It is astounding the number of factors that can affect even the simplest choices when it comes to space travel.
Packing for Mars takes an informative, and humorous, look at the science of and difficulties involved in space exploration. Mary Roach takes the humor and down to earth (pardon the pun) explanations she has shared in previous books to illustrate the years of research and processes that go into selecting astronauts, formulating food, choosing what to pack and even designing toilets.
I've read Mrs. Roach's 3 previous books and found this one just as charming, easy to understand and down right hilarious. There were several moments where I was bawling with laughter. She uses transcripts from previous voyages into the dark, her own experiences, and interviews with astronauts and scientists to great effect in dealing with a not so surprisingly complicated subject. Her explanation of gravity made it clearer than what I gained in science classes. I'm also now going to have to read Gene Cernan's memoirs because of some of the mission transcripts she quoted. He seems like such a character, probably as much as she is.
If you want to read about science in a practical but entertaining manner, Mary Roach is the way to go.
I also heartily recommend her other books:
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Spook: Science Takes on the Afterlife
BIS Rating: 4 nightlights
BIS Rating system:
1 nightlight = put it down and didn't care to pick it back up
2 nightlights = finished the book
3 nightlights = enjoyed the book but probably wouldn't re-read it
4 nightlights = had a hard time putting the book down
5 nightlights = stayed up way too late to finish instead of going to bed