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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 Paperback – April 14, 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 627 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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."―The Wall Street Journal

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

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

"Houston, we have a superstar."―Washington Post

"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

"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

"Our planet's one-man ambassador to the universe."―Gothamist

"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

"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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (April 14, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316253030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316253031
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (627 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
This is a diamond of a book. And saying that it will change your life is no bit of hyperbole. Chris Hadfield is positively inspired - and inspirational - as he weaves together his life story and the lessons we can learn from his adventures. Hadfield tells his life story not in the traditional, chronological manner but rather by pulling together relevant experiences and thoughts from throughout points in his life to paint a "big picture" in every chapter. In doing so, his book is incredibly effective as a motivational guide for life and how to better live it. His opening line: "The windows of a spaceship casually frame miracles." gives you a sense of what the book holds and that it is, indeed, something very special.

This book, however, is not merely a glossy, feel-good piece of fluff. Hadfield directly addresses life's dark sides too - the chapter on the power of negative thinking is one of the most insightful examinations of the topic I have ever read, while other passages about the space shuttle tragedy and the preparation of "death plans" that every astronaut makes prior to going into space are among those that show Hadfield is the real deal when it comes to a thorough examination of life. His voice has a certain authenticity, making you feel as though he is sitting in the chair next to you, reviewing in full detail the experiences he has had - the positive, the negative, and even the mundane - and weaving a portrait for you of your spot in the cosmos.

I read this in one sitting, over the course of several hours, interrupted by only my frequent pauses from reading to write notes and questions for review later. Because, in the end, Hadfield never tells us how to live or what we should change. His voice shares his stories, turning them into the bigger pictures, and then it gently prompts us to reflect and ask ourselves questions we have never thought to ask ourselves before. One of the best books I have ever read.
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