An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield

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My brother and I got each other this book for Christmas. We don’t know each other all that well, but we knew well enough that this book by the rock star of astronauts would be the perfect gift. Thanks, bro.

You grow up in a suburb of a blue collar city like Edmonton, it’s easy to forget how cool space is. We’re so focused on digging things out of the ground. My dad has always been a space buff, and my earliest memories are of watching Star Trek: TNG with him. Later, I started reading Carl Sagan. Let’s just say I have a healthy appreciation for the wonders of the universe (and a framed Carl Sagan quote on my wall). The space shuttle program ended a couple of years ago, and its ending sparked a renewed interested in space travel – we want what we can’t have, essentially.

That’s where Chris Hadfield comes in. Can I say, plainly, that Chris Hadfield is absolutely my favourite Canadian? Over three missions, he’s spent six months in space, and those are chronicled in this book. He also delves into his time as Chief CAPCOM commander, chief of international space station operations, and the path he took to becoming an astronaut (fighter pilot, test pilot, all of the university degrees). Throughout the book, he comes across as unashamedly human. From what I can tell, he didn’t have a ghostwriter, so that voice is all his. He’s like your incredibly successful, down-to-earth uncle who doesn’t shy away from discussing the more embarrassing lessons life’s taught him (the story about learning to play Rocket Man on the off chance he’d get to play onstage with Elton John is absolute gold) . He talks about space like Carl Sagan talked about space and he never seems preachy. That’s a rare skill, and in an age where space travel seems less and less relevant, it’s a necessary one.

Books read: 30

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