Why The Martian is librarian Steph Fuller's book of choice
This week, Steph Fuller, library assistant at Rustington Library, tells us why The Martian by Andy Weir is her “not quite favourite book".
“I’m not someone who can read a book twice. The thrill of a story unfolding in my mind’s eye – quite literally turning the pages of my imagination – is what makes me an avid reader. There are those of us to whom giving up on a book is an unforgiveable act, and then there’s the group of readers who simply cannot waste another moment on a story that doesn’t grab them by the neck and pull them firmly into the folds of the fictional realm. I’m in the latter club – you will lose me within fifty pages if I can’t engage with a likeable charact er or be sucked in with vivid description of the setting.
“I need to be in Mrs De Winter’s shoes, feeling her terror in the face of Mrs Danvers’ scorn in Du Maurier’s Rebecca. I want to feel the heat of the Mississippi afternoon sun drenching my back while I drink in the outrageous daring of sassy maid Minny delivering her revenge to the racist middle-class white women of 1960s Jackson in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. The best kind of stories make you the hero or heroine; you live the characters’ delights and despairs with each word ingested. I have been a lover of great stories for as long as I can remember. However, my husband of twenty years – not so much. Uuntil about four years ago, he would only pick up a car magazine to read and found extreme irritation with the enthusiastic attention I could give to a book. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade him to read novels. And then I found The Martian by Andy Weir. This book changed everything. This was the book that transformed my logical engineer-brained fact-loving other half into a story-reader. I often look out for new or recommended titles online and then order them from the library service, and am very easily attracted by an interesting-looking cover, and this is exactly how I came across this book.
“The Martian is set, unsurprisingly, on Mars, where our hero – American astronaut and botanist, Mark Watney – is stranded after a space mission gone wrong. With vast amounts of wit and ingenuity he must adjust to his surroundings, dwindling supplies and dire predicament to survive. This is one of those extremely rare books that literally had me laughing out loud, whilst simultaneously gripping my seat – heart pounding – as I tried to strike a balance between speed-reading to reach safety from a certain-death situation to purposefully slowing myself to draw out the story. There was a fair bit of technical stuff enveloped within the fiction, which made it all totally believable, and I knew this was the path to acceptance for the non-reader of my house! I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say that this story kept me entertained throughout the entire journey and all the way to the final destination. The Martian is not my favourite book (although the aforementioned two are right at the top of my favourites list!), but it is one I value very highly because, after reluctantly agreeing to read it, my husband became a story addict. For him, this book opened the doors to reading for enjoyment, escapism and relaxation. Now he gets me when I’m completely immersed in a new hardback – he wants me to hurry up and finish so he can jump in too. Sometimes I order two copies of the same book from the library service so we can read them together!"
All West Sussex Libraries are closed, but they’ve introduced a virtual hub of online services, all accessible from home. Borrow eBooks, explore family and local history content, check out the latest offerings etc: https://arena.westsussex.gov.uk/web/arena/currentoffer
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