The power of an autobiography lies in its ability to give you a behind-the-scenes insight into other people’s journeys. Would you love to see the ups and downs of life through the eyes of an influential leader, a famous entertainer, or sports star? Autobiographies can be enlightening and entertaining and should be part of your reading list.
However, it can feel overwhelming to choose a book once you hit the bookshelves. But, don't fret! We have researched for you, and our favorite pick is Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness, because it's a celebration of uniqueness, and deals with serious topics while being a light read. We have compiled 10 of our favorite autobiographies total, and also included a buying guide with tips to help you select the autobiography that will suit you!
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With platforms like Amazon and Goodreads, a good book is just one click away. However, knowing which book to buy can be difficult. When it comes to autobiographies, the following pointers should help you in picking the right book.
There are plenty of autobiographies by people from all walks of life. Choose an autobiography by someone who inspires you or on a topic you are passionate about. For example, if your passions and interests lie in the field of music, look for autobiographies written by musicians or celebrities who are influential in this field.
A good book is only useful to you if you read it! So buying a book just because it's popular is not practical. Whether you are interested in sports, history, acting, or any other field, you are bound to find an autobiography in your area of interest that you will enjoy.
What can enhance your experience in reading autobiographies is if you can relate to the author's life experiences. Maybe you both have the same passions, in sports, music, or the arts, or have the same ideals in terms of morality or philosophy.
Celebrity autobiographies can be insightful, and give you a peek into a world you're interested in. For example, did you want to be a sports star when you were a kid? Reading an autobiography by a famous player lets you live that fantasy.
Or, you may want to look into influential leaders of history or philosophers. If you are passionate about politics or ethical issues, reading about someone who shares your views can inspire you. Reading about someone who has opposing views can teach valuable lessons as well, although you might find hearing their opinions frustrating at times!
Entertainment value is a major factor when picking the right autobiography but a really good book entertains and informs. Look for a combination of both in the autobiography you pick. For instance, Trevor Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime, is a hilarious read yet still packed with insightful and thought-provoking tales.
Autobiographies give you the opportunity to experience someone else’s life through their eyes. A good book is one that you will find yourself returning to often, whether it is for entertainment, as mentioned earlier, or to revisit the life lessons and insights you picked up on.
When trying to figure out if an author's writing style is for you, you can search for quotes or lines from the book you are interested in. Sometimes, these can be found in readers' reviews. You can also check out websites like Goodreads that have a section where they show you a list of memorable quotes from the book.
Another option to get a sense of a book's writing style is on Amazon. On their website, there is a preview feature that allows you to read the first few pages of a book to help you discern if the writing style is to your liking. See if these pages grab your attention. If they do, chances are you will enjoy the rest of the book!
Choosing an autobiography can sometimes be a hit-and-miss process since you cannot tell how good or bad a book is by just looking at the cover. Ask for recommendations from friends and family or your book club if you are part of one.
If you have a favorite author or personality, you can always check their reading lists to see what books they are reading. There are also "booktubers" on YouTube who give insightful book talks. Chances are that if you have the same interests and taste, you will find a good book on their reading list.
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Jonathan Van Ness
Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love
Best for a Lesson on Self-Acceptance and Celebrating Uniqueness
Best for Seeing the Life of a Powerful Role Model
Best Look at the Rollercoaster Ride of Being a Music Legend
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Best for Learning About a Young Education Rights Activist
Taste: My Life Through Food
Best for Reading About Food, Family and Film
Crying in H Mart
Best Story About Grief, Healing, and Identity
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Best Story on Coming-of-Age in the Midst of Apartheid
Too Many Reasons to Live
Best for a Story on Never Giving Up
My Beloved World
Best for an Inspiring Testament to the Power of Self-Belief
Best Inside Look on the Life of a Tennis Champion
Jonathan Van Ness is best known for being the grooming expert on the show Queer Eye. Here, the author talks about her journey to becoming who she is today by overcoming her trauma. This book is raw, honest, and deeply moving. The author's story is bound to resonate with anyone looking for inspiration.
Some reviewers felt like the book needed more edits and a more straight-to-the-point format of writing. But most readers got through this book in one sitting, simply because they could not put it down.
This rich and entertaining memoir of former first lady Michelle Obama allows readers an inside look into her personal life. From her childhood to her advocacies, each chapter is filled with words of wisdom. She talks about the balancing act of being a mother, a first lady, and a wife while dealing with public and private battles.
There were some comments about this book being a bit slow. Nevertheless, this autobiography is highly rated for its insightful yet entertaining tone that leaves the reader feeling inspired and awed by Michelle’s life story.
Elton John is one of the most influential celebrities in the music industry and a five-time Grammy Award winner. In his book, he does not shy away from recounting his struggles with drug addiction and his eventual road to recovery. This is a drama-filled autobiography that details his rise to fame and the challenges he had to face.
Some reviewers would have preferred it if the book looked deeper into Elton John's music career. Nevertheless, they say this book is equal parts entertaining and emotional. Readers praised this autobiography for being real and honest with its readers.
Because of her bravery to speak out against the Taliban, Malala suffered a gunshot to the face at the age of 15. After a week in a coma, she awakened with an even stronger determination to fight for the right to girls' education. This is an inspiring autobiography about how a brave voice can make a difference.
Some readers said that the book has a slow start. Nevertheless, people who are passionate about human rights will find themselves drawn to this book. Readers praised this autobiography for being easily comprehensible and having a profound message.
Stanley Tucci is an award-winning actor who grew up in an Italian-American family. In his autobiography, he shares the dishes that he grew up with along with his foodie projects. He lets readers in on some of his best food-related movie projects and even teaches a few recipes.
Some readers were a bit disappointed that there were no pictures in the book! They also commented on the book's tendency to be verbose. However, readers enjoyed the book's discussion of food and films. They agreed that it was a very entertaining and mouthwatering read.
Singer-songwriter Michelle Zauner touches readers with her heartfelt story about loss and identity. After losing her mother to cancer at the age of 25, she begins to reminisce about her childhood and reflects upon what this means for her future and her identity as an Asian-American musician.
Readers commented that this book is a melancholy read and some wished for lighter moments. However, they agreed that this is a moving story that was very personal to the author. They appreciated how grief was honestly dealt with in the book.
Comedian and late-night TV host Trevor Noah recounts the challenges of his early childhood, growing up in South African society in the middle of apartheid. It mixes humor with deep, moving personal stories.
However, some reviewers wished there was more discussion on the history of South Africa. Nevertheless, the author manages to balance lightheartedness with some emotion-heavy content. Readers loved the author's witty writing style and his sense of humor. They also said that the book drives home important messages.
Being one of the most successful rugby players in the world, Rob Burrow inspired his fans with his iron will and perseverance despite his illness. Being forced to retire at the age of 37 due to motor neuron disease, he made it evident that he was not going down without a fight. His story will inspire readers that come across his story.
Readers were touched by the story and generally found it to be a well-written autobiography. They loved that it discussed and raised awareness on motor neuron disease. They also said that they have found some of the best lessons about life while reading Rob Burrow's journey.
In this autobiography, Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, shares her personal journey. She weaves an inspiring tale of a girl from the Bronx working her way to the top of the judicial system. This humorous story inspires, enlightens, and entertains.
Some readers pointed out that they wanted more details on her career. Despite this, reviewers agree that it is an inspiring autobiography. Readers were impressed by the honesty and personal presentation of Sotomayor’s life story in a way that connects with the reader and paints a vivid account of her self-determination.
Andre Agassi is an Olympic gold medalist and a former number one tennis player. He tells of his difficult journey to success, the highs and lows of stardom, and his complicated relationship with fame. This book is an emotional read with powerful tales for tennis fans and non-sports fans alike.
Some readers criticized the book's early chapters for being repetitive. Nevertheless, his smart and funny personality elevates the book to must-read status. Most reviewers found that Andre’s persona shines throughout the book.
Now that you've got your next autobiography read picked out, how about adding a few more titles? Check out these helpful links to find more great stuff for bibliophiles.
If you want to check out more titles, here are some of Amazon's bestsellers to get you started!
No. 1: Jonathan Van Ness｜Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love
No. 2: Michelle Obama｜Becoming
No. 3: Elton John｜Me
No. 4: Malala Yousafzai｜I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
No. 5: Stanley Tucci｜Taste: My Life Through Food
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