“When You Are Going Through Hell….. Keep Going!”……….. This quote from borrowed from Churchill gives away from the outset how I felt about Packing For Mars!
It wasn’t for me. It’s not normally the kind of book I’d choose but it was the third in the series for The Readers Summer Book Club and I do think one of the great things about book clubs is that they introduce you to things you wouldn’t otherwise have read. Alas they’re not always books you are glad you found!
Packing For Mars is essentially a non- fiction book about space exploration and the whole lunar adventure – which some of the facts in the book made me re-categorise as ‘lunar lunacy’ at times!
If I’m honest, the topic of space doesn’t really do it for me either. I do remember the excitement on radio and black and white TV of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when I was a kid and I quite enjoyed Apollo 13, the film with Tom Hanks! But that’s about it for me and space!
Coupled to that lack of interest in the topic, there was a quote from The Times on the cover of Packing For Mars! It said “incredibly funny”! I should have known. The last time I read on a blurb about how hilarious a book was, came just before I wasted precious hours of my life reading Paul Torday’s awful book “Salmon Fishing In Yemen”! To be fair, while Packing For Mars was on a humour par with Salmon Fishing – with a laughter count for both books of absolutely zero for me- the book wasn’t as dull as Salmon Fishing.
It’s crammed with info and Mary Roach’s style of writing is certainly engaging, pacy, and easily accessible. Beyond that I can’t think of any positives and I wouldn’t want to castigate the book. It was simply that I didn’t like it. However many others have loved it and if you want to read the reviews of those who did like, laugh, and love this book, there are very positive comments at Savidge Reads and there are lots of positive comments on The Readers discussion page about the book over at GoodReads.
But for me it’s been hell to get to the end.
However heel no more – from now on I’m ignoring Churchill’s exhortations to keep going! This morning in the Observer I read an article about book endings by James Bridle. In it he says
“Equally I don’t finish half the books I start; these are literary dead ends; they don’t lead anywhere else; I double back and start again.”
This is sound advice because I don’t think I did myself or Packing For Mars any favours by trudging wearily to the end of it on my hands and knees. I’ll try to remind myself of these words before I start books in the future – especially when they have quoted those fateful words of doom on the cover “Incredibly funny”!!!!!!!