The 14 Best Biographies and Memoirs of All Time

In no particular order, this is my list of the best 14 biographies and memoirs of all time.

  1. Open by Andre Agassi – The tennis great opens up about, well, everything. Beautifully written and candid. An amazing read, even if you don’t like tennis.
  2. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – The founder of Nike describes the first ten years of the company in both hilarious and powerful terms. A book that shows us that even the greatest successes are never apparent while they’re happening.
  3. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson – The biography that put Isaacson on the map as one of the best biographers.
  4. Educated by Tara Westover – Unbelievable story of a woman who grew up in a family of abusive religious fanatics in rural Idaho. As a teen, she secretly educated herself and managed to get into college.
  5. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – An incredible story of growing up biracial in South Africa during apartheid and struggling to make a career in show business afterward.
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – A harrowing depiction of Angelou’s abusive and racist upbringing. A book filled with power and beauty.
  7. Just Kids by Patti Smith – Rock and roller Patti Smith describes her youth in the underground scene of New York City before emerging as one of punk rocks preeminent voices. Winner of National Book Award.
  8. Hunger by Roxanne Gay – The story of a morbidly obese woman and her lifelong struggles with not just food, but her body, men and sex in general. Powerful.
  9. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi – A story of a woman living under the theocratic regime in Iran who refuses to obey the strict Islamic laws and insists on reading and teaching western literature. A powerful story of everyday bravery in the face of oppression.
  10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – An incredible story of resilience and redemption. Spent seven years straight on the New York Times bestseller list.
  11. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – The first of its kind, a non-fictional narrative of a murder based on the killer’s perspective.
  12. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – The diary of a young jewish girl who was captured and killed by the occupying Nazi forces.
  13. Night by Elie Wiesel – A short memoir of Wiesel’s time in Auschwitz and how he survived.
  14. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow – The classic by the Pulitzer Prize winning biographer that spawned the hit musical Hamilton.

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