Review: You Are Here by Chris Hadfield

22104991Title: You Are Here

Author: Chris Hadfield

Publisher: Random House Canada

Publication Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9780345814944

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Curated from images never before shared, Chris’s big picture reveals why our planet looks the way it does and why we live where we do. Chris sees more in these images than we do, not just because he’s spent months in space but because his in-depth knowledge of geology, geography and meteorology allows him to read the mysteries the photos reveal.
     Divided by continent, You Are Here represents one (idealized) orbit of the ISS. This planetary photo tour–surprising, playful, thought-provoking and visually delightful–is punctuated with fun, fascinating commentary on life in zero gravity, too. You Are Here opens a singular window on our planet, using remarkable photographs to illuminate the history and consequences of human settlement, the magnificence (and wit) of never-before-noticed landscapes, and the power of the natural forces shaping our world and the future of our species.

This has got to be one of the best presents that I received this Christmas. I met Chris Hadfield when I was a child. I shook his had and spoke to him when I was about 7 years old. He came to my home town for the annual air show, many years before he went into space and long before the world new exactly who he was. I have minimal memories from this day, but I still possess the plastic blow up Snow Bird that he signed for me way back then. Hadfield lived in my home city for a few years and he’s become a household name there. The people are proud of him and proud to know him in some small way. Chris, I’ve noticed, still makes an effort to return there frequently for book signings. I heard gossip that he’s quite close with the city’s mayor (which I think is pretty cool). My aunt even waited in lines and braved the crowds just to get his signature on the inside title page. So, You Are Here means a lot more to me than just your average book. It is a very personal gift for me to receive.

Beyond the personal connection that I felt, this is simply a stunning book. I marvelled my way through the images accompanied by Hadfield’s personal narrations and observations. Hadfield reveals to us an Earth that you haven’t seen like this before. He takes us around the globe, zooming in to observe unique and stunning geographical details, and he zooms out again to show us the wonders of our planet such as the Northern Lights. Hadfield’s mind is creative, seeing the repetition in nature: a land formation that looks like a whale eating krill or an island that looks like a turtle’s head. He’s funny, entertaining, and so easily relatable. The way that he looks for shapes in the land reminds me of when I was a little girl and I’d lie in the grass with my dad to see what shapes we could find hidden in the clouds.

Hadfield has managed to capture our Earth in a way that displays not only the enormity of our planet, but the intricacy and the simple beauty of it as well. His images are taken by one who is in awe of our world and who wants nothing more than to share this awe with others. I’m sure these images pale in comparison to the views that Hadfield saw and experienced aboard the ISS, but they give us a little glimpse into his world. The pictures allows us to see how breathtaking our world really is.

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