Multiple printings over 80 years testify to this memoir’s legacy as an air classic, and this moving coming-of-age story by World War I British flying ace Cecil Lewis brings to life the magic of flight like few books do. After lying his way into the Royal Flying Corps at age 16, Lewis embarked on adventures and misadventures in legendary aircraft and pivotal battles, vividly painting how enraptured he was with his wings in a way that will resonate with all who love the sky. In poetic and beautiful language Lewis ponders both the wonders of flight and the horrors of war with the painful innocence of a teenager—a sobering contrast that adds power to his already-significant experiences. He went on to have a long career as a writer, becoming one of the founding executives of the British Broadcasting Corporation and eventually the last surviving British ace of the Great War. It’s easy to see why he was described as “a master of words,” and Sagittarius Rising is sure to make a lasting impression on any reader. —Emma Quedzuweit
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
Hopefully none of us will ever have a bee stuck in our helmet while in close jet formation, accidentally unplug the G-suit during an intense maneuver, or be temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft, but test pilot/astronaut/engineer Chris Hadfield has lived all these and more, describing them in the practical and humorous manner that has brought him success. After a 35-year career, the Canadian astronaut is a wealth of mind-bending experiences and eye-opening lessons to change the perspective of us Earth dwellers.
Details of his years at NASA and his approaches to challenges—whether in jet training, spacewalks, or family life—are packaged into fun and seemingly counterintuitive lessons, such as “don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff.” If you’re ready be entertained, educated, and inspired, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is for you. —EQ
The Aviator’s Wife
If you are a fan of historical fiction—and if you’ve read “Bookshelf” enough you know we are—you’ll enjoy Melanie Benjamin’s look at the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, socialite, wife of “Lucky Lindy,” mother of six and the unlucky mother of a firstborn son whom she lost to a still-confusing tragedy, writer, and first licensed female glider pilot. AML’s life was both charmed and tragic. What this novel gives her, though, is the acknowledgment that she was a strong woman who, in the spirit of the times, always stood by her man. If you’re a Charles Lindbergh fan, you’re not going to like his portrayal in this book; he is misogynistic, controlling, and, of course, a Nazi sympathizer. He also, as we all now know, had several other families and relationships with other women. One reviewer of this book said Anne and Charles were the first power couple, and it’s true their lives were scrutinized as never before and set the tone for paparazzi for years to come. —Julie Summers Walker