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.”

The books I picked & why

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Justice Hill

By John Macleod,

Book cover of Justice Hill

Why 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.


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

By Scott Harrison,

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

Why 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.


The Red Lotus

By Chris Bohjalian,

Book cover of The Red Lotus

Why 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.


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

By Richard Bode,

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

Why 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.


Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor Frankl,

Book cover of Man’s Search for Meaning

Why 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.


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