Book reviews: Books offer journey into space
‘An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth,’ by Chris Hadfield
Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut who most people know because of his zero-gravity performance of “Space Oddity,” by David Bowie, which he filmed while aboard the International space station. This is his memoir, and it is one of my absolute favorites. It is so down-to-earth, given that it was written by a man who spent a good portion of the past decade 270 miles above the surface of our planet.
The book follows Hadfield’s life chronologically. The story begins with how he first became interested in space travel. At age 10, Hadfield, along with an estimated 600 million people, watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, stitching the famous phrase into history: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
This phrase struck the hearts of hopeful astronauts, and ambition children across the globe, and Hadfield was one of them. He made it his goal get there, to study hard and do whatever it took to get into space.
The story continues to follow Hadfield through various training, the trials of love and marriage from afar (very far) and finally, his arrival in space. His personal account of take off and crossing the gravity threshold will make your stomach sink and eyes widen with space-filled-wanderlust. He takes us on a journey throughout his life in space that will make you question the purpose of both your own life and the way of life on earth.
‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,’ Neil DeGrasse Tyson
I am a huge Neil DeGrasse Tyson fan, so when I saw this bestseller arrive at Off The Beaten Path, I was so excited to read it. It is just as amazing as I had hoped If you are familiar with Cosmos, the Carl Sagan-inspired TV show Tyson hosts, you are familiar with the “Celestial Calendar” he travels along. Well, this book follows the same voyage.
Tyson takes us on a journey from the beginning of our universe — Jan. 1 — to the Big Bang, the formation of the Milky Way, the rise of the dinosaurs and finally, to our present day — midnight, Dec. 31.
Throughout the book, he breaks down the scientific aspects of life, such as photons, quarks and light years, in a way most readers can understand, whether they are an astrophile or not. If you are interested in cosmology but are not looking for an overly academic book, give this a read. As I made my way through the book, I could hear Tyson reading to me, excited as ever about the ins and outs of our existence. His childlike wonder, science-geek humor and thirst for knowledge is contagious. If you enjoy this book, you may also enjoy “Cosmos” and “Pale Blue Dot,” by Carl Sagan. This book is also available as an audiobook, read by Tyson, himself.
‘Hello World! Solar System’ by Jill McDonald
This book is a great start for kids who are interested in space. At some point, every child looks up to the night sky and wonders, “What’s out there?” This book teaches just that. It has verbiage a toddler can understand and fun, colorful pictures to help solidify the information. (Can you go outside and find the red planet? That’s Mars!).
Each page has helpful prompts for engaging your child and makes learning easy and fun for young readers. When I was young, I could look into the night sky and identify the Big and Little dippers, I knew the correct names for them and, of course, I could find Mars (the big red one). But, because of fun pictures and cool activities like the ones in this book, the information stuck, and I still find it fascinating today.
Books such as “Hello World! Solar System” make learning a blast for kids of all ages, from toddlers to young adults.
Beryl Lenk is assistant manager of Off the Beaten Path.
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