An Astronaut's Guide To Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield

Genre: Non-Fiction/Science/Autobiographical
Synopsis: Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. The secret to Col. Hadfield's success-and survival-is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst-and enjoy every moment of it. In An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks, and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement-and happiness.


Review: I'm a little bit biased here, because I have a deep-set interest in space exploration and admiration for those who do it. I also adore Chris Hadfield in particular because he is one of the only people in the profession (formerly) who engages with the public on a hyper-accessible level, generating interest in and support for the space program.

Now that's out of the way, on to the book. There are two main facets to this book - one, as the title suggests, is a collection of perspectives and attitudes, to both work and everyday life, which Hadfield has developed and cultivated over the course of his varied career. He reinforces these with examples from the second facet - a relatively detailed insight into what is involved in becoming, and in performing the duties of, an astronaut. I loved both. If there is nothing at all else to be gained from this book, it perfectly illustrates how - no matter how fancy or important your work is - nobody is exempt from getting a bee inside their helmet at an extremely opportune moment. Nobody is exempt from having to fix a toilet once in a while. Nobody is inherently more important or better than anyone else. And those are great things to know. Additionally, he is realistic about what it takes to be successful - believing you can do something is not enough, you need to figure out a logical, long-term plan of action and work hard to achieve every step. The easiest way to do that - love every step for what it is, not for what you hope it will ultimately lead to.

The second facet of this novel, as I said, is the insight into the career path and daily workload of someone hoping to become/who becomes an astronaut - the kind of little things you could only find out from someone who has done the done. Facts about the immensely complex support structure at NASA, the actual statistical likelihood of becoming an astronaut, and even when you are, of going to space. Of the kinds of tests and simulations and unlikely qualities and exertion required - physical and mental - in order to succeed at the job. Chris offers an abundance of details and interesting facts which will fascinate, and in some cases horrify, anyone who has ever dreamt of being an astronaut.

My only issue with the book is that it meandered quite a bit, meaning I often read through Chris's reasoning long before realising his point, as well as having several points and catchphrases repeated at irregular intervals. A better editor might have made this book a five star, but I loved it all the same.

Rating: 4/5

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