Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Packing for Mars

The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity. Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? ha...

Details Packing for Mars

TitlePacking for Mars
Release DateAug 2nd, 2010
PublisherW. W. Norton & Company
Number of pages334 pages
GenreNonfiction, Science, Space, Humor, Audiobook, History

Reviews Packing for Mars

  • Stephen
    Space…the final frontier: where intrepid heroes break free from the mortal bonds of Mother Earth to experience such singular marvels as:1. Fecal popcorning (definition forthcoming);2. Condom-shaped urinal devices (with different sizes for, um, different sizes); 3. Weightless Flight Regurgitation Phenomenon (Hint: turns out gravity is a vital part of both swallowing food and keeping it locked down in the tummy); 4. The pleasures, subject to NAS...
  • Will Byrnes
    Maybe she could have titled the book The Right Stiff. I needed to have tissues handy while reading Mary Roach’s latest. No, it is not because it made me sad, but because I was laughing so hard my eyes were gushing. Mary Roach has had that effect on me before. I have read two of her books. Stiff and Spook are greatly entertaining. She has a sense of humor that encompasses a pre-adolescent affinity for the scatological. OK, she likes fart jokes. ...
  • Kemper
    I’m a big space geek and have spent countless hours reading or watching documentaries about manned space flight. I’ve seen a space shuttle launch and been through the Kennedy Space Center a couple of times. I went and saw the traveling exhibit of Gus Grissom’s capsule that was retrieved from the ocean floor and refurbished. So I thought I knew something about NASA and astronauts.However, I’d never heard the phrase 'fecal popcorning' befor...
  • Petra Eggs
    Note: the dolphin-sex thing appears to be a hoax. Shame that. I like the idea of space sex having to be a threesome.Why the Space Program Costs so Much. Because its run by a load of backward-thinking dickheads, contrary to what you might think.Mary Roach seems to have an obsession with poo. I did actually want to know about toilet facilities in space, but not two-chapters worth of knowledge. Similarly a chapter about sex, although no-one apart fr...
  • Richard Derus
    Rating: 4.5* of fiveThe Publisher Says: Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is...
  • Carol.
    Roach is well known for her earlier books, Stiff (about human cadavers), Bonk (science and sex) and Spook (the afterlife). In Packing, she takes on the US space program, and how it’s dealt with many of the everyday biological issues we take for granted– such as washing, eating, and urinating. However, willingness to take on the scatological is just part of her hook; she integrates information about the program in general as well as Earth-base...
  • Cassy
    There was a rule in my house growing up: no talking about “bodily functions”. When my older sister would start going on about how she clogged the toilet or an episode of smelly burps, my very Southern mother would intervene. “Jill, there will no discussion of bodily functions at this dinner table. Would anyone like more peach cobbler?” Mary Roach would make an interesting dinner guest at my parents’ house. Her book is overflowing with b...
  • Melki
    I did not expect to be so captivated by this book. After all, I barely paid attention when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969. I was a very mature seven year old, and I had seen better space "movies" at the local theater. My interest in the space program remained low while I was growing up. Of course, I watched and cried over the Challenger and Columbia disasters. But otherwise, I was mostly oblivious.I suppose it was not until Nasa announ...
  • Trevor
    I’ve read two other Roach books and have really loved them. They tick all of the boxes – they are witty, wise, fascinatingly interesting and written by someone with an eye that unfailingly spots human foibles. The beauty of her writing is that rather than pointing and laughing, she embrace our foibles and makes us fell all the more human because of them. Do you know that feeling you get when you read someone and think, ‘God, I would really ...
  • Stephanie
    When I was in the sixth grade we had a science project. I remember this well, we had to learn all about rockets and space travel. When we were to reach the end of all the information, we were going to have a test on what we learned. Nothing new there right? Oh but there was……The person who had the highest grade on the test was to be the one to “launch” a rocket, you know, the model rockets made from cardboard with a built in parachute for...
  • David
    There's a bit of space science in this book, but it's mostly a humorous, immensely scatalogical romp through the space program. By reading this book, you will gain a treasure trove of trivia, ranging from astronaut food, defecation, odors, nausea, to the earliest, non-human astronauts who were shot up into space on rockets. You will learn the real reason why women were not enlisted as astronauts in the early days of NASA, which turns out to be th...
  • Crystal Starr Light
    Bullet Review:Huh. Not quite what I was expecting - more a "look at all these weird things in space" than anything close to a checklist of things necessary for a Mars mission. And those weird things seem to focus A LOT on bodily functions.I wish we spent more time on how bad the food was, how hard it would be to store enough food and oxygen and more about the psychology of long duration flights. And less time on space poos.Full Review:I will try ...
  • Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
    Love Mary Roach, but I didn't find this as entertaining as some of her other books. I got a few fun factoids to share with my family, so I guess that's a win.
  • Monica
    Fascinating and well considered. Lots of gross facts about conditions in outer space. Space travel does not resemble Star Trek at this time. I don't want to go to Mars personally and I'm traumatized by the concept of the impending voyage at our current level of technology, but I relish the idea of some other poor soul dreamer willing to endure the trip. Listened to on audible narrated by Sandra Burr. I thought she did a good job.4 Stars
  • Brandon
    I've always maintained a passing interest in space travel and with my burgeoning love of Sci-Fi starting to develop, I thought that this was the right book to pick up. With Packing for Mars, Mary Roach takes the reader on a journey through the bizarre history of space travel and the toll it takes on the human body and psyche. It turns out that my passing interest in space travel was just that - a passing interest. I found myself constantly drifti...
  • Sanaa
    [4 Stars] This book was incredibly fascinating although a bit disturbing from time to time. You get to know some of the details about all of the strange things that accompany thoughts of space travel: how to you poop in space, what is the screening process like for astronauts, food in space, what kind of strange experiments and tests must be employed to test things for space travel, chimps in space, and so much more. I thoroughly enjoyed it even ...
  • Trudi
    3.5 stars***I'm reposting this review in honor of Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) who died today at the age of 82. "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." --Neil Armstrong Well...that was...interesting. This book is so thoroughly researched. The amount of painstaking detail used to describe the epic sublime of space right down to the microscopic level of doing your "business" in zero gravity is impressiv...
  • Becky
    I have an awkward relationship with Mary Roach. I find her humor forced, blatant, and poorly timed and so it always falls flat to me. I realize that a lot of people really appreciate her humor, but it just doesn’t click for me. Actually, I bet I think she was really funny if I heard her talk, because potty humor IS my type of humor, but it just doesn’t seem to translate for me in her books.That said, she researches these absolutely fascinatin...
  • Sesana
    Mary Roach has made quite a career writing quirky, irreverent books on some of the weirder corners of science. She's covered corpses, the afterlife, sex, and now space. So all the cool subjects. As it turns out, space exploration is a rich and varied subject. Every aspect of life in space has to be carefully, exhaustively researched beforehand, after all. Right down to, ahem, elimination procedures. In the hands of another writer, all of this det...
  • Jim
    Wow! An excellent piece of very readable research of our journey into space & all the considerations for a trip to Mars in, hopefully, 2030. As usual, Roach captured the human side & presented it with plenty of humor.The research had to be difficult for her in many cases. NASA needs publicity to stay funded, but any negative publicity can hurt them immensely, especially since Congress & the VP oversee them. (LBJ basically squashed any females in ...
  • Jackie
    This book is funny, gross, and fascinating, and I am SO not suited to be an astronaut! If YOU want to be an astronaut, you’d better have a strong stomach and a big tolerance for grossness in general. I had NO IDEA a book about travel in space would read like a scene from a Judd Apatow movie, but it turns out human waste of many varieties is a big issue for NASA. Mary Roach tells us about how space agencies try to prepare astronauts for space tr...
  • Megan Baxter
    I generally quite enjoy Mary Roach's books, even though sometimes they are too much information to be read while eating. (Stiff) So when I saw this one, about one of my favourite things in the world, space travel, I was excited. Even more so since I'm running a roleplaying game set on Mars right now, although much further along than the first tentative preparations Roach is talking about here.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due t...
  • Michael
    Science fiction movies and novels dealing with long exploration missions to deep space rarely deal with the complexities of our bodies surviving during the long journey through space.Or as the old question asks, "Where does Captain Kirk go to the bathroom?"Mary Roach's "Packing for Mars" not only looks at where Kirk would go, but how such a thing would be possible. It also looks at a lot of other questions that scientists and NASA have to and hav...
  • Chris
    A decent book with interesting details about space sciences and the biology of human spaceflight. However, the author felt compelled to display her snarky, adolescent humor and go off on tangents on subjects that she must have felt were funny, but which is merely unnecessary gossip and/or gross little anecdotes. It seemed obvious that she was probably jealous of the scientists and astronauts whom she interviewed, failed to understand the pragmati...
  • Cindy
    Packing for Mars is like Bonk, Stiff and Spook (her three previous books) but in space. Awesome! Everything is better in space. And hilariously entertaining.I have a huge author crush on Mary Roach. She isn't embarrassed by any subject. (I know this for a fact, I got to ask her at her book reading.) She won't pass up a Howdy Doody joke when discussing the difficulties in pooing in zero-G. She also scammed a free copy of zero-G porn movie series a...
  • Sonja Arlow
    India’s first Mars mission, scheduled for Nov 2014 will cost LESS than the budget of the space film Gravity.After having finished this book I had to read that above statement a few times for it to really sink in. Either space travel has gotten vastly cheaper or Hollywood has finally gone nuts.This book covers everything a layperson would ever want to know about space travel and a host of things you would have preferred not to know. No longer do...
  • David
    You never knew astronauts had it so hard. Mary Roach takes an irreverent look at space travel, and answers all your questions about sex and pooping in space. Actually, she only speculates about the sex -- NASA and the astronauts remain mum on the subject. But while Roach has an informal, sometimes juvenile style (this book is meant to be entertaining, and isn't exactly science journalism), she does research a lot of subjects in exhaustive detail ...
  • Abdulrahman
    If Chris Hadfield's autobiography, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, made me wish I were an astronaut, Mary Roach's book made me feel quite the opposite. The pressure astronauts have to live through their entire careers—one single silly mistake might cost you your place—and the risks and dangers they get exposed to when they finally get to go to space—radiation, bone mass loss, muscle atrophy—are very off-putting. Even so, living in ...
  • Holly
    This was honestly really interesting, and probably as good (if not better) than Roach's other book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, which I read probably a year back.Roach combines factual information and fun story telling in a great way, that makes these books immensely readable and fun. I've avoided science non-fiction for a long time, mainly because I didn't think I was smart enough per say, but Mary Roach has really introduced me ...
  • Josh Peters
    Excellent. Excellent. Excellent! The book was hilarious and interesting.