The best books about resilience, belief and triumph over adversity

Why am I passionate about this?

Each day I rise knowing that I have the grit and determination to rise above life’s barriers, no matter what the cost. At times, that cost has been high. I have built an awesome life from the ashes of childhood tragedy and I try to absorb today’s lessons, for I never know what’s just around the corner. I love and live life to the fullest because after all, we are only given one shot at it. My recent memoir depicts my strengths, my weaknesses, my loves, and my disappointments. All have been valuable inspirational tools in my wonderful journey through life. 

I wrote...

Children of Change: A Memoir

By Carole Kelly,

Book cover of Children of Change: A Memoir

What is my book about?

This powerful and immensely nostalgic story centers around Olympic hopeful Carole, whose promising career as a swimmer is devastatingly shut down at the age of fourteen. Born in unusual circumstances and raised by loving, but strict disciplinarian parents, while still just a child, Carole faces tragedy born out of ignorance.

Growing up in a Catholic environment in a small mining town in the sixties, this damaged child digs deep and rises above her circumstances to become an elite sportswoman, a loving mother, and a highly successful business women with an obsession for travel. It will be difficult for you to remain untouched as you travel Carole's pathway through life arriving at this strong determined woman’s eventual rise from the ashes of her past.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Carole Kelly Why did I love this book?

This story follows Kya who, as a result of her father’s drunken behaviour is abandoned in the harsh, but beautiful marshlands of North Carolina.

My overall feeling throughout, was that this child and later young woman, was resourceful and definitely a survivor. She portrayed such a great inner strength, that never did I feel that she would drown under the fierce ridicule and abuse that life handed her. It was Kya’s naivety and her appreciation of the simple things in her life that had me championing her cause.

This read conveys the worst and the best of life in a small backwater community and is without a doubt, one of the best novels I’ve read. It left me feeling that we can all rise above our circumstances to find happiness and success in life.

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

46 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Carole Kelly Why did I love this book?

While reading this dystopian novel, my thoughts constantly swung between “make-believe” and “what if this was actually true”. It’s a fascinating perspective on just how easily our lives can be adversely affected by those who believe their intentions are for the greater good.

This scenario could so easily become a reality in the not-too-distant future and in spite of this, the story enticed me to travel along with the courageous Handmaids’ constant battle to stay mentally strong and to do whatever was necessary to stay alive.

It is a gripping tale and a testament to humanity’s instinct for survival.

* In interviews with Atwood, she has been known to say that she based her novel on events that have already happened somewhere in the world.

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

35 authors picked The Handmaid's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Go back to where it all began with the dystopian novel behind the award-winning TV series.

'As relevant today as it was when Atwood wrote it' Guardian

I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford -…

Book cover of Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Carole Kelly Why did I love this book?

If you are looking for riveting reading, this book kept me awake into the early hours of the morning.

It isn’t just the poverty of Mandela’s beginnings that captured me, nor the cruelty of Apartheid that was so much a part of his family’s history, it is his ability to “turn the other cheek”. His defiance in the face of certain retribution because he believed that he had to make a better world for his fellow man, is an example of what true belief is all about.

Even during his hardest times during the quarter of a century that he spent on Robbin Island, Mandela portrayed his steely grace.

This read is a blueprint for all of humanity. It will not leave you untouched.

By Nelson Mandela,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Long Walk to Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2018 is the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth

'The authentic voice of Mandela shines through this book . . . humane, dignified and magnificently unembittered' The Times

The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, A Long Walk to Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela's destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting, A Long Walk to Freedom is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader.

'Burns with the luminosity of faith in…

Book cover of Mao's Last Dancer

Carole Kelly Why did I love this book?

Born into poverty in Chairman Mao’s regime, Li’s peasant life was altered when he was chosen to be one of the special guards for Mao’s new China.

I found this small boy’s courage and his understanding, both forged by his longing for freedom, to be one of life’s most great motivators. I cried for him in his times of desperate loneliness and was proud of him in his moments of success, however small.

Li’s dream to become the world’s finest dancer becomes a reality when, after many years of heartache and desperation, eventually overcome by his determination and grit, he dances with some of the world’s leading ballet companies.

By Li Cunxin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mao's Last Dancer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?


The extraordinary memoir of a peasant boy raised in rural Maoist China who was plucked from his village to study ballet and went on to become one of the greatest dancers of his generation.

From a desperately poor village in northeast China, at age eleven, Li Cunxin was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet. In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, only to fall in love with America-and with an American woman. Two years…

Book cover of The Dawn of Swimming

Carole Kelly Why did I love this book?

There have been several books written about the life of Dawn Fraser, one of Australia’s greatest female swimmers to date. I like this original one which was recommended to me by Bill Sweetenham A.M and Hall of Fame who wrote the foreward for my own memoir. I borrowed this when both Bill and I were starting in our swimming careers.

I think this one portrays both sides of Dawn’s character. From her rise from humble beginnings in the poorer part of Sydney’s Balmain to her great accomplishments on the world sporting stage, she inspired me to reach for the stars: to always be the best that I could be.

Through it all—the kudos of being the best, through the heartache of losing her mother, the tragic car accident on the eve of a major event, and the eventual breakdown of her marriage, Dawn remained herself: just a loveable Aussie with an awesome swimming style.

I felt then as I do now, that this book is gold for anyone wanting to learn how to overcome the odds and achieve, despite them.

By Ken Knox,

Why should I read it?

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

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The Pact

By Lisa Darcy,

Book cover of The Pact

Lisa Darcy Author Of The Pact

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Cat lover Traveler Reader Amateur tennis player Foodie

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Pact is a contemporary fiction novel about Australian sisters, Samantha and Annie, who are doubles tennis champions. This story amplifies the usual sibling issues and explores their professional partnership and personal relationships – similarities, differences, motivation, competition, abandonment, and grief – and how they each respond to the stress of constantly being under the media spotlight.

What happens when, at the pinnacle of fame, it all falls apart?

With dreams shattered and egos destroyed, how do they cope?

I have an older sister and although our rapport isn’t as dramatic, or as close, for that matter, I was able…

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