When I first found this site I looked around for a resource/book/textbook list and it seems that we don't have one elsewhere so I'd like to start one here.

This book list represents those books you should pick up if you wanted to go from basic science knowledge (think high school science) to understanding the field at a relatively high level. Basically the purpose is to have a “state of the art” of those fields/subfields related to Astrobiology – and I'm using “state of the art” here in the sense of “an overarching view of knowledge in the field” and NOT necessarily “most recent”. For books I think comprehensive knowledge is more important than being cutting edge.

As a starting point for format, each book entry on the list is first the title (with ISBN / ISBN13 in parentheses), authors limited to the first 2 or 3 authors on the book, and the topics the book covers. Then in order to give an idea about the level of the material I thought it might be best to next list the audience, the readability/complexity (i.e. can you just read it like a novel or do you have to stop and digest every page?) which could possibly be included in audience, and then any additional notes. If you're unsure about a specific field, add in a “(?)”, because scientists always appreciate uncertainty indicators. Since this website is named after Carl Sagan and his works make an excellent starting point, I thought it'd be appropriate to start the list with his landmark book, Cosmos.


Cosmos (ISBN: 0375508325 / ISBN13: 9780375508325) | Carl Sagan | General Astronomy, Cosmology | General Public | Easy/Armchair | Everyone should read this book if they haven't already.

An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics (ISBN: 0201547309 / ISBN13: 9780201547306) | Carroll, Ostlie | General Astronomy | Undergraduate/Graduate | Moderate/Textbook | When I was an undergrad, I asked the astronomy grad students for a list of recommended books, and they told me this was a must-read. Also known as the “Big Orange Book”.

Planetary Sciences (ISBN: 0521482194 / ISBN13: 9780521482196) | Pater, Lissauer | Planetary Science | Undergraduate/Graduate | Moderate/Textbook | Another must-read recommended to me although I haven't read it all the way through yet.

Requests: Anyone know some good books for planetary atmospheres, exoplanets, planetary formation, astrobiology, or extremophiles? I picked up "Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems" by Yaqoob because it was fairly cheap on Kindle (physical books present a problem when traveling internationally) but I haven't gotten far enough in it yet to make a recommendation.

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This is great Brittany! I've been doing my own little survey. More soon :)

Hi Brittany,

After a little survey, I added more on the right column (next to the red "new"). I hope those are useful!

Yes, those are great! Thank you! You know, I think I have Life in the Universe 3rd Ed - I forgot I had it and for the life of me I can't remember if I read it all the way through. Unfortunately I think it's sitting in storage somewhere in the US so I'll have to wait to take a look at it when I get back.

While a recommended Astrobiology book list is definitely a good addition, I also want to try and go from "the ground up" with this list, including the other topics relevant to Astrobio. For example, if I'm a member of the general public and I think Astrobio is a cool idea and want to get deeper into the field, then I should probably know something about the places where this Astrobiology can typically occur, i.e. exoplanets, and planetary science in general. Or I may want to find out more about specifics regarding the places where life might be found, so I might want to read up on exoplanet atmospheres. And where does all this occur but in space, so I should probably know at least the basics about general astronomy and possibly even cosmology (i.e. how far away things are, at what stage in the universe's life do we think planets formed, etc.). We can add in the related fields general biology, extremophile life forms, geology, solar system body geology to this list also. My idea is something like a roadmap from general public to well, if not professional Astrobiologist, at least Astrobio enthusiast - after all, we are interested in public outreach!

I think quite a few of the people on this site have some experience with books in other areas related to astrobiology and so we can work on fleshing the list out. I dabble in lots of things so I can personally add more as time goes on, but I'm only one person so I'll definitely need to have help!

Hi Brittany,

I like those ideas. Indeed astrobiology is just a framework to allow researchers from different disciplines to talk to each other to answer bigger questions. How about you start a forum discussion each week, or two weeks, or month, on a particular call for introductory material to these fields? Then we can make a call to the community for their input. This might work :p


Hi Sanjoy,

Oh, doing a weekly/periodic call that's separate for each topic is a good idea - much better than trying to do everything in one thread, which would probably get really confusing quickly. I got caught up with my projects the last week or so, but I have a lull right now so I'll start the first one. I'm thinking maybe basic astronomy/astrophysics to start and then next time physics?


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