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Month 1: Adversity
Read a memoir or biography about someone who overcame adversity to become a role model or leader.
Hidden Figures by
The #1 New York Times bestseller The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner. Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens. Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.
Prague Winter by
A remarkable story of adventure and passion, tragedy and courage set against the backdrop of occupied Czechoslovakia and World War II. From former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright comes a moving and thoughtful memoir of her formative years in Czechoslovakia during the tumult of Nazi occupation, World War II, fascism, and the onset of the Cold War. An intensely personal journey into the past that offers vital lessons for the future, Prague Winter combines the intimacy of an autobiography with the drama of an exciting and well-told story, all underpinned by the gravity and intelligence of a serious work of history. The result is a highly readable and incisive work filled with tragedy and triumph, a resonant narrative informed by Albright's remarkable life experience and her characteristic candor in speaking hard truths.
Grandma Gatewood's Walk by
Publication Date: 2014-04-01
Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with gangsters from Harlem, she stood atop Maine's Mount Katahdin. There she sang the first verse of "America, the Beautiful" and proclaimed, "I said I'll do it, and I've done it." Grandma Gatewood, as the reporters called her, became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person--man or woman--to walk it twice and three times. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity and appeared on TV and in the pages of Sports Illustrated. The public attention she brought to the little-known footpath was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction. Author Ben Montgomery was given unprecedented access to Gatewood's own diaries, trail journals, and correspondence, and interviewed surviving family members and those she met along her hike, all to answer the question so many asked: Why did she do it? The story of Grandma Gatewood will inspire readers of all ages by illustrating the full power of human spirit and determination. Even those who know of Gatewood don't know the full story--a story of triumph from pain, rebellion from brutality, hope from suffering.
I Am Malala by
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.
From one of the most admired and beloved couples in recent American history, an extraordinarily moving story of public service, risk-taking, romance—and the journey toward recovery. This book delivers hope and redemption in the face of the tragic shooting, and introduces two unforgettable heroes. AS INDIVIDUALS, CONGRESSWOMAN GABRIELLE GIFFORDS and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, showed Americans how optimism, an adventurous spirit, and a call to service can help change the world. As a couple, they became a national example of the healing power to be found in deeply shared love and courage. Their arrival in the world spotlight came under the worst of circumstances. On January 8, 2011, while meeting with her constituents in Tucson, Arizona, Gabby was the victim of an assassination attempt that left six people dead and thirteen wounded. Gabby was shot in the head; doctors called her survival “miraculous.” As the nation grieved and sought to understand the attack, Gabby remained in private, focused on her against-all-odds recovery. Mark spent every possible moment by her side, as he also prepared for his final mission as commander of space shuttle Endeavour. Now, as Gabby’s health continues to improve, the couple is sharing their remarkable untold story. Intimate, inspiring, and unforgettably moving, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope provides an unflinching look at the overwhelming challenges of brain injury, the painstaking process of learning to communicate again, and the responsibilities that fall to a loving spouse who wants the best possible treatment for his wife. Told in Mark’s voice and from Gabby’s heart, the book also chronicles the lives that brought these two extraordinary people together—their humor, their ambitions, their sense of duty, their long-distance marriage, and their desire for family. Gabby and Mark made a pledge to tell their account as honestly as possible, and they have done so in riveting detail. Both Gabby and Mark have lived large public lives, but this book takes readers behind many closed doors—from the flight deck of the space shuttle to the cloakrooms of Congress to the hospital wards where Gabby struggled to reclaim herself with the help of formidable medical teams and devoted family and friends. Questions are answered with unvarnished candor. How do Gabby and Mark feel about the angry political discourse that was swirling in America at the time of the shooting, and that remains prevalent today? How do they see government living up to the highest possible ideals? And how do they understand and mourn the loss of the people who did not survive that day? Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope is a reminder of the power of true grit, the patience needed to overcome unimaginable obstacles, and the transcendence of love. In the story of Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, we all can see the best in ourselves. As Mark and Gabby’s friends have said: “The two of them are America as we dream it can be.”
Always Looking Up by
There are many words to describe Michael J. Fox: Actor. Husband. Father. Activist. But readers of Always Looking Up will soon add another to the list: Optimist. Michael writes about the hard-won perspective that helped him see challenges as opportunities. Instead of building walls around himself, he developed a personal policy of engagement and discovery: an emotional, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual outlook that has served him throughout his struggle with Parkinson's disease. Michael's exit from a very demanding, very public arena offered him the time-and the inspiration-to open up new doors leading to unexpected places. One door even led him to the center of his own family, the greatest destination of all. Always Looking Up is a memoir of this last decade, told through the critical themes of Michael's life: work, politics, faith, and family. The book is a journey of self-discovery and reinvention, and a testament to the consolations that protect him from the ravages of Parkinson's. With the humor and wit that captivated fans of his first book, Lucky Man, Michael describes how he became a happier, more satisfied person by recognizing the gifts of everyday life.
Long Walk to Freedom by
The book that inspired the major new motion picture Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa's antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history's greatest figures. Here for the first time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life--an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.