June 27th, 2020

Book 4 - 2019

Book 4: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield - 311 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Back on the earth after three spaceflights, Chris Hadfield's captivating memoir An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth reveals extraordinary stories from his life as an astronaut, and shows how to make the impossible a reality.

Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4,000 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, been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft, and become a YouTube sensation with his performance of David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' in space. The secret to Chris Hadfield's success - and survival - is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst - and enjoy every moment of it.

In his book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Chris 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 counter-intuitive 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 Colonel Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights in this book will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth - especially your own.

I'd never even heard of Chris Hadfield till I happened to be visiting the Aircraft Carrier Intrepid in New York one day last year. I'd not realised until after my last trip to New York that the Intrepid was also the home of the Enterprise, the 'pre' shuttle that fans of Star Trek had petitioned to have named after the famous starship. Geeky old me stood awe struck looking at the big old shuttle and then, while wandering the pavilion, discovered a headset playing a video clip. The clip was of Chris Hadfield and the lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies singing a song about the International Space Station. One particular line moved me: 'That ball of shiny blue houses everybody anybody ever knew'. I got home from my trip to New York two weeks later and ordered Chris Hadfield's book about his time in space. Chris seems like a nice bloke (he's Canadian after all!), and his stories in this book are pretty cool. However, I did find myself dragging a bit reading this, mostly because its kind of repetitive, and focuses too much on the lessons (which I get given that's the title, but still), and not enough on the great stories from space. Moreover, while Chris' lessons sound great for someone wanting to go to space, or even just generally, they simply aren't as applicable down here on Earth in a 'regular' job. I'd love to be able to practice something 50 times before doing it once, but my boss would have a little issue with that (i.e. I'd get no work done!). That being said, Chris' desire to focus on the future, and to see everything as a learning experience are great, and I agree with his view of the humbling nature of space (how big can my problem really be, when I'm literally a tiny speck in a moment in time?). I think this book, like everything Chris seems to do, is well-intentioned, genuine, and earnest, and if taken in that light, its a great read. But I do really wish he'd talk more about actual space!

4 / 50 books. 8% done!

882 / 15000 pages. 6% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
Notorious Nineteen
by Janet Evanovich - 302 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Saga: Volume 3
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 144 pages
  • Current Music
    Replicas on Netflix