Five Books About…

Five Summer Reads for Star Gazers

I’ve always been in love with stars. In fact, my first tattoo was a star (with an embarrassing placement I shall not share with you). I got it to remind myself that in moments of extreme anxiety or depression, my problems were but small things compared to those giant burning balls above me. It was supposed to both ground me and also elevate me, to remind me to look up every now and then, to take a moment and contemplate my place in a galaxy so much bigger than I could possibly imagine. I’ve since gotten a few more tattoos, mostly literary themed. But that first one will always feel special to me.

Today, space still fills me with equal parts wonder and awe. It’s why my latest young adult novel, Sometime in Summer, spends so much time looking up, and it’s why I find myself drawn to stories that do the same. Imagine exploring the cosmos from your couch, floating through asteroid fields while wearing your pajamas. Whether set on Earth or floating somewhere above it, based in our world or set in a fantasyland, the following books all left me feeling a little less alone in the vast expanse of space.


Starling by Isabel Strychacz

Strange things tend to happen in the small town of Darling, California, and more often than not, they happen to Delta Wilding and her sister, Bee. The nosy townspeople don’t trust the Wilding sisters, and this mistrust only got worse seventy-seven days ago, when their father walked into a closet and disappeared.

The newest strange thing? A boy falls out of the night sky, landing in the woods behind the sisters’ home. The ethereal visitor is…really not from around here, and as Delta and Bee try to hide him from the increasingly volatile townspeople, Delta finds herself falling for the alien boy called Starling.

Featuring some of the most melodic and hypnotizing prose I’ve ever come across, Starling is a love story, a mystery, and a whimsical exploration of sisterhood and family.


Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This epistolary novel is so immediately engaging, I found myself skipping plans to stay home and finish it (no more noble a reason to skip plans than to finish a good book!). Told through a series of hacked documents, e-mails, reports, interviews and more, Illuminae follows Kady and Ezra as a mega-corporation invades their home planet—just hours after the teens broke up.

Things get more complicated when Kady and Ezra are both able to escape but make it onto different spaceships. As an unknown virus rages through one of the ships, and the mega-corporation attempts to eradicate all remaining survivors, Kady and Ezra find themselves taking things into their own hands, forced to work together to navigate equally difficult challenges: breaking up…oh, and saving the lives of everyone on board their ships.


Stardust by Neil Gaiman

And what book lends itself to stargazing more perfectly than Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, in which a human-like star finds herself knocked out of the night sky, falling thousands of miles to earth. Yvaine lands in the middle of the magical country of Faerie and is immediately pursued by witches, princes, pirates…and Tristran, who promises to fetch the fallen star for the woman he loves.

The best part of Stardust is how flawlessly Gaiman combines a classic fairy tale and love story with something fresh, imaginative, and hysterical. This classic book sparked an equally classic movie, a rare example of a film actually living up to the brilliance of the text.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

A science fiction classic, Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy inspired multiple sequels, a radio comedy broadcast, movie and TV spinoffs, and even an early computer game. The book follows the last surviving man of Earth, Arthur Dent, as he narrowly escapes the destruction of his planet. Arthur sets off on a wild, hysterical tour of the universe, where he eventually discovers the answer to the ultimate question of life (it’s the number 42).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reminds us that science fiction can be funny while it is poignant and goofy while it is intelligent and thought-provoking. There’s a reason this novel has enjoyed decades of cult status.


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet Becky Chambers competent ensembles SFF

Becky Chambers’ debut science fiction novel gave me all the feels in the universe. When Rosemary Harper joins the ragtag (and multi-species) crew of the Wayfarer, we’re introduced to the world through her eyes. (And those eyes have a secret!) As she befriends her coworkers and explores different planets, you’ll find yourself falling in love with Lovelace, an Artificial Intelligence supercomputer (but don’t call her a computer, that’s rude!), Sissix, an Aandrisk (looks sort of like a lizard but DEFINITELY don’t call her a lizard), and Ashby, the human captain. There are lots of laughs and lots of heart to be found in these pages and I’m just about the start the sequel!


Katrina Leno was born on the East Coast and currently lives in Los Angeles. She is the author of six critically acclaimed novels including You Must Not Miss and Horrid. Like Miriam, she believes everyone in the world has a book that will change their life—hers was The Letters of Vincent van Gogh.


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