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An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
Published by Little, Brown and Company on October 29th 2013
Buy on Book Depository
This was my first audiobook, and I’m not convinced it’s a format for me. I love podcasts, and that’s how I get my news, but audiobooks are a lower priority. Plus, podcasters talk faster with more flow. So that may have impacted my enjoyment of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.
That really wasn’t a strong or positive introduction to Chris Hadfield’s memoirs. For the people who don’t know him by name, Chris Hadfield is the Canadian astronaut who sang Space Oddity on the International Space Station.
Chris wrote An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth to share the advice that helped him. He’s inter-mixed the advice with memoirs of his career and his time on the ISS. He has definitely had a fascinating life, but I’m not sure this book was the best way to share his story. The advice distracts from the memoirs and neither really flow. Or again, maybe it was the audiobook format. Since writing the first paragraph, I’ve listened to and loved other audiobooks, albeit still at 1.25 speed. Maybe it was Chris’ book?
The lessons Chris tells are useful, and some go against general convention. In space the small stuff is life or death, so an ongoing theme is to sweat the small stuff. He also describes the number of times he made himself a zero. In this case, a zero isn’t an insult; it’s neutral. A leader is a one. A slacker is in the negative. A zero is part of the team and supports whoever is the one at the time.
Chris includes some of NASA’s processes. I loved hearing about how post event/activity reviews. It was a strong analysis without personality. I wish I had the physical book to look that back over.
Towards the end, Chris talks about his social media success, orchestrated by his son. It felt out of place, but the marketer in me loved hearing how everything came about, and the stats. I understand why it had to be included: we know him from the Space Oddity video. I also learned that David Bowie did grant a license for the song. I had heard differently.
Grab An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. I’d love to know if it was just me or it was the format.
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