"Cosmos," by Carl Sagan, $16, amazon.com.
Rebecca Bates, senior editor, @re.beccabates
How I first encountered: I picked up a copy of Carl Sagan's Cosmos before I'd watched the show the book was meant to accompany. Cosmos helped me vocalize things about the way I view the world that I hadn't been able to before—namely, a belief that the scientific method is the foundation on which to build a value system. I was surprised that simple facts could seem so surreal, and it ignited in me an interest in astrophysics that's guided my creative work since.
How I use it: Sagan can remind us that humanity is but the tiniest, most insignificant of blips in the cosmic timeline, while remaining excited about the fact that life exists at all. Also, how dope is this sentence: "A star 20 times the mass of the sun will shrink until it is the size of greater Los Angeles; the crushing gravity becomes 1010 g's, and the star slips through a self-generated crack in the space-time continuum and vanishes from our universe."
Nicola Fumo, contributing editor, @nicolafumo
How I first encountered: Horoscopes were right next to the comics in the daily newspaper I grew up with, so once I'd run through Cathy, Garfield, Peanuts—and I still had cereal left to eat—I'd browse the brief horoscopes. I've since graduated to Susan Miller (GOAT), AstroBarry ("horoscopes that keep it real"), Small Spells, and my favorite: the ridiculous Astro Twins via Elle.com.
How I use it: When I feel lost, confused, or just in a funk I can't shake, I find that I start reading my horoscope a lot. They give me thin "reasons" for things happening: Pluto's being a dick, or Venus is on her way to my eighth house of having a great weekend, or whatever. It doesn't matter if they're "real" or not; the point is the sliver of comfort I get from choosing to accept written-in-the-stars as momentary logic.