SINGAPORE (July 9): They say the stories that stick with us the most are the ones which truly happened. From the harrowing account of the Nazi occupation of Netherlands by young Anne Frank to the inspiring journey of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, these are the stories of real people who overcame adversity to rise above. 

 

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The diary of 13-year-old Anne Frank is perhaps the most remarkable story ever written. An account of the years she and her family spent hiding from the Nazis, this diary is all at once harrowing and hopeful, truly an eloquent testament to the human spirit. Her diary, discovered in the attic where she had spent the final years of her life, begins in 1942 when the Nazis occupied Holland (now the Netherlands) and the Frank family was forced to flee their home in Amsterdam and go into hiding. For the next two years, she and her family lived in a confined attic, cut off from the outside world, facing constant hunger and boredom. In 1944, their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, and the family was sent to the brutal concentration camps, where Anne died of thypus. The diary, written in Dutch, was recovered and eventually published in 1947. The English translation was published in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl. 

 

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, is a famously private individual — eschewing flashy interviews or the limelight — but as the founder and CEO of Amazon, there is no denying his road to success is one of fascination and scrutiny. This tech mogul founded Amazon in 1994, first as an online book store, before he conceived the idea to make it, well, an “everything” store.

Fast-forward 20 years and today, Amazon is a trillion-dollar company and the largest e-commerce store in the world. This book, written by American journalist and New York Times best-selling author, Brad Stone, offers a flyon-the-wall look into the publicity-shy Bezos, gleaned via interviews with former and current employees, friends and family. 

 

Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela

This lengthy yet gripping book chronicles the early years and imprisonment of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist Nelson Mandela, who served as the president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. In this honest, thought-provoking and inspiring book, Mandela writes about his childhood as the foster son of a tribal chief, raised in the time of apartheid.

He chronicles, in elegant and engaging prose, his years as a poor student and law clerk, and his political awakening which led to his rise to moral and political leadership. He describes his struggle to reconcile his political activity with his devotion to his family, the anguished break-up of his first marriage, and the painful separations from his children — all leading up to the 27 years he spent in prison for his beliefs. 

 

iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It by Steve Wozniak

We all know of Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, who was as well-known for being eccentric and temperamental as he was known for his brilliance. However, fewer people know of Steve Wozniak, the other co-founder of Apple, who has stayed mostly out of the limelight.

In this New York Times best-selling autobiography, Woz, as he is known, tells of his journey towards the founding of Apple in 1976 and his relationship with the enigmatic Jobs. This funny and distinctly ‘Woz’ book gives readers a no-holds-barred account of his life, from his family to his work on the Apple Macintosh. 

 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The classic book, about the early years of American writer and poet Maya Angelou, is an autobiography unlike most. Written as autobiographical “fiction”, Angelou tells her coming-of-age story as a poor black girl growing up in Arkansas, abandoned by her parents, and as a teen mother.

Gripping, intriguing, and unputdownable, the book describes how Angelou was sexually assaulted at eight years old, and how she struggled to cope with the trauma and the constant racism she faced in the white-majority South. The first of a seven-part autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a powerful book, blending reality and literary fiction into an emotional and inspiring story 

 

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a memoir by French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was the editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine. On Dec 8, 1995, at just age 43, he suffered a massive stroke, which sent him into a 20-day coma. When he awoke, he was left with locked-in syndrome, which describes a state of total paralysis, although his mind remains normal and alert.

Communicating just by blinking his eyelids — the only part he could move — he wrote the book by blinking as an assistant read through the alphabet, painstakingly spelling out each word, letter by letter. It describes his life before and after his condition in heartbreaking detail as he contemplates his successes and regrets.

Published in 1997, the book went on to sell millions and was critically acclaimed. However, Bauby would not get to see any of that, as he passed away from pneumonia just 10 days after the book was published. A movie of the same title was released in 2007, also to critical success.