I am highly skeptical of suggested “group reads.” Why does someone think that entire cities should be immersed in a particular book? Is it a form of group grope? Group hypnosis? Group drumming? I am a bristling porcupine, can you tell? So when Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void was chosen as a “must read book” for San Francisco, I gave the display at our branch library wide berth.
Fast forward several months:
My son’s school had a silent auction in March, and I “bought the opportunity” to spend the evening with a group of others (who also donated their $$) and Mary Roach, the author of numerous books (none of which I had read) such as Stiff, Spook, and Bonk—as well as the title listed above. I am cranky (bet you hadn’t noticed) and not a fan of these titles. Although I have a science/math undergrad degree (as a foundation for my MFA in creative writing, ha!) and was the buyer for the science section of a bookstore in San Francisco when Stiff came out, I couldn’t get past the title to read it. It didn’t matter that it was well-received. Do I sound like Maggie Smith’s character in Downton Abbey?
But I thought that this time around I’d do my part to raise funds for our school, and perhaps the evening would be entertaining (fingers crossed). So I picked up a copy of Packing for Mars at Green Apple Books in San Francisco. I didn’t want to insult the author by showing up completely ignorant of her book’s content.
WELL! Eighty-six pages into the book, I am LOLing and ROFLing and getting asked in doctors’ waiting rooms just what it is that I am reading—it is that funny. And yes, that well written. And yes, filled with fascinating science info (as well as insights into various countries’ space programs—more funny than flattering). And I will now be reading all of Roach’s backlist titles.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa…