My second Mary Roach book! Not quite sure how I feel about it.
I’ve been looking forward to more Mary Roach since I read Stiff, and I decided to go with Packing for Mars since I have such a fondness for space exploration (especially humans going to Mars).
There were parts of this book that I really liked. For instance, learning that one of the tests that the Japanese have their potential astronauts go through is folding 1000 cranes. Not something that sounds important, but it tests a person’s attention to detail as time goes on – in space, you can’t afford sloppy work just because the work is tedious or been done before. I liked learning about the struggles NASA has had in trying to make eating and going to the bathroom possible for astronauts in zero gravity. I liked learning about bone density, and how astronauts have to try to keep their bones strong during prolonged zero gravity trips. And she referenced a few other books that sounded really cool – I now have Riding Rockets by astronaut Mike Mullane waiting for me at the library thanks to this book.
But there were some parts that actually kind of irked me. At one point Mary goes on to ask a bunch of professionals “why” gravity exists. When physicists said “What does ‘why’ mean?”, she goes on to say that maybe gravity is a mystery to even those who understand it. Just….. no. The question she was asking made no sense. Asking why gravity exists is like asking what the meaning of life is. Gravity is one of the four forces of the universe. Maybe she was purposely trying to get a kick out of them, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being uptight.
Overall, the book fell flat for me. I wasn’t really eager to keep reading. The things she discusses are interesting, and I’m glad that I learned a few things. It was worth the read. But something didn’t QUITE work for me. Maybe I let my biases about space get in the way from completely enjoying it. OH also, I listened to the first 3 chapters on audiobook, and I wouldn’t recommend it. The narrator had a terrible voice, and it was hard to let names and facts sink in – in some cases, print is just better for me.
I’m still looking forward to reading more of her though. I think next I want to try Bonk… sex is pretty ridiculous, and I think it’s a topic that would suite her fondness for the weird, gross, and hysterical pretty well.
Sarah Says: 3 stars