51 Best Autobiographies Every Writer Should Read

Are you looking for the best autobiographies to add to your reading list? Take a look at a few suggestions in our guide!

If you are interested in learning about the life of a famous person, consider reading their autobiography. An autobiography is a great way to learn more about their life, some of the challenges they had to overcome, and their impact on the world. The list can be long with so many famous historical figures publishing autobiographies, but some autobiographies are better than others.

So, what are some of the top autobiographies you should consider exploring? See if you can learn some lessons from their lives that you can apply to your own. And, if you are wondering what’s the difference between autobiographies and memoirs, check out our article on the most famous memoirs to find out!


1. The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou, 2004

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is a celebrated civil rights activist, poet, and scholar

Undoubtedly, any list of the greatest autobiographies of all time has to start with The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou. This is one of the most famous memoirs of all time. This remarkable collection provides insight into the minds of one of the greatest authors of all time. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“She said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and even more intelligent than college professors.”

Maya Angelou, The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou

2. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, 1945

Anne Frank
Anne Frank is a Jewish girl who documented the Holocaust via her diary

This is one of the greatest autobiographies of all time. The Diary of a Young Girl is known worldwide and is a collection of writings from Anne Frank. During the two years, she hid with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. She shares intimate details regarding the Nazi occupation, what her life was like growing up, and the heart-breaking impacts of WWII. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

3. Becoming by Michelle Obama (2018)

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is the first lady of Barack Obama, the US’ 44th president.

Some people would instead call Becoming by Michelle Obama a Memoir, but it is, in fact, an autobiography. This book is divided into three parts, giving people some insight into her life history and how she has tackled some of the world’s biggest challenges. It also lets people know the tremendous responsibility she shouldered over the years and what she sacrificed for others. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

Michelle Obama, Becoming

4. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 1909

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin is one of the United States’ Founding Fathers

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin was written between 1771 and 1790 but was not published until the early 1900s. It focuses on his early life and unique adulthood, particularly his role as a founding father of the United States. He also attempted to follow 13 virtues to achieve moral perfection. His suggestions for leading a viable life are as valid today as they were back then. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fix’d in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error.”

Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

5. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, 1994

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is an anti-apartheid politician and South Africa’s first president.

Nelson Mandela was one of the leading activists against the apartheid movement in Africa. He was arrested numerous times and spent decades in prison, but eventually rose to become the first black president of South Africa. His autobiography gives people an inside look at what his life was like, his formal education, and what his time in prison meant to him. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

6. An Autobiography by Agatha Christie, 1997

Agatha Christie
Agathe Christie is a well-known writer of detective novels.

Any fan of mysteries is likely a fan of Agatha Christie. Her autobiography looks at what it takes to become one of the most prolific mystery writers ever. This autobiography accounts for her life through to the age of 75. It is more than 500 pages long but reads like a conversation with the author herself. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them. ”

Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie: An Autobiography

7. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, 2013

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner and female education activist.

Never underestimate the power of one voice and how it can change the world. That is exactly what I Am Malala seeks to communicate. She is a rare person in society, immediately recognizable by a single name. She ignited the promise of activism among the young generation and has already driven tremendous change worldwide. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

8. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, 1845

Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass is a statesman famous for his antislavery writings.

Frederick Douglass was one of the leading abolitionists, and he helped countless enslaved people escape the horrible shackles of slavery. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, gives people a first-hand look at his harrowing childhood and adventurous adulthood. Even though it is difficult to grapple with some of the darker sides of American History, it is critical to take a closer look at his experience. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”

Frederick Douglass

9. Autobiography of an Androgyne by Earl Lind, 1918

Autobiography of an Androgyne
Earl Lind, also known as Ralph Wether and Jennie June, is a writer and activist for gender nonconforming people

This autobiography was written in 1918, and the Autobiography of an Androgyne is unique. It has clear prose and serves as a guide for those seeking to transcend the binary state of the world. It is considered to be a groundbreaking book in the world of transgender literature. It is also a reminder of how far the world has come and how far the world has to go. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“This should be sufficient to show that homosexuality was discussed among the Romans and Greeks, and it is well known that the Bible is not quiet about it.”

Earl Lind, Autobiography of an Androgyne

10. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, 1965

Malcolm X
Malcolm X is a civil rights activist and spokesperson for Islam

The Civil Rights Movement is still alive and well to this day, and Malcolm X is widely seen as one of the most outstanding civil rights leaders in the history of the United States. This autobiography was written in conjunction with Alex Haley and contained a lot of interviews with Malcolm X and excerpts from his writing. Unfortunately, Malcolm X was tragically assassinated, but his fight for racial justice lives on in current times. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against.”

Malcolm X, The Autobiography

11. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, 1946

Paramahansa Yogananda
Paramahansa Yogananda is an Indian Hindu guru, yogi, and monk.

Yoga has become incredibly popular during the past few decades, but the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda has been in print for over 75 years. It has been estimated that this book has been printed over four million times and has been widely credited for sparking the popularity of yoga in the United States. This autobiography guides readers on how they can cultivate their inner strength. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself……”

Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

12. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 by Mark Twain, 2010

Mark Twain
Mark Twain is the father of American literature.

Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, is one of the most prolific writers ever. A master of the written word, his autobiography allows people to look at what it takes to become one of the greatest writers. His autobiography was not published until 100 years after he had passed away. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“In this Autobiography I shall keep in mind that I am speaking from the grave. I am literally speaking from the grave, because I shall be dead when the book is published.”

Mark Twain, Autobiography of Mark Twain

13. Living for Change: An Autobiography by Grace Lee Boggs, 1998

Grace Lee Boggs
Grace Lee Boggs is a social activist, author, and feminist

If you want to see what life was like for someone who lived more than 100 years, Living for Change is an autobiography worth exploring. Grace Lee Bloggs played an integral role in numerous social movements, and this autobiography details her life as an intellectual, activist, and partner alongside some of the leading social justice warriors of the past century. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Look on yourself as a citizen in a kingdom of persons, he advised. Act always as if the maxim of your action could become a universal law, always treating mankind, as much in your own person as in that of another, as an end, never as a means.”

Grace Lee Boggs, Living for Change: An Autobiography

14. Becoming A Visible Man by Jamison Green, 2004

Jamison Green
Jamison Green is a transgender rights activist and writer.

Jamison Green is an educator, author, and civil rights activist. His autobiographical account provides an inside look at what life is like as someone who has transitioned from female to male. Becoming A Visible Man mixes theory, activism, and personal stories to provide a riveting look at what life is like as a marginalized community member. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Being true to oneself creates the integrity and self-respect we need to have if we are to extend that respect to others.”

Jamison Green, Becoming a Visible Man

15. An American Life By Ronald Reagan, 1999

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan is America’s 40th president

Ronald Reagan is remembered as the president who brought the Cold War to an end, and his eight years serving as president of the United States caused a lot of change in the country. This autobiography, An American Life, looks at the mindset behind his decisions and his impact on the country and the world. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“For more than five years, I’d made little progress with my efforts at quiet diplomacy—for one thing, the Soviet leaders kept dying on me.”

Ronald Reagan, An American Life

16. Chronicles Volume 1 by Bob Dylan, 2004

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is a prominent singer-songwriter

Bob Dylan has won various Grammy awards for his contributions to music, but his autobiography also won a Quill Award alongside a Nobel Prize in literature. He is a gifted storyteller, which is certainly something that shines through in this autobiography. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it’s like they didn’t fade away at all.”

Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One

17. Cash: The Autobiography by Johnny Cash, 1997

Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash is a notable country singer and songwriter.

Cash: The Autobiography by Johnny Cash lets people inside one of the most talented and darkest musical minds in history. It tells a story regarding some of his most pivotal musical moments, his life on stage, and his impact on pop culture. This book is a unique opportunity to dive into his mind. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“They’re powerful, those songs. At times they’ve been my only way back, the only door out of the dark, bad places the black dog calls home.”

Johnny Cash, Cash

18. Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis J. Rodríguez, 1993

Luis J. Rodríguez
Luis Rodríguez is a journalist, critic, and Xicanx author.

This is a classic autobiography, and it is frequently listed among banned books. Always Running talks about what life is like in a Los Angeles gang. It provides an inside look at his battles, what he had to do to survive, and the impact gang life had on himself, his family, and Los Angeles. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

When you win, we win; but when you go down, you go down alone.”

Luis J. Rodríguez, Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.

19. Flying Free: My Victory over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team by Cecilia Aragon, 2020

Flying Free: My Victory over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team
Cecilia Aragon is the co-inventor of the treap data structure

Cecilia Aragon grew up as a shy, bullied girl. In her autobiography, Flying Free: My Victory over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team, she talks about what she had to do to soar above it all. She had a special strength in math, and she was eventually introduced to flying. It eventually clicks everything into place for her, and she works hard to accomplish her dreams. This story lets the reader walk along her unique path with her, from a bullied girl to a triumphant success. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“This was my first real job, one that might even lead to a career, and I had to hang onto it. I wanted to hang onto it. I had to succeed at something.”

Cecilia Aragon, Flying Free: My Victory over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team

20. A Full Life by Jimmy Carter, 2016

Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter is the United States’ 39th president.

Even though Jimmy Carter may not be remembered as the greatest president, he is one of the greatest people ever to hold the Oval Office. Of course, many problems marked his presidency, but his autobiography is about much more than just his career in the Oval Office. His impact on Habitat for Humanity cannot be overstated, and A Full Life looks at what he has meant to the world. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.”

Jimmy Carter

21. Courage to Soar: a Body in Motion, a Life in Balance by Simone Biles, 2016

Simone Biles
Simone Biles is a gymnast and Olympic medallist.

Simone Biles is widely seen as the most accomplished gymnast of all time, but she also struggled with various mental health issues. Nevertheless, her impact on society is significant, and Courage to Soar: a Body in Motion, a Life in Balance provides everyone with a look at her journey. The autobiography has a friendly, generous, and soothing voice as it describes all the challenges she had to overcome. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“I would hope I would inspire kids everywhere to know that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Simone Biles, Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, a Life in Balance

22. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, 2004

Barack Obama
Barack Obama is the United States’ 44th president

Originally published in 1995 to spearhead his political campaign, Dreams from My Father delves into the president’s journey to learn more about his biracial identity. It also highlights how African-American literature can help answer race, class, and identity questions. The autobiography focuses on Barack Obama’s younger self in Chicago, Honolulu, and Harvard. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“My identity might begin with the fact of my race, but it didn’t, couldn’t end there. At least that’s what I would choose to believe.”

Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

23. A Funny Life by Michael McIntyre, 2021

Michael McIntyre
Michael McIntyre is a television host and English comedian

A Funny Life is about Michael McIntyre’s funny but serious recounts of his steps to reach success. In the book, he shares his naivete when he started in the show industry, his desperation for success, and his desire to stay one of the most sought-after comedians. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Comedy provides an escape from the horrors of real life.”

Michael McIntyre, A Funny Life

24. The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor by Eddie Jaku, 2021

The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor
Eddie Jaku survived many concentration camps during the Holocaust

Eddie Jaku’s The Happiest Man on Earth tells the story of a Holocaust survivor and his search for life’s meaning. Throughout the book, he shares the wisdom he learned in the 100 years he lived. In it, he underscores the importance of striving to live life to the fullest. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you.”

Eddie Jaku, The Happiest Man on Earth

25. An Autobiography (Toward Freedom) Jawaharlal Nehru by Jawaharlal Nehru, 1936

Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s first Prime Minister after being liberated from the British colony

The world learned Jawaharlal Nehru as one of the most famous Asian leaders through his imprisonment during World War II. Arrested for refusing to cooperate with the British government, he stood his ground for an independent India. He was released and helped Gandhi ask the British to leave the country. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, An Autobiography

26. Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi, 2009

Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi is a top world tennis champion

In Open: An Autobiography, Andre Agassi shares his journey to stardom and life as a tennis prodigy. Spurred by the pressure to be the best, he talks about his successes and struggles. This includes his views of his court rivals and his battle against drugs. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature.”

Andre Agassi, Open: An Autobiography

27. Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS by Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS), 2023

BTS is a South Korean boy band with 26 Guinness World Records

Beyond the Story records the decade-long true story of the most successful boyband, even heralded on the same status quo as The Beatles. It narrates BTS’s struggles as a group and as individuals on and off the stage. The book includes behind-the-scenes of their milestone achievements, challenges with toxic media, and their critical decisions about disbanding or continuing to work together. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“These seven strangers had come from all over the country to Seoul and become each other’s family. Inside the most commercial system of the Korean music industry, where incredible amounts of capital, human resources, marketing, and technology converge, BTS — ironically enough — found a family in each other.”

BTS, Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS

28. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, 2005

Joan Didion
Joan Didion is a pioneer of New Journalism and a renowned author

The Year of Magical Thinking details Joan Didion’s state after the death of her husband. This grief and her need to care for her ill daughter make the book an intimate and vulnerable account of one’s mourning. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses, we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were, as we no longer, as we will one day not be at all.”

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

29. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More by Janet Mock, 2014

Janet Mock

Image caption: Janet Mock is a transgender rights activist, host, and author.

Janet Mock set down the quest for her authentic self in Redefining Realness. Her transparent take on identity and her journey to womanhood make this book a must-read for anyone facing the same hurdles and challenges. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Those parts of yourself that you desperately want to hide and destroy will gain power over you. The best thing to do is face and own them, because they are forever a part of you.”

Janet Mock, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More

30. Wings of Fire by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari, 1999

Abdul Kalam
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is the 11th President of India

In Wings of Fire, India’s Missile Man, Abdul Kalam, shares the adversities he had to conquer since his youth. In this autobiography, he highlights the importance of having a close-knit family, helpful relatives, and supportive friends to break down the walls that keep individuals from realizing their dreams. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“A big shot is a little shot who keeps on shooting, so keep trying.”

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Wings of Fire

31. The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi, 1929

Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian lawyer and nationalist who rejected violence

Recognized as one of the most important spiritual literature of the 20th century, The Story of My Experiments with Truth aims to expand Gandhi’s philosophy and life calling. The book begins with his boyhood and continues through 1921, where he shares his thoughts on pacifism and the desire to help the struggling Indian population. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Service without humility is selfishness and egotism.”

Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth

32. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, 1991

Jung Chang
Jung Chang is a Chinese-British author

Wild Swans is the captivating tale of three Chinese generations, demonstrating the years’ transformation. Jung Chang, although now living in London, proudly shares her grandmother and mother’s life alongside hers to showcase their family history. Although the book is a success, with over 10 million copies sold, it’s banned in her home country, China. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“If you have love, even plain cold water is sweet.”

Jung Chang, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

33. Life (Richards’ Book) by James Fox and Keith Richards, 2010

Keith Richards
Keith Richards is a guitarist and songwriter for the English band Rolling Stones

In the award-winning bestselling book Life, Richards recounts the prime of the Rolling Stones’ career. With James Fox’s help, he describes how the pinnacle of British rock looks and feels during their heyday. Richards did not hold back on the book, sharing intimate details of how he lived in the era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts remain.”

Keith Richards, Life

34. Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, 2022

Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman is famous for playing Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series

Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman peels back the layers of the outstanding actor. Rickman’s book is a candid retelling of his life at the height of his fame. His witty, gossipy way of narrating will make readers feel as if they’re reading the diary of a close friend. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“I hate it when my head, heart and aspirations are filled to the brim only with career. The rest of me hangs around like a jacket on the back of a doorknob.”

Alan Rickman, Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman

35. Here, Right Matters: An American Story by Alexander Vindman, 2021

Alexander Vindman
Alexander Vindman reported the phone call that impeached former US president Donald Trump

In Here, Right Matters: An American Story, retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Vindman bravely unfolds his participation in the then-president’s trial and impeachment. Before witnessing this scandal, he recounts his childhood as an immigrant and how he became a part of the national service. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Resilience enables us to cope with adversity.”

Alexander Vindman, Here, Right Matters: An American Story

36. Bossypants by Tina Fey, 2011

Tina Fey
Tina Fey is a decorated actress, comedian, and writer

Bossypants is a reigning comedy-autobiography book on the New York Times Best Seller list for five weeks. Tina Fey shares her girlhood and bouts as a comedian in this book that sold millions of copies. Many describe it as hilarious, heart-warming literature that readers can relate to. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“There are no mistakes, only opportunities.”

Tina Fey, Bossypants

37. Belonging: The Autobiography by Alun Wyn Jones, 2021

Alun Wyn Jones
Alun Wyn Jones initially played football before choosing rugby

If you want to know how the little boy from Mumbles became the most capped rugby player, read Alun Wyn Jones’ Belonging: The Autobiography. He narrates how he turned from watching the Lions play to becoming the team’s captain. Be inspired by the vulnerable account of his dedication, sacrifices, and how he builds his future. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Losing hurt, it always hurts, and it should hurt.”

Alun Wyn Jones, Belonging: The Autobiography

38. Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe, 2012

Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe is a veteran actor and filmmaker

Although Rob Lowe already lived most of his life in the public eye, Stories I Only Tell My Friends provides a funny yet sarcastic and poignant recollection of his life. He shares his experiences as a misunderstood teen idol. Then, a man battling alcohol addiction. In this book, Lowe is candid in his disappointments and accomplishments. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“The best part is not the biggest, it’s the one that’s most memorable.”

Rob Lowe, Stories I Only Tell My Friends

39. I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne, 2009

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne is the lead vocalist of Black Sabbath

I Am Ozzy tells the story of John Michael Osbourne’s boyhood and rise to metal rock stardom. This rags-to-riches tale includes the good and the bad things he has done throughout his life, making it entertaining but motivational. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“The power of people, when they focus on something positive, never fails to amaze me.”

Ozzy Osbourne, I Am Ozzy

40. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History by Chris Kyle, Jim DeFelice, and Scott McEwen, 2012

Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War

American Sniper is one of the non-fiction books that will leave readers in awe. It resonates with many modern-day heroes who put their lives on the line to protect their country. Chris Kyle chronicles his childhood and experiences on the battlefield and recounts his lost and living teammates in this moving book. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“I signed up to protect this country. I do not choose the wars. It happens that I love to fight. But I do not choose which battles I go to.”

Chris Kyle, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History

41. The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt, 1961

Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleonor Roosevelt led the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafting committee

The longest-serving US First Lady’s work, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt, gives readers a peek into her outlook on life and her life mission. The book combines three past autobiographies and offers insights into her personality and fight for women and civil rights. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

42. Love, Lucy by Lucille Ball, 1996

Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball is a pioneer comedian and businesswoman

Love, Lucy tells the real-life story of the American motion-picture entertainer Lucille Ball. It starts from her early life and her relationship with her family. The book also details her acting career, marriages, and breakups. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“You won’t be happy, whatever you do, unless you’re comfortable with your own conscience.”

Lucille Ball, Love, Lucy

43. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, 2016

Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen is known for inventing heartland rock

Bruce Springsteen explains many things in Born to Run, including his penchant for shows that extend to up to four hours. The book also mentions his fight with depression despite being a blinding force on stage. It’s a life story told with sincerity. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“We honor our parents by carrying their best forward and laying the rest down. By fighting and taming the demons that laid them low and now reside in us.”

Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run

44. E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX by DMX and Smokey Fontaine, 2002

DMX is a rapper-actor known for his aggressive rapping style

E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX unveils Earl Simmon’s life without holding anything back. The book includes his life as an abandoned child living in a shanty neighborhood, addicted to many vices. Despite his great disadvantage at the start of his life, rhyming became his escape, leading to a successful career as a musician. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Pain is so much easier to deal with when it’s ours, not just yours.”

DMX, E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX

45. Yeager: An Autobiography by Chuck Yeager, 1985

Chuck Yeager
Chuck Yeager is the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound

Chuck Yeager’s Yeager: An Autobiography takes readers to the edge of danger and discovery. In this book, he doesn’t only share his enthusiasm as a test pilot who dared to try the unknown. He also talks about his dog fights over Europe and the behind-the-scenes of making history. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results.”

Chuck Yeager, An Autobiography

46. Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Peter Petre, 2012

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a world champion bodybuilder, actor, and California’s 38th Governor

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story is an uncensored narration of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life. The book delves into his accomplishments and doesn’t justify the controversies he’s been caught in. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“My definition of living is to have excitement always; that’s the difference between living and existing.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story

47. Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian by Yusra Mardini, 2018

Yusra Mardini
Yusra Mardini is a former swimmer and Syrian civil war refugee

Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian reports Yusra Mardini’s fight to achieve her lifelong dream of competing in the Olympics. Her determination will not let her falter, not even when her house was wrecked in the civil war or when she was smuggled and stuck at sea. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Refugee. An empty shell, barely even human. No money, no home, no background, no history, no personality, no ambition, no path, no passion. Our past, present, future. All of it deleted and replaced by that one devastating word.”

Yusra Mardini, Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian

48. Mein Kampf (My Struggle) by Adolf Hitler, 1925

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler is the leader of the Nazi Party

To read Mein Kampf means to show people the complex mind of Hitler that led to the atrocities of World War II. His own life, written in his own words, gives readers insights into what created his political ideology and how his mind operated. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Religion is ridiculed, ethics and morality represented as outmoded, until the last props of a nation in its struggle for existence in this world have fallen.”

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

49. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur, 1987

Assata Shakur
Assata Shakur is a civil rights activist and a Black Panther member

In Assata: An Autobiography, Assata Shakur, aka JoAnne Chesimard, talks about her political stance and personal life. She also mentions her publicized incarceration and her encounters as an activist. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“Only a fool lets somebody else tell him who his enemy is.”

Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography

50. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, 2016

Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah got his break as a host of The Daily Show

Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood illustrates the life of a biracial child who was born and lived during the apartheid era. The book is a coming-of-age literature with sprinkles of comedy. Many consider it one of the best books to read as it can tackle a serious topic with lighthearted wit. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“My mom did what school didn’t. She taught me how to think.”

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

51. I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography by John Thompson and Jesse Washington, 2020

John Thompson
John Thompson is the first African-American head coach to win the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament

John Thompson finished I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography shortly before his death. His work contains his struggles with racial segregation, dealing with drug bigwigs, and, of course, his professional basketball career. Check it out on Amazon; click here.

“When people complain about affirmative action, I respond that there’s nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals.

John Thompson, I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography

FAQs About the Best Autobiographies

What is the top-selling autobiography?

It is difficult to say what the best-selling autobiography is of all time. The most recent best-selling autobiography is Becoming by Michelle Obama. One of the best-selling autobiographies of the past few hundred years is The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. If you are interested in exploring more biographies, check out our round-up of best biography authors

How many pages are in the longest autobiography ever written?

The length of pages can vary depending on how it is printed, but the longest autobiography is widely considered to be Finn Kalle Päätalo. It is 26 volumes, and it is considered to be the longest autobiographical narrative in the world. 

Is autobiography or biography better?

One is not necessarily better. A biography provides a different perspective because it is not necessarily written by the main focus of the biography itself. On the other hand, an autobiography may provide you with a better perspective on the mindset of the individual. You may also want to explore essays about autobiographies to learn more. 

Looking for more reading material? Check out our round-up of the best Hemingway books!