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An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything Hardcover – October 29, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


A Slate Staff Pick for Best Books 2013

"A very human glance into a rarified world.... The vacuum of space is unforgiving and brutal. Life on earth isn't easy, either. Mr. Hadfield has genuinely and refreshingly increased our understanding of how to thrive in both places." -- Wall Street Journal

"This memoir is part fascinating view, part Boy Scout manual." -- New York Times

"A satisfying behind-the-scenes look at the life of an astronaut.... A page-turning memoir of life as a decorated astronaut." -- Kirkus

"Hadfield proves himself to be not only a fierce explorer of the universe, but also a deeply thoughtful explorer of the human condition, capable of articulating those most universal of inquiries in simple yet profound language.... The book itself is absolutely spectacular." -- Brain Pickings

"Hadfield is a genius, a man of science and technology and no first-timer to the universe." -- New York Post

"Thoroughly engaging.... In a low-key style, he makes a persuasive case that the oft-derided Space Station is both a marvel of engineering and a triumph for science, and he paints the cartoon heroism of the NASA astronaut corps in a much more realistic, and yet in many ways even more admirable, light."―Corey S. Powell, American Scientist

"Lessons from his new book, AN ASTRONAUT'S GUIDE TO LIFE, are so inspiring that it's hard to decide which one to tell you about." -- USA Today

"Hadfield is a good writer with an engaging style.... From his photos of Earth from space to his videos showing the daily grind of life on a 100-meter wide orbiting tin can, he is all about real life." -- Slate

"Riveting, dramatic and intensely engrossing, Hadfield's engaging style as a writer puts you right alongside this almost absurdly compelling gentleman as he climbs the ladder from Canadian fighter pilot through two space shuttle missions and, ultimately, his serving as commander of the ISS." -- The Huntington Beach Independent

"Hadfield takes readers on a fascinating and exciting journey while offering insightful-if somewhat unconventional -- wisdom applicable to everyday life here on Earth." -- Bookpage

About the Author

Chris Hadfield is one of the most seasoned and accomplished astronauts in the world. In May 2013, Hadfield returned to Earth after serving as Commander of the International Space Station, where he and his crew lived for five months (his third mission). The top graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School in 1988 and U.S. Navy Test Pilot of the Year in 1991, Hadfield was selected to be an astronaut in 1992. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316253014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316253017
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (560 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Chris Hadfield
Astronaut, Former Commander of the International Space Station

"Good morning, Earth." That is how Colonel Chris Hadfield--writing on Twitter--woke up the world every day while living aboard the International Space Station for over five months. Since blasting off from Kazakhstan in December 2012, Hadfield has become a worldwide sensation, harnessing the power of social media to make outer space accessible to millions and infusing a sense of wonder into the collective consciousness not felt since man first walked on the moon. Called "the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong" by the BBC, Hadfield, now safely back on Earth, continues to bring the glory of science and space travel to everyone he encounters.

Hadfield is the pioneer of many firsts. In 1992, he was selected by the Canadian Space Agency as a NASA Mission Specialist - Canada's first fully-qualified Space Shuttle crewmember. Three years later, he was the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in space, and the first Canadian to board a Russian spacecraft as he helped build the Russian space station 'Mir'. In 2001, he performed two spacewalks - the first Canadian to do so - and in 2010 the CSA and NASA announced Hadfield's third mission: commanding the International Space Station (ISS)--again a first for a Canadian.

Hadfield launched into space on December 19, 2012 and took command of the ISS in March. His multiple daily Tweets and photographs from space made people see the world differently. His accessibility, whether answering questions such as, "How do you wring out a washcloth in space," via Skype or collaborating with The Barenaked Ladies for a song sung by nearly a million people simultaneously, endeared him to all while he orbited Earth.

A heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, Hadfield's many awards include receiving the Order of Ontario, the Meritorious Service Cross, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He was named the top Test Pilot in both the US Air Force and the US Navy, and has been inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. He is also commemorated on Canadian postage stamps, Royal Canadian Mint silver and gold coins, and on Canada's new 5 dollar bill.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Jays fan on November 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is not a typical memoir-- it's not organized chronologically, from childhood to the present day. Instead of following a linear time line, Col. Hadfield uses his experiences to illustrate larger points and themes, which makes the book much more compelling and readable than the usual celebrity memoir. (Of course, the guy isn't your usual celebrity, either -- he's famous for actually having DONE something.) For instance, there's a whole chapter on the power of negative thinking and how that has helped him "neutralize" his own fear. He's not telling you how to live your life, only how he's lived his, but the book forces you to ask certain questions of yourself, while the narrative powers along at a fast clip because his life has just been so damned interesting and unusual. There's a lot more to him than was evident on Twitter, starting with a dry sense of humor. I inhaled this book and came away from it not just entertained but thinking in a slightly different way about life, the universe and everything. Highly recommended.
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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Ryan J. Dejonghe TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Col. Chris Hadfield is a rock-star quality astronaut followed by millions of people--I am one of them. My first exposure came from a session his son Evan set up on Reddit late last year called "ask me anything". A user, in regards to Hadfield being in space for five months, asked, "Won't you be lonely?" Hadfield replied, "In the centre of every big city in the world, surrounded by noise and teeming millions of people, are lonely people. Loneliness is not so much where you are, but instead is your state of mind." And it is that same insightful outlook that can be found throughout this book, AN ASTRONAUT'S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH. (see p. 218 for a re-sharing).

Most of what people love about Hadfield appears here: him playing the guitar while looking out the cupola's window; looking down upon the beauty of earth during a spacewalk; problem solving everyday situations that we take for granted here on earth. Hadfield relays the story of his life and tells of the obstacles he's overcome, along the way laying down practical pieces of advice. He tells us to prepare for every possible scenario, work diligently toward our goal, and enjoy even the smallest pieces of life along the way.

Readers not already familiar with Hadfield, but are fans of space travel and life in space will still love this book. He remains true-to-form in this book, with the similar voice from YouTube videos and other online appearances. He talks about everything from clipping his nails to fixing a toilet while in space. Along with the mundane facts, come riveting adventures like traveling in the new Russian Soyuz (or better yet, the fear of coming back down) and walking out in space to fix a mission-threatening ammonia leak.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have so many good things to say about this book I don't think they'll all fit into one review (for my full review, including my four-year-old's reaction to it, please visit my blog, Cozy Little Book Journal). Here's some of what I thought about the book:

Chris Hadfield knew he wanted to be an astronaut when he was nine years old. In fact, he remembers the exact moment he knew. It was late in the evening on July 20, 1969. That's when his entire family, spending the summer in Stag Island, Ontario, "traipsed across the clearing" to their neighbour's cottage so they could crowd themselves in front of the television and watch the moon landing. "Somehow," he writes, "we felt as if we were up there with Neil Armstrong, changing the world."

Hadfield writes about this early experience--and many, many of the other experiences that have led him to become the world's most recognized astronaut since Armstrong himself--in his new book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.

I would have read this book a lot faster if I hadn't kept stopping every few pages to run out to tell my family what I'd just read. Magda didn't mind. She asked me to read aloud to her from the book every chance I got. At 4, I'd venture to say she knows more about space than most Canadians ten times her age, and we have Colonel Chris Hadfield to thank for that.

His videos from space captured her imagination and mine. Thanks to him, Magda has spent the better part of the year learning everything she can about space exploration and astronauts, and has even composed several songs dedicated to female astronauts she admires ("Julie Payette Rocket" and "You are the Moon, I am the Sun [for Suni Williams]").
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Moosie on February 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Don't get me wrong, reading about the ins and outs of astronaut recruitment and life is interesting. That said, I was hoping for more relatable tidbits about the hard parts of life and work and how he, in arguably one of the hardest and most stressful jobs on and off the planet, was able to overcome them. However, almost the entirety of the story was about him working very, very hard and making the right choices and being patient. That's all well and good, but I didn't want to hear the boy scout edition of the story. I wanted to hear the real, gritty truth about marriage, family, co-workers, stress, preparation, career advancement from someone who achieved what Hadfield did. I didn't find that here, so it was hard for me to emotionally attach. A lot of it felt like a mini-lecture from an older sibling or a professor.

However, there are some anecdotes from this book that I thought were extremely useful for explaining human behavior, particularly in the workplace. Those were definitely worth it.
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