Quirks and Quarks guide to space: bite-sized answers to the massive questions of inquisitive astronomical ponderers

For my money, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Quirks and Quarks is the best science radio broadcast on the air (and the best science podcast on the net). It's witty, layperson-friendly, cutting edge, uncompromising and relentless in its quest to make science engaging and interesting to a broad, diverse audience.

So it's no surprise that Jim Lebans's The Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space: 42 Questions (and Answers) About Life, the Universe and Everything is the kind of astronomy book that manages to make subjects like star classification, galactic collision, space-folding, orbital pollution and other staples of astronomical curiosity into easy-to-understand, fascinating little stories that have something to say to anyone who's ever looked up at the night sky and wondered.

Each of the 42 questions is answered in a short, breezy essay style that will be familiar to anyone who tunes into the show. These are the perfect length for reading aloud in the car on long trips, bedtime stories, or on the crapper (ideal for this last, in fact, especially when you find out about all the deadly, high-velocity space-turds released by Shuttle and Mir crews — talk about icy BMs!). And the book is the perfect source to turn to the next time you're wondering about dark matter, dark energy, the beginning and end of the universe, and other large imponderables.

The Quirks & Quarks Guide to Space: 42 Questions (and Answers) About Life, the Universe, and Everything