Review: What’s It Like in Space? by Ariel Waldman

I’ve tried my hand at a few space books before, but they almost all exclusively went over my head the minute they introduced mathematical equations into their works. So with this collection I was hoping for a more down-to-earth (punny) and accessible read. Thankfully, I got just what I was seeking with this one-of-a-kind deal.

Everyone wonders what it’s really like in space, but very few of us have ever had the chance to experience it firsthand. This captivating illustrated collection brings together stories from dozens of international astronauts—men and women who’ve actually been there—who have returned with accounts of the sometimes weird, often funny, and awe-inspiring sensations and realities of being in space.

“Maybe someday this book will be as quaint as books describing what it’s like to fly in an airplane.”

What’s It Like in Space? approaches a broad range of stories, from trying to describe what space smells like, falling asleep midair in the floating environment, seeing auroras from orbit, spacewalks, insects, burping, and sneezing in space (which I’d never even thought about before), and the difficulties of traveling back home and readjusting your body to the norm. The addition of the peculiar and eccentric artwork accompanying each story added immensely to the atmosphere.

Plus, the quiet allure behind each astronaut’s tale – equal parts terrifying and amusing – drove me to ponder and speculate with a childlike wonder. Speaking of which, here are some of my favorite takes on space:What_s It Like in Space? 1-- bookspoils

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What_s It Like in Space? 4-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 3-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 6-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 5-- bookspoils

 

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What_s It Like in Space? 9-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 8-- bookspoils

 

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Overall, What’s It Like in Space? was a spectacular joy to experience through words. And now more than ever am I eager for more of the similar.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying What’s It Like in Space?, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold

“…there’s getting to be less and less of me. Where will it end?”

I was originally drawn to this novella because of the peculiarity of “The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am.” I mean, how am I supposed to pass up a title like that?? And I went on to give it a shot when I saw that the novel was barely over 100 pages. However, I think I misread the blurb, thinking this would be about an old lady discovering something new about life. It wrote: The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am is a macabre twist on the notion that life “must be lived to the fullest.” So I read this and assumed that somewhere throughout this read we would have an adventure-esque trip.

What I got instead was the day to day of Mathea Martinsen, who’s almost a hundred, loves rhymes, and has social anxiety.

“There will be a community gathering next Sunday,” it reads. “All residents must attend!!!!” I gulp and read the rest of the flier as quickly as I can, just in case there’s something even worse there, but I don’t know what could be worse than what I’ve just read.”

And her talents include sorting cards and “also good at starting new rolls of toilet paper, I could unstick the first sheet without tearing it. ”

The trouble was that little to no captivating things occurred throughout, unless you consider it fascinating that Mathea’s tooth got stuck in the cucumber she was eating… Like, here’s literally everything that happened over the course of 100 pages: “I stole from the grocery store, gave Åge B. the time, buried a time capsule, baked rolls, turned up the hot plate, tried to plan my own funeral, tried to become a tree, and then the most difficult thing of all—I used the telephone, which was really too much for me—and yet I’m still sitting here in my apartment and I’m just as afraid of living life as I am of dying.” That’s the whole of it. There’s no exciting adventures, no meeting kindred spirits, no engaging dialogue. Nothing.

The stream of consciousness writing, similar to that of Suicide by Edouard Levé, was unfortunately another negative in my book. It came off as disjointed and difficult to get into. This read would’ve been more enjoyable as a short story than a novella, in my opinion.

Ultimately, The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am just wasn’t what I was expecting, and it didn’t surprise me for the better with it. However, I am glad to have read my first translated Norwegian fiction with this, since I’ve been wanting to check that box off my list for awhile now.

2.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth 3-- bookspoilsThis book contains many stories, big and small, about and pertaining to the following things: Gods, monsters, mad kings, wise old crones, shamans, medicine men, brothers and sisters, strife, mystery, bad science, worse geography, and did we already mention true love?

I’ve had my sight on this graphic novel for nearly a year, so I was sad to see myself barely pushing through it now. The set up for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth sounded right up my alley, but the execution turned out to be less so.

Since this has many adventurous short stories set throughout the book, I was waiting patiently for some much need correlation to occur, but it never did… With Greenberg’s The One Hundred Nights of Hero I cherished the fact that each tale was either a prequel or sequel of sorts. But the narrative became tedious real quick with the many unrelated anecdotes thrown your way. You get to meet this new set of characters, but then you never see them again for it to make sense why they showed up in the first place. They had no real purpose other than to fill the pages of this book.

That’s not to say that all is bad, I did really enjoy the numerous fourth wall breaks and the skilled storyteller protagonist with his rather-quick-of-wit and savvy tales. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth 9-- bookspoilsPlus, the art had some heart-stopping moments throughout:The Encyclopedia of Early Earth 1-- bookspoils

That last line in parentheses had me crack a smile.

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Stitched Panorama


All in all: Though my hope that Greenberg had penned another gem was squandered, I’m still grateful that I got to read this graphic novel after months of anticipation.

3/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!