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15 Best Autobiographies Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

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15 Best Autobiographies Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

An autobiography is a first hand experiences of the authors written by the authors, thus, making them interesting to the readers and enabling them to understand the “other,” unseen side of the authors.

Autobiographies are mainly written by famous persons. They teach us different stories, the authors’ struggles in life, the emotions they went through, making the autobiographers more human. Here are 15 of the best autobiographies in no qualitative order.

1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

franklin

    Written from 1771 to 1790, this book contains the life history of one of America’s founding fathers. Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography will tell you how a lower-middle classed youth raised up into one of the most admired men in the world.

    It will also tell you how Mr. Franklin believed in the American Dream, and indicated the possibilities of life in the New World. He proved to the world that hard works paid off, and that undistinguished persons could become of great importance in America.

    Another reason why this is a classic is due to the historical factors. It reveals how life was in the 18th Century, the idealism, the intellectualism and optimistic beliefs are very well expressed. This autobiography contains four parts and is totally worth a read!

    Get the book here!

    2. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

    mandela

      Nelson Mandela’s autobiography contains every elements of knowledge you want to know about this legendary leader. Starting from his childhood, growing up in to a freedom fighter, to his twenty seven years in prison, and his significant role in molding up a new, democratic South Africa, this book has it all.

      It also contains in depth analysis of Mandela’s perception of the anti-apartheid struggle of the South Africans. In simple words, this book is Mandela’s long walk to freedom!

      Get the book here!

      3. The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi

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      gandhi

        Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography is a frank and humble account that highlights the moral and spiritual side of an extraordinary leader. This book is firmly rooted in the historical background of the forty years he spent in India. It has every detail of Gandhi’s life, historical and political incidents, and his personal philosophy on life. It is a beautiful book, not to be missed at all!

        Get the book here!

        4. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

        annefrank

          This diary is very unlike your usual autobiography. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl, who, along with her family and few friends, went into hiding during World War II. This beautiful piece describes everything that a thirteen year old girl would experience: typical girlhood consciousness, friendships with other girls, her crushes on boys, and her academic performances.

          It also states how her life was while in hiding, her emotional roller coasters, her opinions on other people’s behavior, and her loneliness. Her diary ends shortly after her fifteenth birthday.

          Get the book here!

          5. Chronicles, Vol 1 by Bob Dylan

          dylan

            Bob Dylan needs no introduction. This is the first volume of his autobiography and it contains three chapters. Here he talks about his life in New York in 1961, his experiences while recording his first album and his devotion towards two of his lesser albums.

            This is something all the music lovers will enjoy, especially those who adore him. He is planning to write two more chronicles, thanks to the immense success of his volume one.

            Get the book here!

            6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

            maya

              This autobiography is the first of Maya’s seven autobiographies, but this has claimed fame for her. This book tells a wonderful, emotional journey of a struggling Black American, who went through bitter experiences in the course of her first seventeen years.

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              It starts from how her life changed after her parents’ divorce, how she was raped by her mother’s live-in boyfriend, how she overcame her trauma, and all the events that interlocked in between. This beautiful piece of literature teaches us the hardships of life and the extreme racism the Black Americans used to face at one time.

              Get the book here!

              7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

              malcolm

                This particular book is a solid example of the underside of 20th Century American life. Malcolm X poured out the details of his life, from the poverty of his childhood, to his criminal teen, and then his emergence as a national figure and world leader.

                The readers are never allowed to forget that converting to Islam was the major turning point in Malcolm X’s life. This is considered a spiritual classic.

                Get the book here!

                8. Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie

                agatha

                  This autobiography can be considered as the unraveling of one of the best mysteries, Agatha Christie herself. She bespeaks of the delight of her happy childhood, her affectionate acquaintance with her mother, the tragic episodes that touched her, her mother’s death and her first husband’s adultery, marrying her second husband, and most importantly, about her works.

                  Get the book here!

                  9. Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

                  agassi

                    During the early 1990s and mid 2000s, this dashing man had dominated the tennis court by not only his charm and fashion, but also with his talent in the game. This former world number one wrote about his life account, confessing to controversies, his love life, and his “hate” for the game. This memoir is darkly funny and is regarded to be one of the National Best sellers of that time!

                    Get the book here!

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                    10. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

                    sking

                      This memoir is crafted exceptionally well and does not contain the slightest hint of horror in it (unlike King’s other books!). After reading this, you will have learned about King’s personal life, experiences, his struggles during pre-fame and post-fame, and what makes him such a popular horror novelist. The style contains good humor and good dexterity. Each part (there are three parts) is equally informative and enthralling.

                      Get the book here!

                      11. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

                      ernest

                        A Moveable Feast is a story of innocence lost. It tells the life events of the great American author and journalist, how he was shaped into becoming an author, his love interests, and his perspectives on things. Though the events are scattered, the book is still interesting in its own way.

                        Get the book here!

                        12. Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain

                        twain

                          In this first volume of Mark Twain’s memoirs, we see a colorful presentation of this great author’s long life. The book is a classic itself, and every element, like style, scope, imagination, laughter and tragedy, prove it all. It also manifests the different roles he had in life – a family man, an author, a son, a brother, and a friend.

                          Get the book here!

                          13. I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne

                          ozzy

                            The vocal of Black Sabbath may be not have a good reputation, but, at the end of the day, he is a human being too. And this is exactly what he tells us here. There are many things to learn from this man’s experiences. This is a book written in details and humor.

                            Get the book here!

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                            14. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

                            hitler

                              To understand Hitler, you must read this autobiography. If you start reading this book, you will be able to comprehend the “other side” of this tyrant and mass murderer. Mein Kampf is a German phrase meaning My Struggle. This book depicts his childhood, early aspirations, his conflict with his father, his rise to the politics, and his hatred of the Jews. The chronicles are poised frankly.

                              Get the book here!

                              15. Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

                              obama

                                This is a rendition of the struggles, of the relationships between families, of the racisms faced, and of the love affair of the current most powerful man in the world. Obama’s writing style shows class and exclusiveness as he reflects on his personal experiences on the racial relationships in the USA.

                                The knowledge one acquires from reading one autobiography is more than that acquire from reading a few novels. The readers can blend into the characters and witness the history from first-hand experience. Besides, why wouldn’t you learn from successful people who have experienced all the ups and downs before they succeeded?

                                Get the book here!

                                I believe that people who love reading MUST have one at least one of these books in their collection. And if you’re looking for more books to help you improve and get closer to success, these are must-reads:

                                35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

                                Top 25 Books to Unleash Your Creative Potential

                                15 Best Leadership Books Every Young Leader Needs To Read

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                Sumaiya Kabir

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                                Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                                How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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                                How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                                You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                                Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                                Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                                Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                                1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                                According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                                “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                                Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                                Warming up

                                If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                                If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                                Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                                1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                                2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                                3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                                Stay hydrated

                                Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                                To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                                Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                                Meditate

                                Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                                Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                                Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                                Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                                2. Focus on your goal

                                One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                                Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                                Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                                Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                                If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                                3. Convert negativity to positivity

                                There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                                ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                                It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                                Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                                Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                                Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                                4. Understand your content

                                Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                                However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                                “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                                Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                                Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                                One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                                5. Practice makes perfect

                                Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                                In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                                Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                                6. Be authentic

                                There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                                Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                                Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                                To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                                With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                                Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                                7. Post speech evaluation

                                Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                                Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                                We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                                You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                                Improve your next speech

                                As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                                Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                                • How did I do?
                                • Are there any areas for improvement?
                                • Did I sound or look stressed?
                                • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                                • Was I saying “um” too often?
                                • How was the flow of the speech?

                                Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                                If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                                Reference

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