An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth [Book Review] #NonFictionNovember #NonFictionBookParty #Memoir #Space

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything by Colonel Chris Hadfield

“An astronaut is someone who’s able to make good decisions quickly, with incomplete information, when the consequences really matter.” ~An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Chris Hadfield

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (cover) Image: white text and graphic image of an astronaut on a space walk above the planet Earth

Genre/Categories/Setting: Nonfiction, Memoir, Astronaut, International Space Station

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Nonfiction November

Welcome to my first nonfiction post of November. Also known as “books with really long titles”! All through November, I’ll be linking up with #NonfictionNovember #NonFicNov #NonfictionBookParty . Watch for my nonfiction recap post tomorrow!

My Summary of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: 

Are you an explorer at heart?

Colonel Chris Hadfield trained his entire life (from the age of ten!) to become an astronaut.  The moment Hadfield watched an astronaut land on the moon at the age of ten, he knew he wanted to be an astronaut. He went to school the next day with a different mindset… of preparation. What would a future astronaut do today to prepare? All of his homework? Ace a math test? Learn the science? Make responsible choices? Every decision and course of study Chris Hadfield took after that momentous day of the moon landing prepared him for the day he would go to space. He did all this knowing that a Canadian had never been an astronaut, but he wanted to be prepared just in case he was the exception and had a chance. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth details his journey and offers insights into how his preparations, attitudes, outlook, and decisions might be inspirational for the rest of us. Prepare for the worst. Sweat the small stuff.

My Thoughts:

What I Love

I love to experience a life I’ll never live! I love to read about the journey, the challenge, the requirements, the dream, the perseverance and determination, the sacrifice…. I’m here for all of it. An astronaut is an elite profession. Only a very few individuals involved in the space industry or who have trained to be an astronaut ever make it to space. You need to be the exact right person for the exact right time. Hadfield went to space three times. He represents explorers that our great-grandchildren will be reading about in science and history texts. How exhilarating and extraordinary it is to read/hear his first-hand account during our lifetime. For my Canadian friends: he’s also the FIRST Canadian astronaut to perform a space walk!

Audio Format and YouTube

I listened to Chris Hadfield narrate his own story in audio format. I think this enhances most biographies/memoirs. Then, I went down YouTube and Google rabbit holes as you do. Out of all the interesting clips I found, I want to share three in this review:

Three Take Aways

Out of all Hadfield’s interesting information and observations in this book, I’m highlighting three.

  1. You make one of three impressions on others:
    “In any new situation, whether it involves an elevator or a rocket ship, you will almost certainly be viewed in one of three ways. As a minus one: actively harmful, someone who creates problems. Or as a zero: your impact is neutral and doesn’t tip the balance one way or the other. Or you’ll be seen as a plus one: someone who actively adds value. Everyone wants to be a plus one, of course. But proclaiming your “plusoneness” at the outset almost guarantees you’ll be perceived as a minus one, regardless of the skills you bring to the table or how you actually perform.”
  2. Prepare for the worst; Sweat the small stuff; Anticipate problems; Competence:
    “Early success is a terrible teacher. You’re essentially being rewarded for a lack of preparation, so when you find yourself in a situation where you must prepare, you can’t do it. You don’t know how.”
    “To me, it’s simple: if you’ve got the time, use it to get ready. What else could you possibly have to do that’s more important? Yes, maybe you’ll learn how to do a few things you’ll never wind up actually needing to do, but that’s a much better problem to have than needing to do something and having no clue where to start.”
    “Sweat the small stuff. Without letting anyone see you sweat.” (Hadfield never leaves anything to chance…especially the small stuff because it might be the next thing to kill you.)
    Anticipating problems and figuring out how to solve them is actually the opposite of worrying: It’s productive.”
    Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination, and being prepared for anything”
  3. Attitude; Power of negative thinking:
    “In space flight, “attitude” refers to orientation: which direction your vehicle is pointing relative to the Sun, Earth, and other spacecraft. If you lose control of your attitude, two things happen: the vehicle starts to tumble and spin, disorienting everyone on board, and it also strays from its course….We never want to lose attitude, since maintaining attitude is fundamental to success. In my experience, something similar is true on Earth. Ultimately I don’t determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal.”
    “What’s the next thing that will kill me? My optimism and confidence come not from feeling I’m luckier than other mortals, and they sure don’t come from visualizing victory. They’re the result of a lifetime spent visualizing defeat and figuring out how to prevent it. Like most astronauts, I’m pretty sure that I can deal with what life throws at me because I’ve thought about what to do if things go wrong, as well as right. That’s the power of negative thinking.”


If you have the idea that Chris Hadfield is quotable, you’re correct! The quotes I’ve used here represent only a small portion of my highlights.

Recommending An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity and compelled you to give this compelling biography/memoir a try! I’m enthusiastically recommending this for readers looking for an inspiring memoir/biography, for students that are interested in Earth or space flight (he was a test pilot for years), for fans of science-themed nonfiction, and for book clubs.

Related: Other favorite memoirs/biographies I’ve reviewed.

My Rating:  5  Stars


An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield (cover) a graphic picture of an astronaut in space above the earth

More Information Here

Meet the Author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Colonel Chris Hadfield

Author of An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Chris HadfieldCHRIS HADFIELD is one of the most seasoned and accomplished astronauts in the world. The top graduate of the U.S. Air Force test pilot school in 1988 and U.S. Navy test pilot of the year in 1991, Colonel Hadfield was CAPCOM for twenty-five Shuttle missions and NASA’s Director of Operations in Russia. Hadfield served as Commander of the International Space Station where, while conducting a record-setting number of scientific experiments and overseeing an emergency spacewalk, he gained worldwide acclaim for his breathtaking photographs and educational videos about life in space. His music video, a zero-gravity version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” has nearly 50 million views, and his TED talk on fear has been viewed over 10 million times. He helped create and host the National Geographic miniseries One Strange Rock, with Will Smith, and has a MasterClass on exploration. Chris Hadfield’s books An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, You Are Here and The Darkest Dark have been bestsellers all around the world.


Do you have a memoir on your TBR for November?

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  1. You really have piqued your curiosity for this book. I need to read more nonfiction and this sounds interesting.

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  3. I knew I was going to listen to this book, so did not read your review until I finished it. Wonderful review, I love your three takeaways. I am going to add a link to your review on my post. Excellent points, Carol.

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