridian is constantly embroiled in murder cases that only she has the insight to solve. But outside of a classic mystery novel, being surrounded by death doesn’t make you a charming amateur detective, it makes you a suspect and a social pariah.…

Book cover of Providence

Gary Taylor Author Of Luggage by Kroger: A True Crime Memoir

From Gary's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Articulate Well-informed Well-organized Well-read

Gary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Gary Taylor Why did Gary love this book?

I find stimulation, knowledge and entertainment in a wide range of reading material, from crime fiction to true crime, horror and westerns and science fiction.

This tale of a space ship named Providence and its four-member crew battling a new alien species ranks among my science fiction favorites, alongside Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy and the Wool books now being serialized on Apple TV as Silo. Published in 2020 by veteran SciFi author Max Barry, it recounts a future voyage into deep space to scout the new species after first contact 17 years before.

Besides non-stop action and in-depth character development for each member of the crew, Barry also provides a greedy corporate villain with a secret agenda using an AI to actually control the ship.

Following characters as they face survival challenges and solve problems offers the kind of inspirational reading experience that lingers long after I finish a book.…

By Max Barry,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos

Tom Gilb Author Of Competitive Engineering: A Handbook For Systems Engineering, Requirements Engineering, and Software Engineering Using Planguage

From my list on learning successful invention and business methods.

Who am I?

I am a self-taught guy, having started in my first job at IBM Oslo, when I was 18 years old, as punched card machine operator, and plug-board ‘programmer'. I did night studies in sociology/philosophy for 10 years at University of Oslo. I read about 30 books a year, and I’m 82 in 2023. I have spent most of my career as an independent international consultant to corporations and governments, while building up my ideas of useful methods to solve problems. In retirement, I love to spread my ideas, and learn more. I also write about 5 new books a year, when at my Oslofjord Summer cabin. They're all digital and free or free samples. 

Tom's book list on learning successful invention and business methods

Tom Gilb Why did Tom love this book?

No surprises. Self-made businessperson, with persistence and imagination.

This book is unusual. It is literally written by Bezos over decades of developing Amazon. It is mainly his annual reports to the shareholders! So it gives a continuous picture of the growth of the empire.

My favourite practical tip, is his executive meeting process. Meeting begins with a 6-page (with a 1-page summary) briefing, to reread for the first 20 minutes of as meeting in silence, then discussed. No presentation with slides and pretty pictures, and soothing ambiguous words.

The briefing is the result of hard work, in advance, crafting it to be useful. Wow! 

By Jeff Bezos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Jeff Bezos's own words, the core principles and philosophy that have guided him in creating, building, and leading Amazon and Blue Origin.

In this collection of Jeff Bezos's writings&#8212his unique and strikingly original annual shareholder letters, plus numerous speeches and interviews that provide insight into his background, his work, and the evolution of his ideas&#8212you'll gain an insider's view of the why and how of his success. Spanning a range of topics across business and public policy, from innovation and customer obsession to climate change and outer space, this book provides a rare glimpse into how Bezos thinks about…