Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up and one of the most popular responses is one that makes parents swoon: an astronaut. This hopeful enthusiasm wanes when their son or daughter starts bringing notes home from the teacher, complaining that they have the attention span of gnat, and need to stop parkouring on school property. Mums and dads, take heart. This description isn’t far off from a young Scott Kelly, not the bookish type either, and yet it was a book he happened upon that dramatically changed the trajectory of his life: Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff. Kelly was so inspired by this examination of the courageous test pilots who made high speed flight and space exploration possible that he was able to channel all of his frenetic energy into achieving the goal of becoming one. Endurance traces this journey, and chronicles the year Kelly spent on the International Space Station, as well as the effects it had on his body (information NASA needs as they plan a mission to Mars). Kelly answers many of the questions we have about life in space, from the profound to the mundane (turns out astronauts give bad haircuts and unclog toilets like the rest of us earthbound peeps). He also imparts the lessons and wisdom gleaned from his extraordinary adventures. Chief among them, and especially apropos given the increasingly divisive world we live in: “Putting this space station into orbit…is the hardest thing that humans have ever done, and it stands as proof that when we set our minds to something hard, when we work together, we can do anything, including solving our problems here on Earth.” Endurance is a fascinating, moving, uplifting read. - Erin Kodicek
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