Best Carl Sagan book for a 13 years old

So, the boy (13) wasn’t much into reading, but he had to make a book report, and his brother and I cajoled him into reading Microbe Hunters. He absolutely loved it. I had already noted that he doesn’t care much for reading fiction, but he does seem to read every “weird facts” book he runs into.

Long story short, I’m thinking after microbe hunters, maybe a Carl Sagan, but I read them all so long ago, I’m mixing them in my mind and can’t decide which is the most approachable. He’s a smart kid, very much into science and art, but as I said, not very experienced in book reading. Any suggestions? (I would also welcome recommendations for non-Carl Sagan books.)



Any of Stephen Jay Gould’s books of essays. (Eariler volumes may be better at first, when the essays were shorter—he loves hearing himself type more and more as the years go on.)

ISTR that Sagan’s “Broca’s Brain” wasn’t all that hard of a read.

The Demon Haunted World would be good for any young person to read, especially the “Baloney Detection Kit” chapter.

Music of the Spheres by Guy Murchie is the reason that I decided when I was nine years old to become a scientist.

I’ll point out that 1) science moves very fast and 2) really, there’s a lot more good popular science written these days. A lot of that is because of writers like Sagan and Gould. Popular science is a while different thing now.

I would recommend the library. The best thing is to browse and see what is out there in his idiom.

I like this series, generally:

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast group got together and published a book that is an excellent introduction to science and critical thinking.

My recommendation too.

Not long ago I dusted off my collection of Isaac Asimov science books and reread them. I was amazed at the clarity and smoothness of the writing, they were a delight to read. No wonder he was my favorite writer when I was a kid. Unfortunately, most of his books are quite badly out of date, obviously.

Nuther vote for Demon Haunted World.

Thanks everyone! I purchased Demon Haunted World and Broca’s Brain, and will hunt down Music of the Spheres in Spanish (not as available as I hoped, but I’m sure I’ll find it). Again, thank you all.

I agree with this. This is a more accessible, more educational version of what The Demon Haunted World set out to be. The latter can be a bit more obscure and harder to read at times and for a kid I’d especially recommend the Skeptic’s Guide book before/instead of The Demon Haunted World.

The Skeptic’s guide is basically a no-frills primer into how to understand science, skepticism, and, well, reality. It’d be an excellent guide for a curious kid.

You said “weird facts” book-- I would recommend the Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers if he hasn’t gotten into them already.

There is also the “1001 Before You Die” book series.

And of course there is always the Guinness Book of World Records.

Wow. All of these replies and I’m the first one to recommend The Straight Dope by Cecil Adams? All of the books are dang good.