The Wolfner Library in Missouri created a recommended reading list about NASA and its history. We at the Texas Talking Book Program have altered it to include our Braille and large print copies. To order any of these titles, contact the library by email, mail or phone. You may also request these titles online through our online public access catalog OPAC. All books listed are linked to Braille and Audio Reading Download site (BARD) for downloading. Happy Reading!
Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly
Read by Scott Kelly. Reading Time: 13 hours, 9 minutes.
LP09186; 603 pages
Astronaut and American record-holder for most consecutive days in space examines his life and career. Discusses growing up with identical twin brother–and fellow astronaut–Mark, challenges he faced to become an astronaut, and the physical and emotional impacts of long-term spaceflight. Some strong language. 2017.
John Glenn: A Memoir by John Glenn
Read by Randy Atcher. Reading Time: 16 hours, 13 minutes.
The first American to orbit the earth, who in 1998 became the oldest man in space at seventy-seven, discusses his career as an astronaut and his lengthy service in the marines and the U.S. Senate. He recounts growing up in Ohio, marrying his childhood friend, and raising a family. Bestseller. 1999.
Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell
Read by L. J. Ganser. Reading Time: 15 hours, 55 minutes.
Apollo 13 was to have been the fifth mission to the moon. But two days into the trip, on April 13, 1970, the oxygen tank exploded in the command module, placing the three astronauts in grave danger. Lovell describes those terrifying days as astronauts, contractors, and Mission Control struggled to bring Apollo 13 safely back to earth. Basis for the movie Apollo 13. Bestseller.
Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike R. Mullane
Read by Jake Williams. Reading Time: 18 hours, 17 minutes.
Autobiography of one of the first space shuttle astronauts. Mullane, a West Point graduate, aeronautical engineer, and Vietnam veteran, describes with humor and candor his selection process, training program, and space flight experiences. Recounts three missions and discusses NASA’s role in the 1986 Challenger disaster. Some strong language. 2006.
Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon by Robert Kurson
Read by Robert Kurson. Reading Time: 12 hours, 22 minutes.
Profile of the Apollo 8 space mission, which launched in December 1968 after a year of turmoil in the United States and was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon. Also profiles the crew, including astronauts Frank F. Borman II, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders. Unrated. 2018.
Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon by Craig Nelson
Read by Lou Harpenou. Reading Time: 17 hours, 42 minutes.
Prizewinning author retraces America’s race against the Soviet Union to be the first to land on the moon. Chronicles NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission using interviews and declassified documents. Provides glimpses into the personal family lives of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins. 2009.
The Ordinary Spaceman from Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut by Clayton C. Anderson
Read by David Rutherford. Reading Time: 14 hours, 33 minutes.
Anderson recounts applying to the astronaut program fifteen times in as many years before his ultimate selection, and describes the struggles and successes of his subsequent career–including spending 167 days on the International Space Station and more than forty hours on space walks. 2015
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
Read by Dennis Quaid. Reading Time: 15 hours, 45 minutes.
Inside view of the early astronauts (Carpenter, Cooper, Glenn, Grissom, Shirra, Shepard, Slayton) strips away the media image of the men and reveals what makes them tick. Narrated by the actor who played Gordon Cooper in the 1983 movie adaptation. Some strong language. 1979.
Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space by Chris Jones
Read by Erik Davis. Reading Time: 10 hours, 54 minutes.
BR 17198; 3 volumes of Braille
Describes the experiences of Americans Donald Pettit and Kenneth Bowersox and Russian Nikolai Budarin, astronauts who became stranded on the International Space Station after the space shuttle Columbia exploded in 2003. Recounts the efforts of mission control in Houston and Moscow to rescue them using an old Soyuz rocket. 2007.
Ground Crew and History:
Venus Revealed: A New Look Below the Clouds of Our Mysterious Twin Planet by David Harry Grinspoon
Read by Len Mailloux. Reading Time: 16 hours, 3 minutes.
Reviews the evolving concepts about the planet Venus from early mythological associations to modern scientific discoveries. The author, who worked on the 1990 Magellan space probe, describes the task of mapping the surface of Venus and explains the hostile environment of a planet that is much less like the Earth than once believed.
Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz
Read by Steven Carpenter. Reading Time: 16 hours, 22 minutes.
Memoir of a flight director for NASA’s mission control, providing an insider’s perspective on the space program from the 1960s Mercury days to the final Apollo mission. Kranz recalls the highlights of his career and explains his role in bringing the three Apollo 13 astronauts back safely to Earth. 2000.
Flight: My Life in Mission Control by Christopher C. Kraft
Read by Lou Harpenau. Reading Time: 14 hours, 43 minutes.
NASA’s first flight director offers an insider’s view of the early days of the space program in the 1960s. He describes past achievements such as the first manned launch with Alan Shepard, and the glitches, near disasters, and successes, culminating with the astronauts walking on the moon. Some strong language. 2001.
The Rock from Mars: A Detective Story on Two Planets by Kathy Sawyer
Read by Mary Kane. Reading Time: 15 hours, 57 minutes.
Journalist recounts the 1984 Antarctic discovery of a Martian meteorite and its delayed identification at NASA’s Houston space center in 1993, when scientists also found possible evidence of fossilized organisms. Examines the ensuing scientific debate and its impact on the space program and efforts to understand life on Earth. 2006.
Space Race the Epic Battle between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space by Deborah Cadbury
Read by Butch Hoover. Reading Time: 14 hours, 23 minutes.
Examines the superpower rivalries that fueled the race to the moon and the engineering masterminds behind it: Sergei Korolev in the Soviet Union and Wernher von Braun, a former Nazi, in the United States. Discusses the political paranoia of the cold war era and the technological advances it produced. 2006.
Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean
Read by Kerry Dukin. Reading Time: 13 hours, 20 minutes.
BR 20928; 5 volumes of Braille
Dean recounts the history of American spaceflight, NASA, and Florida’s Space Coast and reflects on what has been achieved. She interviews NASA workers, astronauts, and space fans alike, exploring the ramifications of the end of the American space shuttle program. Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. 2015.
Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA by Amy Shira Teitel
Read by Kerry Dukin. Reading Time: 12 hours, 8 minutes.
Journalist chronicles the agencies and institutions–along with key personnel–that were precursors to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which was created in 1958. Details research into rocketry in both America and Germany, as well as the impact of World War II and the Cold War. 2016.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Read by Emily Ellet. Reading Time: 12 hours, 15 minutes.
BR 21798; 5 volumes of Braille
Daughter of a NASA engineer profiles the black women who worked for NASA, and its predecessor NACA, as human computers. Discusses their lives prior to joining NACA/NASA, the challenges they faced due to gender and race discrimination, and their impact on the space program. Basis for the 2016 movie. 2016.
Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger
Read by Brian Troxwell. Reading Time: 11 hours, 10 minutes.
LB 09197; 551 pages
Author of Journey beyond Selene (DB 50687) chronicles the Apollo 8 mission–manned by Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders–which was the first to successfully orbit Earth’s moon. Discusses behind-the-scenes interactions in Mission Control, at the astronauts’ homes, and in the labs tasked with making the mission a success. Some strong language. 2017.
Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew by Michael D. Leinbach
Read by Gregory Maupin. Reading Time: 11 hours, 12 minutes.
Chronicle of the investigation of the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia over Texas on its return in 2003. Discusses the cause of the accident, interagency work protocols, and the contributions of volunteers, which allowed for the recovery of crew remains and forty percent of debris. 2018.
Far Travelers the Exploring Machines by Oran W. Nicks
Read by Butch Hoover. Reading Time: 10 hours, 50 minutes.
Personal account of NASA’s unmanned space exploration programs, in which the author shares some of the technical aspects of space flight. The people, machines, and incidents are depicted in an informal manner.
The Hubble Wars: Astrophysics Meets Astropolitics in the Two-Billion-Dollar Struggle over the Hubble Space Telescope by Eric Chaisson
Read by Butch Hoover. Reading Time: 22 hours, 48 minutes.
After its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was found to be embarrassingly out of focus. Astronomers were devastated, politicians disgusted, the press critical, and the public perplexed. Astrophysicist Chaisson chronicles the mismanagement and competing agendas among science, government, and industry that led to the Hubble boondoggle.
The Planet Mars: A History of Observation & Discovery by William Sheehan
Read by Butch Hoover. Reading Time: 10 hours, 3 minutes.
Chronological history of astronomers’ fascination with Mars from Kepler’s discovery of its elliptical orbit in 1604 through the Viking missions of 1975-76. Includes a chapter on Percival Lowell and his controversial theory about canals on the planet’s surface.
Mission Jupiter: The Spectacular Journey of the Galileo Spacecraft by Daniel Fisher
Read by Butch Hoover. Reading Time: 10 hours, 1 minute.
Award-winning German columnist describes the landmark discoveries of NASA’s Galileo space probe, which reached Jupiter–after passing by Venus and two asteroids–in December 1995, more than six years after liftoff. Fischer provides mission history and specifications, focusing on what the project data revealed about the planet’s moons and atmosphere. 1998.
The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell
Read by Jim Bell. Reading Time: 7 hours, 46 minutes.
President of the Planetary Society details his work with the data sent back by the Voyager missions, which launched in 1977 when the author was a high school student. Looks at the development of the missions and describes the planetary flybys of the probes. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2015.
Mars: Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet by Paul Raeburn
Read by Jake Williams. Reading Time: 8 hours, 40 minutes.
A National Geographic chronicle of Mars exploration. Focuses on the Viking missions of the 1970s, whose primary goal was the search for life, and on the July 4, 1997, Pathfinder landing on Mars’s surface. Explains the design, engineering, and results of the projects. Discusses plans for future missions. For senior high and older readers.
Journey beyond Selene by Jeffrey Kluger
Read by Richard Hauenstein. Reading Time: 11 hours, 40 minutes.
Chronicles the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s unmanned exploration of Earth’s solar system with robot spacecraft. Describes the pre-1969 testing of the Moon’s surface in advance of the manned landing. Recounts the subsequent deep-space probes of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune and their moons. 1999.
Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern and Dr. David Grinspoon
Read by Alan Stern. Reading Time: 9 hours, 19 minutes.
Planetary scientist Stern and astrobiologist Grinspoon provide a behind-the-scenes account of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond. Discusses science, politics, personalities, and public expectations involved in the development of the mission. Gives short overview of the history of the study of Pluto. Unrated. 2018.