When science writer and humorist Mary Roach started her journalism career, she reported on health, medicine and the human body. “Science is the world,” Roach says. “Your body, your brain, your pets, your computer… it’s all science.”
Since 2004, Roach has been writing books, usually with one-word titles, on the human aspect of science. Her books include Spook, Bonk, Gulp and Packing for Mars.
On Sunday, June 23, Roach will visit the Eugene Public Library for a talk, Q&A and book signing. The 3 pm event is free and sure to be not only a scientific exploration, but a fun one at that.
“I’m not a hard core science writer,” Roach tells Eugene Weekly. “I try to keep it fun, so the talk should be fun.”
That Roach tries to keep it fun is an understatement. In her books, she dives deep into not just the mechanics of whatever scientific topic she’s exploring, but the often quirky human aspect of it.
Her first book, Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, explores the strange lives of dead bodies. Her newest book, Grunt: the Curious Science of Humans at War, takes you on the front lines of the exhaustion, heat and panic soldiers feel on active duty. As the book is described, “Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again.”
She says her inspiration comes from a “built-in curiosity” she has about the human body and the world around her.
“Because I’m almost always writing about the human body, I think my interest comes from the fact that I have one and I’m curious,” Roach laughs. “How does that thing work? You never get to see the inside of it, you never get to see your own skeleton, you don’t know how your guts work.”
Through her books, she finds things like this out, taking her readers along for the ride.
Roach calls writing a book “a magical key to doors you wouldn’t otherwise get to open,” and on Sunday she holds that door open for you. Stop in.