The best books about pilots

Who picked these books? Meet our 58 experts.

58 authors created a book list connected to pilots, and here are their favorite pilot books.
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The Wright Sister

By Richard Maurer,

Book cover of The Wright Sister: Katharine Wright and Her Famous Brothers

Tracey Enerson Wood Author Of The President's Wife

From the list on amazing women whose stories were lost or hidden.

Who am I?

 As a military wife, and daughter, sister, mother, and mother-in-law to military members, I gained a strong perspective of what it is like to be behind the scenes, keeping the family together and building my own career while supporting the important missions of the men around me. In my reading, I’m drawn to historical fiction, as I feel it makes the stories come alive for me. I love a good story, and what entertains and informs even better than the documented facts are the dialog, relationships, and emotions of the characters. So it seems only natural to write about the amazing women behind the curtain in history in the engaging and memorable form of novels.

Tracey's book list on amazing women whose stories were lost or hidden

Discover why each book is one of Tracey's favorite books.

Why did Tracey love this book?

Every schoolchild learns the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright and the famous first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk.

But how many know of the brilliant, irrepressible, and extroverted woman who supported them throughout and is a key reason for their success? The woman who travelled to France and met with presidents, kings, and queens to sell the idea of aviation, when the American people weren’t yet believers?

In keeping with my desire to learn the rest of the story, especially the women in the background who made the grand events possible, I am studying the story of Katharine Wright Haskell.

Both heartwarming and tragic at times, it is a story of the American dream at a time when it seemed anything was possible.

By Richard Maurer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Not many people know that the Wright brothers had a sister, Katharine Wright. She supported her high-flying, inventor brothers through their aviation triumphs and struggles. This is her story.

On a chill December day in 1903, a young woman came home from her teaching job in Dayton, Ohio, to find a telegram waiting for her. The woman was Katharine Wright; the telegram, from her brother Orville, announced the first successful airplane flight in history. In this, the first authoritative biography of the Wright brothers’ sister, Richard Maurer tells Katharine’s story. Smart and well-educated, she was both confidant and caregiver to…

The Aviator's Wife

By Melanie Benjamin,

Book cover of The Aviator's Wife

Susan Sage Author Of Dancing in the Ring

From the list on the ‘herstory’ of women of the 1920s.

Who am I?

I have always been intrigued by the Roaring 20s, and specifically in how the lives of women truly began to change during this time. My grandmother loved to boast about how she had been a flapper as a young woman. Her sister-in-law was one of the first female attorneys in Detroit in the mid-20s. The era brought about opportunities and freedoms previously unknown to women. Many women suddenly had options, both in terms of careers and lifestyles. Goals of first wave feminists were beginning to be reached. The research I did for my book furthered my understanding of society at the time, particularly in America. 

Susan's book list on the ‘herstory’ of women of the 1920s

Discover why each book is one of Susan's favorite books.

Why did Susan love this book?

Read this fascinating historical fiction novel to find out how it was possible for Lindbergh’s wife to wind up intact and capable of love, despite the tragedies that beset her.

Few people realize that she was the first female glider pilot! She became not only his co-pilot, but the pilot of her own life as she got older and pursued her own interests. Anne Morrow proved herself to be—in many ways—more heroic than her husband.

By Melanie Benjamin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Aviator's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
“The history [is] exhilarating. . . . The Aviator’s Wife soars.”—USA Today

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico…

Bury Us Upside Down

By Rick Newman, Don Shepperd,

Book cover of Bury Us Upside Down: The Misty Pilots and the Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail

Nishi Giefer Author Of The Captured

From the list on Twentieth Century POWs.

Who am I?

As a western mystery writer, rancher, veterinarian, wife, mother, farrier, horse trainer, gardener, seamstress, pilot, homeschooler, tractor jockey, and all-around hand, I conclude that every experience in life is grist for the mill leading to settings, scenery, plots, and character motivations.

Nishi's book list on Twentieth Century POWs

Discover why each book is one of Nishi's favorite books.

Why did Nishi love this book?

As a pilot and an American, I found the content of this extremely well-written book mesmerizing. As a writer and editor, I was blown away by the clean copy. More impressively, both authors replied to my emails. Rick Newman is the wordsmith, and I daresay perfectionist. Upon learning I found only two typos in over five hundred pages, he begged to know where. Major General Don Shepperd, USAF Retired, was a Misty pilot in Vietnam who graciously agreed to be a technical consultant on my novel. His inside knowledge of the continuing struggle to return remains of US service members was invaluable. 

By Rick Newman, Don Shepperd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bury Us Upside Down as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

They had the most dangerous job n the Air Force. Now Bury Us Upside Down reveals the never-before-told story of the Vietnam War’s top-secret jet-fighter outfit–an all-volunteer unit composed of truly extraordinary men who flew missions from which heroes are made.

In today’s wars, computers, targeting pods, lasers, and precision-guided bombs help FAC (forward air controller) pilots identify and destroy targets from safe distances. But in the search for enemy traffic on the elusive Ho Chi Minh Trail, always risking enemy fire, capture, and death, pilots had to drop low enough to glimpse the telltale signs of movement such as…

Wind, Sand and Stars

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

Book cover of Wind, Sand and Stars

Kelly Cordes Author Of The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre

From the list on belief and finding meaning from the meaningless.

Who am I?

Some thirty years ago, on a frozen waterfall near an old logging town in Montana, my life changed forever. A friend took me climbing. Almost instantly, upon leaving the ground, the mountains became my singular passion. I lived in run-down shacks and worked dead-end jobs, freeing myself to travel and to climb. Along the way I stumbled into an editorial job with the American Alpine Journal, where I worked for twelve years, deepening my knowledge of mountains, including the incomparable Cerro Torre. I know that climbing is overtly pointless. What we gain from it, however—what it demands and what we give in return—has immeasurable power.

Kelly's book list on belief and finding meaning from the meaningless

Discover why each book is one of Kelly's favorite books.

Why did Kelly love this book?

Saint-Exupery’s descriptions of what he sees and feels during enthralling activities amid stunning landscapes left me enchanted. The feelings he captures extend beyond the mere act of flying and into human relationships and our quest for meaning, written in beautiful, often philosophical prose. He approached flying as a metaphor for life and the human condition. Even if I will never fly, he made me care. 

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Wind, Sand and Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The National Book Award-winning autobiographical book about the wonder of flying from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the beloved children's classic The Little Prince.

A National Geographic Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time

Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying.

Translated by Lewis Galantière.

"There are certain rare individuals...who by the mere fact of their existence put…

Book cover of Magnificent Women and Flying Machines: The First 200 Years of British Women in the Sky

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Author Of Bird

From the list on pioneering aviation.

Who am I?

My passion for flying old aeroplanes led me to the pilots who flew them in history, and my particular fascination is with the interwar period and the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, which saw the establishment of the early commercial air routes and the historic solo flights by pilots flying basic machines and pushing themselves and their aircraft to the very limits of endurance to prove that it could be done. I was absolutely mesmerised by the stories of their bravery and obsession. My recommended books all share the theme of pioneering aviation as this has been a consuming interest for much of my adult life, both in and out of the cockpit. 

Tracey's book list on pioneering aviation

Discover why each book is one of Tracey's favorite books.

Why did Tracey love this book?

This is a lively history of the first 200 years of British women in the sky. 

Given that women were largely blocked by a hostile male establishment from participating in commercial and military aviation for most of the 20th century, this is a riveting account of the unconventional women who defied gravity and everything else to get airborne. Marvellous stuff!

By Sally Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magnificent Women and Flying Machines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Just eighteen months after two Frenchmen made the world's first ever flight, a fearless British woman hopped into a flimsy balloon and flew across the London sky for nearly an hour. Since then, many other remarkable British women have decided to defy traditional society and follow their dreams to get into the sky. Magnificent Women and Flying Machines tells the stories of the pioneers who achieved real firsts in various forms of aviation: in ballooning, parachuting, gliding, airships and fixed-wing flight - right up to a trip to the International Space Station! Full of entertaining adventure mixed with a wealth…

A Sunlit Weapon

By Jacqueline Winspear,

Book cover of A Sunlit Weapon

Helen Webster Author Of Company Wife

From the list on strong women who have survived restrictions.

Who am I?

I have seen Degas’ astonishing paintings in the Quai d’Orsy in Paris and his wonderful sculptures of ballerinas. So I was immediately drawn to this book. Like most people who admire his incredible work, I had no idea of the pain suffered by the girls who saw the ballet as a way to rise above their pitiful lives. Nor did I know the stories behind the abuse of Degas’ models. It is difficult when we have to try to separate the works of genius from the horrible things geniuses did.

Helen's book list on strong women who have survived restrictions

Discover why each book is one of Helen's favorite books.

Why did Helen love this book?

As in all the books I have recommended the research is impeccable and there is much to be learned about the eras in which the novels are set. And, always, the woman at the heart of each story displays a great strength of character that carries her through adversity.

A Sunlit Weapon is the most recent book in the Maisie Dobbs series. In Maisie, we meet a young woman who began her life “below stairs” and who has grown up, again rising above almost impossible circumstances to gain an education, become a nurse in the Great War, marry into the upper classes only to lose her titled husband in a flying accident and finally, to set up her own business as a Psychologist and Investigator.

By Jacqueline Winspear,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

October 1942. Jo Hardy, an Air Transport Auxilliary ferry pilot, is delivering a Spitfire to Biggin Hill Aerodrome, when she has the terrifying experience of coming under fire from the ground. In a bid to find out who was trying to take down her aircraft, she returns on foot to the area, and discovers an African American soldier bound and gagged in an old barn. A few days later another ferry pilot crashes and is killed in the same area of Kent. Although the death has been attributed to 'pilot error' Jo believes there is a connection between all three…

Wood, Wire, Wings

By Kirsten Larson, Tracy Subisak (illustrator),

Book cover of Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane

Vicky Fang Author Of Invent-a-Pet

From the list on inspiring girls in STEM.

Who am I?

I love encouraging kids to explore engineering, design, and technology! I am a former Google product designer for kids and families. I started writing to address a growing need for coding education, particularly for girls and kids of color. Stories are a wonderful way to demonstrate concepts and to invite kids to approach STEM with creativity and imagination. I picked a range of books for this post, from non-fiction to fantastic, because different kids will respond to different kinds of stories. Through these books, I hope that kids will find inspiration and tools for creative problem-solving, for STEM and beyond.

Vicky's book list on inspiring girls in STEM

Discover why each book is one of Vicky's favorite books.

Why did Vicky love this book?

This non-fiction book about Emma Lilian Todd by Kirsten Williams Larson and illustrated by Tracy Subisak offers an inspiring story about a woman engineer inventing an airplane. The story and illustrations do a fantastic job of showing the real-world process of design thinking, with research and failures along the way. I love the themes of perseverance and the important message that great inventions build upon one another.

By Kirsten Larson, Tracy Subisak (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Wood, Wire, Wings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book * NSTA Best STEM Book List

This riveting nonfiction picture book biography explores both the failures and successes of self-taught engineer Emma Lilian Todd as she tackles one of the greatest challenges of the early 1900s: designing an airplane.

Emma Lilian Todd's mind was always soaring--she loved to solve problems. Lilian tinkered and fiddled with all sorts of objects, turning dreams into useful inventions. As a child, she took apart and reassembled clocks to figure out how they worked. As an adult, typing up patents at the U.S. Patent Office, Lilian built the inventions…

West with the Night

By Beryl Markham,

Book cover of West with the Night: A Memoir

Steven Faulkner Author Of Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty & Loss

From the list on travel that enrich landscape with history.

Who am I?

After reading travel books that voyaged beyond mere tourism into the life of the land, its people, and its histories, I found myself longing to launch my own journeys. I took a thousand-mile canoe trip with my son following the 1673 route of the French explorers Marquette and Joliet; I crossed the Rockies with two sons by foot, mountain bike, and canoe following Lewis and Clark and their Nez Perce guides; I took to sea kayak and pontoon boat with a son and daughter, 400 miles along the Gulf Coast in pursuit of the 1528 Spanish Narvaez Expedition. Writing of these journeys gave me the chance to live twice.

Steven's book list on travel that enrich landscape with history

Discover why each book is one of Steven's favorite books.

Why did Steven love this book?

Beryl Markham was a bush pilot in Africa during the early years of aviation. She is a marvelous writer and an adventurous soul. Ernest Hemingway wrote of her: “Did you read Beryl Markham’s book? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could put pen to paper except to write in her flyer’s log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I am completely ashamed of myself as a writer.... She can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers.”

Hemingway is right. This is the best written travel book I’ve read. I grew up in what is now called South Sudan, not far from Kenya where Markham grew up. Her writing brings back the land and people, the weather and hardships, the beauty of that land and its lonely skies.

By Beryl Markham,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked West with the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WEST WITH THE NIGHT appeared on 13 bestseller lists on first publication in 1942. It tells the spellbinding story of Beryl Markham -- aviator, racehorse trainer, fascinating beauty -and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and 30s.

Markham was taken to Kenya at the age of four. As an adult she was befriended by Denys Finch-Hatton, the big-game hunter of OUT OF AFRICA fame, who took her flying in his airplane. Thrilled by the experience, Markham went on to become the first woman in Kenya to receive a commercial pilot's license.

In 1936 she determined to fly solo…

The Women with Silver Wings

By Katherine Sharp Landdeck,

Book cover of The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

Eileen A. Bjorkman Author Of The Fly Girls Revolt: The Story of the Women Who Kicked Open the Door to Fly in Combat

From the list on hidden histories of women in the military.

Who am I?

I work in aviation, so it was natural to write about it when I started as a freelance writer. But I quickly realized that writing about aviation people is much more interesting than writing about airplanes. Because of my military background I found myself writing veterans’ stories. I’ve uncovered many stories that have never been told or have been forgotten over the years. And because I was in the Air Force in the 1980s and 1990s, I knew the events in my new book had never been told. During my research, I found more books with hidden histories and rediscovered some I read decades ago. This list is my favorites.

Eileen's book list on hidden histories of women in the military

Discover why each book is one of Eileen's favorite books.

Why did Eileen love this book?

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were more than 1,000 women who ferried aircraft around the U.S. and flew other support missions during World War II.

They were technically civilian government employees, but for all practical purposes were in the U.S. Army and later earned veteran’s status, which is why I include them here.

The military women of my generation in the 1970s and 1980s (especially aviators) stood on the shoulders of what the WASP accomplished. 

Quite a few books have been written about the WASP, but this is the best one in my opinion. It’s extremely well researched, highly readable, and does an excellent job of portraying the two main characters, the media-savvy Jacqueline Cochran and her less flashy counterpart Nancy Love.

By Katherine Sharp Landdeck,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Women with Silver Wings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“With the fate of the free world hanging in the balance, women pilots went aloft to serve their nation. . . . A soaring tale in which, at long last, these daring World War II pilots gain the credit they deserve.”—Liza Mundy, New York Times bestselling author of Code Girls

“A powerful story of reinvention, community and ingenuity born out of global upheaval.”—Newsday

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At twenty-two, Fort had escaped Nashville’s debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. She and her…

Rescue Pilot

By Dan McKinnon,

Book cover of Rescue Pilot: Life-Saving At-Sea Navy Helicopter Missions

Richard E. Diller Author Of Firefly: A Skyraider's Story About America's Secret War Over Laos

From the list on or by pilots in Vietnam who experienced combat.

Who am I?

I am well qualified to speak of the Vietnam aviation experience because these things happened during my formative years as a pilot, and I was on the “front lines” of seeing and experiencing much of it. In addition, I keep up-to-date with it via reunions and reading stories told by other pilots, and I have met Kenny Fields, George Marrett, and Leo Thorsness.

Richard's book list on or by pilots in Vietnam who experienced combat

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

Dan McKinnon was a navy helicopter pilot who was airborne near an aircraft carrier during flight operations so pilots who had mishaps could be quickly and safely recovered. This is a story about an unusual type of flying, one that provides another layer of safety for naval operations at sea.

By Dan McKinnon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Dan McKinnon, extraordinary helicopter pilot, brings alive the excitement and occasional terror of rescue at sea. An exciting hair raising and reverting tale of the largely untold story of helicopter resuces at sea' - Neil Armstrong, Astronaut. 'Just Great. It's going to be of tremendous interest to all naval helicopter pilots present and future and to the people who want to know more about this aspect of military flight. Boy, you've unleashed a flood of memories' - Bill Stuyvesant, legendary navy helo pilot. A daring Cold-War warrior recounts the thrills of high-sea helicopter rescue missions. Within the pages of "Rescue…

Book cover of The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest

Craig Storti Author Of The Hunt for Mount Everest

From the list on the climbing history of the Himalayas.

Who am I?

I fell in love with the Himalayas in the 8th grade and vowed to go there one day. Eighteen years later I fell in love again, with a woman this time, who was living in Nepal. While living there I trekked extensively and read everything I could about the mountains, especially Everest. I thought it was odd that all the Everest books started in 1921, but the mountain was discovered in 1853. What took them so long? Hence my book The Hunt for Mount Everest.

Craig's book list on the climbing history of the Himalayas

Discover why each book is one of Craig's favorite books.

Why did Craig love this book?

This book is of the incredible-but-true genre. A man who knows neither how to fly nor how to climb buys a plane which he plans to fly to India, crash land on the lower slopes of Everest, and climb the rest of the way to the top—all for the (married) woman he loves. Does he make it? What a question! It’s the premise that matters.

By Ed Caesar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“An outstanding book.” —The Wall Street Journal * “Gripping at every turn.” —Outside * “A hell of a ride.” —The Times (London)

An extraordinary true story about one man’s attempt to salve the wounds of war and save his own soul through an audacious adventure.

In the 1930s, as official government expeditions set their sights on conquering Mount Everest, a little-known World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceives his own crazy, beautiful plan: he will fly a plane from England to Everest, crash-land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit—completely alone. Wilson doesn’t…

Circling the Sun

By Paula McLain,

Book cover of Circling the Sun

JoAnneh Nagler Author Of Stay with Me, Wisconsin

From the list on sensual fiction (that doesn’t leave out the good stuff).

Who am I?

I love realm of the sensual. I sometimes call it The Magic Kingdom—the experience that sets us apart from our childhoods and teenage years. Intimacy—not just with people or lovers, but with the stuff we love as adults—is a compelling quest. For me, it lives in writing, cooking, singing, painting, befriending, loving—the things that lift my life out of the ordinary into time-stopping moments. Sharing it my writing, especially in my new fiction (Stay with Me, Wisconsin and my upcoming novel The Seven Mile Bridge) has been an experience of helping us all get our hands and hearts and skin into the things we love and then abide there as long as life allows us.

Joanneh's book list on sensual fiction (that doesn’t leave out the good stuff)

Discover why each book is one of Joanneh's favorite books.

Why did Joanneh love this book?

Circling the Sun is based on the true story of Beryl Markham, a young Englishwoman who became the first person to fly across the Atlantic from England to North America.

We follow her adventures through Kenya as she’s abandoned by her mother, learns how to raise and race horses with her father, then becomes a pilot flying across the Kenyan plains.

The story’s central arc is her sensual awakening to men, her stumblings and fallings, her love for explorer Denis Finch Hatton, and the ways she struggles to make peace with her desire and her individualist, fiercely independent womanhood.

Set in the 1920s and 1930s, this is a truly literary and arousing tale. I love sensuality that doesn’t have to struggle too hard to find its physical touch—and this book does that. It’s a viscerally-told journey—in life and in love, in the arc we all must face as independent women…

By Paula McLain,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Circling the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller

As a young girl, Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from Britain by parents dreaming of a new life. For her mother, the dream quickly turned sour, and she returned home; Beryl was brought up by her father, who switched between indulgence and heavy-handed authority, allowing her first to run wild on their farm, then incarcerating her in the classroom. The scourge of governesses and serial absconder from boarding school, by the age of sixteen Beryl had been catapulted into a disastrous marriage - but it was in facing up to this reality that she…

The Blue Max

By Jack D. Hunter,

Book cover of The Blue Max

Iain Stewart Author Of Knights of the Air, Book 1: Rage

From the list on WW1 flying that takes you into the skies.

Who am I?

My father was a pilot in WW2 and I learned to fly in Africa when I was 17. Subsequently I flew biplanes, some of them like the ones in these books, made of wood, glue, and fabric. Since childhood, I've been fascinated by flying in WW1. It was a time of incredible change. The dawn of aviation, when designers and pilots barely understood what they were doing. Biographies written at the time are typically laconic, “emotionally repressed” might be modern. So these novels help us understand today some of those stresses and joys of these remarkable adventurers who dared to undertake what mankind had never done before; fight in the heavens.

Iain's book list on WW1 flying that takes you into the skies

Discover why each book is one of Iain's favorite books.

Why did Iain love this book?

This book is a curiosity in several ways. It is written from the German viewpoint by an American. Secondly, it was turned into the finest WW1 flying movie—by a long way. Don’t just take my word for it. Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings, who happens to own the biggest private fleet of WW1 planes in the world, says the same. But the book is just as good, with impeccable flying scenes, sound history, a rip-roaring but believable plot, a deeply flawed hero (think Dirty Harry with less morals), and some sexual shenanigans for good measure. Hard to put down, satisfying to finish.

By Jack D. Hunter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bruno Stachel is a nobody, a newly recruited junior officer in a First World War German combat squadron. But he is determined not to remain a nobody for long. He has his sights on the Blue Max - the most coveted of all German decorations - and he will do anything to get it. From the very moment he shoots down his first plane, everything he does is aimed in that direction: bedding his commander's wife, courting publicity at every turn, even arranging the deaths of his competitors...Jack D. Hunter's novel is a brilliant study of a pilot tortured by…

Forever Young

By John W. Young, James R. Hansen,

Book cover of Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space

Christopher Mari Author Of Ocean of Storms

From the list on history of space exploration.

Who am I?

My love of space exploration is an old one. I remember learning about the Apollo missions when I was very young, both from television and children’s books, and was amazed that people had worked together to achieve such a monumental task. I was also massively disappointed to discover that no one had been back to the Moon since 1972! Since then, I’ve read deeply on the history of space exploration and wished intensely that every new NASA plan would bring us back out to explore our solar system. Part of the reason I wrote Ocean of Storms with my buddy Jeremy K. Brown was to create a reality in which that return to the Moon actually came true. 

Christopher's book list on history of space exploration

Discover why each book is one of Christopher's favorite books.

Why did Christopher love this book?

The autobiography of John Young is almost a history of NASA itself since he began his career there in 1962 and retired from it in 2004. Young was the only astronaut to fly two Gemini missions, two Apollo missions, and two Space Shuttle missions. His book covers all of the various challenges the U.S. space agency faced during that period, and he also touches on the future of spaceflight up until 2012, when the book was published.

By John W. Young, James R. Hansen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He walked on the Moon. He flew six space missions in three different programs--more than any other human. He served with NASA for more than four decades. His peers called him the ""astronaut's astronaut.""

Enthusiasts of space exploration have long waited for John Young to tell the story of his two Gemini flights, his two Apollo missions, the first-ever Space Shuttle flight, and the first Spacelab mission. Forever Young delivers all that and more: Young's personal journey from engineering graduate to fighter pilot, to test pilot, to astronaut, to high NASA official, to clear-headed predictor of the fate of Planet…

Running from Safety

By Richard Bach,

Book cover of Running from Safety: An Adventure of the Spirit

Rob Smith Author Of Shrader Marks: Keelhouse

From the list on for fiction writers who tell the truth.

Who am I?

I was one of those kids who wanted to understand everything. Early on, I worked at a research laboratory and majored in biology. When studies in religion and philosophy offered an even deeper level of inquiry, I turned to archeology, anthropology, psychology, and linguistic analysis. Over the years, I was a counselor for people at the end of life, taught college philosophy, and a cultural approach to religion. I have traveled throughout western Kenya, Guyana, New Zealand, Alaska, and Labrador. I also listened for the stories of the people. Additionally, I have sailed for more than forty years. I write about what I know, and about what still puzzles me.

Rob's book list on for fiction writers who tell the truth

Discover why each book is one of Rob's favorite books.

Why did Rob love this book?

Hang-gliding is a literal leap of faith. You jump from terra firma and hope that the wind rises beneath your airfoil. Running from Safety is the author’s leap of faith, and, by extension, the readers. “Have you ever met anybody…like the people in your books?”  This is the cryptic question that begins this life exploration. 

As a writer myself, I know that every character in my books is me. Bach knows this, too. But do we really learn from the collection of stuff we hold inside, stuff that is our history? The book begins when Bach is confronted by Dickie, his child-self. The boy asks for one thing: He wants his adult self to sign off on the meaning of life contained in his eight-year-old vision of maturity. Bach is appalled at his simple naiveté. What should you tell your younger self? 

By Richard Bach,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A half-mile up, suspended by nylon wings and the promise of good lift, life hanges on a pledge.  Richard Bach made that pledge, fifty years before, to return to the frightened child he used to be and teach him everything he had learned from living.  His promise went unfulfilled until one day, hovering between earth and sky, Richard encounters Dickie Bach, age nine--irrepressible challenger of every notion Richard embraces....

In this exhilarating adventure, Richard and Dickie probe the timeless questions both need answered if either is to be whole: Why does growing spiritually mean never growing up? Can we peacefully…

Goshawk Squadron

By Derek Robinson,

Book cover of Goshawk Squadron

Melvyn Fickling Author Of Farewell to the Glory Boys: A Battle of Arras Novel

From the list on the battles, corps and aftermath of WW1 for women.

Who am I?

I had finished The Bluebird Trilogy, three novels that centred on the first half of the Second World War, and I heard echoes of the Great War ringing faintly in the egos of my older characters. I started to read more of the history and was drawn to the aerial maelstrom that befell the RFC over Arras in 1917. I was also interested in working with a larger cast of characters, many transients, and telling their stories over a short stretch of time. The result was Major Claypole and Jackdaw Squadron, Glory Boys every last one.

Melvyn's book list on the battles, corps and aftermath of WW1 for women

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Why did Melvyn love this book?

Robinson’s tale of Goshawk Squadron battling the odds in the last year of the Great War cuts through the Biggles-style myths and legends that had dominated the public perception for many years. He shines a light on the bleak and terrifying business of aerial warfare and unflinchingly portrays the horror and helplessness of becoming the loser in a dogfight to the death. Yet from this foreboding vista he prises shining nuggets of laugh-out-loud humour, albeit of the gallows variety. Robinson’s spot-on characterisations and skilfully written battle narratives will place you in the rattling cockpit of a biplane in the hostile hunting grounds over France. This 50th-anniversary reissue is a well-deserved accolade.  

By Derek Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set during the height of World War I in January 1918, Goshawk Squadron follows the misfortunes of a British flight squadron on the Western Front. For Stanley Woolley, commanding officer of Goshawk Squadron, the romance of chivalry in the clouds is just a myth. The code he drums into his men is simple and savage: shoot the enemy in the back before he knows you're there. Even so, he believes the whole squadron will be dead within three months. A monumental work at the time of its original release, Booker-shortlisted Goshawk Squadron is now viewed as a classic in the…


By A. Scott Berg,

Book cover of Lindbergh

Abby Ellin Author Of Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married

From the list on secrets, lies, deception and double lives.

Who am I?

I'm an award-winning journalist, a frequent New York Times contributor (and former business columnist for The Times), and the author of, most recently, Duped: Double Lives, False Identities and the Con Man I Almost Married. Duped was turned into the #1 Spotify-original podcast, Impostors: The Commander, which I hosted and executive produced. I was also a producer/reporter on The NY Times Presents documentary film To Live and Die in Alabama, about the execution of Nathaniel Woods. As of press time, my greatest accomplishments have been summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro (with a broken wrist!), learning to play the cello at 35, and naming Karamel Sutra for Ben and Jerry’s.

Abby's book list on secrets, lies, deception and double lives

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Why did Abby love this book?

This is another biography and I liked it so much because it shed light on the inner life of an American hero: Aviator Charles Lindbergh. I talk about him in Duped - Lindbergh had three families in Germany, a wife in the states, and a gaggle of offspring scattered on the two continents. That’s probably why he took up flying. 

By A. Scott Berg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Even after twenty years, A. Scott Berg's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Charles Lindberg remains "the definitive account" of one of the 20th century's most extraordinary figures.

Few American icons provoke more enduring fascination than Charles Lindbergh-renowned for his one-man transatlantic flight in 1927, remembered for the sorrow surrounding the kidnapping and death of his firstborn son in 1932, and reviled by many for his opposition to America's entry into World War II. Lindbergh's is "a dramatic and disturbing American story," says the *Los Angeles Times Book Review, and this biography-the first to be written with unrestricted access to the Lindbergh…

Book cover of Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot

Robert Widders Author Of Forged in Blood and Music: A story of friendship, courage, and survival.

From the list on military books that resonate with me.

Who am I?

Robert Widders is one of the few men who have served in both the British Army, the Royal Navy, and the Royal Air Force. His books on military history have been quoted in the Irish parliament and Senate and were the focus for a BBC documentary episode of Face the Facts.

Robert's book list on military books that resonate with me

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Why did Robert love this book?

James Stockdale was a fighter pilot who was shot down whilst flying over Vietnam in 1964. He had read, and absorbed, The Enchiridion, by Epictetus, and it was this knowledge of Stoicism that helped him to survive seven years of torture and captivity as a Prisoner of War. Fortunately, I’ve never been tested in a crucible akin to Stockdale’s laboratory of human behaviour. But Epictetus speaks to all of us still, and Stockdale’s book is fascinating both as an account of a POW’s survival and as an introduction to a philosophy that I’ve leaned on in my own life.

By James B. Stockdale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In describing his seven and a half years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, the late Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale has said: "In that atmosphere of death and hopelessness, stripped of the niceties, the amenities of civilization, my ideas on life and leadership crystallized." Despite torture, intimidation, and isolation, Stockdale fulfilled his duties as senior officer among the prisoners with intelligence and courage, defining rules of conduct and maintaining morale. He often described the intense pressures of that situation as a "melting" experience, in which preconceived feelings, fears, and bias melt as one comes to realize that,…

Black Dove, White Raven

By Elizabeth Wein,

Book cover of Black Dove, White Raven

Christine Kindberg Author Of The Means That Make Us Strangers

From the list on the third-culture kid experience.

Who am I?

I’m a second-generation TCK. I was born in Peru and grew up in Chile and Panama, as well as the US. My YA novel, The Means That Make Us Strangers, explores some of my own experience moving crossculturally as a teenager.

Christine's book list on the third-culture kid experience

Discover why each book is one of Christine's favorite books.

Why did Christine love this book?

I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Wein’s since I read her bestselling YA thriller Code Name Verity, and I was thrilled to discover she herself is a TCK. In this novel, two adopted siblings (one white, one Black), move from the US to Ethiopia in the 1930s, just before Ethiopia’s war with Italy. TCKs will relate to Teo and Em’s struggle with not feeling fully at home in any one place. Like all of Elizabeth Wein’s books, there is plenty of airplane-flying adventure to keep readers on the edge of their seats!

By Elizabeth Wein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Dove, White Raven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Think of the sky!" Delia gave Momma's hands a shake. "Think of the sky in Ethiopia! What will it be like to fly in Africa?"

This New York Times bestseller is a story of survival, subterfuge, espionage and identity.

Rhoda and Delia are American stunt pilots who perform daring aerobatics to appreciative audiences. But while the sight of two girls wingwalking - one white, one black - is a welcome novelty in some parts of the USA, it's an anathema in others. Rhoda and Delia dream of living in a world where neither gender nor ethnicity determines their life. When…

Island of the Sequined Love Nun

By Christopher Moore,

Book cover of Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Biff Mitchell Author Of Blowing Up

From the list on surrealism and magical realism becoming reality.

Who am I?

Surrealism and magical realism are the blood of my art. All my novels, and especially my short stories, jump in and out of the world of schedules, deadlines, and certainty. It’s what I read and how I think, and it flows through my writing, drawing, and photography. I can’t imagine a world without magic, a world in which everything has a logical explanation and nothing moves beyond a set of rules that can be measured and accounted for. It’s the unaccountable rules, the ones that hint of something going on just under the surface of what we see, that rule my art.

Biff's book list on surrealism and magical realism becoming reality

Discover why each book is one of Biff's favorite books.

Why did Biff love this book?

I make a point of reading this novel before I start on each of my own novels. There’s something about the tone, the rhythm, the story, and the humor that attracts me to this book. As usual, the lead character (Tucker Case) is like a leaf blown at crazy angles by the winds of the rest of the world, a world that seems to have turned on him just because he’s him.

I like the way Moore creates the most unbelievable events but makes them seem so normal with the backdrop of a world sliding into madness…and he does it all with the most exquisite humor.

By Christopher Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Island of the Sequined Love Nun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Take a wonderfully crazed excursion into the demented heart of a tropical paradise - a world of cargo cults, cannibals, mad scientists, ninjas, and talking fruit bats. Our bumbling hero is Tucker Case, a hopeless geek trapped in a cool guy's body, who makes a living as a pilot for the Mary Jean Cosmetics Corporation. But when he demolishes his boss's pink plane during a drunken airborne liaison, Tuck must run for his life from Mary Jean's goons. Now there's only one employment opportunity left for him: piloting shady secret missions for an unscrupulous medical missionary and a sexy blond…