An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield

I seem to be reading mostly nonfiction lately.

The title of this one grabbed me. I also admire Chris Hadfield. He’s an astronaut who, as the commander of the International Space Station, used social media to show Earthlings what life is like in space.

With all the negative news about a certain Canadian municipal politician (Torontonians will know who I’m referring to), it’s good to focus on a solid, hardworking Canadian with a razor-sharp mind and squeaky clean personal life (he’s been married to the same person since he was twenty-one!) Chris Hadfield is the type of man who should be a role model to impressionable youth. We might not all be astronaut material, but we can all learn from his persistence and work ethic.

He’s an engaging writer with a fascinating story to tell. He decided to become an astronaut after watching the moon landing on TV in 1969. He didn’t let the fact that Canada didn’t have a space program at the time stand in his way. He just worked doggedly towards his goal. If he made it into space he’d live his dream. If not, he figured he’d still have a pretty good life as a jet pilot.

The book is filled with interesting anecdotes about life on the International Space Station, the rigorous training astronauts undergo and even unglamorous stuff I’d rather not know–like wriggling into a man-sized diaper before embarking on an eight-hour spacewalk or self-administering an enema prior to blast-off. (TMI, Chris–a little mystery is a good thing!)

What impressed me the most about Chris Hadfield?–He focuses on the negative, sweats the small stuff and imagines worst case scenarios! Okay, unlike me, he thinks through solutions to every conceivable problem while I chew my nails and drink wine from a box because the future looks too bleak to contemplate, but it’s affirming to learn that a successful genius (this man gets rocket science) regularly considers the most awful outcome possible.

He also mentions his strong dislike of whining, but nobody’s perfect, not even a talented astronaut/rocket scientist like Chris Hadfield.