Book Review: ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’ by Colonel Chris Hadfield

Most of us nerds got a good idea of who Chris Hadfield is from his youtube videos last year filmed on the International Space Station. For the last few years the Mars rovers have been the sexy at NASA with the demise of the shuttle, the hitchhiking on Russian craft, oh and that psycho cross-country drive diaper caper really doing a number on NASA astronaut public image. But then Chris Hadfield and mustache came along and fixed it all up again. After a gap of 20 or so years I find myself wanting to be an astronaut when I grow up again.

So I approached this book with some delight, expecting some fun stories from his time in space; how they go to the toilet etc. Which is what you get, to some degree, but you get so much more. The same man who has enough passion to make those videos and promote space exploration so well in that medium can also write a hugely inspiring, humble and insightful work on his life, his philosophies and the universe.

Dotted between the stories of Chris’ years working at NASA are wonderful insights into behavior such as how to take criticism, how to learn not to worry and plan instead, how to constructively think negatively, how to keep yourself inspired and set and achieve goals. And most importantly how not to be an asshole while doing it. These lessons meant more to me than other ‘life lessons’ that you see in the bookstores under self-help or inspiration. This advise made more practical sense than any quote I have seen attributed to the Dalai Lama or some such. But I don’t think this type of inspiration is for everyone. I think it will be most applicable to the engineering/scientist type mindset, just like Chris himself.

So this book comes most highly recommended. I felt at times that I was right alongside Chris in parts of his journey and I listened intently to his wisdom on how to be a person with integrity, humility, determination and a sense of humour.

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