10 Autobiographies You Must Read

A reader is always looking for different kinds of books to read. Among the many available choices, autobiographies are a great option. An autobiography is a written account of one’s own life. It covers the writer’s experiences, events and reflections on their life. They can be a great way to learn and get inspired.

We have Listed the 10 Best Autobiography Books for You:

1. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom chronicles Nelson Mandela’s early years and the twenty-seven years he spent in prison in South Africa. A man regarded as the face of peace talks about his experiences in the book. It’s a moving story about his struggle with apartheid. Though a political biography, it is a page-turner. At 700 pages, the book is not a light read, but everyone should read it once to get some invaluable life lessons.

He said,” Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished”.

2. An Autobiography by Agatha Christie

If you are a fan of mysteries, then it is inevitable that you have read many books by Dame Agatha Christie, the prolific detective novelist. But even if you haven’t read any of her books, you will undoubtedly enjoy this autobiography, published posthumously. The book is a detailed and witty account of her life of 75 years. It is a long book, over 500 pages, and you will need more than one sitting to finish it. The book has a conversational tone and gives insight into her views about life and writing.

3. Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal Al-Sharif

While women in most parts of the world take the right to drive for granted, and as a given, there are millions of those who do not have that luxury. That was the case with Manal, who grew up as a religious radical and burnt her brother’s cassettes because music was forbidden. However, she changed when she trained as a computer security engineer and began seeing hypocrisy around her. She saw the double standards around her with respect to men and women.

She writes, ‘How is it that we judge a woman by her clothes and the place she eats lunch and the subjects she talks about with her colleagues on her coffee break, yet we don’t judge a man if he doesn’t grow his beard, or he works with women or speaks to them.”

The book describes Manal’s journey toward becoming an accidental activist as she fought for women’s right to drive and won.

Also Read: The Journey of a Working Woman

4. Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s way with words will sweep you wholly and uncomfortably into her childhood, growing up in the Southern states of America. From living with her grandmother in a small town to being raped by a much older man at the age of eight, Angelou doesn’t hold back from revealing the trauma she had to go through. The situation worsened when she told her mother about the rape, and later the rapist got killed, and she blamed herself. She became a selective mute and turned to great literary works to fill her mind. The book captures that phase of her life realistically and touchingly. It set the stage for her to become one of the greatest literary voices. The book is a must-read.

5. Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

This book is the autobiography of one of the most talented people to set foot on a tennis court. The book is a compelling and shocking read. It is an account of his life and his rise to success, which came with a cost. He started training at the young age of 13 and became a pro at 16. The book talks about his professional and personal heartbreaks before winning Wimbledon in 1992. He also writes about his relationship with Brooke Shields and the later loss of confidence. The book is a tale of resurrection- he made a comeback to the world of tennis as the eldest number-one player in history.

He writes,” life will throw everything but the kitchen sink in your path, and then it will throw the kitchen sink. It’s your job to avoid obstacles. If you let them stop you or distract you, you’re not doing your job and failing to do your job will cause regrets that paralyze you more than bad luck.”

6. Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

Obama was an author before he became a politician.  This book is a refreshing and insightful depiction of a young man facing concerns about identity and belonging. Obama was born to a white American mother and an African American father. The book begins in New York, where Obama learns that his father- someone he knows more as a myth than a man has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey- first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.

The book explores the events of his early years in Honolulu and Chicago until he entered Harvard Law School in 1988.

Also Read: Book Review – Becoming, Michelle Obama

7. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

Mein Kampf, which translates to My Struggle, is one of the most popular autobiographies in the world. The book explains Hitler’s political theory, including his views on the state, politics and race. The book’s first volume was published in 1925, followed by another in the following year.

The book was made a compulsory read after Hitler became Chancellor, and it was used to spread Nazi ideology and principles throughout the country. It was also made available to all German troops serving in the field throughout WW 2. The book had sold more than 10 million copies in Germany by the war’s end. It has been translated into 11 languages.

As a picture of fascism and Nazism at that time, the book is still relevant today.

8. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This autobiography, one of the most well-known books about the Holocaust, is a collection of writings from the diary Anne Frank kept for the two years she was in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Frank shares intimate details about her family and the heartbreaking effects of the war. What makes the book remarkable is how Anne remained hopeful about the goodness of humanity despite her family’s suffering. The book is a must-read for the young as well the adults.

9. Chronicles Volume 1 by Bob Dylan

Not only has Bob Dylan won several Grammy awards for his contributions to music, but he has also won a Quill Award for his autobiography and a Nobel prize in Literature. He is a gifted storyteller, a trait that comes not only in his songs but also in how he tells the story of his life. From Greenwich Village in 1961 to the recording studio in 1989, we get to see the people and places that form a part of his life.

The book is not without controversy, though. Over the years, some of the phrases were discovered to be words of other artists like Ernest Hemingway, Mezz Mezzrow and Marcel Proust; the intertextuality was not correctly attributed, leading to plagiarism complaints.

10. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 by Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was a master of the written word. He was, of course, known for his great American novels like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. His autobiography was his last work, but it wasn’t published until 2012 – 100 years after his death as directed by him. It instantly became a bestseller.

The book is not like a conventional autobiography following a chronological, predictable order; instead, it serves as a collection of ruminations about his exceptional experiences based on 5000 pages of memoirs he left in the care of the University of California at Berkley before his death.

Also Read: The Dying Habit Of Reading        

These are the best autobiographies of all time. You will enjoy reading them.

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Hello! I’m Sangeeta Relan. Aside from being an educationist teaching at the university level for the last 28 years, I have been a corporate wife and a mother to two boys who have now flown the nest. I love cooking, singing, travelling and exploring new places.

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