The best books of incredible real life stories

Who am I?

I am an anthropologist and former owner of a tech company. I saw firsthand how technology was changing society in the early twenty-teens, and knew that we were experiencing a compounding paradigm shift. I have a passion for telling stories and preserving the past for future generations — the stories that our grandchildren will ask about, just as we asked our grandparents about the great wars and depression.

My book is...

Stories of Elders

Imagine growing up with the first radio in your neighborhood or using a crank car to go to school each day, and now using an iPhone for your daily communication. Stories of Elders documents the high-tech revolution through interviews with those that lived its entirety. They share what it was like to see an airplane for the first time, watch a man walk on the moon, and received the first polio vaccines. They developed technologies like our first spy satellites, built the Saturn V, and transitioned their offices from typewriters to word processors to smart tablets. How has technology changed America? The Greatest Generation tells all in this unique book.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question

Why did I love this book?

I love it when authors want to tackle an enormous question that we have all asked at some point. Po Bronson traveled to meet people who are both unique and common, impressive and ordinary, and ultimately just like everyone else. They share how they’ve tackled the question for themselves. There is no formula, no one way, and that comes with a certain sense of freedom. 

My favorite story features a man who is working to revolutionize the income model of America’s Native Peoples to elevate both their stature and power (literally). He is working on a 50-year plan, which impressed me and was an apt reminder that sometimes the fruits of our labors come many years later.

By Po Bronson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Should I Do with My Life? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are you looking for the right path in 2021? This book tackles the question that most of us face at some point in our lives: 'what should I do with my life?', and provides illuminating answers.

Bronson's book is a fascinating account of finding and following the people who have taken the ultimate challenge of self-discovery by uprooting their lives and starting all over again. From the investment banker who gave it all up to become a catfish farmer in Mississippi, to the chemical engineer from Walthamstow who decided to become a lawyer in his sixties. These stories of individual…

Book cover of It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It: Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter-Gatherer

Why did I love this book?

This book cracked me up. Bill Heavey met with people all over the United States and went on crazy foodie adventures with them in order to better understand pockets of unique eats and subsistence. This is not a restaurant visits book. This is a go fishing, backwoods, hunt-or-be-hunted book.

I have two favorite stories in this book. The first is of a woman who forages along the Potomac for Paw Paw fruit. Her attitude toward finding wild food is hilarious and matter-of-fact. The second is of a man who fishes the Bayous of the south and takes Heavey for a wild ride.

By Bill Heavey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Mr. Heavey takes us back to the joys--and occasional pitfalls--of the humble edibles around us, and his conclusions ring true."--Wall Street Journal Longtime Field & Stream contributor Bill Heavey has become the magazine's most popular voice by writing for sportsmen with more enthusiasm than skill. In his first full-length book, Heavey chronicles his attempts to "eat wild," seeing how much of his own food he can hunt, fish, grow, and forage. But Heavey is not your typical hunter-gatherer. Living inside the D.C. Beltway, and a single dad to a twelve-year-old daughter with an aversion to "nature food," he's almost completely…

Book cover of 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans

Why did I love this book?

I didn’t come across this book until my own had already been published. Pillemer worked hard to interview over a thousand elders about their lives. The stories are touching, and the advice time-tested. 

My favorite section was about raising children. How to allow our little humans to become full individuals while also nurturing them to the greatest extent. The stories weren’t always rosy — some elders shared deep regrets — which I appreciated even more.

By Karl Pillemer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 30 Lessons for Living as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Heartfelt and ever-endearing—equal parts information and inspiration. This is a book to keep by your bedside and return to often.”—Amy Dickinson, nationally syndicated advice columnist "Ask Amy"

More than one thousand extraordinary Americans share their stories and the wisdom they have gained on living, loving, and finding happiness.

After a chance encounter with an extraordinary ninety-year-old woman, renowned gerontologist Karl Pillemer began to wonder what older people know about life that the rest of us don't.

His quest led him to interview more than one thousand Americans over the age of sixty-five to seek their counsel on all the big…

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

By Svetlana Alexievich, Keith Gessen (translator),

Book cover of Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Why did I love this book?

This book has gained in popularity, lately, with the publishing of the Chernobyl series on HBO. The stories are haunting, but incredibly important. They show how confusing, secretive, and awful the event was. I chose this book because its philosophy is the same as mine — that this was a major event in history and it must be recorded and preserved so future generations may learn from it. Alexievich has done wonderful work in this tome.

By Svetlana Alexievich, Keith Gessen (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

A journalist by trade, who now suffers from an immune deficiency developed while researching this book, presents personal accounts of what happened to the people of Belarus after the nuclear reactor accident in 1986, and the fear, anger, and uncertainty that they still live with. Chernobyl, the acclaimed HBO miniseries (winner of ten Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards), is based in large part on the personal recollections from Voices from Chernobyl.

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred…

Book cover of The Power of Awareness: And Other Secrets from the World's Foremost Spies, Detectives, and Special Operators on How to Stay Safe and Save Your Life

Why did I love this book?

First of all, Dan Schilling is a powerhouse author. This book amazes me as he took the stories of many individuals and takes the reader deep into each. You feel like you’re really there. Not to mention the takeaways are applicable to everyday life. I love a book where I learn something practical while along for the ride.

By Dan Schilling,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A spy is suddenly aware she's being stalked through the streets of an overseas city. A special ops soldier intuitively recognizes something's "off" during a high-risk mission. In these life-threatening situations experts know exactly how to use their senses and what actions to take. At the intersection of The Gift of Fear and Make Your Bed, The Power of Awareness will make sure you will, too. In his empowering book, Dan Schilling shares how to identify and avoid threats using situational awareness and intuition just like the pros. Told with wit and wisdom, this compelling guide uses harrowing stories from…

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