Michal Paszkiewicz

review: An Astronaut's Guid to Life on Earth

Astronauts make me jealous - they get paid to learn rocket science and some of them get to go to space! I think it is understandable that when Chris Hadfield's Space Oddity video came out, I was unperturbed. I had never really liked Bowie's music, the guitar part wasn't particularly hard and the astronaut was lucky to be the one to get to record the video that so many rising musicians could only dream of.

After reading this book, I am upset with myself for thinking this way. Astronauts truly deserve our admiration and I would much rather people watch videos of astronauts playing music (even if I don't like the song) than watch mindless TV or get extremely excited over football.

I believe that the only way we can get people more excited by STEM subjects and therefore speed up the colonisation of other planets is if more people are interested in what astronauts are doing. People should also start getting involved more in drone racing. It's definitely the way forwards.

Anyway - An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth is Chris Hadfield's autobiography. Chris Hadfield was raised on a corn farm and spent all his pre-astronaut life working towards becoming an astronaut. The author says that every time he made a decision he would wonder what an astronaut would do in that situation. He followed what was considered the most standard path for becoming an astronaut at the time - pilot, fighter pilot, test pilot and then astronaut. The book then describes his life as an astronaut and provides advice for how to live life on earth from the perspective of being an astronaut. At this point, I imagine some people will be upset with the author - he seems to believe he is not a product of luck, but a product of hard work and he makes out that anyone could do the same if they had the same drive for being an astronaut. I have recently heard a lot of arguing of the existence of White Male privilege. This would probably be a perfect example of this in action - the vast majority of astronauts have been white males. But the message that the author is really trying to put across is that it is worth working as hard as possible towards your goals. I noticed that in the book, Hadfield mentions that he had backup plans in case he couldn't become an astronaut. This suggests to me he may not have been as entirely driven as he seems to claim to be - since he is willing to compromise on an alternate solution. But it is best to understand that this is a great method for not getting destroyed if you do not achieve what you set out to do. You should always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst - that is the main advice that this book seems to be giving the reader.

The book had plenty of funny, interesting and scary anecdotes both from the history of space travel and from the author's life. The language was pretty easy, so the book could definitely be picked up by any teenager, but adults will enjoy this book too. All in all I found this book motivating and a delightful light read. It definitely deserves:

****

published: Thu Mar 09 2017

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Michal Paszkiewicz reads books, solves equations and plays instruments whenever he isn't developing software for Transport For London. All views on this site are the author's views only and do not necessarily represent the views of TfL.