The Martian, by Andy Weir
"I'm pretty much fucked. That's my considered opinion."
That's how this book begins, and it is, unfortunately, how you are too if you want to read it. It was available on Kindle, astonishingly cheaply, but is no more, as Weir recently sold publication rights to Random House. It is scheduled for re-release in February 2014.
[update: 2014-04-28: and lo, it is available from the nice Mr. Amazon.]
It is the tale of how, after an accident on a manned mission to Mars, one astronaut is left behind, his fellow crew members believing him to be dead, and how he survives. Our Hero, Mark Watney, is primarily a botanist, but has also been cross-trained as a mechanic and has some background in chemistry, and it's a simple story of how he uses these skills to overcome problem after problem, difficulty after difficulty, to survive, regain the ability to communicate, and eventually to be rescued. It is a paean to creativity, stubbornness, and to having paid attention in school.
For the vast majority of the story Watney is the only character, and thankfully he feels like a real person. The few other incidental characters are also fleshed out enough that we can sympathise with them. The story bounces across the Martian landscape at a steady pace, and it's hard to put the book down. And Weir has a wonderful turn of phrase:
" Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped. "
I loved this book, and if only you could read it you would too. Make a note in your diary so that it reminds you to buy a copy next year when it becomes available again. In the mean time, Weir has several other works available on his website.