8 Incredible Nonfiction Books About Space

by Alex Weiss
person looking up at space
Josh Wallace / 500px/500px/Getty Images

Astronomy, physics, space, oh my! Ever since I was a kid, I've been obsessed with outer space, reveling in information about our solar system and galaxy. I tend to keep track of meteor showers better than I do of my own everyday tasks, and I definitely have accurately measured and placed constellations made of glow-in-the-dark stickers on my ceiling. If you didn't think I was a space nerd yet, I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a member at my local planetarium, and I go there so often I know the museum like the back of my favorite book.

Speaking of books, there are about as many incredible books on space as there are stars in the sky — well, OK, not quite as many, but there are a ton to choose from! From the iconic authors and scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, to astronauts like Chris Hadfield, each one has something new to reveal about the universe.

Whether you're into hard facts, impossible theories, or funny space jokes, I've got a great list of books for you. Space exploration may make you feel small at times, but it also reminds you that you're a part of something so massive it's almost incomprehensible. Dive into these eight incredible books on space, time, and the impossible possibilities it brings:

1. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

While this masterpiece was published back in the '80s, many of Hawking's theories and predictions still hold up today. Hawking explores the ways humanity has attempted to understand the stars, and how that curiosity will never fade from mankind.Stephen Hawking writes massive and complex ideas in a comprehendible fashion. It's guaranteed to satisfy all of your spacey questions.

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2. Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGras Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is easily one of today's most well-known astrophysicists. He's the host of one of my favorite documentaries, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, best friends with Bill Nye the Science Guy, and he hosts a podcast called StarTalk — can this guy get any better? I first picked up this book when I needed to do some research on astronomy for a story I was working on, but it soon became one of my favorite books on space.

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3. Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan, the mentor to the beloved Neil deGrasse Tyson, captured the big ideas of space and time and made them neatly comprehensible in his book Cosmos. Covering topics on anthropological, cosmological, biological, historical, and astronomical matters, Sagan shares his views on everything from extraterrestrial life to his views on the future of science.

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4. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

You'll become a lifelong fan of Mary Roach after reading the first page of this book. Packing for Mars is her hilarious, science-driven book on how living in space reflects what it means to be human. Answering questions like: What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year, have sex, or even smell flowers? What's living in space really like? Could we survive on another planet given what we're accustomed to? Roach finds a way to experience life in outer space without ever leaving Earth.

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5. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield is known for the David Bowie music video he made while aboard the International Space Station. In this book, the Canadian astronaut documents his sometimes fearful, sometimes exhilarating, and overall crazy preparations for living in space. This fantastic book will teach you how to think like an astronaut, a useful skill for living everyday life.

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6. Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

If you're a sci-fi fan or interested in inventions and innovations, this is the book for you. Kaku takes impossible ideas like invisibility cloaks, force fields, death rays and explains them using real facts. He wonderfully explains how these imaginary inventions could one day be reality. After all, decades ago, scientists and inventors thought lasers and atomic bombs were impossible!

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7. Women in Space by Karen Bush Gibson

This book is a collection of stories of 23 brave, intelligent, and freaking awesome women who've done work surrounding space research. Each story focuses on their triumphs and tragedies, their past, and their future hopes. You'll learn a lot about space — and you'll be inspired by these trailblazing women.

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8. How It Ends by Chris Impey

Full of fun facts, illustrations, and unfortunate reminders, this book is Impey's humorous take on what the universe looks like without us. How It Ends will bring you up to speed on the science behind the end — the end of individuals and the end of all existence. Despite the less-than-pleasant subject matter, How It Ends is a cheery read you'll want to pick up again and again.

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Images: Josh Wallace / 500px/500px/Getty Images; Giphy