The most recommended books about planets

Who picked these books? Meet our 25 experts.

25 authors created a book list connected to planets, and here are their favorite planet books.
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Book cover of The Alternate Martians

Marc Hartzman Author Of The Big Book of Mars: From Ancient Egypt to The Martian, a Deep-Space Dive Into Our Obsession with the Red Planet

From my list on life on Mars as we’ll soon know it.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Mars began when I stumbled upon an old newspaper article from 1926 about a lawyer who was in telepathic communication with a Martian woman named Oomaruru. How could I not be intrigued? As I dug into the story, I learned about his attempts to send telegrams to Mars, his disappointment at our scientists for not being smart enough to receive their responses, and the many other interesting beliefs about intelligent Martians that were prevalent at the time. The more I learned about this early history of Martians, the more fascinated I became. It all led me on the path to what became The Big Book of Mars

Marc's book list on life on Mars as we’ll soon know it

Marc Hartzman Why did Marc love this book?

There are so many science fiction books about Mars, so I wanted to choose at least one of the more obscure ones. This one is particularly interesting because it explores the idea of a universe in which the many famous Martian tales that came before it, like John Carter of Mars, were based on actual beings and events—the details were just embellished and perhaps misremembered a bit by the authors.

By A. Bertram Chandler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A space expedition to Mars find themselves in the worlds of H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Otis Adelbert Kline.


Book cover of The Planets: A Journey Through the Solar System

Alyssa Clements Author Of The Size of Everything: Ginormous Galaxies, Itty-Bitty Quarks, and Me

From my list on children’s science for Christian families.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a third-grade teacher turned book editor and writer who loves learning about the fascinating world God has made and exploring how it all points back to him. During my time in the classroom, I worked at a Christian classical school where my grade’s scientific focus was astronomy. I loved introducing my students to this awe-inspiring, gigantic universe that we are a part of and considering together just how big, powerful, and loving God must be to have designed and created it all. I am also mom to two wonderfully curious children who love to read, explore, and ask big questions. 

Alyssa's book list on children’s science for Christian families

Alyssa Clements Why did Alyssa love this book?

This book recommendation is a bit unusual because it is not officially a children’s book, but I promise your kids will love it!

When I taught third grade, I had this book in my classroom, and it was a very hot commodity during independent reading time (although it wasn’t so much read as marveled at). With stunning, close-up images of all the planets, as well as moons, comets, asteroids, and more, this book will inspire your children to consider the magnificence of God’s creation and God himself as the one who created it all!

This is a book you’ll want to have out on a table, ready to be explored and discussed as a family. I guarantee you and your kids will be fascinated!

By Giles Sparrow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Examines the solar system, with almost two-hundred images, every planet is visited in this journey into space using robotic scouts and powerful telescopes.


Book cover of How We'll Live on Mars

Sylvia Engdahl Author Of Journey Between Worlds

From my list on colonizing Mars of interest to young adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a long-term advocate of space colonization I’ve always been drawn to Mars, not by adventure stories but by the idea that ordinary people may someday live there. So this was the theme of my first novel. I wrote it before we had gone to the moon, though it wasn't published until 1970, after my better-known book Enchantress from the Stars. When in 2006 I revised it for republication, little about Mars needed changing; mainly I removed outdated sexist assumptions and wording. Yet the book still hasn’t reached its intended audience because though meant for girls who aren’t already space enthusiasts, its publishers persisted in labeling it science fiction rather than Young Adult romance.

Sylvia's book list on colonizing Mars of interest to young adults

Sylvia Engdahl Why did Sylvia love this book?

This is a short but comprehensive overview of why we need to colonize Mars and the problems that must be solved in settling it. We would already be there, Petranek points out, if we had preserved and improved the technology that got us to the moon. In his view, NASA has accomplished little of value during the hiatus. But now private companies are making real progress toward turning humankind into a spacefaring species, which is essential both as insurance against disaster on Earth and because “when the first humans set foot on Mars, the moment will be more significant in terms of technology, philosophy, history, and exploration than any that have come before it.” I recommend this book not so much for the information it contains as for the inspiration it offers.

By Stephen Petranek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How We'll Live on Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part of the TED series: How We'll Live on Mars

It sounds like science fiction, but award-winning journalist Stephen Petranek considers it fact: within 20 years, humans will live on Mars. We'll need to. In this sweeping, provocative book that mixes business, science and human reporting, Petranek makes the case that living on Mars is an essential back-up plan for humanity, and explains in fascinating detail just how it will happen.

It's clear that the race is on. Private companies (driven by iconoclastic entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson); Dutch reality show/space mission Mars One; NASA and the…


Book cover of Eerie

Richard Paolinelli Author Of Escaping Infinity

From my list on superversive fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am both a writer and a publisher of Superversive fiction. Even before I encountered the term and the official definition of it, my fiction writing has always tended to be Superversive. Which makes sense as I am drawn to Superversive stories as a reader. I want to read and write about heroes and heroines. I want to be drawn into incredible universes and taken along on amazing adventures. I want stories where evil appears to be winning but good eventually finds a way to triumph in the end.  

Richard's book list on superversive fiction

Richard Paolinelli Why did Richard love this book?

Gibson was a dear friend and this is his fourth and final work. When I first read it, long before it was published, I was wondering how in the world he was going to connect a 1st Century Roman invasion of Ireland with a 33rd Century mining planet millions of light-years from Earth. And boy did he ever weave those two worlds together in an amazing way. 

By Gibson Michaels,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In first century Ireland, the Celts and the Fae fend off an invasion of Roman legionnaires. In the Thirty-third century, a mining colony fights for survival as the world around it shakes and shatters. An ancient species seeks to end its long exile and return home. Three disparate worlds, separated by millions of light years and over three millennia of time, are now on a collision course. Their ultimate fates will be decided on a cold, barren world that is suddenly springing to life… Éerie.
* * *
“As fate determined that we would only get four stories from Gibson…


Book cover of A Maze of Death

Mike Dubisch Author Of The Earthlings

From my list on thought provoking science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a lifelong reader of science fiction and fantasy from all eras, coming from a family that was obsessed with both science and speculative fiction. I am the co-creator of Forbidden Futures magazine, the world’s only full color, fully illustrated genre fiction periodical, and I have been writing and publishing science fiction and horror comics, art, and stories for over four decades. I have contributed to the worlds of Star Wars, Aliens VS Predator, Dungeons and Dragons, DC and MARVEL comics, and The Wheel Of Time. I am an instructor teaching fantasy illustration, comics, and graphic novel writing at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Mike's book list on thought provoking science fiction

Mike Dubisch Why did Mike love this book?

This story imagines a human colony on an alien world that is both terrifying and surreal. 

One by one the colonists meet strange fates or murder each other, until they all wake up to discover the entire sequence of events was a virtual reality—a diversion designed to occupy them while awaiting an unlikely rescue from otherwise certain doom. However, elements from the virtual reality escape into the waking world, leading to salvation for at least one of the voyagers.

This book will keep you guessing right up to the end, and beyond, making the reader consider what is real, what is religion, and what do we want most out of life.

By Philip K Dick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Hugo Award–winning author Philip K. Dick, A Maze of Death is a sci-fi murder mystery set on a mysterious planet where colonists experience unexplained shifts in reality and perception.

Delmak-O is a dangerous planet. Though there are only fourteen citizens, no one can trust anyone else and death can strike at any moment. The planet is vast and largely unexplored, populated mostly by gelatinous cube-shaped beings that give cryptic advice in the form of anagrams. Deities can be spoken to directly via a series of prayer amplifiers and transmitters, but they may not be happy about it.

And the…


Book cover of The Reality Dysfunction

Jason Jowett Author Of Alchemy Series Compendium

From my list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid explorer having thrice traveled around the world, living and working in over 40 countries, my inspirations as so originally science fiction have found grounding. I looked to level my imagination in the real world and filtered out the impossible from the unnecessary on a path to utopia. Sharing our ideas, exposing misgivings too, all contribute to a shared realization of human potential. This is much of the reason for who I am as a founder of business platforms I designed to achieve things that I envisage as helpful, necessary, and constructive contributions to our world. Those software endeavours underway in 2022, and a longtime coming still, are Horoscorpio and De Democracy.

Jason's book list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview

Jason Jowett Why did Jason love this book?

A galactic society with living ships! This pan-ultimate technological empire is so immense, I seized upon the concept for a sequel to my book regarding the symbiosis of human and machine. Joshua Calver's astro-archeological adventure was the most enjoyable for me. The idea of immersing in progenitor hyper-technological society's exciting, and forms the basis of RPGs such as Mass Effect. It's not entirely alien a concept either but based on the real history of Earth and its megalithic stone cut marvels, featuring precision cutting on either impossibly large building stones or delicate bowls.

By Peter F. Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reality Dysfunction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton is the first in a sweeping galactic series, The Night's Dawn trilogy, from the master of space opera.

In AD 2600, the human race is finally realizing its potential. The galaxy's colonized planets host a multitude of diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has defeated disease and produced extraordinary space-born creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive, living on the wealth created by industrializing entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space, the Confederation Navy keeps the peace.

Then something goes catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet, a renegade criminal encounters an utterly alien…


Book cover of Colony: Life on Mars

Kate Rauner Author Of Glory on Mars

From my list on science fiction worlds so real, you'll believe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I loved discovering how things work. That led me to a career in engineering, but I never left a certain quirkiness behind. Why else would I have raised llamas for thirty years? Or loved the stories I find in science fiction? Especially books that start in a real place occupied by believable people, then demand a leap of faith, a reach beyond what's known today. We have so much to learn – about planets and people – that possibilities spiral out into the universe. I hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have.

Kate's book list on science fiction worlds so real, you'll believe

Kate Rauner Why did Kate love this book?

Lots of stories are set on Mars, and each author makes the planet their own. I enjoyed how this story picks up steam as malfunctions and irritable colleagues balloon into deadly danger. I can see myself in this near-future crew, and I relate to the characters because they make mistakes as they prepare for the main colony's arrival. I was totally engaged.

By Paul R. E. Jarvis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When no more frontiers remained on Earth, the heavens beckoned a new generation of explorer. Commander Kelly Brown and her small crew had one shared goal - to build a sustainable home for humankind on Mars.

It was meant to be a pivotal mission of discovery, but confinement, isolation and the hostile environment quickly take their toll. With one member critically ill and another missing, can the remaining crew of the Aeolis survive on the deadly planet?


Book cover of Pluto's Secret: An Icy World's Tale of Discovery

Sandra Nickel Author Of The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe

From my list on children’s books about astronomy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning children’s book author who writes stories about unexpected friends, women who did the impossible, people who are (almost) forgotten & ideas that seem too complicated until I find the right way to tell them.

Sandra's book list on children’s books about astronomy

Sandra Nickel Why did Sandra love this book?

Pluto’s Secret is the tale of Pluto’s discovery, naming, and demotion from planet to “icy world.” Along the way, it is jam-packed with details about astronomy, with Pluto jumping in with its endearing point of view. Immersed in Pluto’s world this way, Pluto’s Secret is a fun and upbeat way to learn about planets as well as the way astronomy is done.

By Margaret Weitekamp, David H. DeVorkin, Diane Kidd (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

People, children especially, have been baffled, bewildered, and even outraged by the fact that Pluto is no longer called a planet. Through whimsical artwork and an entertaining dialogue format, Pluto's Secret explains the true story of this distant world, including its recent reclassification. Includes a glossary and bibliography.


Book cover of We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

Denis Dragovic Author Of No Dancing, No Dancing: Inside the Global Humanitarian Crisis

From Denis' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Dreamer Humanitarian Culture enthusiast Nature lover Traveler

Denis' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Denis Dragovic Why did Denis love this book?

This is the first of a four-part series that had me hooked from the first chapter. It is a science fiction book that seems so absurd yet so tantalizingly possible.

Bob is humanity’s last hope, and somehow, Bob, an otherwise unremarkable fellow, manages to become the prototype sentience of the future of the human species.

I love space opera, and this is space opera on an enormous scale from an author with an enormous imagination. It’s such an easy read that it works well as a palate cleanser between more intense non-fiction books.

By Dennis E. Taylor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked We Are Legion (We Are Bob) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first…


Book cover of K-Pax

Cat Jordan Author Of Eight Days on Planet Earth

From my list on with aliens that are not science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, my father and I watched Star Trek reruns together. He was so busy traveling all over the world with his job that our time watching Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock was precious to me. I loved it so much that I built my own Enterprise models and sewed a boxful of tribbles. More importantly, that show led me to reading tons of science fiction - everything from Isaac Asimov to Douglas Adams - and, of course, watching every Star Trek sequel ever made. Live long and prosper.

Cat's book list on with aliens that are not science fiction

Cat Jordan Why did Cat love this book?

I loved the humor of this novel: Prot – who claims to be an alien from the planet K-PAX – is charming and funny and absolutely wins over everyone he meets. You can’t not want him to be who he says he is. Is K-Pax a real planet? Is Prot a real alien or does he suffer from a mental illness? If you’ve seen the movie, that’s a start, but the book is better and there are sequels. It’s told from his psychiatrist’s point of view so we get a lot of background on him and how he relates to Prot. In many ways, the book tells us more about what it’s like for us to be humans than for Prot to be an alien.

By Gene Brewer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When a man who claims to be from outer space is brought into the Manhattan Institute, the mental ward seems to be just the place for him. However this patient is unlike anyone psychiatrist Dr. Gene Brewer has had under his care before. Calling himself 'prot', he has no traceable background but says that he is an inhabitant of the planet K-PAX, a perfect world without wars, government or religion, and where every being coexists in harmony. Setting a departure date - August 17th at 3.31am - on which he plans to return home on a beam of light, 'prot'…