The last year has really shone a light on the everyday heroes of the NHS, the unsung keyworkers in retail and service industries, our teachers, social workers, community leaders, the list goes on. We’re shining a light on some of the best books that celebrate these real life heroes, as well as books which provide insight into the lives of inspirational people.
Dear NHS edited by Adam Kay
Great writers, artists, entertainers and thinkers talk about their experiences of the NHS and explore what it means to them in this unique collection curated and edited by Adam Kay.
‘They are all heroes, and this book is our way of saying thank you.‘
Curated and edited by Adam Kay (author of multi-million bestseller This is Going to Hurt), Dear NHS features 100 household names telling their personal stories of the health service. Contributors include: Paul McCartney, Emilia Clarke, Peter Kay, Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Sir Trevor McDonald, Graham Norton, Sir Michael Palin, Naomie Harris, Ricky Gervais, Sir David Jason, Dame Emma Thompson, Joanna Lumley, Miranda Hart, Dermot O’Leary, Jamie Oliver, Ed Sheeran, David Tennant, Dame Julie Walters, Emma Watson, Malala Yousafzai and many, many more.
How Animals Saved My Life: Being the Supervet by Professor Noel Fitzpatrick
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick shares more heart-warming and uplifting stories from his life as The Supervet. The follow-up to the massive No.1 bestseller, Listening to the Animals.
As Noel explores what makes us connect with animals so deeply, we meet Peanut, the world’s first cat with two front bionic limbs; eight-year-old therapy dachshund Olive; Odin, a gorgeous five-year-old Dobermann, who would prove to be one of Noel’s most challenging cases – and of course his beloved companions Ricochet, the Maine Coon, and Keira, the scruffy Border terrier who is always by his side.
Anti-Social by Nick Pettigrew
Has your life become unbearable because the person living above you has a fondness for crack cocaine, the company of strangers and dance music? Or maybe you’re a social worker, mental health nurse, police officer, firefighter, dog warden or vicar and you’ve been landed with someone who’s a pain in the a***. Who are you going to call? That would be me: an anti-social behaviour officer.
Anti-Social is the diary of a council worker whose job is to keep his community happy, or at least away from each other’s throats. That’s hard enough at the best of times but when government cuts mean that hospitals, social services and police are all at breaking point, the possibility of complete chaos is never far away.
This is an urgent, timely but, most of all, hysterically funny true story of a life spent working with the people society wants to forget and the problems that nobody else can resolve.
Captain Tom Moore by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Part of the best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, Captain Tom tells the life story of the WW2 veteran who inspired a nation to keep giving.
Once there was a humble boy from Yorkshire, England called Tom, who was born with his feet firmly on the ground...
His determination and courage saw him and his comrades through the worst crisis the world had ever known: World War Two. So when a new crisis struck in 2020, just before his 100th birthday, Captain Tom knew just what to do. Aiming to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden, his story soon became known all over the world, with people donating so much that he quickly raised over £30 million! Captain Tom’s story shows us that, by coming together, we can dream bigger than ever, and that when the going gets tough, you just have to keep on walking.
Fire Woman by Josephine Reynolds
Signing up to the Fire Brigade in 1981, Josephine Reynolds was Britain’s first ever female firefighter. This is the inspiring true story of an extraordinary young woman who triumphed in a man’s world, making history in the process.
Set against the slate-grey backdrop of early 1980s Britain, Fire Woman is the story of how a young woman brought up in rural Wales coped in the testosterone-fuelled world of the fire brigade, where even today 96 per cent of all staff are male.
In a life packed with incident – where lethal forest fires, escaped zoo animals and unexploded bombs formed a background to the everyday toll of death and disaster – Josephine experienced both triumph and heartbreaking personal tragedy.
Fire Woman also provides a unique insight into the camaraderie that comes with risking your life on a daily basis and stands as the inspiring true story of an extraordinary young woman who took on a man’s world and won, becoming Britain’s first full-time firefighter.
The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson
Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.
We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.
In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.
Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Alan Turing was the extraordinary Cambridge mathematician who masterminded the cracking of the German Enigma ciphers and transformed the Second World War. In 1954, aged 41, Alan Turing committed suicide and one of Britain’s greatest scientific minds was lost. The official book behind the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.
Andrew Hodges tells how Turing’s revolutionary idea of 1936 – the concept of a universal machine – laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing’s leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic account of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program–all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
The bestselling memoir of youngest ever Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl who stood up to the Taliban.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, 9 October 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price when she was shot in the head at point-blank range.
Malala Yousafzai’s extraordinary journey has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations. She has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and is the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
There are far too many amazing books about everyday heroes, inspiring people, and incredible stories to fit in a list! However, we’ve got a huge selection of books on real life heroes!
Check out our currently trending books across genres. Or discover more about someone who’s inspired you this year, or discover the life of heroes from decades ago who have shaped the world as we know it today.
What do you think of real life hero stories? Have you read any inspiring books this year? Let us know in the comments below.