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There are three kinds of people in this world: 1) People who make lists, 2) People who don’t make lists, and 3) People who carve tiny Nativity scenes out of pecan hulls. I’m sorry, there isn’t really a third category; it’s just that a workable list needs a minimum of three items, I feel.

I am, as you might have guessed, a person who makes lists: daily to-do lists, long-term to-do lists, shopping lists, packing lists.

I am married to a man whose idea of a list is a corner torn off a newspaper page, covered with words too hastily written to later decipher, and soon misplaced or dropped on the floor. Every now and then, I’ll discover one of Ed’s lists in some forgotten corner of the house: Rescrangen polfiter, it will say. Pick up grellion. Bregoo! (underlined twice).

It isn’t entirely accurate to say that Ed has no formal to-do list. He does. It’s just that it isn’t Ed who makes it—it’s me. It’s easy enough: The same ten or 12 items, mostly involving home-repair projects abandoned midterm, have been on it for years. I once wrote it out for him and put it on the side of the fridge. When I glanced at it some months later, Ed had crossed nothing off, though he’d added a few items of his own: Make violin. Cure diabetes. Split atom.

    -Listing Toward Sanity? A List Maker Explains (Mary Roach, Reader's Digest)

As the plethora of links below demonstrate, Mary Roach is a ridiculously prolific author. Best known for her comedic books about the science of the human body--a field she pretty much has to herself--she also writes numerous book review for the New York Times, essays for everyone from EndGadget to Outside, and, unbeknownst to me, used to contribute a humor column, mostly about married life, for Reader's Digest. These last seem to have gone generally unnoticed because the Digest never put them online. But for those of us who missed them, they are collected here in one volume and it is fantastic.

Ms Roach's style in these pieces is a throwback to an earlier age, as she depicts a long running set of marital struggles that revolve around gender differences for the most part. In the process, she bids fair to the mantle of someone like James Thurber with her sharp observations and plaintive laments about the difficulties of reconciling the sexes. It is another example of our adage that "all comedy is conservative."


Grade: (A)


See also:

Gender Issues
Mary Roach Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Mary Roach
    -GOOGLE BOOK: My Planet by Mary Roach
    -HOUSE TOUR: Mary Roach's Nest: The Curious Charm of a Writer's Pad (Apartment Therapy)
    -EXCERPT: It's a gut reaction: how other people's bacteria can cure us: There are 100 trillion bacteria in the gut, and one US professor is convinced that transplanting them is the best way to combat gut infections (Mary Roach, The Observer)
    -EXCERPT: Yum and Yuck: On the Subjectivity of Taste: an excerpt from Mary Roach’s Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (WW Norton)
    -EXCERPT: from Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
    -LECTURE: Mary Roach Is Packing for Mars, Part 1: Podcast host Steve Mirsky recently attended a talk by author Mary Roach about her new book Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. In part 1 of this two-part episode, we'll hear that talk. (Scientific American, 8/20/2010)
    -VIDEO LECTURE: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Orgasm<./a> (Mary Roach, TED Talk)
-ESSAY: Why don't we do it in the lab?: It's the most natural thing in the world, but scientific research into what really happens when boy meets girl has long been stigmatised. So when Mary Roach heard about the latest advances in the study of sex, she decided to persuade her husband to volunteer ... (Mary Roach, 5/30/08, The Guardian)
    -PROFILE: Mary Roach Even Sampled Rat Bait to Study Animal Nuttiness: The author talked to The Daily Beast about all the mind-bending stuff she learned while writing her book “Fuzz,” about animals out of control. (Matt Hanson, Nov. 17, 2021, Daily Beast)
-ESSAY: The Marvels in Your Mouth (MARY ROACH, March 25, 2013, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Twelve steps in the end zone: Self-help for sports junkies (or the spouses who can't stand it). (MARY ROACH, 4/21/2000, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Listing Toward Sanity? A List Maker Explains: Do you like a well-written to-do list? Then you will find a friend in New York Times bestselling author Mary Roach, a lover of well-executed errands and all things you can cross off a Post-it. (Mary Roach, Reader's Digest)
    -INTERVIEW: In Digestion: Mary Roach Explains What Happens To The Food We Eat (Fresh Air, March 26, 2013)
    -INTERVIEW: with Mary Roach (Lightspeed, June 2011)
    -INTERVIEW: A literary gut check from author Mary Roach (MPR, 5/22/13)
    -THE MILLIONS INTERVIEW : Eat, Drink, and Read Mary: The Millions Interviews Mary Roach (DARRYL CAMPBELL, April 18, 2013, The Millions)
    -INTERVIEW: Why "A[**]hole" Is High Praise—and Other Anatomy Lessons With Mary Roach: More than you ever needed to know about fake poop, rectal smuggling, and weird diets (Sarah Zhang, Apr. 2, 2013, Mother Jones)
    -INTERVIEW: Cat Food Tasters and "Okra Snot": A Conversation with Mary Roach (The Kitchn)
    -INTERVIEW: Mary Roach on “Stiff”: The curious lives of human cadavers. (Jason Zasky, Failure)
    -INTERVIEW: with Mary Roach (Adrienne Martini, February 2006, Bookslut)
    -INTERVIEW: Getting it on for science: Bonobo porn, MRI sex, female Viagra. "Bonk" author Mary Roach on the scientific quest to understand arousal -- and how little we still know. (KATHARINE MIESZKOWSKI, 4/04/08, Salon)
    -INTERVIEW: Our man in Boston speaks Mary Roach, author most recently of Packing for Mars, about severed-hand fan mail, writing in an office, and Coke in space (Robert Birnbaum, 2/01/11, The Morning News)br>    -
-INTERVIEW: Engadget Animated: Mary Roach discusses the impact of space travel on the human body (Brian Heater, Mar 5th, 2013, EndGadget)
    -INTERVIEW: with Mary Roach (Matt Borondy, June 26, 2003, Identity Theory)
    -INTERVIEW: Geeks We Love:Author Mary Roach (JUDY BERNA, 03.03.11, Wired)
    -REVIEW: of COLD ADVENTURES IN THE WORLD’S FROZEN PLACES By Bill Streever. (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of HEAD CASES : Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath. By Michael Paul Mason (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review
    -The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession by Adam Leith Gollner (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Body of Work by Christine Montross (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The First Man-Made Man by Pagan Kennedy (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Human Remains by Helen MacDonald (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Body Brokers by Annie Cheney (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Colony by John Tayman (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Knife Man by Wendy Moore (Mary Roach, NY Times Book Review)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (Outside)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (BoingBoing)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (Inc)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (EndGadget)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (LA Times)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (NPR)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (Big Think)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (Salon)
    -ARCHIVES: "Mary Roach" (NY Times Book Review)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (Bookish)
    -ARCHIVES: Mary Roach (Byliner)
    -REVIEW: of My Planet (David M. Kinchen, Huffington Post)
    -REVIEW: of My Planet (P Faulhaber, Blog Critics)
    -REVIEW: of My Planet (Marc Velasquez, Chamber 4)
    -REVIEW: of My Planet (Failure)
    -REVIEW: of My Planet (Sincerely Stacie)
    -REVIEW: of My Planet (Rheta Van Winkle, Book Loons)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp by Mary Roach (Jon Ronson, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Steve Mirsky, Scientific American)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Anna Broadway, Paste)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Rachel Pomeramnce, US News)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Amy Stewart, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (AHMEE MARSHALL-CHRISTENSEN, Harvard Crimson)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Laurie Wiener, LA Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Brian Heater, Wired)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Azeen Ghorayshi, East Bay Express)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Bee Wilson, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (John Wilwol, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Alex Hutchinson, Runner's World)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Gulp (Alexandra Witze, Dallas Morning News)
    -REVIEW: of Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (G.M. Lord, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of BONK The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex By Mary Roach (Pamela Paul, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Bonk (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Spook : Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach (Kate Zerinke, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Six Feet Over : Adventures in the Afterlife by Mary Roach (Hilary Mantel, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Spook (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Stiff : The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (Michael Dibdin, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Stiff (Sabine Hossenfelder, Back Reaction)
    -REVIEW: of Stiff (Kirkus Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Stiff (Chad Driscoll, Oyster Boy Review)
    -REVIEW: of Stiff (Not Always On)
    -REVIEW: of Stiff (Roy Rivenburg, L:A Times)
    -REVIEW: of Fuzz by Mary Roach (Gretchen Lida, Washington Indepoendent Review of Books)

Book-related and General Links: