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100 Must-Read Books About Space

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Nikki VanRy

Contributing Editor

Nikki VanRy is a proud resident of Arizona, where she gets to indulge her love of tacos, desert storms, and tank tops. She also writes for the Tucson Festival of Books, loves anything sci-fi/fantasy/historical, drinks too much chai, and will spend all day in bed reading thankyouverymuch. Follow her on Instagram @nikki.vanry.

It’s funny (wonderful?) that the books we so often associate with our future–books about space–are full of the same themes our very oldest stories contain. Adventure. Discovery. Confronting the unknown. Finding our limits. Constantly and always questioning what it means to be human.

In this list of must-read books about space, you’ll have your space opera epics, like the Vorkosigan Saga, or hard science favorites, like The Martian. I’ve also included some nonfiction books about space that nod heavily towards story-telling. But, hopefully within this list, you’ll also find some new and overlooked classics of the genre.

And whether each book takes place at the end of a long journey across space, on a fleet of warships patrolling the universe, or at the moment of first contact with an alien species, the thread combining all of these books is the thought of Space as a character onto itself. Space with a capital S. Space as a stand-in for all that we don’t know, but could discover.

100 Must-Read Books About Space |


1. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

2. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (non-fiction)

3. A Passion for Space by Marianne J. Dyson (non-fiction)

4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

5. Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

6. Almost Heaven: The Story of Women in Space by Betty Ann Holtzmann Kevles (non-fiction)

7. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

8. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (non-fiction)

9. Anathem by Neal Stephenson

10. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

11. Arrival by Ted Chiang

12. Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

13. Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers

14. Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh (non-fiction)

15. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

16. Bitch Planet by Kelly DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, and Robert Wilson IV

17. Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

18. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

19. Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris (non-fiction)

20. Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

21. Contact by Carl Sagan

22. Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman

23. Dawn by Octavia Butler

24. Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson (non-fiction)

25. Death of a Neutron Star by Eric Kotani

26. Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

27. Dove Arising by Karen Bao

28. Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh

29. Dune by Frank Herbert

30. Dust by Elizabeth Bear

31. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

32. EVE: The Empyrean Age by Tony Gonzales

33. Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells

34. Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

35. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

36. Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair

37. Gravity by Tess Gerristen

38. Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

39. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (non-fiction)

40. How It Ends by Chris Impey (non-fiction)

41. Hyperion by Dan Simmons

42. Inside a Silver Box by Walter Mosley

43. Kim & Kim #1 by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre

44. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

45. Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

46. Lightless by C.A. Higgins

47. Magnificent Desolation by Buzz Aldrin and Ken Abraham (non-fiction)

48. Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja

49. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

50. ODY-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward

51. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

52. On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

53. On Basilisk Station by David Weber

54. Packing For Mars by Mary Roach (non-fiction)

55. Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

56. Planetfall by Emma Newman

57. Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro

58. Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

59. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

60. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

61. Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole

62. Ringworld by Larry Niven

63. Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt (non-fiction)

64. Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin

65. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

66. Second Star by Dana Stabenow

67. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

68. Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

69. Singularity Sky by Charles Stross

70. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

71. Southern Cross by Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, and Lee Loughridge

72. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

73. The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

74. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

75. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

76. The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

77. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

78. The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

79. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

80. The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

81. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

82. The Martian by Andy Weir

83. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

84. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

85. The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton

86. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

87. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

88. The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

89. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

90. The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj

91. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

92. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

93. Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

94. Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

95. Triplanetary by E.E. Smith

96. Trouble on Triton by Samuel R. Delaney

97. Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf

98. Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff

99. We Who Are About To… by Joanna Russ

100. Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee

As you noticed, there’s only 100 spots on this list. Because of that, I’ve limited it to one book per author, and if their best work is a series, included the first one from that series.

Now is where you chime in. I only had 100 spots. What other books about space would you add to help us hit 200? Shout out your absolute favorite books about space in the comments.