Ask the Readers: What Biographies Do You Recommend?

As I wrote in How to Learn About Life, reading biographies is a good way to learn about life. I’m not going to repeat the article here, but a few benefits of reading biographies are:

  1. It teaches you about pitfalls to avoid.
  2. It teaches you about how to respond to failure.
  3. It opens your mind to what is possible.
  4. It teaches you about the great principles to live by.

In short, it allows you to study the lives of exceptional people so that you can apply what you learn to your own life.
In the comment section of the article, there are some recommendations for good biographies to read. But I believe that there are many more out there.
So I’d like to ask you:
What biographies do you recommend and why?
Please leave your answer in the comment section of this article so that everyone can read it.
Photo by Giulio Bernardi


  1. My recommandation:
    I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action
    I’m not even a huge Jackie Chan fan, but the story of his life (especially his childhood) is amazing. A fascinating read!

  2. I am reading “Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffet” and I have learned a lot from it already.
    Best Wishes,
    William Veasley

  3. I have read tons of great biographies. I am about to read the fourth part of the LBJ series. I loves parts 1-3. Warning: lots of pages!
    No Ordinary Time about the Roosevelts was incredible.
    The Children about the college age kids at the Nashville sit-ins was amazing.
    So many more!

  4. It was a difficult question – I narrowed it down to my top 10 list. Percy B. Shelley,Alexander the Great, Ivan P. Pavlov, Boudica, Immanual Kant, John Quincy Adams, Hatshepsut, Jehanne d’ Arc, Rene Descartes and Vincent Van Gogh. I feel this list of people teach us in depth about life and our interaction with others. In short, a degree in life.

  5. I recommend a book by Tracy Kidder called Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer A Man Who Would Cure the World. It is a biography of Paul Farmer and the birth of the organization he founded Partners in Health. It shows the compassion of a single man fighting against the scourges of Haiti – most notably MDR-TB and MDR-HIV, two horrible nearly impossible to treat diseases, and the people that he gathers to him, who fall into step with him, and eventually become caught up in a movement that will become worldwide. It is impossible not to feel something when you read this story; it is impossible not to care; it is impossible to live the same way after you have put it down. It is haunting in that way; many of the people that inhabit its pages are now ghosts and soon there children will be if they aren’t already. It is the story of a nation starving and taken advantage of by the powers that be, and a man, a doctor, who embodies the struggle to give them health despite extreme poverty and squalid, infection causing living conditions. It is the story of hope. I recommend it to any and all.

  6. It has to be Lance Armstrong’s. To come back to achieve what he did (without chemical assistance) when given a one in five chance of surviving Testicular Cancer is astonishing. It shows us all what can be achieved through focus and unadulterated desire and dedication.
    Steve job’s is also a ‘must read’.

  7. I agree with Lance Armstrong’s first bio.
    I recommend:
    1. Scott Hamilton’s ‘The Great Eight’
    2. Ivanka Trump’s ‘The Trump Card’
    3. Randy Pausch’s ‘The Last Lecture’
    4. Julia Child’s ‘My Life in France’
    5. Nicolas Sparks’ ‘Three Weeks with My Brother’
    I love stories about simple people living extraordinary lives. Betty White’s ‘If You Ask Me (and of course You Won’t)’ was a fun and fast read.
    I am looking forward to reading Apolo Ohno’s book ‘Zero Regrets’ and possibly other books your readers post. Love bios, love this topic!

  8. There a few books about the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter which I found interesting including Lazeras and The Hurricane. It’s incredible how he survived years in prison for murders he was found not to have committed. I also liked Left for Dead: My Journey Home by Dr. Beck Weathers about his climb of Mt. Everest in 1996 which ended in tragedy after several members of his climbing team died in a freak storm on the mtn. This one was from long ago: Foul, the story of the great basketball star Connie Hawkins who grew up poor and uneducated and was blacked listed from the NBA for years.

  9. Thanks for the recommendations, everyone! There are many of them that I’ve never heard of before. I’m still waiting for more recommendations.

  10. This is a great idea! I’ve read many:
    Here are my favorites so far:
    LORCA: A Dream of Life by Leslie Stainton (poet, Francisco Garcia Lorca)
    Space is the Place: The Life and Times of Sun Ra by John F. Szwed (Sun Ra, Jazz
    Fierce Style: Christian Siriano by Rennie Dyball (Siriano, fashion designer)
    Fabulosity: What it is & How to Get It (autobiography, kimora lee simmons)
    Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend by Tony Fletcher (Keith Moon,
    drummer from the Who)
    Mother Jones:The Most Dangerous Woman in America by Elliott J. Gorn
    (union activist)
    Thelonious Monk: The lIfe and Times of an American Original by Robin D.G.
    Kelle (jazz musician)
    John Coltrane several different ones (jazz musician)

  11. My favorite is Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. Ben Carson is the first Neurosurgeon to successfully separate siamese twins joint at the head. His story tells of him overcoming trials growing up in detroit, being the worst student in his class, to graduating from Yale, going to medical school, and the trials he faced from surgeries, his race, etc. Its very motivational.

  12. Long walk to Freedom – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, former president of the Democratic Repulbic of South Africa. This man spent 27 years in prison fighting for the rights of native africans and an unjust and discriminatory system called Apartheid. There are many lessons to be learnt from this iconic man.

  13. An autobiography by Rafer Johnson titled “The Best That I Can Be”. Johnson won a silver medal in the 1956 Olympics & gold in 1960 in the decathlon. Very insightful re overcoming obstacles.

  14. Hey, such a good idea. I really likes your website – it is so cool and even more inspiring!
    Of course, I could go and look up all of the people you guys are writing about and such, but it could be nice, if you would write what the person was doing and so.
    Kind regards,
    Emil Rasmussen

  15. Emil Morre Christensen
    Emil Morre Christensen

    I will strongly recomend Steve Jobs biorgraphy – His life journey is truly amazing!

  16. Gandhi’s , My Experiments with Truth !

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