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21 Life Changing Autobiographies From Around The World

21 Life Changing Autobiographies From Around The World

Some of the greatest humans have chronicled extremely important events in their life. Reading into how they handle these experiences and how they overcome challenges can be both illuminating and rewarding. These 20 autobiographies will motivate, inspire, and amaze you. Read them, and they will surely change the way you look at life.

1. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie – Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

    Andrew Carnegie lived to be one of the greatest businessmen of his generation. His autobiography details his ascent from living on the streets to founding an amazingly successful company. You’ll gain great insights from Carnegie throughout the book.

    2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X –  Malcolm X

    malcolm x

      Malcolm X represents one of the most significant figures in the civil rights movement. His autobiography, published in 1965, allows readers to understand his philosophy on black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism.

      3. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin

      benjamin franklin

        This autobiography from one of the United States’ founding fathers is a must read by both historical and self-improvement standards. The book reveals the formation of Franklin’s ideas, his youth, and his rise from poverty to riches. Benjamin Franklin represents one of the first true examples of the American dream – the idea that a man can rise to financial independence through plain-old hardwork.

        4. Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington

        booker t washington

          Booker T. Washington represents an important figure in the struggle for equal rights in America. He firmly believed in education as a path to equality. Take a look into his childhood immersed in a world of slavery and the founding of the ideas that would make him recognized world wide.

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          5. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

          anne frank

            The Diary of a Young Girl details Anne Frank’s life as a fugitive during World War II. The book reveals the experiences of a teenager in the worst of the Holocaust. Her insights, compassion, and spiritual depth serve to deliver a diary beyond her years.

            6. Long Walk To Freedom – Nelson Mandela

            nelson mandela

              Nelson Mandela grew to be a notable South African president. Much of his memoir was written during his 27 years spent unjustly in prison. Long Walk To Freedom puts words to his ideas and deserves a place on your shelf.

              7. A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

              a moveable feast

                Hemingway remains a creative to be rivaled. Published after his death, A Moveable Feast combines his papers into a work that illustrates his youth in Paris in the 1920s.

                8. Homage To Catalonia – George Orwell

                homage to catalonia

                  In Homage To Catalonia, George Orwell tells the tale of his role in the Spanish war in 1936 where he took up arms against the fascists.

                  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

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                  i know why the caged bird sings

                    In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou vividly accounts her life growing up in the depression as a black woman. The story is both moving and eye-opening.

                    10. Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

                    angela's ashes

                      Frank McCourt grew up in Brooklyn during the Depression poverty struck. In Angela’s Ashes he tells his powerful story of a drunken father, a loving mother, and a life under extreme poverty.

                      11. A Child Called It – Dave Pelzer

                      dave pelzer

                        In both a horrifying and gripping manner, Dave Pelzer reveals the shadows of a childhood haunted by abuse. The book can be hard to read at times, but ultimately opens one’s eyes to the terrible tragedy that is child abuse.

                        12. All Creatures Great and Small – James Herriot

                        james herriot

                          All Creatures Great and Small is a lighthearted collection of James Herriot’s stories as a veterinarian in Yorkshire Dales. The book is satisfying and easy to pick up. Great for when you’re looking for some light reading.

                          13. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King

                          stephen king

                            Stephen King, one of the bestselling authors of all time, gives a class on writing through a memoir of his life. It’s entertaining for casual readers and illuminating for those looking to improve their writing skills.

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                            14. The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Bloom

                            corrie ten bloom

                              The Hiding Place explains the amazing story of Corrie ten Bloom and her family. Together, they became leaders in the Dutch underground during World War II, hiding Jewish refugees from the Nazis.

                              15. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand

                              unbroken

                                Okay I cheated. This is actually an account of Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand, so technically it’s not an autobiography. Either way, you need to check it out. The book puts you into the shoes of a man pushed to the limit in the middle of the ocean after a plane crash in World War II. It will both inspire and astound you.

                                16. Night – Elie Weisel

                                elie weisel

                                  In Night, Elie Weisel writes of his experience with his father in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. He discusses his disgust in humanity as his father descends into a helpless state where he, as a teenager, must pick up the slack to take care of him.

                                  17. The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

                                  the last lecture

                                    In August 2007, the doctors gave Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, a terminal diagnosis for his cancer. He gave his final lecture on September of the same year titled: ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.’ In his book he expands on his ideas of the lecture in a written form. Definitely worth checking out.

                                    18. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls

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                                    jeannette walls

                                      The Glass Castle tells the story of Jeanette Walls and her childhood. With an uncommitted mother, and a father who loses himself to alcohol, the Walls children are forced to learn to take care of themselves. A great story.

                                      19. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

                                      man's search

                                        Viktor Frankl lived to tell the tale of his life in four different concentration camps in Germany during World War II. Man’s Search for Meaning guides readers through these experiences and brings them lessons on spiritual survival. This book has some great takeaways and should definitely have a place on your shelf.

                                        20. The Story of My Life – Helen Keller

                                        the story of my life

                                          Helen Keller, a name recognized by nearly everyone in American culture, grew up both blind and deaf. The Story of My Life is her autobiography about overcoming such great obstacles through pain and hardwork.

                                          21. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood – Marjane Satrapi

                                          marjane satrapi

                                            In Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi talks of her life as young girl during the Islamic Revolution. Don’t let the idea that the book is a graphic novel stop you – it remains quite as moving as any other memoir on this list.

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                                            The Gentle Art of Saying No

                                            The Gentle Art of Saying No

                                            No!

                                            It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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                                            But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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                                            What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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                                            But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

                                            1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
                                            2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
                                            3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
                                            4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
                                            5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
                                            6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
                                            7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
                                            8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
                                            9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
                                            10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

                                            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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