The best books for heroes that we can relate to

Christopher Rosow Author Of Vital Deception
By Christopher Rosow

Who am I?

I remember devouring Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October. I loved the premise, the technology, the maritime aspect, and most of all, how Jack Ryan, a normal guy, managed to buck conventional wisdom and groupthink. Then, as the genre developed, it became more and more about the so-called “super spy.” While I enjoy the characters—the list is long: Jack Ryan Junior, Mitch Rapp, Scot Harvath, Hayley Chill… I can’t relate. I mean, they go on five-mile runs before breakfast, never break a sweat, and remain perfectly composed. That’s not me. That might not be you, either. Ben Porter is my answer to the unachievable perfection in the current crop of heroes.

I wrote...

Vital Deception

By Christopher Rosow,

Book cover of Vital Deception

What is my book about?

Vital Deception is the fourth book in my Ben Porter Series. It follows my relatable protagonist, Ben Porter, as he’s faced first with tragedy and then with a choice: does he do what he’s told, or does he follow his instincts? If you’ve read any of the three prequels (which, by the way, are not necessary to read; you can pick up the series at any point), you’ll guess that Ben does the latter. But all the same, you’ll learn, as does Ben, that his choices will have consequences.

The Real Book Spy advises emphatically, “If you haven’t yet met FBI Agent Ben Porter, you’re missing out on one of the genre’s best characters—period.”

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The books I picked & why

Justice Hill

By John Macleod,

Book cover of Justice Hill

Why did I love this book?

First, let me disclose that I know the author, and that Macleod’s blurb endorsing my writing appears on the back of my third book and a blurb from me shows up on the back of Justice Hill. So, let’s be clear: this is not payback. Justice Hill is simply a great book. It features two everyday heroes; lifelong friends who face conflict. The way they handle their friendship—and their burdens—became, to me at least, lessons in both forgiveness and resilience. Heroes don’t have to save the world; they can save each other.

By John Macleod,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Justice Hill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From debut author John Macleod comes an edge-of-your-seat murder mystery set in the rural South with strong women, skilled lawyers, and twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very end. When a Washington lawyer is found savagely mutilated and murdered in his vacation home in the Virginia woods, Sam Picken and Jessie Macaulay, lifelong friends, are forced to confront the childhood they left behind in West Virginia coal country. It seems like an open-and-shut case, but a key piece of evidence leads Sam and Jessie down different paths as the childhood friends seek to identify the killer.…

Book cover of Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World

Why did I love this book?

Harrison’s personal journey from party boy to non-profit CEO is impressive, as are his sales skills. The author can certainly pitch a story, as he did while he built Charity: Water, the name of the aspirational non-profit that he founded to bring clean water to poor and underserved areas. The book is a first-person narrative that reads like a novel—except that it’s not, and the heartbreaking chapter about Rachel Beckwith will remind you that everyday heroes walk among us. It might even inspire you to be a hero to someone else in Rachel’s memory.

By Scott Harrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thirst as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An inspiring personal story of redemption, second chances, and the transformative power within us all, from the founder and CEO of the nonprofit charity: water.
At 28 years old, Scott Harrison had it all. A top nightclub promoter in New York City, his life was an endless cycle of drugs, booze, models—repeat. But 10 years in, desperately unhappy and morally bankrupt, he asked himself, "What would the exact opposite of my life look like?" Walking away from everything, Harrison spent the next 16 months on a hospital ship in West Africa and discovered his true…

The Red Lotus

By Chris Bohjalian,

Book cover of The Red Lotus

Why did I love this book?

I read this book during the depths of the Covid pandemic. Fitting, indeed, because it postulates a different kind of pandemic, no less terrifying and disruptive. What grabbed me was not the topic per se, though (as prescient as it was, when it was written). Instead, I found myself really cheering for Alexis, a hero who didn’t want the job of being a hero—and yet takes on the challenge while proving that heroes don’t need to be perfect.

By Chris Bohjalian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Red Lotus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant comes a twisting story of love and deceit: an American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam, and his girlfriend follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met.

Alexis and Austin don’t have a typical “meet cute”—their first encounter involves Alexis, an emergency room doctor, suturing a bullet wound in Austin’s arm. Six months later, they’re on a romantic getaway in Vietnam: a bike tour on which Austin can show Alexis his passion for cycling, and can pay his…

Book cover of First You Have to Row a Little Boat: Reflections on Life & Living

Why did I love this book?

Richard Bode’s pocket-sized memoir was given to me by a college friend, shortly after our graduation (as I write this, that was about three decades ago, and I still have this little book on my shelf within reach). It’s got water and sailing (both of which I love), but more importantly, it’s also chock-full of life lessons—without being preachy or overbearing. In the end, you realize that you can plot your own course, adapt to the shifts of wind and waves (Bode’s metaphor for life), and become your own hero.

By Richard Bode,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked First You Have to Row a Little Boat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FIRST YOU HAVE TO ROW A LITTLE BOAT first hit shelves in the mid 1990s and has been inspiring readers ever since. Written by a grown man looking back on his childhood, it reflects on what learning to sail taught him about life: making choices, adapting to change, and becoming his own person. The book is filled with the spiritual wisdom and thought-provoking discoveries that marked such books as Walden, The Prophet, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. For nearly twenty years, it has enchanted and endeared sailors and non-sailors alike, but foremost, anyone who seeks large truths…

Book cover of Man’s Search for Meaning

Why did I love this book?

This is by far the heaviest tome on my list, and I’m not referring to its physical weight. Frankl is a Holocaust survivor. The cover sub-title is, The Classic Tribute to Hope from the Holocaust, and those few words speak volumes. It’s a tough book to get through, for sure, but it is absolutely worth the effort. In the face of unspeakable challenges, Frankl’s journey, introspection, and endearing and enduring hopefulness epitomize what a real-life hero looks like.

By Viktor Frankl,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Man’s Search for Meaning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the outstanding classics to emerge from the Holocaust, Man's Search for Meaning is Viktor Frankl's story of his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Today, this remarkable tribute to hope offers us an avenue to finding greater meaning and purpose in our own lives.

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