2014 Community Read

The 2014 Centre County Reads/CALS Community Read of Mary Roach's Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void features a full slate of events, including a CALS-sponsored writing contest and roundtable discussion, and an opportunity to hear from the featured author. Please find details for these events below.  And make sure to check out the website of our partner, Centre County Reads, for a full rundown of the community read events! All events are free and open to the public.

Read 2013-2014 CALS undergraduate intern Hannah Burks's review of Packing for Mars in the Centre Daily Times by clicking here. Listen to Hannah read her view on WPSU's BookMark program here.


Deadline, "Writing the (Un)Known"

This writing contest is part of the 2014 Centre County Reads/CALS Community Read of bestselling author Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars, a playful inquiry into man’s exploration of our universe. By blurring the line between the known and the unknown, Packing for Mars shows outer space to be surprisingly familiar.

Enter your best writing—7,500 words or less—on what you perceive to be “(un)known” in one of the following categories:

  • Best Short Fiction
  • Best Poetry
  • Best Short Nonfiction
  • Best Entry for a Writer Under 18

$200 grand prize and additional prizes for winners in each category

Send your entry to cals@psu.edu. Be sure to include a cover letter with your name, address, contact information, and a brief biography. Winning entries to be displayed at Schlow Centre Region Library. View our winners and read their winning entries here.


"Writing Science for the Masses" Roundtable
April 8, 2014 | 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Schlow Centre Region Library (211 S. Allen Street), Downsborough Room

In this roundtable discussion, panelists will reflect on the task of translating the esoteric language of science into an accessible form, as well as on why cross-pollination between science and literature is crucial to the success of both fields. The discussion will feature three panelists—Amy Teitel, space historian and writer about the history of space, technology, and society in venues such as Scientific American and Popular Science; Alison Fromme, writer and leading contributor to The Science Writer's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age; and Penn State’s A’ndrea Messer, Senior Science & Research Information Officer, Research Communications. Following their opening statements, the panelists will invite questions from the audience. Click here to read a recap of this event.

A Voyage with Mary Roach

April 15, 2014 |7:00 p.m.
Penn State HUB Robeson Auditorium

Book signing to follow. Visitor Parking: HUB Parking Deck (next to the HUB on Shortlidge Road)

Join us for a cosmic conversation with bestselling author Mary Roach, who The Washington Post has dubbed "America's funniest science writer," as she talks about her adventures in researching Packing for Mars.

Mary Roach is the author of the New York Times bestsellers GULP: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, PACKING FOR MARS: The Curious Science of Life in the Void; STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; BONK: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex; and SPOOK: Science Tackles the Afterlife. PACKING FOR MARS is a New York Times Editor's Choice. STIFF has been translated into 26 languages, and SPOOK was a New York Times Notable Book. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Wired, The New York Times Book Review, the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, and Outside, and she is the recipient of many accolades and awards. Click here for a recap of this event.


Centre County Reads is sponsored by CALS, Centre County Libraries, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book; Schlow Centre Region Library; the State College, Phillipsburg-Osceola, Penns Valley and Bellefonte school districts; and Penn State’s University Libraries and Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library.

We also offer special thanks to our 2014 partners: AAUW; Barnes & Noble; Discovery Space Museum; Friends of Schlow Centre Region Library; NASA PA Space Grant Consortium; Penn State Astrobiology Research Center; and the Penn State Lunar Lions.