Friday, April 1, 2011

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

I can only think of two other recent books that have made me laugh so hard I cried and both are by Mary Roach. Her latest book is about the way we (humans in general, not just NASA) prepare to go into space. This fits right in with Roach’s unique approach to her subject matter – Stiff is about the uses for, and treatment of, the human body after death; Bonk is about the history of sex research. Packing for Mars covers the development of space suits, the first animals in space, psychological testing of astronauts, research into how humans handle confinement and isolation, long-term lack of any personal hygiene, etc... Mostly memorably, she covers the food of astronauts and the waste it creates. Poop is almost always funny and poop in space is hilarious.
It’s clear that Mary Roach is a little crazy, but lucky for readers it’s the good kind of crazy.