Packing for Mars (CBR7 #16)

This book wasn’t exactly what I thought it was when I decided to read it. I thought Mary Roach would be writing from the perspective of what needs to be done/brought/invented to get us to a place where we are sending humans to live on Mars. What Roach really does is explain how the same things which had to be accomplished for basic space flight and putting a man on the moon are the things that scientists of various stripes are working on right now to continue the forward momentum of space exploration, and the science of everyday modern life.

I also didn’t expect, and that’s probably because I just wasn’t paying close enough attention, that Mary Roach is hysterically funny. I’m used to reading monographs that are occasionally amusing, but it’s not often that you run across an author who takes the extra effort to make the narrative amusing, whether it be by using puns or footnotes to drop a joke or perhaps my favorite of all quoting the astronauts in question and filling in the blanks. It is obvious from the page that Roach enjoyed the researching of this book and I am looking forward to taking her advice and reading Mike Mullane’s book Riding Rockets, which she suggests as the funniest astronaut memoir. The only problem I ran into is that since my roommate read Packing for Mars first, I did miss out on the opportunity to read the funniest parts for myself without prior knowledge of their existence. Chapter 14, I’m looking at you.

But, if you have an interest in the science and history of space exploration and all the wacky questions that may not have occurred to you that would be a concern (for example, gravity aids in the sense of bladder fullness letting us know we need to go) then I would very much suggest this book to you. I think I’m going to look for Roach’s book Stiff later in the year for more fun science reading.

This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.


About Katie

Museum educator, caffiene junkie, book lover, student of history, overall goofball.

5 thoughts on “Packing for Mars (CBR7 #16)

  1. […] of letting-the-reader-in-on-the-joke writing about non-fiction which I learned when I dove into Packing for Mars earlier this year. So when Audible had a sale of Mary Roach’s books, I looked to see what I […]

  2. […] year I have read three of Mary Roach’s books: Packing for Mars (spoiler – it’s great), Bonk (also very good), and now Stiff: The Curious Life of Human […]

  3. […] may be taboo, (as were the cadavers in Stiff) and a bit surreal (zero gravity pooping anyone? See Packing for Mars), but Roach has found her niche as the purveyor of answers for the taboo and surreal. Thank […]

  4. […] this one four stars, its everything good that she displayed in some of her previous books such as Packing for Mars and Gulp without the early mistakes in style that appear in Stiff (which is still a fascinating […]

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