Sinking into a good book and completely losing your sense of time and space as you enter the world of another person is probably one of the best means of escape around. But if you want to go even further than that — I mean completely escape the world you know — you might still have some trouble. To fully get away, wouldn't it just be easier to leave it? Some people think so!
But since we don't all have spaceships laying around, or an in with NASA, there are books. There are books on every aspect of space travel, and exploration, and even coffee table books full of mind-blowing galactic pictures. What I'm really talking about, though, is a completely immersive, can't-believe-you're-not-in-it book about leaving good ol' Earth behind.
Books like this have always been popular. Little green men, spaceships, wars with other planets in other galaxies, it's all so far from what we know that it's fascinating. For National Astronomy Day, here are 12, shall we say, out-of-this-world books about space and what it's like to be there — from growing potatoes on Mars to zooming around the galaxy.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Mark Watney has probably the sunniest outlook you can imagine from a guy trapped on Mars. I should mention that he's trapped on Mars with no feasible way of escaping, or feeding himself in order to, y'know, survive Mars. But he is also the most inventive, down to earth (I had to) guy around, which is why he was chosen for the mission to begin with. Take a trip to Mars with Mark Watney and see him finagle his way out of some crazy Mars escapes before it hits theaters!
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A childhood classic, A Wrinkle in Time is about Meg and her brother Charles, as they go on a once in a lifetime adventure to a fifth dimension. It starts on a "dark and stormy night," and if that's not enough, the two go exploring space and time that you couldn't help but long to do yourself back in the day. This one is a great childhood favorite to revisit as an adult!
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
If you want your space fix to be a little more — AHEM — grounded in reality, Colonel Chris Hadfield might have just the book for you. An astronaut and NASA trainer for decades, he's spent more than 4,000 hours in space. That's a lot more than almost anyone can say. If you can't go to zero gravity yourself, you might learn a thing or one hundred about what it's like from Chris Hadfield!
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Multiple award winner, and recently adapted for the big screen, Ender's Game is a pretty popular title, but if you're looking for a novel about space, no list would be complete without this one. After a stint in the Battle School, Andrew "Ender" Wiggins is thought to be the much needed leader of a war against the Buggers, a galactic war that's been waged for more than a hundred years.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Another sci-fi classic, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a cult classic turned movie that is as well loved today as it was at its publication. Short and hilarious, there's something for everyone in this lovable classic: "life, the universe and everything!"
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
An intergalactic war, star crossed lovers (literally), and a seriously sarcastic babysitter make for one of the best space themed comic books ever. Seriously, if you're looking for a new series to escape into, and aren't reading Saga yet, what are you waiting for!
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
Written before we'd actually gone to the moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey was just speculative fiction when it was published in 1968, only a year before the first man went to the moon. It tells the story of men trying to get to the moon but first, things go terribly wrong. Turned into one of the strangest and most influential films around, 2001 is a must-read for space-lovers!
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The first book in the wildly popular Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder is the story of the title character. She's a cyborg, first of all. Secondly, her mother blames her for her sister's illness. Third, she's about to become Earth's last hope for survival. There's an entire series following this one, so space fanatics have a lot to look forward to, if you haven't already picked this one up!
The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber
Before we even get to the inside, can we talk about the gorgeous cover on this? And the GOLD PAGES it has? It's beautiful, if nothing else. But inside holds a much buzzed-about story about Peter. Peter goes hundreds of thousands of miles away to teach the Bible to new people: people that aren't exactly human.
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
If Ray Bradbury is most well known for Fahrenheit 451, this is the runner up for most popular. Basically, humans want to colonize Mars, and it doesn't go super well at first. Men are lost to the Great Loneliness after leaving earth behind. Others aren't welcome on Mars once they make it there. A fantastic and timeless novel, The Martian Chronicles is the perfect short (182 pages!) novel to read this Astronomy Day!
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Science fiction wouldn't be what it is today without Ursula K. Le Guin. Her books are definitely more than a little out there, but they're the perfect way to transport yourself — literally — out of this world. The Dispossessed is the perfect jumping off point into the worlds Le Guin creates!