The Martian by Andy Weir
For starters let's clear the air. I don't read space books. I just, don't. However, after seeing the many, many positive reviews and ratings, I decided to bite the bullet and finally read a space book. (Don't worry- there aren't aliens and it's not sci-fi. Essentially an astronaut gets left behind on Mars and has to survive in extremely bleak circumstances.)
Before making it to the end of the first chapter, I was sucked into the story and wanted to see if Mark Watney would be able to survive on Mars.* I can imagine that if I were in his situation, I'd binge eat all of my food, sit down and cry, and give up all hope. Instead, because he's a man and not a very hormonal 23-year old woman, he quickly establishes his plan for survival and uses his skills as an engineer and botanist to see it through. Making your own soil and growing hundreds of potatoes from a small handful of potatoes? Brilliant. And over time as things start to break and nothing goes according to plan for Watney or NASA, it's incredibly interesting to read the different points of view and see the cycles of hope and despair on both individual and global levels.
*I feel like if I ever watched TV, I would get sucked into Survivor or any of those outdoor survival shows. Survival stories are fascinating!
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he 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 isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?