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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.

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

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4 years ago

I’ve never read a book by an astronaut or even considered it but now I totally am! It’s such a unique perspective and seems so interesting! Awesome post 🙂

4 years ago

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. 🙂

Paul Liadis
4 years ago

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
4 years ago

I picked up the other space book for 25 cents at my local library in a sale. I’d send it to you. Don’t know how much postage would be though…

Sim @ Flipping Thru the Pages

I like space things in general but haven’t actually read any book related to that. I loved your review. I am sure this book is superb but your review hust made it more awesome

Hayley @ RatherTooFondofBooks

I love books about space but I somehow hadn’t heard of of this one so I’m adding it to my list now. Your post about it is so great and I really enjoyed reading it… now I’m really looking forward to reading the book. 🙂

Jackie B.
4 years ago

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… Read more »

Jackie B.
3 years ago

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… Read more »

4 years ago

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… 😉

4 years ago

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… Read more »

Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

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

Patrick Sean Lee
Patrick Sean Lee
4 years ago

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.

Grab the Lapels
4 years ago

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….

Grab the Lapels
4 years ago

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

4 years ago

Wonderful review! This sounds like a really cool book 🙂 I’ll have to add it to my list!

I already knew some of those things, re: space but I do love the fact sci-fi handwaves most of it because MAGIC! 😛

Darius Jung
4 years ago

Another awesome post, as usual. You really make these fun! I’m a big fan of space exploration, too. I suppose I should do my patriotic duty now and plug a similar book, by Canadian Chris Hadfield, The Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. He’s a pretty awesome guy too!

Olivia Roach
4 years ago

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!


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