Carl Sagan should be remembered for a number of reasons, but most importantly for how he made average, non-scientist citizens care deeply for the sciences of astronomy and physics. The television series based on his book, Cosmos, was ground-breaking and is still important today.
Since Carl Sagan was born on November 9th, 1934, the date has unofficially become Carl Sagan Day. To celebrate, here are five books written by Carl Sagan you should pick up, as well as five other fantastic books about space and physics.
It would be wrong not to start with his classic book, Cosmos. Published in 1980, it is one of the best-selling science books ever written. The book covers the entire history of the universe as we know it, and Sagan is able to explain everything in such as a way that it is easily understandable to scientists and non-scientists alike. The audiobook is also wonderful, as it’s narrated by LeVar Burton, Seth MacFarlane, Ann Druyan, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Pale Blue Dot
Pale Blue Dot is a fascinating look at what Sagan thought might be the future of humanity in space, both in terms of exploration and of humans on other worlds.
I feel like not enough people are aware of the fact that Carl Sagan wrote the novel Contact, the book that the Jodie Foster film was based on. The story is about a radio signal from another world containing information on how to build a machine that will take a human to that world.
Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
This was the final book published during Sagan’s life. It’s a collection of essays on everything from our relationship to the universe to the state of science to his own struggle with a fatal disease.
A Path Where No Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race
Taking a break from writing about the universe, Sagan partnered with Richard Turco to write this book about what would happen here on earth during a nuclear winter. Although it was published in 1990, it’s still an important book today with the international politics of the world becoming increasingly strained.
There are so many other great space books out there, and I wanted to share five of my favorites.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
I’m fairly certain everyone has heard of this famous book. Another of the best-selling science books ever, Hawking’s book covers the history and origin of the universe as well as physics and the possibility of time travel.
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
I followed Chris Hadfield on Twitter and YouTube while he was aboard the International Space Station. In case you recognize the name but can’t quite remember why, he’s the astronaut who filmed himself singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in space. This book was a fantastically interesting look at the life of an astronaut, and I enjoyed every moment of reading it.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
It takes a lot of work to put astronauts in space, and Margot Lee Shetterly’s book takes a look at the African American women who helped make that happen. The film, Hidden Figures, is based on this book.
Welcome to the Universe by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael A Strauss, and J. Richard Gott III
This huge book is practically a textbook, as it contains a plethora of information and diagrams on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about space. I purchased this book last year, and I’m still slowly making my way through it. It’s fascinating.
Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin was the second person to walk on the moon, and this memoir is his account of that experience and the trip home, as well as what it was like after history had been made.
Have you read any of these books, or do you have a favorite space book that was left out? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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