The Most Inspiring Books About Dealing With Unexpected Events

The Books I Picked & Why

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

By Gene Kranz

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

Why this book?

This New York Times bestselling memoir of a veteran NASA flight director, tells riveting stories from the early days of the Mercury program through Apollo 11 (the moon landing) and Apollo 13, for both of which Kranz was flight director. As a child of the Apollo era, I was fascinated by the inside story of the moon landing and riveted by how Kranz and his team overcame the impossible and turned a near disaster into a triumph of ingenuity and determination.


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Fly for Your Life: The Story of R. R. Stanford Tuck

By Larry Forrester

Fly for Your Life: The Story of R. R. Stanford Tuck

Why this book?

My father was an RAF pilot during WW2, and a prisoner of war who escaped several times, so I have always been fascinated by flying stories. I own perhaps 50 such books, but this is by far my favourite. It covers the incredible wartime story of WW2 fighter ace Bob Stanford Tuck and shows how he coped with adversity during his time as a pilot and POW.

Tuck was one of the highest-scoring pilots during the Battle of Britain and had achieved 29 confirmed "kills" by the time he was shot down over France and taken prisoner. After participating in the planning for the "Great Escape", he was transferred to another camp. Eventually, he escaped and made his way back to England. It's a cracking story and one of the best books I've ever read. I still can't understand how it hasn't been made into a blockbuster movie.


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Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 4

By Beth Haslam

Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 4

Why this book?

I think it is an excellent example of how ingenuity and mutual loving support can overcome an otherwise devastating event.

When Beth Haslam and her hilariously grumpy husband, Jack, and their lovable dogs, set off to buy a second home in rural France, they didn't expect to become part-time foresters, raising rare breed pheasants and caring for wild boar. In this fourth episode of Beth's excellent five-part memoir series, the Haslam's have their lives turned upside-down when a raging storm devastates vast sections of their forest. As if this disaster wasn't already bad enough, the authorities then demanded that the 1,000s of fallen trees be removed. But at what cost? Is their idyllic French retirement over, or can they recover and rebuild without going bust?


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Two Old Fools on a Camel: From Spain to Bahrain and back again

By Victoria Twead

Two Old Fools on a Camel: From Spain to Bahrain and back again

Why this book?

The author and her husband are trapped in an almost untenable situation, but they pull together to see things through to a satisfactory conclusion. I thought it was a great example of that British philosophy to "Keep calm and carry on."

In this third memoir in her enjoyable Two Old Fools series, Victoria and her husband Joe find that rising costs and a shrinking bank balance are threatening their idyllic retirement. After applying online, they leave their beloved Spanish mountain village to teach for a year in Bahrain. But their timing couldn't have been worse. Just after they arrive, the Arab revolution erupts, throwing the country into violent events that would make world headlines. Suddenly they are trapped. Should they leave and risk losing their Spanish dream or stay and face a greater hazard?


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Watery Ways

By Valerie Poore

Watery Ways

Why this book?

First, I adore Val Poore's writing. It has an efficient eloquence that leaves me green with envy. Secondly, Val is the kind of tenacious and gritty person I love to read about. It's a great combination.

When Val's plans to exchange her life in the corporate fast lane of Johannesburg for a quiet house in Holland go awry, she finds herself living alone on a historic Dutch barge in Rotterdam's Oude Haven. But this isn't a prettily painted luxury home on the water. It's a rotting empty hull, without even the most basic amenities. Many people would turn tail and run, but Val Poore is made of sterner stuff!

This is a fascinating and enjoyable tale of overcoming adversity with determination and a smile.


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