15 Best Biographies To Read

Need something great to read? Here are the best biographies available to buy and enjoy this year.

There are so many great biographies books on the market, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start reading.

Bestselling biography books usually tell a fascinating true story.

Whether it’s about a young US entrepreneur, a definitive biography on African American women from the twentieth century, or an inspiring life story, there are endless incredible stories to read.

Here are some picks on the best biographies available to read.

1. The Liars Club by Mary Karr

The Liars Club

This memoir is a funny heartfelt story of Mary’ Karr’s early family life and upbringing in East Texas.

She offers details about her mother who was married seven times, and her father who told stories with his crew “The Liars Club”.

This true story of a family’s reality breaks down the early life of a young girl and now a woman, telling an incredible story.

Karr writes,

“A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.”

Mary Karr
The Liars' Club: A Memoir
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Karr, Mary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 05/31/2005 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

2. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Can’t Hurt Me

Goggins writes about the path to success through embracing pain and fear rather than avoiding them.

His story is bleak. He recounts his early life in poverty, racism and abuse.

Stick with it. Goggins then explores how to overcome any struggle. He explains how he became a champion ultrarunner and US Navy seal through mastering his mind.

He writes,

“Denial is the ultimate comfort zone.”

David Goggins
Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Goggins, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 366 Pages - 12/04/2018 (Publication Date) - Lioncrest Publishing (Publisher)

3. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

Down and Out in Paris and London

This was written after Orwell’s return to London from Burma. He studied poverty and life by taking on the role of a tramp around London.

He has written about the daily reality and life stories of those at the lowest level of society. Orwell aims to show the difficulties and inform society about poverty’s origin and realities in the twentieth century.

Orwell says,

“If you set yourself to it, you can live the same life, rich or poor. You can keep on with your books and your ideas. You just got to say to yourself, “I’m a free man in here” – he tapped his forehead – “and you’re all right.”

George Orwell
Down And Out In Paris And London
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Orwell, George (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 196 Pages - 03/15/1972 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books Classics (Publisher)

4. The Journals Of John Cheever

The Journals Of John Cheever

The Journals offers a deep insight into John Cheever’s creation of his writings. It is a notebook of the inner world he experienced and his struggles with marriage, the craft of writing and alcoholism.

Through journal entries, Cheever examines his family, literary and emotional lives. He writes,

“I know some people who are afraid to write a business letter because they will encounter and reveal themselves.”

John Cheever
The Journals of John Cheever (Vintage International)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Cheever, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 418 Pages - 10/05/2011 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

5. The Night of the Gun by David Carr

The Night of the Gun

In this book, New York Times journalist Carr talks about his fall into hell through drug addiction and alcoholism. He explains how he worked to get life with his two daughters back on track.

Sadly, a sober Carr passed away in 2015.

The book is a captivating and thoughtful writing on the reality of Carr’s life. He writes,

“We tell ourselves that we lie to protect others, but the self usually comes out looking damn good in the process.”

David Carr
The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own.
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Carr, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 401 Pages - 08/05/2008 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

6. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Einstein: His Life and Universe

Einstein continues to fascinate the world. He was brilliant, funny and rebellious.

Isaacson shows the story of Einstein with his creativity, freedom, and his ability to question conventional thought. He found mystery and beauty in everyday things.

The book looks at Einstein’s respect for free minds, spirits and individuals as he helped bring in the modern age.

The book quotes Einstein who says:

“To dwell on the things that depress or anger us does not help in overcoming them. One must knock them down alone.”

Albert Einstein
Einstein: His Life and Universe
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Isaacson, Walter (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 705 Pages - 04/10/2007 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

7. Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

Isaacson completed more than 40 interviews with Steve Jobs. He also interviewed Job’s family, friends, and competitors.

He focuses on Jobs’ drive and innovative edge to connect creativity with tech. People in the book speak honestly and are candid.

The book shows Jobs’s passion, perfectionism, obsessions and artistry in his approach to business.

Isaacson quotes Jobs,

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Isaacson, Walter (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 656 Pages - 10/24/2011 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

8. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Murakami reflects on how the sport of running has affected his life and his writing. He writes about training, his travels and memories of running experiences.

He looks at his life and draws insights through his love of the sport. His writing is funny and serious at the same time. It is a great book for those who want to learn about the link between exercise and creativity.

Murakami writes,

“The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school”

Haruki Murakami
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Vintage International)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Murakami, Haruki (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 194 Pages - 07/29/2008 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

9. Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov

Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited

This autobiography was first published in 1951 under the title Conclusive Evidence. Nabokov revises it in 1966 and creates elegant and deep writing of his life and times in Russia before the rise of Communism.

He looks at his significant works and offers insights. Nabokov says about memory,

“One is always at home in one’s past.”

Vladimir Nabokov
Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited (Vintage International)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Nabokov, Vladimir (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 282 Pages - 02/16/2011 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

10. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir by Roz Chast

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir

Chast’s narrative offers laughs and tears as it explains how the loss of elderly parents is life-altering.

Working through denial, avoidance, and trying to be distracted as children end up in the parental role. This memoir looks at two lives coming to their end and an only child trying her best.

Chast’s honesty is wonderful:

“I gave up on ever trying to get ‘my way.’ I barely knew it existed.”

Roz Chast
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Chast, Roz (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 05/06/2014 (Publication Date) - Bloomsbury USA (Publisher)

11. Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kids by Patti Smith

In this book, artist and singer Patti Smith writes about her life with artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Her biography is a love story with a salute to NYC in the 60s and 70s. It’s also a good insight into her creative process.

Smith writes,

“No one expected me. Everything awaited me.”

Patti Smith
Just Kids: A National Book Award Winner
  • Smith, Patti (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 11/02/2010 (Publication Date) - Ecco (Publisher)

12. Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Total Recall

Schwarzenegger’s bio contains many interesting stories about his multiple careers. He recounts his life in bodybuilding, politics, movies and the drama-filled world of the Kennedys.

He understands himself and knows how to attain the things he wants, saying

“If you want to turn a vision into reality, you have to give 100% and never stop believing in your dream.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Total Recall (Enhanced Edition): My Unbelievably True Life Story
  • Schwarzenegger, Arnold (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

13. Open by Andre Agassi


Tennis champ Andre Agassi offers a story about his remarkable life. He recounts his life as a tennis prodigy and how he became the best in the sport.

The autobiography tells of his unhappiness off the court and the building of his resentment of the sport. The book is a deep revelation of his life and career through all its ups and downs.

Agassi writes,

“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
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Agassi, Andre (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 547 Pages - 12/24/2009 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

14. Endurance: A Year in Space by Scott Kelly

Endurance: A Year in Space

In this book, Scott Kelly describes his journey to becoming an astronaut and spending a year in space. He tells the story of long-term spaceflight, its effects on the body, the intense isolation from those on Earth and the inability to support loved ones.

Humor, reality and honesty make this book a wonderful read.

Kelly says,

“If you were doing something safe, something you already knew could be done, you were wasting time”

Scott Kelly
Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Kelly, Scott (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 379 Pages - 10/17/2017 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

15. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

The biography of Earnest Shackleton’s journey about the Endurance to land in Antarctica is stellar. The tale recounts how his ship Endurance became icebound in 1914, and the ordeal that followed for Shakleton and his 27-man crew.

The author says,

“Of all their enemies — the cold, the ice, the sea — he feared none more than demoralization.”

Alfred Lansing on Ernest Shackleton
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Lansing, Alfred (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 292 Pages - 04/29/2014 (Publication Date) - Basic Books (Publisher)

Best Biographies: The Final Word

Some of the best biographies on the market will inspire, entice, and teach. Anyone will love this great range of personal, business, and athletic stories that tell life’s tales.

Want more? Check out our list of:

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.