7 Authors Telling Incredible True Stories

One of the many pleasures of reading nonfiction is knowing that the events relayed on the page actually happened. Whether it's historical spy intrigue or someone's story of survival, the truth factor can go a long way toward making a read that much more compelling. If you're looking for some exciting nonfiction, check out the authors included here, who share a range of experiences pulled from real life. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

7 Writers Sharing True Life Experiences

Author Books
Sophie Neville The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974), Funnily Enough
Fahim Fazli Fahim Speaks: A Warrior-Actor's Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back
Fiona Thomas Depression in a Digital Age, A Nudge From the Universe
Susan Fowler Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber
Antonio J. Méndez The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA, The Moscow Rules
Judy Batalion White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess In Between, The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos
Ada Calhoun Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis, Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give

A Conversation With Swallows & Amazons Star Sophie Neville

The History of Memoirs

Memoirs can be traced back all the way to the days of Ancient Rome. Julius Caesar wrote about his experience in battle in his work Commentarii de Bello Gallico, which translates to Commentaries on the Gallic War. Documenting life is also a longstanding custom in Japan. The Japanese tradition of nikki bungaku, or poetic diary, dates back to around the year 935. This unique form of journaling is made up of several autobiographical poems, interspersed with sections of prose. In the 18th century, memoirists were generally people who were exceptional in their profession, who wrote in order to provide the public with an official account of their exploits. In the 20th century, many of these books began to focus on war, especially World War II, a subject that has been explored for decades through all sorts of media. Memoirs written by ordinary people began to gain popularity in the early 1990s, as a result of technological advances (such as the Internet) that made it easier for people to share their stories with the world.

5 Reasons to Read Nonfiction

  1. You can learn interesting facts
  2. Reading helps improve concentration
  3. It can expand your vocabulary
  4. Gives you a chance to see things from new perspectives
  5. Reading can improve memory

Meet CIA Hero Tony Mendez

In Depth

It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction. While everyone has a story, some have truly incredible tales to tell, such as what it's like to be an undercover CIA operative, or a refugee escaping a war-torn country. Here, in no particular order, are authors penning books that share their extraordinary life experiences.

Starting off the list at #1 is Sophie Neville, a former child actress. She is best known for her role as Titty in the 1974 movie, Swallows and Amazons. She later wrote a book about the making of the film, from development to the premiere. Based on a diary she kept while on location, it contains photographs, maps, and newspaper articles.

Neville is also the author of the memoirs, Ride the Wings of Morning and Funnily Enough. She is president of The Arthur Ransome Society, and has written articles for such publications as the Daily Telegraph and Country Life. She holds a degree in anthropology from Durham University, and has worked in production for such television shows as Doctor Who, EastEnders, and My Family and Other Animals.

Neville is also the author of the memoirs, Ride the Wings of Morning and Funnily Enough.

At #2 is Fahim Fazli, author of Fahim Speaks, which tells the story of fleeing Afghanistan as a teenager for America after Russia invaded his homeland. As an adult, he returned to his birthplace to serve as an interpreter with the United States Marines. The book, co-written with Michael Moffett, won a gold medal in the biography category from the Military Writers Society of America.

Fazli later moved to California to pursue an acting career. He appeared in the movie Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr., and has also had roles in Clint Eastwood's American Sniper with Bradley Cooper, and the Barry Levinson film, Rock the Kasbah, starring Bill Murray and Bruce Willis.

In the #3 spot is Fiona Thomas, author of Depression in a Digital Age, which details her battle with anxiety and depression. The book explores the nervous breakdown she suffered in her mid-twenties and how therapy, medication, and an online community aided her recovery. Emma Gannon, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Multi-Hyphen Method, calls the story brilliantly honest.

Emma Gannon, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Multi-Hyphen Method, calls the story brilliantly honest.

Thomas is co-host of The Positive People Podcast, alongside Amy Holland, founder of I Can Cards. The duo highlights stories of mental health, burnout, career, and postpartum struggles. As a freelance writer, her work has appeared in Metro, Refinery29, Healthline, and Happiful magazine.

Entering the list at #4 is Susan Fowler, an editor at The New York Times. She is the author of Whistleblower, which examines the sexual harassment she experienced at Uber and the eventual exit of the company's CEO. Vogue, Forbes, and Cosmopolitan named it a Most Anticipated Book of 2020, while Gayle King of CBS This Morning called it frightening.

In addition to Person of the Year, TIME named Fowler a Silence Breaker. Maureen Dowd profiled her for The New York Times, and she has appeared on the cover of Politico magazine. She previously worked at Stripe as the founding editor in chief of Increment. She began her career as a software engineer for various companies in Silicon Valley.

She began her career as a software engineer for various companies in Silicon Valley.

Coming in at #5 is Tony Mendez. His memoir, The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA, reveals the tricks and insights he used during operations all over the world, from East Asia to Cold War missions in Moscow. In 1980, he orchestrated the escape of six Americans from a hostage situation in Tehran, Iran, which later inspired the Academy Award winning movie, Argo, directed by and starring Ben Affleck.

Mendez earned the CIA's Intelligence Medal of Merit, and was chosen as one of fifty officers to be awarded the Trailblazer Medallion. He and his wife, Jonna Mendez, also an intelligence officer, co-wrote the books The Moscow Rules and Spy Dust, which details their experiences during the Cold War.

At #6 is Judy Batalion, author of White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess In Between. The book, which explores her childhood with a hoarder mother, was shortlisted for the Vine Award For Canadian Jewish Literature. The Forward hails it as pitch perfect and The Jerusalem Post calls it beautifully written.

The Forward hails it as pitch perfect and The Jerusalem Post calls it beautifully written.

Batalion was a columnist for The New York Times's Motherlode, and her essays have appeared in Vogue, The Washington Post, Salon, and Tablet. She has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and was a semifinalist in the United Kingdom's So You Think You're Funny? competition. Among her media appearances are Anderson Cooper 360, BBC Scotland, and Discovery channel.

Wrapping up the list at #7 is journalist Ada Calhoun, the New York Times bestselling author of Why We Can't Sleep. It explores her midlife crisis and the concerns of other Generation X women worried about debt, divorce, and career. Publishers Weekly praises it as empowering, and in its starred review, Library Journal calls it a useful resource for people struggling to find balance in their personal and professional lives.

Calhoun's memoir, Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give, a collection of seven essays about marriage, draws inspiration from her Modern Love column. It was featured multiple times on the TODAY show and named a Hot Book by Star magazine. She has written for O, The Oprah Magazine, The Atlantic, and The New Republic, and contributed an essay on Generation X womanhood to the Beastie Boys Book.