Sunday, February 3, 2019

Winter reading 2019 Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery


I readily admit that I am a space junkie and I love reading memoirs and accounts of space travel by astronauts. That being said, Scott Kelly's book is a great read for anyone interested in the space program (even casual fans who are not as geeky about it as I am). 

Kelly describes his path from being a kid in New Jersey to the America record holder for consecutive days in space. He writes of his family, school years and time as a military pilot and  progress to the space program. Those chapters are shuffled between the descriptions of his time in space and keep either part of the narrative from stretching too long. The amazing way he managed to turn his life around from being a student who wasn't very interested in school to one who found his goal and worked toward it is very inspirational. As he writes, "For my entire K-12 education, I pretty much ignored my teachers and daydreamed."

He doesn't stint on the details as he describes the training for space, the duties assigned to those awaiting a chance to use that training, and the work involved once they reach their destination. Most people think of astronaut as a glamorous job - but they don't think about how repairing the toilet on the ISS is one of the duties that is required. It's not all spacewalks and Skype sessions with school children. 

The need for lengthy exercise sessions is another drawback, although necessary for health on return to Earth. "Sometimes I reflect that future generations may live their whole lives in space, and they won't need their bones at all. They will be able to live as invertebrates. But I plan to return to Earth, so I must work out six days a week." (When I read that, I pictured the roly-poly people on the ship in the movie "Wall-E.") 

Kelly also discusses the pain of being so far away when an emergency came up and his family needed him - such as when his sister-in-law was shot or when his daughters were sick or having a hard time.

Whether you are interested in record holders, the space program, the limits of human endurance in various conditions, or just enjoy memoirs and autobiographies - this is a fascinating book and very enjoyable. Due to the details he shares, this book would be best for YA and adult readers.

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