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Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  805 ratings  ·  151 reviews
In this revelatory and moving memoir, a former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, examining the intersecting roles of community, perseverance and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.

Leland Melvin is the only person in human history to catch a pass in the National Football League and in space
ebook, 256 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Amistad
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  805 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Jordan Kalt
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
In this personal memoir, Leland Melvin recounts his life from childhood to football and the NFL, to NASA and EVAs, to the community work he went on to do for the space program. And it's all generally about as exciting as that sentence.

The discussion of his experience in space is good, when it finally comes, but if you don't like football then the first 40% of the book may be a bit tough to get through. Overall the experience is not particularly well-written or eloquent and often suffers from po
Jan 30, 2021 rated it liked it
An interesting look on Leland Melvin life through football and space. However I was more interested in the space stuff but it was a good book either way
Jennifer Mangler
"Taking extravagant pleasure in being alive." Melvin wrote that in his journal at one point along his NASA journey, and it encapsulated for me his approach to life. I appreciated his discussion of the obstacles he faced and how he worked to overcome them. His is an inspiring story. ...more
Jun 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a good, easy read. Melvin mentions being a motivational speaker following his astronaut career, and that style is evident in how he framed his story in such a concise, narrative way. Hearing the perspective of an astronaut, especially one of America's early Black astronauts, is always thrilling. Melvin describes how a series of fortuitous circumstances from his parents' strong work ethic, to his supportive neighborhood and not needing to be bussed away during school integration, to his ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I remember this quote, and it said the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you figure out why..." - Leland Melvin

I've seen a lot of critical reviews for this memoir. Personally, I enjoyed it and found it very inspiring. Books come into your life when you need them sometimes and this book met me at the right time.

Leland does not spend the entire book talking about space. The title of the book is "Chasing Space" and that is exactly the narrative told by Lel
T.A. Bruno
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Leland Melvin's journey is insightful and provides a unique perspective when compared to most astronaut autobiographies. It has stories from his time in football and the NFL to NASA to even some brief stints on game shows such as Battlebots. I enjoyed this autobiography, and I highly recommend it! ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
The narrative was not the most cohesive but still an enjoyable read. I wish his experiences in actual space travel were more detailed. Unfortunately that part of the book was relatively short, and his struggles with the physiological changes of zero gravity were some of the most interesting parts for me. I like the emphasis on his various missteps and failures, and I especially appreciate his continued dedication to outreach and education.
A nice memoir. I enjoyed hearing about Melvin growing up, in large part because he grew up really close to my hometown. His life has an interesting story, and his passion for STEM education is great. The book isn't very deep or very science-y itself, though, and the attempts to hang his story on the "grit, grace, and second chances" framework was a bit heavy-handed at times. Still, I really enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to hearing him speak at an event I'm attending in the future. ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Leland’s experiences are varied and interesting. He has a brimming optimism and a belief that every person can and should follow their dreams. This book was an easy and entertaining read. He describes the entire NASA astronaut experience, not just the space flight parts, while also providing memoirs and insights into the life events that led him to becoming an astronaut.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: authors-of-color
This is a pretty good story of one man's life. Leland Melvin is the only man to have played in the NFL and flown in space. You can definitely be inspired by his determination. He never let a setback define his life. He always regrouped and pushed forward.

I only gave this book three stars though because at some point it just became tedious and there was less of how he got through things and more of a name-dropping this is what I did.

Nonetheless, I am proud of who he is and what he has done. I e
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readharder2019
I wish this had been better organized. His story is certainly interesting, but the book feels really scattered. Some sections went on much too long and there are other sections I'd love to have heard more about. ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I was really hoping he would talk about sneaking his dogs into his official NASA portrait, since it’s on the cover and all, but it’s not in the book!
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic-bio, read-2019
A little all over the place resulting in randomly hitting you with the depressing bits. overall, still entertaining.
Amy Jayasuriya
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about Leland's determination and his faith. Fantastic read. ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it
“Why do some people reach their potential despite the obstacles in their path, while others, just as talented, do not?”
Claire Wisker
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written from the heart, in his own voice, and for everyone. What a lovely journey.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had the good fortune to attend college in Melvin’s hometown and have seen him speak, so I was familiar with the main trajectory of his career but this book really opens up about his life and experience and he doesn’t shy away from the tough times and challenges. He has an easy-going writing style and while the last few chapters read more like a travel log of NASA events, I enjoyed Melvin’s message, especially his emphasis of merging arts into the STEM discipline.
David Wen
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A feel good autobiography of Leland's life. There's nothing profound in what he's been through or what he says but it's an enjoyable read about what seems like a great guy who deserved everything he's earned. Would love to share a beer with him one day and hear his stories in person. ...more
Monica Hocking
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
This is nice book about never giving up on your dreams! Even with the adversity of a dream gets sidelined and/ or crushed. Sometimes you get a 2nd chance and change the course of how you ultimately accomplish your goals after all! But this book dragged on forever! Would definitely not re-read this one!
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it
If I'm being honest, I only wanted to read this book because of the cover. The author's NASA photo was taken with his dogs? As a dog lover, I'm sold!

I didn't know anything about the author, Leland Melvin, prior to reading this book. But I'm glad I know about him now because he has lived an amazing and inspiring life. I really enjoyed reading about his life growing up and his life in space. But I have to admit, I was a little bored with some parts between those. But this was still a really great
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I never aspired to a life off the ground, much less to become an astronaut. I knew that whatever path of life I was on, I wanted to do my best."

"While I had a passion for doing many things, my goals hadn't included exploring the cosmos. The universe pulled me there. I somewhat serendipitously ended up at NASA because of a tenacious recruiter. I never imagined space travel until the possibility was presented to me. Just hearing the words that I would make a good astronaut changed me. Getting to
MaryBeth Long
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Mr. Melvin's life so far is an amazing story about a child from Lynchburg, VA who grew into a man who faced down adversity to make it into outer space and back. A University of Richmond and UVA grad, Melvin is smart, hard-working and loves his dogs. He names friends and family throughout but the book could be more human. I wish we could've learned what his parents/significant others/sibling thought and felt when he went about this American life.

Nice orbit, could use a bit more gounding.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. Definitely a good read for me. I appreciated his writing style, bringing things down to Earth and telling his story as if he were just talking to you. Any forays into history were always pertinent and segued nicely with the main story. (Unlike some other space/science based stories I've read lately.)

Great story of Leland Melvin, the only person who has played in the NFL and gone to space. Those two things don't always go together in my head, but his book made it come to life for me.

Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Success is not linear, easy, or without challenge, but it is attainable with grit, perseverance, and help from others! This is the chief message I took from this book!

I’m thankful to have read this inspirational and poignant story about achievement, perseverance, overcoming challenges, handling the unexpected, second chances, and seizing opportunities. I could relate to Leland’s constant linkage to family, home, and friends throughout his journey. I think you will as well. I also appreciate his
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Melvin isn't the most lyrical writer, but he certainly captures the special moments as well as more down-to-earth activities from his long career at NASA, with side-trips into his work making STEM learning more available for kids everywhere, and his brief time playing pro football and hosting niche television shows. His voice is honest and down-to-earth. Accused of cheating on an exam and nearly getting kicked out of college, training at NASA in Houston, and at Russia's Star City, a chance meeti ...more
Kaylee Gwyn (literarypengwyns)
Let’s just wasn’t Endurance. Still a great memoir and a quick read.

I did an #elevatorpitchreview of this in my highlights!
Book does not do this interesting man's story justice. Honestly, the only reason why I picked up this book was because I recognized the picture of Mr. Melvin with the dogs. It's a picture that has been around the internet and occasionally pops up now and again. So when I saw he had a book (although admittedly I had never heard of him before seeing the picture) I thought, why not? Someone who uses that picture as the cover of the book (and for other purposes I imagine) must have an eventful and f ...more
Tiffany Reads It All
Growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia, Leland Melvin never planned on becoming an astronaut. He had a love of chemistry as well as sports. However, Melvin found himself on an unexpected journey—one that would lead him first to the NFL, then to NASA.

An athlete from a young age, Melvin attended the University of Richmond on a football scholarship, where he would earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He would also complete a master’s degree in materials science engineering at the University of Virgini
May 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have read several biographies of Astronauts and this one is okay, but not great. The astronaut wrote it himself and I felt that he did not want to get "too personal" in his account. This book would have been improved with a co-writer or maybe a different author all together. For instance, there are very few dates in the first half of the book. Many of the events of his childhood, I vaguely remembered, so I thought that the author was about my age, but I was not sure. You don't find out for sur ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Seeing the world without geographic boundaries really puts things into perspective and makes one wonder why there is so much division, hatred, and malice."

Chasing Space was a highly anticipated read for me. Leland Melvin (you may know him as the NASA astronaut with the best official portrait!) is a former NFL football player and retired astronaut. His memoir is smart and uplifting, and I would call this a must-read for football fans and space lovers alike. Melvin's personality pops off of the p
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“No matter what happens in our lives, we have to keep moving forward,” I told them. “We have to keep doing our best, no matter what the circumstances. It is about your heart, dedication, and spirit.” 4 likes
“My experiences in the Astronaut Corps had taught me that you never know what will happen from day to day. It’s best to experience life as fully as possible while you have the time, health, and opportunity. •” 2 likes
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