An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on EarthChris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut, became an internet celebrity during his last flight to the International Space Station in 2013. He shared what life on the ISS was like with those of us stuck on Earth through his “How to” Youtube videos, “Ask me anything” posts on Reddit, photos from space, Twitter account, and the first music video recorded in space, Chris Hadfield’s cover of Space Oddity.

After he got back from the ISS, Chris Hadfield published a memoir, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, which became a bestseller.

Summary

Chris Hadfield wanted to be an astronaut since he first saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon when he was 9 years old. He knew it was an impossible dream (Canada didn’t even have a space program yet and NASA only accepted U.S. citizens), but he thought that if he worked toward it anyway, maybe it would be possible some day down the road.

I tried to imagine what an astronaut might do if he were 9 years old, then do the exact same thing. Would an astronaut eat his vegetables or have potato chips instead? Sleep in late or get up early to read a book?

Since Chris Hadfield knew he was unlikely to ever be an astronaut, he made sure that he enjoyed and made the most of every step in his career. And when he did finally become an astronaut, he kept the same mentality toward space flight — that it might never happen, but he would work toward it and enjoy the process.

If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moments count, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time. Personally, I’d rather feel good most of the time, so to me everything counts: the small moments, the medium ones, the successes that make the papers and also the ones that no one knows about but me. The challenge is avoiding being derailed by the big, shiny moments that turn other people’s heads. You have to figure out for yourself how to enjoy and celebrate them, and then move on.

Review

I started following Chris Hadfield on social media while he was on the ISS, because I’ve always been fascinated by space and he does such a great job kindling that fascination. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth not only gives insight into what it’s like to be an astronaut, but Chris Hadfield also shares life lessons that would apply to anyone. I really liked this book. It’s interesting, insightful, and funny and I don’t think it could have been written by a more humble guy.

Book trailer

The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir was originally self-published in 2012 until Random House picked it up and re-published it in February 2014. I kept hearing praise for The Martian after the re-release, so I was excited to read it myself. I actually finished it a month ago, but I’m behind on blog posts right now. 😛

Summary

A fierce dust storm causes the crew of the Ares 3 mission to evacuate after only 6 days on Mars. As they’re leaving, NASA astronaut Mark Watney is impaled by an antenna. Assuming Watney has been killed (and unable to verify it because of the storm), the rest of the crew is forced to leave without him. By a stroke of luck, Watney survives, but he’s left alone on Mars with limited supplies and no way to contact Earth.

Review

loved The Martian. Loved it. It had me hooked from the first sentence: “I’m pretty much fucked.” It is thrilling and hilarious and a great blend of science and adventure.

Mark Watney is in an impossible situation, but his sarcastic sense of humor and MacGyver-like problem solving skills keep the book lighthearted in spite of the danger Watney is in.

The Martian is definitely my favorite book I’ve read so far this year and I’d probably list it among my favorite sci-fi books ever. I highly recommend it!