10- In Print – Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth”

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I was at the library the other day and this was one of the first books I saw. It looked welcoming enough, and I had heard and seen quite a bit of praise around it, so I took it. I waved my magical library card and I was off.

When it got home with me, it sat on my desk, untouched for a few days. It got buried under my growing pile of notes and mail. Until I started clearing up my mail, then did I remember that I had this book. So I opened it and read.

After flipping through the title page, and a black and white picture of what I assume is Chris spacewalking on the Canadian arm of the ISS, I got to the introduction. One of my first thoughts as I began reading was, this Chris is good at describing things, I got some pretty good pictures forming in my head. He’s no poet, but that’s the beauty of it. I could tell he had an organized mind. His prose has a step by step progression to it. Content wise, well, I’ve never read anything by an astronaut before, but I’m glad this one did.

It had some things that I needed to hear in it. And his voice held enough merit that the stubborn side of me didn’t want to ignore it. I read a couple of chapters and put the book down. Honestly I didn’t pick it up again until days later, but I had thoughts of it here and there. Shower and bus stop thoughts mostly.

After a couple of days, I panicked a little not remembering when it was due, and started reading it again. That’s the kind of book this is to me. No Dean Koontz one sitting story, but a stop and go thinker. It’s probably my lack of a dream to travel to space, but I had less of the thrill or suspense and more of a calm appreciation for these chapters.

Besides the glossy pictures in the middle, there are some pretty memorable bits in there. The bits on confronting fear, the importance of preparation, and it’s all about the details, have stuck the most so far. This behind the scenes book, of course, included some great anecdotes, some I even laughed out loud to.

Ultimately I see this book as more of a landing than a take-off. It’s not as out of this world as one may think. Chris brings it all back to Earth. There’s an analogy for almost every story in space, that takes us back to the life most of us know. Along with correcting assumptions and stereotypes of astronauts, this is a book of people. I’ve taken it as a book about family, dreams, and all the teamwork it takes to achieve them.

I haven’t finished this book yet, but I know I’m going to read every last word. Yes, even the sleeve.

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I’ll probably read some more tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.
– a.sea

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