"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Packing for Mars

by Mary Roach

What did you answer as a kid when someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up?  If you answered, or even thought "Astronaut!" then this book is for you.  It is about the daily ins-and-outs of what it is really like to be in the space program, or even be in space.  It shows the stark reality of what being an astronaut entails.  Much of it is not pleasant or fun.  I no longer ever want to be an astronaut.  But I have a much great appreciation for those who do.

This book is non-fiction, but it is quite funny.  Roach has quite the sense of humor and all her little side comments and notes are hysterical.  Apparently her other books also look into some of the more strange parts of life, including my next read of hers called "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers."  Sounds fascinating, eh?!

Anyway, back to this book.  It covers the space program from birth to its current status.  It talks about the early pioneers, the monkeys, and the ships themselves.  It explores some of the more unpleasant aspects of space exploration including (but not limited to) peeing in space, what kind of food astronauts eat, is not showering for a month acceptable, and is sex even possible in zero gravity?  I've never wondered about these things until now, but after reading the book I wonder why I never thought of these things.  This book may not be best read if you are grossed about by bodily functions.  It sure gives you a better appreciation for gravity and what it does for us every day.

As much as this book take a somewhat "irreverent" look at space travel and all the weird things that go along with it, Roach does a great job of still making it all seem worth it, at least for those who have a passion for it.  The men and women who work on space travel, especially the ones behind the scenes, are really amazing and fascinating people.  But even space explorers have to pee!

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