Find a Way
Absolutely inspiring memoir about the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, who happened to be a 64 year-old woman. Her writing style is direct and determined, much like her incredible feat of accomplishment. Her background and childhood story only serve to draw the reader in and contextualize her drive to make this crossing. I had tears in my eyes as she reached Florida, having appreciated every struggle she overcame, every lap she put in at the pool, every 5am open water start to make her dream a reality.
No Picnic on Mt Kenya
Perhaps the most inspiring story I've read in some time, this WWII POW does the unthinkable: convinces 2 other people to fashion their own mountaineering tools, break out of their camp, and climb a 17,000' mountain using only a picture from a magazine and a can of spam as their maps. His writing style is equally delightful, descriptive, and engaging. I never imagined myself alongside them, but felt clearly his style of climbing and genuine love of mountaineering, despite the adversity which they inevitably encountered. A hidden gem.
A Cure for Suicide
Jesse Ball is a young, although already accomplished writer, and his talent definitely shows in this book. The premise is inherently creative, and the reader feels like they've woken from a dream, much like the subjects in this grand government health project. The author never delves into the morality or ethics of the project, instead presenting facts and experiences, which leaves the reader to ponder the larger questions looming outside the idyllic towns the characters travel in between. The ending, too, leaves the reader to finish the story, or leave it open-ended, much like the lives of each character in the book, as their memories are erased and reshaped at the whim of a larger force.
But You Did Not Come Back
A very short but very sad memoir about a WWII Nazi Concentration Camp survivor. She walked out alive, her father did not. The book is a sad, sweet, work of grief in which the author tells her story, but full of her unbearable loss. At the end, the reader hopes she has found peace within herself, and a resolution to her years of grieving and loss as she tried to normalize to a post Nazi world without the most important person in her life.