Spacewalker by Jerry Ross
I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of this through NetGalley just before a recent trip to the Space Coast in Florida.
I am a great fan of astronaut memoirs, while I can appreciate the beauty and engineering of space craft it is the human stories that really interest me. I've read many of the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo memoirs and I am on the look out for translation of Russian memoirs and Space Shuttle era books too.
A few months ago NetGalley offered Reaching for the Stars by the first Mexican Astronaut but due to the style of the book (Hernandez appears to have written it in English although this isn't his first language or translated it himself) I had to give up - it didn't flow at all and I wasn't captivated by the story enough to persevere with it.
Spacewalker by Ross on the other hand was a treat from cover to cover. He manages a nice blend of technical details, family details and impressions of space to make the book readable and enjoyable. He had to work hard to get where he did and isn't afraid to talk about the failures in his own life and in the space program overall.
In total Ross took flew on 7 missions, including the very first mission to construct the International Space Station. He was an expert spacewalker and was the only astronaut to be involved with the entire lifespan of the Space Shuttle.
What was even luckier was that while we were in Florida Jerry Ross was at the Kennedy Space Center giving talks on 3 days and so I got to hear him in person and to tell him how much I liked his book.
It might be that the Space Shuttle program doesn't seem to be as captivating as the early missions but with memoirs like this around this could easily change.