Edelweiss, Loved-it, Memoirs, Non-fiction, Well known books

5 Reasons To Read A Book By A Real Spaceman Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery

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★★★★✬  4.5 stars

You might have noticed that when I read nonfiction, I read some pretty crazy topics all over the place. This time! We’re delving into space. REAL SPACE. Not Your Sci-fi Space Lite™. And this is precisely the reason why you have to read real space memoirs, especially if you’re a sci-fi fan. Space just got real, and it’s meaner than you’ve ever thought.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about – this is the review of Scott Kelly’s memoir, and he is the cool dude who spent a year in space. The only such man. After having cancer. This guy? Whole new definition of awesome. So let’s get to the reasons why you should read his book!

Reason #1. You Thought Lack Of Gravity Was Cool

Well… NOPE. Turns out? Doing everything without gravity is much harder. The lack of gravity will even break your body in time. It will reduce you to basically a squid. Did you know that? Let me give you a list of things that are absolute bullshit not completely true about being in space, and yet are constantly used in fictional space:

  • Hot sci-fi chicks gracefully moving around on spaceships? *buzzer sound*
  • Long hair looking good in space? *buzzer sound*
  • Scratch that. Hair in general looking good? Even staying clean and being washed? *buzzer sound*
  • Toned muscular bodies in space? *buzzer sound*
  • Actually, rethink everything you’ve ever read about people eating on no-gravity spaceships. And about fresh food on spaceships.
  • A quick suit up before going out of the ship? Man, forget it! N+1 hours!
  • I will not begin ANY SUCH conversation about sexual activity in space because you do not want to think about fluid dynamics OR the lack of weight you’re experiencing. Neither do I.

Personally, I loved finding out about this. We don’t give the real space dudes enough credit! Because sci-fi makes it seem soooo easy. That’s the last thing it is.

Reason #2. We Need To Debunk The Myth That Only Perfect People Can Be Astronauts… Or Do Other Demanding Jobs

Actually, I thought that only 20:20 vision ripped young boys and girls go to space. Probably, so did you.

(Okay, so, buzzer GIFs are a little harder to find, apparently.)

Turns out, nope – young folks don’t go to space. ALMOST AT ALL. That is another lie by the media, fed to us to think that only youngsters can do anything in life, and if you’re not doing it, you’re living your life all wrong. Wanna know what gets people to space? Hard work. Years of it. Most people go to space sub-40. By that time, they probably don’t have 20:20 vision anymore. They don’t have perfect health either. Forget the myth that your life ended when you weren’t a 20-something. People went to space after having cancer! People went to space with glasses. Wanna know what? If you’re short, you’re a preference for going to space! Ha. I found all of that incredibly empowering.

Reason #3. You Need To Restore Belief In Humanity

Okay, so… The political arena these days is not something I want to even remotely hear about. Most days, I either think the world will self-implode, or just keep embarrassing itself.

Which is why I found it unbelievably uplifting to know that while we squabble about whose president is less qualified for their job or… more qualified for totalitarian world domination, the Russians and Americans quietly work as a team on the International Space Station. Turns out, the Americans can’t even go to space without the Russians. They have been going to space on a Russian ship for aaaaages now that the Shuttle has been decomissioned. Fancy that, huh? So much for diplomacy… This is the true team spirit of advancing humanity. #science, baby! I think Scott Kelly puts it better than me, so check out this quote:

“When people ask whether the space station is worth the expense, this is something I always point out. What is it worth to see two former bitter enemies transform their weapons into transport for peaceful exploration and the pursuit of scientific knowledge? What is it worth to see former enemy nations turn their warriors into crewmates and lifelong friends? This is impossible to put a dollar figure on, but to me it’s one of the things that makes this project worth the expense, even worth risking our lives.”

Reason #4. The Book Empowers People From Humble Origins

Scott Kelly tells of a childhood with a heavily drinking father – an experience I’m also familiar with – and it’s truly great to hear that high achievers can be people just like me, people who might have often felt that achievements are for “the better kind”, the kind of people who come from proper homes (you’d be surprised how many children of alcoholics silently feel this way!) Side by side, he tells two stories – one of actually being in space, and one of preparing himself to go there – the road of a kid who nearly flunked highschool and had undiagnosed ADHD to becoming an astronaut.

Reason #5. The Book Tries To Make You See How Much You Should Respect The Planet

(image courtesy: NASA)

An astronaut can’t fail to understand the fragility of the Earth. No astronaut has ever come back to Earth and said, to hell with global warming, it doesn’t exist! (I mean, I sure hope none of them did…)

Scott Kelly tries to show us how beautiful, how loving and comfortable our home world is. It’s directly visible, juxtaposed to the coldness, vastness and inhabitability of space. It baffles you how powerless we really are out there – for all our almighty hubris. Which is why we need to nurture and protect what we have here.

So do you want to read it yet? If you do, you can grab it here (buying it through this link will also contribute to my blog!) I thank Scott Kelly and Knopf Publishing Group for giving me an early copy of this book in exchange to my honest opinion.

Have you ever read about any real astronauts? Maybe it’s time you did? Share your thoughts on these myths debunked!

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

35 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Read A Book By A Real Spaceman Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly

  1. Oooh, you made me much more interested in this book! It was suuuuuuuper hyped at BookCon in June, but I wasn’t really interested. :/ Also–you have such a delightful blogging voice of your own! Your writing is a delight. 🙂
    Lyse recently posted…Book Review: All the Crooked SaintsMy Profile

    1. Awwwww thank you 🙂 yes, that book could be written better, but considering the guy isn’t a writer? It’s great. It was his experiences I wanted to hear, and they were all I wanted to know about it – and more. I absolutely enjoyed this book and I think it’s definitely worth it to check it out 🙂

  2. I saw your recommendation on goodreads to me 🙂

    Yeah, this one is up my alley. I watched Scott Kelly’s return to Earth live on TV when it happened and was emotional. He gave a lot of his body for future space travel.
    Paul Liadis recently posted…The Punch EscrowMy Profile

    1. I haven’t actually seen or heard anything about him prior to reading this 🙂 and thanks for recommending that other space book to me! I am definitely checking it out once I can find it. Real space experiences (as opposed to sci-fi) and speculations are such a wonderful thing to learn about.

        1. 25 cents! That’s a bargain. I don’t really know about postage, to be fair. It’s quite far over the pond! That’s very nice of you to offer though 🙂 well, I live in Lithuania, but only USPS can tell you if it’s expensive xD I think that time my sister mailed me The Radium Girls might have costed her like a 20 though, which is kind of a bit :/

    1. Hayley! Haven’t seen you in forever!! Thank you!
      I will admit I had stopped going to your blog because I hadn’t received any reply from you for a long time. Thought that maybe you needed more private time or quiet. You doing okay? So glad to see you around.

  3. GREAT review! I picked this book up as part of the Kindle First program a few months ago, but I’ve been SO behind on my reading list that I am still waiting to get to this book. O_o This is the first review I’ve read for it- -and I couldn’t be more excited! I will admit, I was hesitant about picking it up. But I love what Scott Kelly has done, and I can’t wait to learn more about it. What made you decide to pick this book up?

    I love the format of this post, too. Numbers 1 and 2 are some of the reasons I get frustrated with classic sci-fi. I know the things they are writing about aren’t possible or are just silly. It’s hard for me to look past it when I get to those passages!

    How is the writing style? Did Kelly write this himself, or did he have assistance? Also, did you get the fancy interactive version from Kindle? I want to know allllll about that version, too!
    Jackie B. recently posted…Poison StudyMy Profile

    1. Thank you!! I was really curious about what you’d say about this review. I loved writing it so much! What made me pick it up? 😀 what DIDN’T make me pick it up? 😀 let’s rewind to my childhood. My grandpa was a physics teacher and he also taught astronomy at my school when I was little. When I was 4-5, he taught me the planets in the solar system by positioning pebbles from the seaside on his table, telling me stories about space. This remains one of my best childhood memories. My grandpa loved space so much, I still carry that love around for him. So when I saw this book, there was no way in the world I wouldn’t have requested it and then held my fingers crossed. I got it on Edelweiss and was so happy.

      I will, however, warn you that it might bore you at times with stories about working in the air force. But if you expect a pure history from it, you will get what you were promised. And for the space stuff? It’s a great book. Everything is on .point, informative and super interesting.

      Actually, I don’t know if he had help writing it! And nope, I just got a simple ARC, not interactive. I actually listened to it on my phone reading app – so I didn’t even read it. It was the perfect books for listening while walking around the stadium exercising my knees or just resting in the balcony 🙂

      1. Ohmygosh. That is the sweetest memory! I’m so glad that your grandfather passed on a passion for space into you. I’m glad that seeing non-fiction books about space make you happy. It’s like a little reminder that your grandfather is still a part of you, right? I feel that sometimes when things remind me of my sister. Like she’s still around. <3

        Ah yes, I definitely expect some blah blah blah in my non-fiction books. Particularly the science-y ones. I am currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and it’s… well, science-y. Don’t get me wrong! I love the science stuff. But sometimes it goes over my head. I actually often read these books as audiobooks so I can space out when the more science-y stuff is happening over my head. I find if I’m reading the text myself I can get frustrated and put the book down. So, good warning! But I might actually find the Air Force stories interesting… 😉

        I have the interactive version, but it doesn’t work on my Paperwhite. I’ll need to acquire or borrow a device so I can read this with the interactive parts and let you know how it goes. I’m sure it adds a neat additional dimension. What device do you most frequently use to read your ebooks?
        Jackie B. recently posted…RingworldMy Profile

        1. Actually, you haven’t told me anything about your sister. I would love to find out more? You can write me a message if it’s private 🙂 if you’re willing to discuss it with me at all, I mean. I understand if some things are too private.

          Ooh, Henrietta Lacks! I need to read that one too. One day. *looming TBR gets in the way*

          I actually wonder what the interactive version is all about! You’ll definitely have to tell me. Can you view it through your iPhone, maybe? I mostly read on my Kindle. But with things that are not DRM-protected, or at least I have a key to (like the NetGalley ACSMs) I also open through my PocketBook app and make it read them aloud to me while I do chores. It’s really great for resting your eyes.

  4. I haven’t come across this one, but I love books about space. I’m always left with a mix of disappointment that it’s not like Star Trek and sheer awe at what we can do. Personally I’m going to have to wait till they make the bathroom situation a bit more civilised… 😉
    FictionFan recently posted…Force of Nature (Aaron Falk 2) by Jane HarperMy Profile

    1. I’m not sure they can 😀 space is tough! I’m actually completely baffled by what they DO do in space though. Considering we are not living a life of fiction. Real people’s power and strength in these situations really inspires me.

  5. This Book!!! This Review!!! Great review and you hit on a lot of really fun and serious points. I’ve heard a little of Scott Kelly’s backstory and now I want to read more. Also – I’ve never seriously considered the sci-fi gravity myth before and am trying to get the idea of space fluid dynamics 😛

    This sounds like a great read and wondering if the Hubs would like it for a Christmas gift (we may or may not be on the couch wearing matching NASA t-shirts right now). The 40 year-old astronaut fact will give him hope for a career change 🙂
    Mallory recently posted…Sunday Synopsis: Call Me a Cockeyed OptimistMy Profile

    1. I’m so glad you liked this 🙂 and I am sure Hubs would like it! If anything, this book is extremely inspiring and humbling at the same time (how is that even possible, right??) It sounds like a very good gift idea for me.

  6. What an absolutely perfect review Evelina! You totally make me want to read a book I couldn’t have less interest in reading!! I actually knew a lot about the realities of space as my writing partner ADORES books like this and is always telling me about different things that aren’t true or the reality of this or that, lol… But it sounds like he made learning the truth an absolute joy and fun!! So good… <3

  7. Endurance is one of those must reads for me, and your review is a major part of the reason it hits my list.

    I watched an interview with him last Sunday on TV, and above all–for ALL his accomplishments–he came off as being such a humble man. Something the world needs so badly these days.

    Lyse said, “Also–you have such a delightful blogging voice of your own! Your writing is a delight.” I couldn’t agree more.

    1. Yes! It seems like this guy really knows where his heart should be, which is part of why I enjoyed this book so much. And it’s also so very inspiring. I think you would really love that book, if only for the treasure troves of info it has in it. All that stuff I would have never known! Better than any documentary.
      And thank you!!

  8. You’re title absolutely drew me in, and I love the list review. It’s not just a list! It’s not just a review! It’s fabulous! I’ve been following Kelly here and there, and recently I read an excerpt from this book in Smithsonian Magazine. I was surprised by how readable and engaging the writing is. The magazine excerpt is from when he comes back to space and his legs swell up and something is very, very wrong. But I didn’t learn what! I’m not sure he knows what, either….

    1. Thank you! Yes, it’s very down to earth, although I guess it gets a little bit bogged down with the detail of his pre-space life, but I believe that also serves a big purpose of delivering a background message. This book was very inspiring and humbling at the same time (how does that even work, right?) so I believe most of us would benefit from reading it 🙂 I hope you can read it and that you like it. And I’m so glad you liked this review of mine, because I poured my heart and soul into it 🙂

      1. Like I said, I read an excerpt of this book in a magazine. That excerpt plus your review means I’m going to nominate this as my next book club pick! #ToInfinityAndBeyond

    1. Haven’t heard of that one yet! Although I am actually not very knowledgeable in actual spacemen, for a fan of space stuff 😀 thank you for the compliments! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  9. I love my sci-fi but what I am wary of about this book is that I am terrible at reading non-fiction. Unless written in a particular way I get bored quite easily… but this one really makes me interested because hey, I haven’t read a true account of a trip to space yet, and it feels like this one breaks a lot of thoughts that people have which aren’t necessarily true… You’ve got my interest caught!
    Olivia Roach recently posted…September Wrap Up 2017My Profile

    1. I actually thought that about nonfiction myself – until this year, up to the point when I read The Radium Girls. That changed everything for me, and I learned that nonfiction can be extremely powerful too. Also, a good way to “read” nonfiction is audiobooks 🙂 I don’t actually do real audiobooks, I just use an app that reads it back to me – but it’s very different listening to it while taking a walk rather than just sitting down with it. This book *might* bore you because some of his history is tedious. But if it’s possible to get in audiobook form then that might work 🙂
      Also, I wanted to thank you for leaving so many amazing long comments on my blog <3 thank you!

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