Packing for Mars – Mary Roach

Hey guys,

Quick post today about a book called Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by non-fiction writer Mary Roach.
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This is not the first of Roach’s books that I’ve owned, but its the first I’ve read through. Other of her works include:
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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
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Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
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And upcoming in 2013, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.

If you are at all interested in any of these subjects, I highly recommend checking one of these out from your local library.
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The research in this book is almost astounding. Mary Roach approaches things from a different angle than any researcher I’ve read before, she is more curious about the quirky, and downright raunchy aspects of the world. In Packing for Mars, she does a lot of ‘generality’ research, but as soon as she catches a whiff of vulgarity or disgust, you better believe she’s going to track down someone who will tell her about it. In this book you will find facts about all of the dangers and concerns about puking in a weightless environment (among other things, like sex, as well as normal things, like eating and drinking), the intricacies of planning the planting of the flag on the moon, and the rumor that one of the first space chimps was an infamous masterbater (a rumor that appears to be untrue, by the way).

My boyfriend and I both have a fascination with space, which is obviously why I’ve read this book out of her selection of work, and I had a good time picking out passages to read to him. Two of my favorite things in the book were 1) all of the in depth psychological and physical research NASA (and other space agencies worldwide) did before considering sending a human to space (and still continue to do); and 2) the chapter on motion sickness (and inevitably, puking). I didn’t actually enjoy that chapter much, but its the first book to make me feel motion sick with words alone. I was fascinated with a lot of the information, because I am a severe sufferer of motion sickness, generally, and now I understand why.

I have Spook on my nook, but haven’t ‘cracked’ it yet, and I’m honestly a little scared to read Stiff….although I’m sure it’s fascinating. Psychologically, I’m not sure I can handle it right now!

What have you read of Roach’s? Let me know what you guys think of her work – which books have you read, and what did you think of Roach’s sassy tone? Or perhaps you haven’t picked one up yet, if not, which would you be most fascinated in reading?

Until next time,
•Emma