10 books like Failure Is Not an Option

By Gene Kranz,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Failure Is Not an Option. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Fly for Your Life

By Larry Forrester,

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

A classic biography about one of the Royal Air Force’s most colorful fighter pilots during the early part of the war.  Robert Stanford Tuck was born into a wealthy family, but had an individualistic spirit that was sometimes at odds with that family.  Prior to the war, he went to sea aboard a tramp steamer where he did much growing up. Upon his return, he was drawn to the excitement of flight and joined the Royal Air Force. Not an intrinsically gifted pilot, he nearly washed out of training, but ultimately flourished. He excelled as a leader as one of the “few” during the Battle of Britain. 

Fly for Your Life

By Larry Forrester,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fly for Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of a magnificent pilot, a reckless, steely-nerved warrior of the sky, feared by the Luftwaffe and known as a legend in the Royal Air Force Fighter Command. He was shot down four times, wounded twice, crash landed in the Channel, and survived two air collisions. Officially, he bagged 29 enemy planes. Unofficially, he destroyed 35. He won the Distinguished Service Order and was only the second man in history to gain a second bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was a national hero recognized by his King, his Queen, and the people of the world.…


Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 4

By Beth Haslam,

Book cover of Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 4

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?

Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 4

By Beth Haslam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 4 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Beth, her beloved dog, Sam, and grumpy husband, Jack, return to France, disaster strikes. As they battle to restore order to their home, French authorities visit with shocking news. Obliged to sit examinations in French, coping with furred and feathered babies, and wrangling French tradesmen, there’s no let-up in this action-packed episode of the Haslams’ adventures.


Two Old Fools on a Camel

By Victoria Twead,

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

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?

Two Old Fools on a Camel

By Victoria Twead,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two Old Fools on a Camel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

★ New York Times Bestselling author ★
"James Herriot meets Driving over Lemons"

Reluctantly, Vicky and Joe leave their Spanish mountain village to work for a year in the Middle East. How could they know that the Arab revolution was poised to erupt, throwing them into violent events that would make world headlines?

Teaching Arab kids, working with crazy teachers, forming life-long friendships and being placed under house arrest, Vicky and Joe laugh and lurch through their year in Bahrain.

Includes FREE photobook and Arabic recipes from Nadia Sawalha.


Watery Ways

By Valerie Poore,

Book cover of Watery Ways

With humor and grace, Valerie describes her trials and tribulations as she transitions from a divorce and corporate job in Johannesburg, to renting and eventually purchasing an old barge in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. As she points out, “one of the first things you learn about living on a barge is that an awful lot of stuff is going to end up in the water.”

Watery Ways

By Valerie Poore,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Watery Ways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this account of her first year of living on a barge in Rotterdam's Oude Haven, Valerie Poore’s overriding impression is that “one of the first things you learn about living on a barge is that an awful lot of stuff is going to end up in the water”.The year in question is 2001, and at forty something, the author takes the plunge to exchange her life in the corporate fast lane of Johannesburg, for life on a historic Dutch barge. Every month brings new challenges, obstacles and experiences. She meets a whole world of fascinating people, not least of…


Into That Silent Sea

By Francis French, Colin Burgess,

Book cover of Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965

This book is written by two dear friends who are the reason I am a published author myself. However, I don’t recommend it just because they are close to me, but because it is a wonderful book that kicked off the entire Outward Odyssey series, of which my book is a part. This magnificent book set a new standard for historical work on space exploration by focusing on the people instead of the hardware. The stories you’ll read here will show you why we are who we are and why humans will always strive for the unknown.

Into That Silent Sea

By Francis French, Colin Burgess,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into That Silent Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was a time of bold new technology, historic moments, and international jousting on the final frontier. But it was also a time of human drama, of moments less public but no less dramatic in the lives of those who made the golden age of space flight happen. These are the moments and the lives that Into That Silent Sea captures, a book that tells the intimate stories of the men and women, American and Russian, who made the space race their own and gave the era its compelling character. These pages chronicle a varied and riveting cavalcade of human…


Digital Apollo

By David A. Mindell,

Book cover of Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight

The book interweaves the human story of risk and decision-making and the technological account of successes and failures of onboard computing in the Apollo program. It makes a fascinating comparison with the parallel story of techno-human systems in the Soviet space program explored in my book. While Soviet cosmonauts routinely served as a backup for automatics, American astronauts successfully fought to seize control of their missions from the computer and to perform manually each of the lunar landings.

Digital Apollo

By David A. Mindell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The incredible story of how human pilots and automated systems worked together to achieve the ultimate achievement in flight—the lunar landings of NASA’s Apollo program
 
As Apollo 11’s Lunar Module descended toward the moon under automatic control, a program alarm in the guidance computer’s software nearly caused a mission abort. Neil Armstrong responded by switching off the automatic mode and taking direct control. He stopped monitoring the computer and began flying the spacecraft, relying on skill to land it and earning praise for a triumph of human over machine. In Digital Apollo, engineer-historian David Mindell takes this famous moment as…


Spacefarers

By Michael J. Neufeld,

Book cover of Spacefarers: Images of Astronauts and Cosmonauts in the Heroic Era of Spaceflight

I was fascinated by how much cultural representations of astronauts and cosmonauts reveal about our societies in this rich and diverse volume. US pop culture is analyzed through astronaut gender representations in TV series, different portrayals of pilots-astronauts and scientists-astronauts in the movies, and the use of American frontier mythology tropes. Comparing representations of spacefarers in different national cultures shows that even glossy magazines carried an ideological message: Soviets traced their achievements to the advantages of socialism, while Americans touted liberty and openness. Finally, cultural attitudes are revealed by media attention to the changing professional, gender, and race demographics of the astronaut corps in the 1980s. In particular, the media treated women astronauts differently from men by emphasizing their feminine traits and family life instead of focusing on space work.

Spacefarers

By Michael J. Neufeld,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The recent 50th anniversaries of the first human spaceflights by the Soviet Union and the United States, and the 30th anniversary of the launching of the first U.S. Space Shuttle mission, have again brought to mind the pioneering accomplishments of the first quarter century of humans in space. Historians, political scientists and others have extensively examined the technical, programmatic and political history of human spaceflight from the 1960s to the 1980s, but work is only beginning on the social and cultural history of the pioneering era. One rapidly developing area of recent scholarship is the examination of the images of…


Light from Other Stars

By Erika Swyler,

Book cover of Light from Other Stars

I’m a sucker for books set in the ‘80s and for books set in the future, and this book is both! You’ve got time travel and astronauts and danger, but alongside the action, Swyler has crafted beautiful, multi-layered characters. I fell in love with them all, particularly Nedda, who loves space as a child and loves it just as whole-heartedly when she’s a crew member on a spaceship.

The novel tapped into a couple of my favorite themes: 1) the bonds of parents and children and 2) what it means to do the right thing. I’m always more interested in good than evil, and these characters understand what it means to choose the greater good. A smart, powerfully written book that will make you care deeply about what happens next.

Light from Other Stars

By Erika Swyler,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Light from Other Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Long Island Reads 2020 Selection * A Real Simple Best Book of 2019

From the bestselling author of The Book of Speculation, a “tender and ambitious” (Vulture) novel about time, loss, and the wonders of the universe.

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach--if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda's newborn brother several…


A Man on the Moon

By Andrew Chaikin,

Book cover of A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts

A Man on the Moon is the best history of the Apollo program that I have ever read. Chaikin writes with the authority of an historian and the heart of a poet. The missions and the astronauts are brought vividly to life, and their adventures are recounted in loving detail. Several times over the course of my undergraduate engineering studies when things got tough, I would take A Man on the Moon out of the engineering library and it would never fail to inspire me. The book formed the basis for the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon and also inspired elements of two stories in my short fiction collection, “From a Stone” and the title story “Just Like Being There”.

A Man on the Moon

By Andrew Chaikin,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Man on the Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'IMPRESSIVE AND ILLUMINATING' TOM HANKS

This is the definitive account of the heroic Apollo programme.

When astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their 'giant leap for mankind' across a ghostly lunar landscape, they were watched by some 600 million people on Earth 240,000 miles away.

Drawing on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews with the astronauts and mission personnel, this is the story of the twentieth century's greatest human achievement, minute-by-minute, through the eyes of those who were there.

From the tragedy of the fire in Apollo 1 during a simulated launch, Apollo 8's bold pioneering flight around the…


The Right Stuff

By Tom Wolfe,

Book cover of The Right Stuff

It seems incomprehensible that I didn’t read this book until my test pilot husband died. He’d applied to NASA, just before the plane crash.

This book is popular in the aviation community because Tom Wolfe nailed it—the pilot lingo, the tall tales from the cockpit, the egos, the spot-on descriptions, and mostly, the brilliance and love of adventure. I’ve spent most of my life around pilots (I’m a licensed private pilot) and Wolfe gets it. He is an extremely talented writer who helped bring Chuck Yeager’s ultra-cool bravery into the mainstream. Wolfe traces the successes and horrific failures of the early NASA program, weaving characters together in a way that is more action fiction than true life. This book will change the way you look at airplanes and the people who fly them. 

My late husband was buried with his tattered copy of The Right Stuff.

The Right Stuff

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Right Stuff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A wonderful novel and perfect book club choice, The Right Stuff is a wildly vivid and entertaining chronicle of America's early space programme.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY US ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY

'What is it,' asks Tom Wolfe, 'that makes a man willing to sit on top of an enormous Roman Candle...and wait for someone to light the fuse?' Arrogance? Stupidity? Courage? Or, simply, that quality we call 'the right stuff'?

A monument to the men who battled to beat the Russians into space, The Right Stuff is a voyage into the mythology of the American space programme, and a dizzying…


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