One of my favorite things about being part of this community is joining with other bloggers to participate in a challenge or read-along or some other sort of bookish project. I especially love read-alongs because they often expand my reading horizons and I get to answer discussion questions. I love discussion questions! This month over at Doing Dewey, we’re reading Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars.
1. What is your favorite fun fact from the book so far?
I did not know that some animals are immune to motion sickness. I mean, I hadn’t really ever thought about it before, but now that I know, I’m insanely jealous. I’m not the kind to throw up from motion sickness, but I definitely suffer from it. No reading in the car or playing games for me. Teacup-style rides at theme parks? Not happening.
2. Are you liking the author’s sense of humor?
I love it! I’ve actually read one of her books before, maybe two. I know I read Bonk and I think I’ve read Stiff. This is my favorite kind of nonfiction. I’m learning a ton, but it’s fun and entertaining as well. She has a great way of taking subjects that could be uncomfortable for others and making them really accessible, without necessarily lessening the gravity of those subjects.
3. What about the footnotes – love them or hate them?
I love footnotes! If the amount of content crammed into the main book isn’t enough, we get tiny little tidbits at the bottom, too! I’m a bit of a trivia nerd, so any extra facts are welcome.
4. Does the way the author describes astronauts match what you imagine them to be like?
No, not at all. I’ll admit that when I think of astronauts, I think glory and danger and adventure and excitement. Roach describes astronauts as having a job made up of routine and boredom and isolation, but if something were to happen, there’s every chance you might die. And there’s motion sickness. No thanks! I don’t like those extremes.
5. Which country’s astronaut selection process do you think you’d be best at? Japan, US, or Canada?
Honestly? Probably Japan’s. US selection seemed based more on what you’ve done before, with a dash of bravery thrown in, plus some physical requirements (such as height) as well. Canada puts their applicants through a host of reality television-style action stunts, such as jumping from a plan and escaping a burning capsule. But Japan? Think of the reality show Big Brother. Japan puts its candidates into an isolated environment and watches how they interact. Obstacles include broken toilets and lunches that are delivered late, because these are some routine things they could face in space. Astronauts are evaluated psychologically and must complete routine, menial tasks. It’s fascinating to me!
6. How do you feel about experimenting on animals, such as with the rhesus monkey sent into space? Necessary to preserve human life or unnecessarily cruel?
You know, this is a hard question. On the one hand, it does seem cruel to experiment with animals, especially as they have no choice in the matter. On the other, I doubt space programs would survive very long if they were routinely sending up humans (even willing ones) to potentially die in the vacuum of space for the sake of experimenting. Even now that space travel is becoming more routine, it’s still dangerous. So, I don’t know. I wish there were better options. Maybe we’ll get there someday, with robots or simulations or something.
So far, I’m really enjoying the book! I can’t wait to dive into the next half!