Mary Roach’s books are just like her TED talk. They’re smart, funny and charm you with a total affection for her subject matter.
I’ve read all her books and so far Packing for Mars is the best. She is writing about the insane goal of shipping a few bubbling meat bags through an irradiated vacuum for 500 days so that we can visit a lifeless planet.
She covers it all from a people perspective, looking at the glorious business of being a person. How do we handle the boredom, the food, the farting? She covers the serious problems with poop, pee, vomit and also sex. The book is worth reading for the chapter on Space Hygiene alone. It’s called “Houston We Have a Fungus”.
Near the end, a final quote from Ben Franklin, on someone who sees the Montgolfiers’ maiden balloon flight and calls it frivolous:
What use is a newborn baby?