Packing for Mars

Mary Roach is known for her books that dive into the science behind things people don’t always want to talk about – sex, cadavers, the afterlife and now, space. Ok maybe that last one isn’t so taboo. In Packing for Mars: The Curious Science Behind Life in the Void, Roach broaches the subject of traveling to Mars – we know it’s possible, but is it a good idea?

This is the first of her books that I’ve read – though Bonk has been sitting on my bookshelf for a good 2 years now – and I liked the informative but humorous style. Roach spent 2 years investigating everything about space travel, from the things you never knew you wondered about, like how the astronauts bathe and how they deal with motion sickness, to those you always wanted to know, such as what it’s like to float around in zero gravity and just how do they go to the bathroom? Roach observes and occasionally participates in simulations and experiments related to traveling to Mars – the physiological, psychological and even neurological effects of a 3 year mission to the red planet.

If you ever dreamed of going to space camp, grew up during the Space Race or wished you could see the earth from millions of miles away, check out Packing for Mars. Roach explains science in terms that can be understood by anyone and her curiosity is insatiable, asking questions not usually asked of members of NASA. Some of the former astronauts were surprisingly, but refreshingly, frank.

Notes on the Audiobook:

As entertaining as this book was, at times I found myself zoning out. Some complaints I’ve read about the book state that it is slow in the beginning and I would agree with that. With a print book it’s easy to skip past the parts that may not be so interesting, but with an audio book that’s a lot harder to do. Roach also includes several footnotes, which are couched with “note” and “end note,” which helps separate out these little anecdotes that often have nothing to do with the narrative. I don’t listen to a lot of non-fiction on audio and I think I’ll stick to novels in the future.

Nancy is very happy to stay on terra firma and writes about her 2 boys and life in Colorado at Life With My Boys.


  1. says

    I heard her interviewed (on where else but NPR, of course), and I was mildly intrigued, even though I’m not usually too good of a nonfiction reader. I’m pretty sure that anyone growing up in the 80s had dreams of going to space camp, so maybe this book will find its way into my library bag at some point. :)

  2. dena says

    This book sounds facinating to me. I love books that I can learn something factual from but are not dry textbook style reading. I think I will have to look this one up at my local library.

  3. says

    I’ve been wanting to read this, and have it on hold (waiting list) at the library. I read her book “Stiff” and loved it. I might have to look for “Boink” as well, just for the fun of it. :-)

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