Review: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

   Title: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Author: Mary Roach
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

August 2, 2010

I borrowed this book from my local library.

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I’ve been wanting to read Packing for Mars by Mary Roach ever since Leah at Books Speak Volumes reviewed it. Well, Andy Weir’s The Martian put me on a space kick, so I found this one at the library and read it last week during Bout of Books.

Packing for Mars is all about space travel, its history, its future, and how getting to space and living in zero gravity affect the human body. I had countless moments of “oh, okay, that actually makes perfect sense” which made me wonder, why have these things never crossed my mind as I watch space shuttle launches or keep up with the goings-on of the ISS? Thankfully, the people at NASA have thought of everything, worked out possible solutions, and tested each one thoroughly. And I do mean everything, thoroughly. Every tiny detail of things we do each day, no matter how trivial it seems, has to be considered, whether it’s pleasant or not-so-pleasant. Gravity is far more important than I ever realized (and I held it in very high esteem already!).

I love how Mary Roach’s personality shines through her writing. She is fearless, covering any and all topics affecting astronauts, even those topics which embarrass NASA and cause them to create ridiculous, goofy euphemisms to ease their discomfort. Roach maintains a light, casual tone throughout, yet everything is extremely well-researched and well-documented. The rabbit trails in her footnotes are a lot of fun, too, sometimes very peculiar and off-the-wall. I loved that. (She really sounds like an awesome person to hang out with!)

If you are even remotely interested in the science and exploration of space, Packing for Mars is a perfect book for you!

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