Best Book Club Pick #1: The Martian by Andy Weir
You might have heard of Andy Weir’s runaway bestseller—The Martian.
It was a mega-bestseller a few years back, and it achieved book-to-movie status with a cinematic translation starring Matt Damon.
(Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie version yet.)
I just finished the book, which completely defied my expectations. The ominous cover makes it seem as though it might be an alternate-planet version of The Castaway. I expected something stark and melancholy.
But the book is sort of funny.
It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but the personality of the MC is entertaining and surprisingly uplifting.
The book also presents some intellectual challenges, although it’s not an “intellectual” book. I learned a lot, and I think that most people would get something out of it.
The Martian also kept me reading. I would sit and read in 50-page bursts (or more) as I steadily flipped ahead… trying not to get ahead of myself.
Why The Martian is a Best Book Club Pick
Keep in mind, The Martian is not ideal for all book clubs. If there’s a member of your book club who’s offended by “language”—then this probably shouldn’t be your book club pick. There’s some “language” on the very first page.
But hey, the guy is stuck in Mars! Wouldn’t you use some “language” in that scenario?
The book is ideal for book clubs who want thrilling scenarios without excessive violence. It’s perfect for book clubs who enjoy sci-fi… and it’s even a great read for those who don’t typically enjoy sci-fi.
The book is certainly sci-fi, but it doesn’t read like “hard” sci-fi. Perhaps that’s because the main character’s personality dominates the book, making the scientific details feel secondary.
There are a lot of scientific details in the book. Honestly, I skimmed through some of these details to get onto the “juicier” parts. But I don’t feel like the book was too heavy on the details… those details just had to be in the book.
The man is trying to stay alive on Mars. It requires a lot of science to stay alive on Mars.
What Will Your Book Club Talk About?
The sky’s really the limit (actually… the outer limits of the universe are the “limits”) with what your book club can discuss.
The Martian’s publisher provides this discussion guide to facilitate conversation. Outside of the specific talking points in the discussion guide, I would recommend delving into some of these topics:
- How is The Martian similar to other survival stories y’all have read (or watched)?
- Is there anyone you know in real life who might handle being stranded on Mars with such finesse?
- Have you ever been stranded somewhere? Have you ever considered what you might do if you were stranded somewhere?
- How did this book’s portrayal of astronauts alter how you view astronauts?
- If another astronaut from the crew had been stranded, who might have fared the best? Why?
This book is really a “best book club pick” because you can spend hours discussing some of these questions.
There are also a host of activities you can use for fun, to follow up your discussion:
Ideas for Extension Activities
Since The Martian is all about problem-solving, you can use it to facilitate your book club’s ability to problem solve!
Consider these ideas:
- Make your own Martian-themed escape room. This site gives some ideas for escape room puzzle ideas that “spark joy and mystery.” Throw some space themes into the mix, and you’ll have yourself a stranded-on-Mars situation.
- Invite each member of the group to bring an interesting dish made with only one ingredient: potatoes. (You’ll understand why once you’ve read the book.) How many meal variations can be devised on a single-ingredient?
- Your book club can watch a space TV show or movie—then consider what might happen if one of those characters was stranded on Mars. What **** might go down there? And what if 2 of the space-movie characters were stranded, together? How would the interchange of those personalities affect the situation?
There are just so many places to go with this book, making The Martian truly a “best book club pick!” It’s an adventure story that your book club will remember for years to come.