See the Hayden Planetarium space show “Dark Universe” at New York’s American Museum of Natural History and you’ll hear the matchless voice of Neil deGrasse Tyson narrating the story of our cosmos, rendered on the dome-shaped screen around you. (If you haven’t seen the show, catch it before it closes on January 17.) DeGrasse Tyson founded the museum’s Department of Astrophysics more than two decades ago and is the director of the Hayden Planetarium; he’s also the host of the weekly podcast StarTalk and the author of several books. “The nonfiction books I consume are often old and represent my personal exploration of how other people think in time and place—what drives their beliefs, their actions, their motivations,” he says. “This helps foster understanding and insights across cultural and political divides.” Here, deGrasse Tyson, whose new book, Letters from an Astrophysicist, published by W. W. Norton, is out now, shares his most recent reading list.

The Conscience of a Conservative, by Barry Goldwater

Living in N.Y.C., where I was born and raised, and flying frequently to Los Angeles, it’s easy to miss entirely how people think in the rest of the country. The rampant disappointment when Hillary Clinton lost the general election in 2016 was tinged with disbelief that 60 million people could have possibly voted Republican. Barry Goldwater’s slim book, though steeped in Cold War rhetoric, forms an excellent primer for liberal and progressive people to understand the roots of why their presidential candidate does not always win.