Are you an astronaut recently returned to Earth’s surface after a long mission in space? Are you finding it difficult to adjust back here on the homeworld? Is your stubborn refusal to remove your spacesuit having a negative effect on your daily life, commute, and competitive skateboarding obsession? Fear not, because Chris Hadfield is here to help.
Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield returned to Earth this past May, after serving a stint as commander of the International Space Station. During his time aboard the ISS, Hadfield became something of a celebrity thanks to his extensive interactions with the public via social media and YouTube. Beyond the simple novelty of broadcasting from a place most of us will never visit, Hadfield’s posts and videos answered simple but intriguing questions about living and working in microgravity, such as “What happens when you wring out a soaked washrag?” or “How do you make a sandwich in zero-g?” He even showed off his musical side, first performing a duet with Barenaked Ladies singer Ed Robertson and then later serenading us with his cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
No surprise, then, that he decided to write a book about his experiences living and working high above our home planet. Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything came out late last month and explores the astronaut’s career, during which he spent some 4,000 hours in space. The book shines a light on the work he did during that time, the training that got him there, and all the little oddities that never would have occurred to us surface-swellers. (One of my favorite Hadfield anecdotes is how he had to get used to the weight of his tongue in his mouth down here in the gravity well. And now you’re going to spend the rest of the day trying not to notice the weight of your tongue in your mouth.)
The book trailer for An Astronaut’s Guide is cute, and we love a good 2001 reference now and then, but Hadfield’s book should be a must-read for space aficionados even without the silliness. Hadfield is a member of a very exclusive club: those who have been to space and back. Given how fascinating his various dispatches from the ISS were, I’ve got no doubt An Astronaut’s Guide will be a great read. You can pick up the book on Amazon. In the meantime, here’s that Barenaked Ladies duo, because it’s awesome.