Autobiographies of famous people might be more of a self-help book than a simple account of someone’s life. There are times in our lives when we lose our focus and feel overwhelmed in life. Getting inspired by real-life stories from some of the best autobiographies can really motivate us.
Reading about other people’s diverse viewpoints and life experiences can provide us with a better perspective towards life and widen our horizon.
“Autobiography is a wound where the blood of history does not dry.”
And this is right. The life lessons from these autobiographies can always inspire us to think and live differently.
15 Best Autobiographies You Need to Read
Here’re some of the best autobiographies for your perusal.
1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
Understand Benjamin Franklin's past even if you did not live it.
Through Writing, Franklin creates a place where his memories can live on in perpetuity, separate from his physical body, as part of collective memory.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is an intentional attempt to rewrite his past in a way that readers – including his son and American society – will understand, even if they did not fully live it.
Franklin’s lifelong pursuit of self-improvement began at a young age. Franklin’s desire for perfection led him to devise a plan to achieve it in just 13 weeks by eliminating bad habits and acquiring the 13 virtues he considered most important.
In addition, he laid out a day in which each necessary task was given the appropriate amount of time.
2. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Mandela’s struggles and feats make his autobiography one of the most inspiring ones of all time.
An excerpt from Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s Autobiography, Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, depicts the battle for black liberation in South Africa. It is one of the best autobiographies if you are looking for inspiration.
First Black President Nelson Mandela was sworn into office on May 10, 1994, ending more than three centuries of white dominance in South Africa. In the country’s first democratic elections, his party took 252 of the 400 seats up for grabs.
The opening ceremony was held in the Union Buildings amphitheater in Pretoria, which was attended by many dignitaries and political personalities from numerous countries.
Affirming his country’s invulnerability to such oppression, Mandela greeted the assembled dignitaries with a polite bow during his speech.
As the country’s first black president, he founded democracy and vowed that no one would be discriminated against, regardless of race, color, creed, or ethnicity.
That the government will treat everyone equally and with respect was a promise he made many times again. Mandela’s struggles and feats make his account one of the most inspiring autobiographies of all time.
3. The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
Freedom fighter and activist Mohandas Gandhi led India to independence after a long and arduous struggle.
In his book “An Autobiography: My Life and My Experiences with the Truth,” he recounts his experiences fighting against English colonialism and spreading his philosophy, known as “Satyagraha.”.
It is, indeed one of the most popular autobiographies through the course of education in India and many countries.
Most people can’t claim Gandhi’s level of moral and ethical commitment. Despite this, he tells us of his own mistakes and how he has grown because of them.
However, these quotations illustrate Gandhi’s devotion to doing what he believes is good, from honesty to vegetarianism, from keeping commitments to self-denial. Morality is the foundation of his worldview, including the experiments that guide his daily activities.
One can even say that in the entire list this one is one of the good autobiographies that will guide you throughout your lives.
4. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
During World War II, Anne Frank was a teenage Jewish girl who wrote a diary while her family hid from the Nazis. The Diary of a Young Girl is one of the best autobiographies of all time.
She and seven others stayed in Amsterdam’s “Secret Annex” for two years before being captured and deported to German concentration camps. In 1945, Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen detention camp.
Frank’s father was the last survivor of the family. He decided to publish Anne’s diary, which details her thoughts, feelings, and observations while hiding.
It has been a best-seller worldwide and a staple of Holocaust teaching programs for decades. Her legacy is honored by several humanitarian groups, and hers is one of the best autobiographies, read in several languages by people all around the world.
5. Chronicles, Vol 1 by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan began his incredible musical career when he landed in New York City in the early 1960s. Dylan’s own words present an intimate glimpse of Dylan’s motives, difficulties, and astonishing creativity in Chronicles, Vol 1.
On the surface, Dylan’s memoir comprises of three chapters on his childhood and youth, which are surrounded by two chapters about
Dylan’s experiences while working on two completely unappreciated albums. The literary aspect of this work is what first grabs the reader’s attention.
So it was wise to arrange the two chapters focusing on an older, more broken self between the three chapters on an artist who is still striving to find his voice, so the dreams witnessed in the latter can be seen refracted, half-lit, but are still present.
The book’s title is also relevant, as this is a work that deals a lot with debts.
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The poem compares the features of a caged bird and a free bird, with a focus on the caged bird. The poem opens by describing the freedom of the free bird, which can fly wherever and whenever it wants because there are no other birds to compete with.
As a metaphor for a white person, the free bird follows the tide of air movement. In the sun’s orange light, it appears to be dipping its wings. It appears to be seizing the entire sky as it soars into the air.
Angelou also published one of the most inspiring autobiographies called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. As the title of her whole backstory, it is clear that this title meant a lot to Angelou.
This is what she talked about in her autobiography. She talked about how hard it was to be a black author and poet. She thought that people didn’t hear her because of her skin color.
She thought that, in some ways, she was still being enslaved. People in Angelou’s time were free, but there were still many rules in society that made many black people not feel independent.
7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
The Autobiography of Malcolm X talks a lot about Malcolm’s experiences with racism, and “perception” is used a lot. Malcolm says that people thought of black people in a bad way when he was growing up.
There, Malcolm says that black and white people would not be able to live together in peace because of the idea of perception, which is the main reason he wants to keep them apart.
Malcolm also talks about religion in this book. Malcolm was a big fan of Islam, and he talks about religion in this text. He says Islam is better because it doesn’t support racism.
He says that “America needs to understand Islam because this is the only religion that removes race from its society.” Indeed deserving to be added to the group of truly readable and good autobiographies.
8. Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie
Unless it’s a sleazy tell-all, you’d better skip the details and get straight to the dirt; the best autobiographies of all time strike a balance between the charming and the indulgent.
Agatha Christie’s Autobiography isn’t a sleazy tell-all (a Dame wouldn’t say such things anyhow), but she does it with enough charm and humor to make it worthwhile.
It wasn’t published until 1977, a year after Agatha Christie’s demise at 85 years old when she penned her autobiography.
Christie is one of the world’s best-known mystery writers, yet the author remained a mystery for many fans of Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.
Christie was a private person who rarely spoke to the media, never did interviews, and even disappeared for some time. Despite this, she had a long and successful career as a writer.
Christie fans finally had a chance to discover more about their favorite mystery author thanks to the release of one of the most inspiring autobiographies.
9. Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
Although some may disagree that Andre Agassi was the greatest tennis player of all time, it is clear the Las Vegas native was the most successful at attracting attention. The tome is one of the best autobiographies for sports fanatics all over the globe.
He first appeared on the pro tour in the 1980s, wearing a flamboyant outfit sponsored by Nike. It included stone-washed denim, skintight compression shorts called “Hot Lava,” and dark sunglasses that looked like they belonged on a roulette wheel at midnight.
Many were fooled by the granite consistency of Agassi’s game
Tennis star Andre Agassi is widely regarded as one of the greatest players.
Andre’s father, who was emotionally and physically abusive, was a driving force in Andre’s early development as a gymnast.
In the book Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi, Tennis star Andre won his first grand slam at the tender age of twenty-two, which details his sporting career and personal connections with Barbara Streisand and Brook Shields.
Andre Agassi College Prep Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada, was founded due to his philanthropic endeavors, as detailed in his autobiography.
10. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Rarely has a book about writing been so simplistic, useful, and illuminating as this one has been.
Author Stephen King’s childhood and early focus on writing to tell stories are recounted in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft‘s first chapter in one of his top autobiographies.
Readers will gain a new and often hilarious perspective on the development of a writer from the author’s vivid memories of his formative years in high school-college and the years leading up to his debut novel, Carrie.
Next, King discusses the essential tools of the writer’s profession, including how to use them to their full potential and keep them handy at all times.
Readers are taken on a journey through a wide range of topics, from plotting and character development to work habits and rejection, by the author.
It is a poignant tale of how King’s intense drive to write propelled him to recovery and brought him back to his life, which was serialized in the New Yorker to great acclaim.
11. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
A Movable Feast is one of Ernest Hemingway’s best-known works of fiction. Mary Hemingway, the author’s widow, published the memoir after her husband’s death in the 1950s, based on entries from Hemingway’s diaries from the 1920s.
The writer and his little son, Jack, lived in Paris during this time with his first wife, Hadley.
When Ernest Hemingway was a young American writer in Paris (1921–26), with his first wife Hadley Richardson, he wrote a collection of anecdotes called A Moveable Feast.
Hemingway worked as a journalist while pursuing his dream of becoming a full-time novelist in a modest apartment on Paris’s artsy Left Bank.
Several of the artists and authors mentioned in the sketches were also American ex-pats living in Paris at Hemingway’s writings. Drawing from various perspectives, the sketches show the progression of events rather than following a strict timeline.
12. Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain
Famous American author Mark Twain shares his life story with young readers in one of his best autobiographies of all time. The Autobiography of Mark Twain, as well as insights into the mind of an author and the United States when it was young and hopeful.
The period covered by Mark Twain’s Autobiography ranges from 1835 to 1910, which is a significant one in the history of the US.
Twain’s wit and insight give readers a unique perspective on the Civil War, slavery and race relations, the settlement of the American West, globe travel in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and major literary and historical works.
Twain was widely recognized as a brilliant storyteller throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and readers eagerly awaited his memoirs.
13. I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne
Through the pages of one of his popular autobiographies, the world gets to meet Ozzy Osbourne. For the first time, Ozzy reveals the details of his life to the public. After filming a TV show, he’s now released an entire book about his family’s privacy invasion. Take a tour through the life of Ozzy Osbourne.
He recalls everything from his childhood to the present day throughout his life. I Am Ozzy is Ozzy’s way of telling you about the things that have shaped him into who he is now and the things that have made him laugh. As a result, Ozzy divided his book into two parts.
“Starting Over” is what he calls the second section of the book. But he makes an intriguing choice in how to divide up a book and name the parts. He has chapters inside each portion.” At the outset of his autobiography, he says that no one expected him to write it, yet he did.
From his working-class childhood, his decision to leave the factory job for music, how his band was formed, why he is notorious for biting off bats and fowl heads, drug and alcohol problems, near-death encounters with STDs, and the realities of becoming a grandfather.
14. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler wrote the Mein Kampf book, which translates to “My Struggle” in English. One volume was published in 1925, followed by another in the following year. It is one of the most popular autobiographies in the world.
Being one of the best autobiographies to read, the book explains Hitler’s political theory, including his views on the state, politics, and race.
In the early 1930s, Hitler amassed a small fortune thanks to the popularity of his book, Main Kampf.
After Hitler became chancellor, the book was made required reading for most Germans, and it served as a means of spreading Nazi ideology and principles throughout the country.
For instance, the book was provided to newlywed couples by the German government as a marriage gift during Hitler’s leadership in Germany.
Additionally, it was made available to all German troops serving in the field throughout World War II. Mein Kampf had sold more than 10 million copies in Germany by the end of World War II and translated them into 11 languages.
As a picture of fascism and Nazism in Germany at the time, it is still relevant today.
15. Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama
Among other things, Barack Obama was an author before he became a politician. Dreams from My Father is a refreshing and insightful depiction of a young man pondering the big concerns of identity and belonging.
It was an emotional journey for Obama, born to an African-American father and an American mother. When his mother’s family relocated from Kansas to Hawaii, he followed in their footsteps and grew up in Indonesia.
When he finally gets to Kenya, he faces the painful truth of his father’s death and finally makes peace with his father’s two estates.
Biographies and autobiographies can improve your life by allowing you to reading others’ words and apply their knowledge and experience to your own life.
Just let these best autobiographies mentor you. You will be able to learn valuable life lessons without having to experience the same things as these famous people.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
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