Book discussions

julie and julia

Summary: Powell needs something to break the monotony of her life. So, she invents a deranged assignment: She will take her mother's dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and cook all 524 recipes in the span of just one year.
Kelly's comments: Picked this up while browsing the biography section at school. Had no idea what to expect. I grew up watching Julia Child with my grandmother, so I thought I'd like the book. The book was funny and endearing and enchanting. It got to be a bit over the top sometimes, but just when I thought it was too much (whining, trying, living up to the Joneses, will my marriage survive this kind of thing), the author would pull me back in with her craziness.


Summary: After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth. As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive. But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
Kelly's comments: This has been the hot book to read for the past year, and it's not just because of the movie. This is an engaging read that offers plenty of science facts but infuses the story with humor and a writing style that makes it possible for those of us who are not hard core science fiction fans or scientists to still enjoy the story and find it very readable. I will admit there were some passages that bogged me down a bit as I struggled a few times to understand the jargon and technical difficulties, but once I gave myself permission to not try to solve every specificity, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and I liked the movie, too. 

Mark Watney is a MacGyver type of astronaut, a Mr. Fix It, and that's why he is able to survive. I don't think anyone else from his crew could have done what he did. His wit and sense of humor play a big role in his success as well. Lots of tragedy and triumphs along the way with some life or death scenarios, but the humor provides a light hearted tone (Disco music!). A highly entertaining and edifying read! You can bet I will read Weir's next book.