Title: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
Author: Chris Hadfield (actual astronaut!)
Page count: 311 pages
Rating: 5/5 stars
Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. 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. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff.
You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Col. Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth-especially your own.
First off: my own Goodreads notes:
4.5 stars for a book that taught me loads about the life of an astronaut (and, very occassionally, some of its applications on earth). An interesting book for all space nerds who’d like to know more about the realities of space travel. I thoroughly enjoyed this, very minor issues aside.
Looking back, I have no idea why it’s 4.5 stars, nor what the “minor issues” might have been. So I’m just going to go ahead and say: it’s definitely a 5 star read, it’s one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year, and I highly recommend it.
If you’re a space nerd.
For real though, this book is an amazing insight into the real life of astronauts. We know the glory of lift-off, we know the viral video of Chris Hadfield playing David Bowie’s Space Oddity in actual space, we know the books and movies about people in space – but we never learn the sheer amount of preparation, testing, learning, more preparation, more testing, that goes into the job before you even leave the atmosphere. If you ever leave earth at all.
The book is about 3/4 autobiography, and 1/4 actual advice. And even then, not all the advice is actually applicable to us non-astronauts. But the advice we do get? Amazing. I’m genuinely taking some of it into account in my day-to-day worklife.
All in all, I’ve learned things I never expected to learn – or be interested in! – about the life of an astronaut. I’ve also learned that, contrary to what I originally believed, I do have some things in common with astronauts. I might not have the physical fitness (like, at all), I might not have the technical savvy or the calm personality. But I do have the curiosity, the interest in the world and the urge to constantly learn new things.
So if you’re like me, and you enjoy reading about lives completely different from yours, and you like reading about what things are really like IRL, and if you like advice scattered throughout books with all kinds of interesting stories, then this book is for you.
But I do still mostly recommend it for people who are interested in space to begin with.
If you’d like to know roughly what to expect, I recommend first watching Hadfield’s TED talk, which is also the video that brought me to the book in the first place: