A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars, Les Johnson, Princeton U. Press, 2022, $27.95

Although people have been dreaming of space exploration for decades, visiting and settling other worlds is still the stuff of science fiction. Nevertheless, in A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars, the physicist Les Johnson, a long-time proponent of interstellar travel, discusses what it will take to reach for the stars. After first providing a brief history of spaceflight and pondering potential destinations, Johnson launches into the core of the book: the technology challenges that will need to be met, which include revolutionary advancements in spacecraft propulsion, communications, navigation, and life-support systems. Rather than discourage, however, Johnson aims to encourage readers from all disciplines, not just science and engineering, to “think big.” —cc

Einstein: The Man and His Mind, Gary S. Berger and Michael DiRuggiero, Damiani, 2022, $70.00

Nearing 70 years after Albert Einstein’s death, the mystique surrounding the physicist shows no signs of abating. Probably the first celebrity scientist, his name alone is synonymous with genius. This new coffee-table book published by the Italian art press Damiani reproduces over a hundred Einstein-related items—including photographs, letters, and offprints of his scientific articles—from the private collection of Gary Berger. It distinguishes itself from the realm of kitschy Einsteiniana in how the documents illustrate the physicist’s human side: The letters and the inscriptions on the photos show how even after decades in the US, Einstein’s social circles remained dominated by Germanophone émigrés such as the photographer Lotte Jacobi. —rd

Engines: The Inner Workings of Machines That Move the World, Theodore Gray; photographs by Nick Mann, Black Dog & Leventhal, 2022, $32.00

This new large-format book by Theodore Gray, an author and chemistry enthusiast, is a tinkerer’s dream. Featuring images, cross sections, and diagrams of engines and motors of all varieties, Engines delves into how those ubiquitous devices function. A particular highlight is Gray’s deep dive into the diesel-powered hydraulic motors used by the Amish, who generally eschew electricity but still need to produce furniture on an industrial scale: They retrofit commercial electric devices to use compressed-air motors. The book mainly focuses on steam engines, internal-combustion engines, and electric motors, and a final chapter examines a grab bag of devices such as linear motors and sewing machines. —rd