Moon and Space Books

I’ve long been fascinated with space; staring up at the twinkling lights above imagining being one of the first people to see them and thinking up stories to explain how they got there, or pondering if there’s anything else alive out there. If I weren’t so darn claustrophobic, I’d be saving up my pennies for one of those tourist trips on a rocket ship so I could voyage into the great unknown and see the stars and planets and swirling, multi-colored universes.

Earlier this year I read a book that shaped much of the rest of my reading for the year, a book I gushed about, foisted on both of my book clubs, and mulled over during many empty moments. And it was all about space!

Fifty years ago the world was in turmoil (sound familiar?) The president saw a need for something to bring the country together, to put a temporary halt to the violence and chaos that were dividing the country, to give us something to work on and root for together. (Yeah, that part doesn’t sound too familiar right now, darnit.) So, he made a bold proclamation that America would be the first to reach the moon. And we were off.

Enter Rocket Men, by Robert Kurson. He starts with a brief re-cap of the tumultuous events around the country and world in 1968, Kennedy’s announcement and the ensuing space race. And then he takes time to introduce us to each of the three men who would make history by venturing to the moon. We get a great glimpse into the lives of the three key players of the Apollo 8 mission (Frank Borman, James Lovell, and Bill Anders), their backgrounds, training, and everything that brought them to be in the right place at the right time. We also get to watch the fledgling organization known as NASA navigate wholly uncharted waters. We cheer along with the rest of humanity (in retrospect) as the men loop around to the dark side of the moon and emerge safely on the other side. And we feel just a little more hopeful about the world and humanity as we view the famous earthrise photo, our first glimpse of the sphere of green and blue that supports life as we know it.

This is the ultimate mix of history, biography, adventure, exploration, and the celebration of the human spirit. I was wowed and amazed at nearly every page. The hubs and I read this one out loud to each other and constantly paused to exclaim over the gall of the people involved. We were amazed over and over again at passages that talked about engineers and mathematicians who had a strictly pen and paper proof of something convince the astronauts to climb into overgrown tin cans and launch themselves into the final frontier where literally no man had gone before, with only mathematical equations to guarantee that they would survive and return safely. And the astronauts’ courage to risk their lives to do it.

If you need a little bit more hope in your lives, I cannot recommend this book enough. And if you love this one as much as I do here are a few others to keep you reading!

Moon and Space Booklist

Fiction Picture Books

Moon by Britta Teckentrup

Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer

Astronaut Annie by Suzanne Slade (see my review here)

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom I’m Off to the Moon by Dan Yaccarino

Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed

Non-Fiction Books for Kids

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin

A is for Astronaut by Clayton Anderson

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman (see my review here)

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by  Laurie Wallmark

Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins

Moonshot by Brian Floca

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum

I Am Neil Armstrong by Brad Meltzer

Earthrise by James Gladstone

One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh

The Moon by Seymour Simon

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty

Non-Fiction Books for Teens and Adults

First Man by James R. Hansen

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (MG and Picture book versions also available)

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Women in Space by Karen Bush Gibson

Fiction Books for Teens and Adults

The Martian by Andy Wier

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Spooky Tales for All Ages

Spooky Books for All Ages

When I was ten or eleven years old I came across an entire shelf of Agatha Christie books in my grandpa’s basement. He graciously allowed me to borrow one and I devoured it, eventually moving through the whole collection over the course of the next few months. And I’ve been a sucker for a good mystery ever since.  This past month I re-read Murder on the Orient Express in one of my book clubs and was reminded of why she’s a master.

With colder weather and Halloween right around the corner it’s the perfect time to curl up with a spooky story or mystery and forget everything else happening in the world outside. So I wanted to share a few of my favorites for all ages. My tastes now run the gamut from the cozy mysteries to thrillers (but I have to take the stronger stuff in smaller doses–I can only take so much of the blood, guts, and truly twisted characters) so there should be something for everyone!  Have a favorite I missed or you think I would like? Let me know in the comments below!

(Most of these authors have written multiple books that could fit on this list. Be sure to check out their complete works for more options.)

Adult–

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones

In the Woods by Tana French

Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart

Rebecca by Daphne Du Marier

Love Talker by Elizabeth Peters

 

Young Adult–

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

Jackaby by William Ritter

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Scary Stories by Barry Moser

Chime by Franny Billingsley

 

Middle Grade–

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

Ghoulia by Barbara Cantini

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

Doll Bones by Holly Black

The Book of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West

Juniper Berry by MP Kozlowsky

Bunnicula by James Howe

The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural by Patricia McKissack

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

 

Beginning Reader–

The Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain

In a Dark, Dark Room by Alvin Schwartz

 

Picture Book–

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Inside a House That Is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

Skeleton Cat by Kristyn Crow

Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

Nightlights by Lorena Alverez Gomez

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara

Wolves by Emily Gravett

The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea

The Dark by Lemony Snicket

 

And check back to these posts for a few other ideas.

Psychological Thrillers

Truly Devious 

The Devil in the White City

Adult Non-Fiction ~ The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.                                

I mentioned in an earlier post how much I love making personal connections with the books I read and how powerful a tool that can be for readers in general. Any parent who’s ever read a book with their child about potty training or welcoming a new baby to the family in an effort to ease either process along knows exactly what I’m talking about. When a reader sees herself or her immediate world in the story in any way she finds tools to deal with her own conflicts, gains empathy for the character (and the world at large) and connects emotionally in a way that brings that book to life and cements it in her brain and psyche.

I also mentioned how much I loved experiencing bookish adventures tied to the tales I read. Again, just as we create experiences for our young readers through art projects or science experiments or field trips to extend the learning they’ve had through their readings, we can do the same for ourselves. One of my recent book club reads was the perfect example of a natural book extension.

Used booksellers have often fallen prey to scammers, thieves and frauds. That was especially true in the time before advanced technology. An informed collector could scout out a particular tome, give false information, pay with a bad check or stolen credit card and be on their merry way leaving the seller stuck with the bill and no recourse for prosecution. This, obviously is not a phenomenon unique to booksellers but because of the way the book selling community functioned up until recently it was particularly detrimental to them. Unlike art or antiques, books haven’t always been cataloged and valued in the same way. And while many art pieces are one of a kind, most books are created in mass numbers so even something dating back hundreds of years may still have multiple surviving copies making it harder to prove value or track ownership.

On the west coast in 1997, John Charles Gilkey stole his first book using stolen credit card numbers. Over the next few years he amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rare books from libraries, stores and book fairs across the country.  Book sellers at the time were a fairly independent lot with little communication or cooperation between vendors. Ken Sanders, a victim of Gilkey’s operations, took it personally and took it upon himself to catch the thief. Describing himself as a reluctant “bibliodick,” Sanders revolutionized the used book selling world creating networks of communication, tracking methods, and cohesive communities in order to stop the thefts. A sting operation in 2003, with Sanders front and center, finally brought Gilkey down and saw him put behind bars.

The book is a fascinating look into a milder true crime than we’re usually accustomed to reading about. No sensationalism, no blood, no glory. Just a book lover who took things too far and a book lover who set things at right again. Bartlett spends time with both Gilkey and Sanders, giving us insight into both men’s motives and personalities. We also get a bit of the history of books, publishing, and the passion of collecting. Any bibliophile will relate.

The adventure for me came in visiting and exploring Sanders’ Rare Book Shop here in Salt Lake City and seeing some of the scenes described in the book. Sanders is a product of the beat generation (Edward Abbey was a close friend), an avid naturalist, and above all, a book lover. His shop is naturally a book lover’s paradise filled with crammed shelves and tipping stacks of books everywhere you look. I spent over two hours perusing the aisles and piles before purchasing a copy of The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor and wishing I could afford just one of the items in the locked glass cases.

If you’re ever in town, do yourself a favor and check out Sanders’ shop. In the meantime, check out the book and let me know what you think!

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

 

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

Written by: Allison Hoover Bartlett

Number of Pages: 288

Publisher: Riverhead Books, 2010

Age Range: Adult

Rating: 4/5

 

Ken Sanders Rare Books

Ken Sanders Rare Books

Adult Audio Books Review ~ Psychological Thrillers

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

I tend to be more of a cozy mystery fan but give me the right mix of psychological thriller and a character I can care about and I’m sucked in. I’ve read a few of the latest buzzy reads (The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl etc.) and while I definitely enjoyed them they were also a little harder for me to read because of the violence, language, sexual content etc. that tended to be so pervasive or over the top that it sometimes took away from the story. (Yes, I get that life is ugly but I don’t need ALL the gory details!) I like my scary movies this way too. Give me a classic edge-of-your-seat nail biter over a twisted bloodbath any day. (Anyone see A Quiet Place? This is what I’m talking about. Such a great movie!) So, I’ve got two recent reads (or rather listens since they were both audio books) for you today. If you like some subtle twists and a classic feel to your thriller I highly recommend the following:

Depressed, alcoholic, heavily medicated Dr. Anna Fox, psychologist, is living alone in the townhouse she formally shared with her husband and daughter who have gone away under the pretense of a separation though she still talks to them frequently. Laid up and extremely agoraphobic after a serious car accident she spends the bulk of her time watching her neighbors through her camera’s viewfinder, playing online chess, watching old movies, or in a chatroom for agoraphobics where she offers her expert advice (though she rarely heeds it herself.)

Anna is highly unreliable and the characters she interacts with don’t come across much better. The cast is relatively small and the stage is reduced to her home and the square where she lives. None of her neighbors are what they seem but no one seems to believe Anna when she sees one of them stabbed to death in their living room. Full of homage to Hitchcock and other noir thrillers, Anna is the classic helpless heroine, handicapped by her situation but making a stand in the final scene. There aren’t a ton of surprises here but there are some twists and moments I didn’t expect and it kept me sucked in from beginning to end.

The Woman in the Window book review

The Woman in the Window (audio book)

Written by: A.J. Finn

Read by: Anne Marie Lee

Number of Pages: 448 (13 hours 41 minutes audio)

Publisher: William Morrow (print) HarperAudio (audio), 2018

Age Range: Adult

Rating: 4/5

 

Recently divorced, Peter Harper is a musician and composer in a creative crisis. He rents a secluded beach house in Ireland in the hopes of rediscovering his muse but it isn’t to be. He spends some time with his mysterious neighbors (who seem to have no traceable past and like to avoid questions) and the local townspeople, including a love interest who runs a shop and hostel in the village. But mostly he spends time alone. Then one night he’s struck by lightning coming home from a dinner party and suddenly he’s plagued by headaches and vivid nightmares that intensify when his children come for a visit. The line between reality and his dreams gets blurred beyond recognition and soon no one knows who or what to believe.

Last Night at Tremore Beach book review

The Last Night At Tremore Beach

Written by: Mikel Santiago

Read by: John Keating

Number of Pages: 320 (9 hours, 58 minutes audio)

Publisher: Atria Books/Blackstone Audio, 2017

Age Range: Adult

Rating: 4/5

 

 

What are your favorite mysteries or scary reads? Any you think I should add to my list?