Top 10 Biography & Autobiography Reads

Throughout history, there have been some incredible people who have made major contributions to human society. In this top 10 picks article, we take a look at just some of the top biographies and self-penned autobiographies that provide an insight into some of the most prominent and noteworthy people of recent times.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Over the last 30 years, the ubiquity of Apple products, from the iPhone to iTunes, has made the influence that Steve Jobs has had on society, hard to ignore. Readers of this fascinating biography get to recount how Jobs took a tiny enterprise in his garage to become one of the world’s leading electronics manufacturers.

You’ll also get to find out how Jobs was ignominiously ousted from the company he started only to return to the helm shortly before succumbing to pancreatic cancer. This is a book you won’t want to put down and one we’d highly recommend.

The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

There is perhaps no story of racial inequality that has resonated around the world, quite in the way Nelson Mandela’s has. Arrested in 1962 and branded a terrorist for attempting to overthrow the brutal apartheid regime, Mandela would serve more than 27 years in prison as a result.

Written by the great man himself, The Long Walk to Freedom is a heartwarming example of what a lifetime of struggle can achieve. From so-called terrorist to the Nobel Prize-winner and South African leader, this book is one you should most definitely add to your collection.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Book by Ashlee Vance

Whilst not everybody will be familiar with his name, anyone who has ever used PayPal, will know what Elon Musk became famous for. If founding this globally popular payment platform wasn’t enough, this serial entrepreneur has since gone on to create electric car company Tesla Motors, solar energy enterprise Solar City and Space X, the forward-thinking spacecraft company.

Elon Musk is not the only entrepreneur in the world, but this biography by Ashlee Vance takes a closer look at the unique qualities of the man looking to expand the horizons of human accomplishment. A gripping read.

Keith Richards on Keith Richards

In the music industry, there are few bigger names than the Rolling Stones and Keith Richards was an integral part of the band’s success. Responsible for creating many of the songs that are so familiar to us all today, Keith Richards was also known for partying just as hard as he played.

This honest, disarming and captivating autobiography covers Richards’ life from his childhood years in Kent to his hell-raising days spent touring the world. His is a rich and colorful story featuring drug-busts and chronic alcohol and substance addiction, as well as coping with a fractious relationship with front man, Mick Jagger.

This book is many things, but dull is not one of them and it’s well worth a look.

Catherine the Great – A Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie

We go back to the 18th Century now for our next top biography choice, as we look at Catherine the Great, a woman who rose from relative obscurity in Germany to become one of the most powerful people on the planet. Catherine II served as Empress of Russia for a full 35 years after overthrowing her husband, Peter III in a coup d’etat to claim the throne. How’s that for girl power?

In this epic biography, Robert Massie describes her tumultuous reign which involved dealing with a domestic revolt, foreign battles and the winds of political change following the French revolution. In terms of sheer magnitude, Catherine the Great’s story is worthy of her name and of its place on our top 10 list.

Empire State of Mind – Book by Zack O’Malley Greenburg

Jay Z is a one-man industry, with not only his own inimitable music style but also his lines of cologne, Reebok trainers and designer jeans. Couple that with his marriage to female music icon Beyonce and you soon realise just what a global star the boy who began life as Shawn Corey Carter has become.

This fascinating look into the life of Jay Z comes from the people who knew him best, as author Zack O’Malley Greenburg interviews people from his past. From the DJ who convinced Jay Z to stop dealing drugs to pursue a music career to his old classmates from George Westinghouse High School, this book offers a ‘warts and all’ view of an international megastar.

Whether you’re a rap fan or not, it’s a biography we’d recommend.

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

helen keller

Made famous by the 1962 film “The Miracle Worker”, Helen Keller’s story is one that inspires and nourishes the soul in equal measure. Overcoming the barriers of both deafness and blindness, Helen Keller’s own account of her battle to be able to communicate from ‘the dark’ offers a beacon of hope to anyone facing physical and emotional adversity.

In her own words, Keller talks of her struggles to learn words to describe things she cannot see in the outside world and the liberation she feels when she finally achieves it with the help of finger-spelling. If it’s an uplifting tale to warm the cockles of your heart, The Story of My Life is a must read.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle

Eric Idle was part of the comedy revolution that was Monty Python, with the actor and funnyman playing starring roles in the never to be forgotten movies The Meaning of Life, The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, named after the number one hit song written by Eric Idle, takes a look at the great man’s early beginnings at a strict boarding school, right through to his hugely successful career in comedy films and TV.

Readers of this extremely entertaining autobiography are privy to anecdote after anecdote about his many close friends that include the likes Steve Martin, Paul Simon and of course the rest of the Monty Python cast. A fantastically entertaining read for anyone with an appreciation for the comedic art.

Serving The Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain by Danny Goldberg

When music promoter and manager Danny Goldberg took on a largely unknown band named Nirvana at the beginning of the 90s, he couldn’t have envisaged that its lead singer, Kurt Cobain would go on to become a global pop-icon. The singer dealt badly with megastardom, resulting in his suicide and a mass outpouring of grief from his fans, but his name and his influence still endure.

Goldberg’s account of his time with Cobain and the rest of the band features stories that have not previously been made public and presents those halcyon days in a brand new light. By the end of this wonderful biography, you’ll know the trouble and highly talented musician like never before.

The Twins – Men of Violence by Kate Kray

There have been many accounts of the lives of the infamous Kray Twins, but this one comes from an altogether new source. Kate Kray, who married Ronnie Kray in his twilight years, was given a unique insight into the shadowy world they called home and was made privy to secrets that were never to be revealed until the twins were no longer with us.

Based on previously-secret letters and the view of the Kray brothers themselves, readers of this enlightening biography get to hear the stories in their unadulterated and definitive form. A great read and a great way round off our top 10.

So, there you have it. Ten of the best biographies and autobiographies in existence. We’re sure you’ll have hours and hours of entertainment working your way through them!

Until next time!

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