Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

9 of 9
496 pages; Random House
This biography, written by the author of Seabiscuit, follows the remarkable life story of Louis Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent turned Olympic runner turned World War II POW. "During the war, he gets shot down over the Pacific Ocean and spends 47 days adrift. He then ends up in a Japanese prison camp for two years, where the most evil commandant regularly beats and tortures him," says Gary Sinise. "When Zamperini finally gets home, all he wants is revenge. But he ends up learning to forgive. His courage to survive such oppression, and then to learn to move on with his life, is jaw-dropping. When I read about people of great character like this, I am inspired to stay true to my own values, give back to the world, and be thankful for the freedoms we all take for granted."
— As told to Naomi Barr