Toronto: Random House Canada, c2014.
This photo book is a collection of some of the best of Cmdr Hadfield's pictures taken from the International Space Station, a habit that was made famous by his twitter sharing of the same. This is the book that I was expecting him to release shortly after returning from his stint as commander of the ISS -- a smaller format coffee table book of his admittedly amazing images plus some commentary. (However, what we got first was his lengthy, thoughtful musings on his life and career -- An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth -- a book that I read and greatly appreciated.)
This book is a much lighter tome. Full of beautiful, strange images that force us to look at Earth differently, it's also sprinkled with comments and thoughts about our influence on our own landscapes, about the wonders of rarely seen or remote areas, or the new perspective on familiar busy cities when seen from space! It's arranged by region, and Hadfield shares stats or stories about the things he's photographing. Something I found neat was a photo of the contrail made by the Snowbirds as they flew a training flight in Comox, BC. Yes, they can be seen from space. A delight to read that as a Canadian.
It's an entertaining book, one that's perfect for dipping into. It's very light, but will certainly appeal to many -- those who enjoy unusual photography, or those who are already fans of Chris Hadfield. Reading it on this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend was timely as well, since looking at all of these pictures of Earth, and reading about how we are changing and shaping our climate and our landforms (often in a strikingly selfish and destructive way) reminded me to be thankful for what we have and what we can still work together to keep. These visuals speak strongly of one world united -- when you have such a vast perspective, it really does make you realize how small our Earth is, and how we are all affected by what happens anywhere on this planet.
But Chris Hadfield is not so abrupt in his comments as I've just been; he is simply pointing out so many parts of the planet, and sharing his fascination and wonder for it all. I hope that anyone who picks this up will be infected with the same curiosity and joy that he has shared throughout this book.
Surely if you enjoy this you'd want to pick up his first book about himself, mentioned above -- An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.
Of course, if you enjoy perusing pictures of our planet, you must also check out the book of photography published last fall, Earth, Spirit of Place, edited by John McQuarrie and also featuring photographs by Chris Hadfield.