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.
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!
2. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson 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!
3. The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma 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!
4. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
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.
5. Chronicles, Vol 1 by Bob 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.
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
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.
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.
7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X.
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.
8. Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie.
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.
9. Open: An Autobiography by Andre 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!
10. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
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.
11. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.
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.
12. Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark 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.
13. I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne.
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.
14. Mein Kampf by Adolf 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.
Last, but not the least,
15. Dreams from my Father by Barack 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?
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:
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