The Book List: What do astronauts read on the International Space Station?

Every Wednesday, Alex Johnson delves into a unique collection of titles

Alex Johnson
Tuesday 31 July 2018 12:43 BST
Even astronauts need time to unwind: the station has a well-stocked film library and an eclectic selection of books
Even astronauts need time to unwind: the station has a well-stocked film library and an eclectic selection of books (Getty)

Canals in the Sand by Kevin J Anderson
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony
The Source of Magic by Piers Anthony
Key to Havoc by Piers Anthony
The Moon’s Shadow by Catherine Asaro
A Roll of the Dice by Catherine Asaro
Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
Alien Infection by Darrell Bain
A Strange Valley by Darrell Bain
Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear
The Holy Road by Michael Blake
The Americans: The National Experience by Daniel J Boorstin
The Americans: The Democratic Experience by Daniel J Boorstin
The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel J Boorstin
Tanequil by Terry Brooks

As part of the Story Time from Space project, astronauts such as Tim Peake are recorded reading children’s books aloud while in orbit (Getty)

The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks​
Jarka Ruus: High Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown​
Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson
Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold
Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold
Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell
Single and Single by John Le Carré
The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré
Absolute Friends by John Le Carré
1901 by Robert Conroy
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
State of Fear by Michael Crichton
The Universe at Midnight: Observations Illuminating the Cosmos by Ken Crosswell
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Collapse by Jared Diamond
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Man who Killed his Brother by Stephen R Donaldson
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Heroes of History by Will Durant
Arrows to the Moon by Chris Gainor
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Eyes of an Eagle: A Novel of Gravity Controlled by SA Gorden
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
The Federalist Papers (a collection of essays written in support of the Constitution of the United States by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay)​

Story Time from Space: astronauts read children’s books from the International Space Station

Pandor’s Star by Peter F Hamilton
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein
Catch As Catch Can: Collected Stories and Writings by Joseph Heller
Snow: The Prologue to Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan
Glimmers of the Pattern by Robert Jordan
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz
Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth and Beyond by Lawrence M Krauss
Who Moved My Rice? by Michael LaRocca
A Year with CS Lewis by CS Lewis
1776 by David McCullough
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz

London Bridges by James Patterson
The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Gone for Soldiers by Jeff Shaara
Ten Day MBA by Steven Silbiger
A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Counting Up, Counting Down by Harry Turtledove
Mars Is No Place for Children by Mary E Turzillo
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Lost Soldiers by James H Webb
The Short Victorious War by David Weber
On Basilisk Station by David Weber
March to the Stars by David Weber
March to the Sea by David Weber
March Upcountry by David Weber
In Enemy Hands by David Weber
The Honor of the Queen by David Weber
Empire from the Ashes by David Weber
Echoes of Honor by David Weber
Crown of Slaves by David Weber
Ashes of Victory by David Weber​
Honor Among Enemies by David Weber
The Apocalypse Troll by David Weber
Birmingham Then and Now by JD Weeks
Witness Walter by Jon Williams
The Jeeves Omnibus by PG Wodehouse
The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin D Yalom
Creating a World Without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus
Russian–English Dictionary
Oxford Dictionary of World History
Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
Asimov’s Science Fiction (five copies)
Analog Science Fiction and Fact (various issues)

Children’s books:
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home
Max Goes to Jupiter: A Science Adventure by Jeffrey Bennett
Max Goes to the International Space Station by Jeffrey Bennett
The Wizard Who Saved the World by Jeffrey Bennett
Max Goes to Mars by Jeffrey Bennett
I, Humanity by Jeffrey Bennett
The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernado
Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly
Endeavour’s Long Journey by John Danny Olivas

The astronauts on the International Space Station are obviously busy people, but even busy people need some time to relax and unwind. In addition to a well-stocked film library (particularly strong on movies with a space theme, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gravity), there are also plenty of books in their informal library.

Some are brought up by the astronauts – Susan Helms was allowed ten paperbacks and chose Gone With the Wind, Vanity Fair and War and Peace in her carryon. Others come with space tourists such as billionaire businessman Charles​ Simonyi, who brought Faust and Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

There is also an excellent ongoing project called Story Time from Space that encourages children’s interest in reading and space by sending selected titles to the ISS. Video recordings of the astronauts (including Tim Peake) reading them aloud are then published online.

A Book of Book Lists’ by Alex Johnson, £7.99, British Library Publishing

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