Our friends at Emirates Literature Festival share four books that will transport you to another universe… 

While most of us are planning to beat the heat this summer by either hiding indoors or going on mini staycations, it’s worth considering another location that we might someday be able to add to our lists: outer space.

With the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing taking place this year, our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation are not only celebrating the momentous occasion but also letting their minds wander among the stars with books that look at the future of space travel.

Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin and Wendell Minor

buzz aldrin reaching for the moon

Learn about the moon landing from someone who was there. In this book, Buzz Aldrin himself recounts all the milestones of his life that led him to become the second man on the moon. This picture book sees Aldrin’s own words be brought to life with Minor’s stunning illustrations, as they invite readers into pivotal moments. From his interest in rock collecting as a boy to his early flight training to eventually setting foot on the moon, you’ll read about it all. The book is fit for readers of all ages and perfect for introducing younger ones to the wider world and our ability to travel through it.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden figures

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‘One small step for man’ was actually made possible by quite a few women who worked to ensure the American astronauts safely launch into space and got back to earth. Shetterly’s book spans over three decades, starting with World War II, as it outlines the careers of four African American women: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden. It illustrates the challenges they faced in the pursuit of success as they helped change the future of the Space Race. It’s perfect for fans of both the 2017 film of the same name and for those interested in the history of space travel. 

The Race to Space by The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

The Race to Space

Even as the UAE has continued to develop rapidly here on earth, it’s also kept its sights high among the stars, aiming to explore the outer cosmos. This book published by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), details an easy-to-follow history of space exploration in the Arab world, before also examining some of the MBRSC’s modern-day achievements. From the launch of the UAE astronauts program to the Mars Hope Probe and the UAE’s plan to build a city on Mars by 2117, the book does a remarkable job of painting a clear picture of the program’s hopes and goals — and the path it will take to get there. You can purchase the book here. 

Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

pale blue dot

A renowned astrophysicist, Sagan has penned a few books about space, the planets, and our place in the midst of it all. But, while most fans of space and all it entails might be familiar with his book Cosmos and its potent blend of science and philosophy, its Sagan’s sequel might prove most worthwhile at this point in time. Pale Blue Dot is named after a famous photo of the same name, which shows the earth as a small dot caught in a wider beam of light; an awe-inspiring snapshot of our place in the wider universe. Sagan builds on this by not only considering the history of our planet and people, but also relating it to the solar system at large as he argues that it will help us better understand our planet, and the need to come together as a species to ensure our future survival. Despite having been published in 1994, many of Sagan’s points still stand and seem reflected in the recent push for not just travel to Mars, but also space colonisation. Sagan’s words remain as hopeful and inspiring as ever, making this book perhaps his most poignant.

If you liked this list of space-themed non-fiction from Nivea Serrao, Web Content Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation, don’t forget to read her other recommendations on the Foundation blog. Catch up on exclusive interviews and sessions from Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2021 on the Foundation’s YouTube channel and their podcast, Best of the Emirates LitFest. Or check out the team’s round-up of the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist on their other podcast The Boundless Book Club.