Book Review: Packing for Mars 5/5*

Mary Roach’s new book is a nonfiction work about what we have to consider if we send humans into space. She writes with a very witty turn of phrase that is cute and entertaining. She starts out by going through Nasa thinking out loud about how inconvenient the human payload can be. Humans can only live in a narrow range of temperatures, humidity, gas ratio in the space capsule etc. making the human being extraordinarily difficult to work with. She has the sense of humour of an 8th grader which is hilarious and irreverent when dealing with a humorless government agency. She answers all the questions we have always wondered about but were too polite to ask. Topics like eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, having sex, living in space and other controversial but fascinating areas are covered or rather uncovered as the case may be.

My only problem with the book was on my end. I read this book on my Kindle. Kindles are great but she uses many footnotes throughout the text. On a Kindle you have to hover your cursor to jump to the footnotes which are all clustered at the back of the book at about 99%. Then you cannot go back to where you left off reading in the middle of the book because Kindle thinks you have now read 99% of the book. I found some of the funniest parts to be in the footnotes. I ended up writing down the location number, clicking through to the footnotes, and entering in the location to regain my place.

Except for my footnotes problem I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot. It is not too technical for non-science folks and funny enough to keep your interest. I would rate it a “must read”.


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