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Madison County Reads

Madison County Reads is a community program sponsored by the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library that encourages everyone in the county to read the same book or the works of a single author during one month. The library has been hosting this month-long program every spring since 2002. This year's Madison County Reads will be held in March 2017.

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach is the focus of this year's Madison County Reads. But don't stop there--we also encourage you to explore other books related to Mars and space travel! To enhance the reading experience, the library will be offering:

  •    Various speaker events
  •    Hands-on programs
  •    Crafts
  •    Science clubs
  •    Storytimes
  •    Special events

There will be opportunities at all of the branches across Madison County, and all of these will relate to references and themes from Packing For Mars. This year, we have partnered with Marshall Space Flight Center to bring you a variety of programming.

Huntsville-Madison County Public Library invites you to read along with us for the month of March. Explore the red planet with us and celebrate space. We welcome the chance to share this year's selection with you.

Please visit our Madison County Reads LibGuide at for more information and fun activities.

Follow Madison County Reads on Facebook at

About the Author

Mary Roach is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human CadaversGulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal; Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void; and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. Her most recent book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, came out in June 2016.

Mary has written for National Geographic, Wired, Discover, New Scientist, the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, and Outside, among others. She serves as a member of the Mars Institute's Advisory Board and the Usage Panel of American Heritage Dictionary. Her 2009 TED talk made the organization's 2011 Twenty Most-Watched To Date list. She was the guest editor of the 2011 Best American Science and Nature Writing, a finalist for the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize, and a winner of the American Engineering Societies' Engineering Journalism Award, in a category for which, let's be honest, she was the sole entrant.


About the Book

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? Have sex? Smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour?

To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.