I have to admit that whilst Chris Hadfield was in space, becoming a thoroughly modern astronaut, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention; I only remember an astronaut on the news with an awesome tash and a guitar. However as I’m always on the look out for books with a fresh flavour, this memory was all it took for me to jump at the offer of a proof of Hadfield’s book.
I adore books that teach me but I really don’t like ones that preach- like, really don’t. From the outset it was clear that Chris Hadfield is an innately positive guy, and on the first few hints at this eternal optimism, I grew concerned that I might have to grit my teeth through 250 pages of ‘silver linings’ and ‘bright sides’. (Please bear with me, I am a happy person really) Thankfully, Paul McKenna he is not and my overall impression of the book was that it was life affirming in a digestible and well-considered way. Spending 5 months away from the entirety of humanity is in my opinion, warrant enough to write a book about its significance. However the purpose of this book isn’t just to be life affirming, it is also greatly educational and entertaining.
Chris Hadfield does a great job of explaining to us mere earth dwellers (my words not his) what it takes to become an astronaut, what it is to be an astronaut and how it feels to no longer be one. And he does this with no hint of patronisation or superiority, somehow managing to explain complex technical procedures without drifting into places uninhabitable by my little fluffy brain.
Thanks to this book I can now fully appreciate the importance of space travel and could confidently counter the commonly heard plea of “What a waste of money!”. I think that this was Commander Hadfield’s purpose in writing the book, using his accidental celebrity to educate a wider population than most astronauts could ever hope of reaching. And he does so with stylish character, witty anecdotes generously pepper the book, one particularly memorable involving Elton John and his song ‘Rocket Man’.
I am grateful to Hadfield for writing this book as it has sparked an interest in space exploration and human endeavour that I never knew I had and I would certainly recommend it to anyone.