‘The Martian’ and ‘Discovering Nature’

Book Reviews by Cos Barnes

The_Martian_2014Author Andy Weir presents an enticing tale of the astronaut who was left behind on Mars after a dust storm in “The Martian.” Assuming he was dead, his teammates returned to Earth, and he was left alone. I am not particularly a fan of sci-fi, but I was fascinated with the young man’s determination to stay alive.

The astronaut calls on all his training, realizing he had to have a pressure vessel, oxygen, radiation shielding, water, food and energy. Knowing he has to take care of himself for four years, he plans out his whole destiny. He keeps a log of what happens to him each day and it probably keeps him sane. Reruns of 1970s sitcoms provide his recreational outlet and he, too, finds how invaluable duct tape is to survival.

Weir’s book was first self-published.

25850“Discovering Nature, An Introduction to the World Outside” was published in 1958 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and is as pertinent to today’s gardener as it was then. Written by the late Charlotte Orr Gantz and illustrated by Charles Hargens, the book details Gantz’s quest as a child for fossils found near her home in the Catskills and shells found on family trips to Florida, Europe and Jamaica. She and her brother created a museum to show their treasures.

Gantz’s love of nature continued after she married a man who was as devoted to nature. They lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and developed part of their land into a bird haven. She established a more complete museum with all specimens labeled and catalogued.