50 best autobiographies & biographies of all time

Enlightening and inspiring: these are the best autobiographies and biographies to read this year..

autobiographical books name

Reading an autobiography can offer a unique insight into a world and experience very different from your own – and these real-life stories are even more entertaining, and stranger, than fiction. Take a glimpse into the lives of some of the world's most inspiring and successful celebrities, politicians and sports people and more in our edit of the best autobiographies and biographies to read right now.

  • New autobiographies & biographies
  • Inspiring autobiographies & biographies
  • Sports autobiographies & biographies
  • Celebrity autobiographies & biographies
  • Political & historical autobiographies
  • Literary autobiographies & biographies

The best new autobiographies of 2023

Beyond the story.

Book cover for Beyond the Story

In honor of BTS's 10th anniversary, this remarkable book serves as the band's inaugural official release, offering a treasure trove of unseen photographs and exclusive content. With Myeongseok Kang's extensive interviews and years of coverage, the vibrant world of K-pop springs to life. As digital pioneers, BTS's online presence has bridged continents, and this volume grants readers instant access to trailers, music videos, and more, providing a comprehensive journey through BTS's defining moments. Complete with a milestone timeline, Beyond the Story stands as a comprehensive archive, encapsulating everything about BTS within its pages.

Finding Hildasay

By christian lewis.

Book cover for Finding Hildasay

After hitting rock bottom having suffered with depression for years, Christian Lewis made an impulsive decision to walk the entire coastline of the UK. Just a few days later he set off with a tent, walking boots and a tenner in his pocket. Finding Hildasay tells us some of this incredible story, including the brutal three months Christian Lewis spent on the uninhabited island of Hildasay in Scotland with no fresh water or food. It was there, where his route was most barren, that he discovered pride and respect for himself. This is not just a story of a remarkable journey, but one of depression, survival and the meaning of home. 

by Carolyn Hays

Book cover for A Girlhood

This moving memoir is an ode to Hays' transgender daughter – a love letter to a child who has always known herself. After a caseworker from the Department of Children and Families knocked on the door to investigate an anonymous complaint about the upbringing of their transgender child, the Hays family moved away from their Republican state. In A Girlhood, Hays tells of the brutal truths of being trans, of the sacrificial nature of motherhood and of the lengths a family will go to shield their youngest from the cruel realities of the world. Hays asks us all to love better, for children everywhere enduring injustice and prejudice.

by Prince Harry

Book cover for Spare

The fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time and packed with revelations, Spare is Prince Harry's story. Twelve-year-old Harry was known as the carefree one; the happy-go-lucky Spare to the more serious Heir until the loss of his mother changed everything. Then, at twenty-one, he joined the British Army, resulting in post-traumatic stress. Amidst this, the Prince also couldn't find love. Then he met Meghan. But from the beginning, Harry and Meghan were preyed upon by the press, subjected to waves of abuse, racism, and lies. For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. 

Is This Ok?

By harriet gibsone.

Book cover for Is This Ok?

Harriet spent much of her young life feeding neuroses and insecurities with obsessive internet searching and indulging in whirlwind ‘parasocial relationships'. But after a diagnosis of early menopause in her late twenties, her relationship with the internet took a darker turn, as her online addictions were thrown into sharp relief by the corporeal realities of illness and motherhood. An outrageously funny, raw and painfully honest account of trying to find connection in the age of the internet,  Is This Ok? is the stunning literary debut from music journalist, Harriet Gibsone. 

Book cover for Stay True

Winner of Pulitzer Prize in Memoir, Stay True  is a deeply moving and intimate memoir about growing up and moving through the world in search of meaning and belonging. When Hua Hsu first meets Ken in a Berkeley dorm room, he hates him. A frat boy with terrible taste in music, Ken seems exactly like everyone else. For Hua, Ken represents all that he defines himself in opposition to – the mainstream. The only thing Hua, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, and Ken, whose Japanese American family has been in the US for generations, have in common is that, however they engage with it, American culture doesn’t seem to have a place for either of them. 

What Are You Doing Here?

By floella benjamin.

Book cover for What Are You Doing Here?

Actress, television presenter, member of the House of Lords – Baroness Floella Benjamin is an inspiration to many. But it hasn't always been easy: in What Are You Doing Here?   she describes her journey to London as part of the Windrush generation, and the daily racism that caused her so much pain as a child. She has gone on to remain true to her values, from breaking down barriers as a Play School presenter to calling for diversity at the BBC and BAFTA to resisting the pressures of typecasting. Sharing the lessons she has learned, imbued with her joy and positivity, this autobiography is the moving testimony of a remarkable woman.

A Fortunate Woman

By polly morland.

Book cover for A Fortunate Woman

Funny, emotional and imbued with great depth, A Fortunate Woman is an exploration of the life of a country doctor in a remote and wild wooded valley in the Forest of Dean. The story was sparked when writer and documentary maker Polly Morland found a photograph of the valley she lives in tucked inside a tattered copy of John Berger’s  A Fortunate Man . Itself an account of the life of a country doctor, the book inspired a woman doctor to follow her vocation in the same remote place. And it is the story of this woman that Polly Morland tells, in this compelling portrait of landscape and community.

The best inspiring autobiographies and biographies

By yusra mardini.

Book cover for Butterfly

After fleeing her native Syria to the Turkish coast in 2015, Yusra Mardini boarded a small dinghy full of refugees headed for Greece. On the journey, the boat's engine cut out and it started to sink. Yusra, her sister, and two others took to the water to push the overcrowded boat for three and a half hours in open water, saving the lives of those on board. Butterfly is Yusra Mardini's journey from war-torn Damascus to Berlin and from there to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Game. A UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and one of People magazine's 25 Women Changing the World, discover Yusra and her incredible story of resilience and unstoppable spirit.

The Happiest Man on Earth

By eddie jaku.

Book cover for The Happiest Man on Earth

A lesson in how happiness can be found in the darkest of times, this is the story of Eddie Jaku, a German Jew who survived seven years at the hands of the Nazis. Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, and a Jew second. All of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp. But through his courage and tenacity he still came to live life as 'the happiest man on earth'. Published at the author turns one hundred, The Happiest Man on Earth is a heartbreaking but hopeful memoir full of inspiration. 

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I know why the caged bird sings, by maya angelou.

Book cover for I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

A favourite book of former president Obama and countless others, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , recounts Angelou’s childhood in the American south in the 1930s. A beautifully written classic, this is the first of Maya Angelou's seven bestselling autobiographies. 

I Am Malala

By malala yousafzai.

Book cover for I Am Malala

After speaking out about her right to education almost cost her her life, Malala Yousafzi refused to be silenced. Instead, her amazing story has taken her all over the world. This is the story of Malala and her inspirational family, and of how one person's voice can inspire change across the globe. 

In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

By lindsey hilsum.

Book cover for In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

In her job as a foreign correspondent, Marie Colvin reported from some of the most dangerous places in the world. It was a job that would eventually cost her her life. In this posthumous biography of the award-winning news journalist, Lindsey Hilsum shares the story of one of the most daring and inspirational women of our times with warmth and wit, conveying Colvin's trademark glamour. 

The best memoirs

This is going to hurt, by adam kay.

Book cover for This is Going to Hurt

Offering a unique insight into life as an NHS junior doctor through his diary entries, Adam Kay's bestselling autobiography is equal parts heartwarming and humorous, and oftentimes horrifying too. With 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions and a tsunami of bodily fluids, Kay provides a no-holds-barred account of working on the NHS frontline. Now a major BBC comedy-drama, don't miss this special edition of This Is Going To Hurt including a bonus diary entries and an afterword from the author. 

The Colour of Madness

By samara linton.

Book cover for The Colour of Madness

The Colour of Madness  brings together memoirs, essays, poetry, short fiction and artworks by people of colour who have experienced difficulties with mental health. From experiencing micro-aggressions to bias, and stigma to religious and cultural issues, people of colour have to fight harder than others to be heard and helped. Statistics show that people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK experience poor mental health treatment in comparison to their white counterparts, and are more likely to be held under the Mental Health Act. 

Nothing But The Truth

By the secret barrister.

Book cover for Nothing But The Truth

How do you become a barrister? Why do only 1 per cent of those who study law succeed in joining this mysterious profession? And why might a practising barrister come to feel the need to reveal the lies, secrets, failures and crises at the heart of this world of wigs and gowns? Full of hilarious, shocking and surprising stories,  Nothing But The Truth  tracks the Secret Barrister’s transformation from hang ‘em and flog ‘em, austerity-supporting twenty-something to a campaigning, bestselling, reforming author whose writing in defence of the law is celebrated around the globe.

Brown Girl Like Me

By jaspreet kaur.

Book cover for Brown Girl Like Me

Equal parts memoir and manifesto, Jaspreet Kaur equips women with the confidence and skillset they need to navigate the difficulties that come with an intersectional identity. Pulling no punches, and tackling topics from mental health and menstruation stigma to education and beauty standards,  Brown Girl Like Me  will educate, inspire and spark urgent conversations for change; essential reading for South Asian women and people with an interest in feminism and cultural issues.

by Michelle Obama

Book cover for Becoming

This bestselling autobiography lifts the lid on the life of one of the most inspiring women of a generation, former first lady Michelle Obama. From her childhood as a gifted young woman in south Chicago to becoming the first black First Lady of the USA, Obama tells the story of her extraordinary life with humour, warmth and honesty. 

Kitchen Confidential

By anthony bourdain.

Book cover for Kitchen Confidential

Regarded as one of the greatest books about food ever written, Kitchen Confidential lays bare the wild tales of the culinary industry. From his lowly position as a dishwasher in Provincetown to cooking at some of the finest restaurants across the world, the much-loved Bourdain translates his sultry, sarcastic and quick-witted personality to paper in this uncensored 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine' account of life as a professional chef. Bourdain's tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable, as shocking as they are funny.

Everything I Know About Love

By dolly alderton.

Book cover for Everything I Know About Love

Dolly Alderton, perhaps more than any other author, represents the rise of the messy millennial woman – in the very best way possible. Her internationally bestselling memoir gives an unflinching account of the bad dates and squalid flat-shares, the heartaches and humiliations, and most importantly, the unbreakable female friendships that defined her twenties. She weaves together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists, recipes, and other vignettes that will strike a chord of recognition with women of every age. This is a memoir that you'll discuss with loved ones long after the final page. 

The best sports autobiographies and biographies

Alone on the wall, by alex honnold.

Book cover for Alone on the Wall

In the last forty years, only a handful of climbers have pushed themselves as far, ‘free soloing’ to the absolute limit of human capabilities. Half of them are dead. Although Alex Honnold’s exploits are probably a bit  too  extreme for most of us, the stories behind his incredible climbs are exciting, uplifting and truly awe-inspiring. Alone on the Wall  is a book about the essential truth of being free to pursue your passions and the ability to maintain a singular focus, even in the face of mortal danger. This updated edition contains the account of Alex's El Capitan climb, which is the subject of the Oscar and BAFTA winning documentary,  Free Solo .

On Days Like These

By martin o'neill.

Book cover for On Days Like These

Martin O’Neill has had one of the most incredible careers in football.   With a story spanning over fifty years, Martin tells of his exhilarating highs and painful lows; from the joys of winning trophies, promotion and fighting for World Cups to being harangued by fans, boardroom drama, relegation scraps and being fired. Written with his trademark honesty and humour,  On Days Like These  is one of the most insightful and captivating sports autobiographies and a must-read for any fans of the beautiful game.

Too Many Reasons to Live

By rob burrow.

Book cover for Too Many Reasons to Live

As a child, Rob Burrow was told he was too small to be a rugby player. Some 500 games for Leeds later, Rob had proved his doubters wrong: he won eight Super League Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups, three World Club Challenges and played for his country in two World Cups. In 2019 though, Rob was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given just two years to live. He went public with the news, determined to fight it all the way. Full of love, bravery and kindness, this is the story of a man who has awed his fans with his positive attitude to life.

At Home with Muhammad Ali

By hana yasmeen ali.

Book cover for At Home with Muhammad Ali

Written by his daughter Ali using material from her father's audio journals, love letters and her treasured family memories, this sports biography offers an intimate portrait of one of boxing's most legendary figures, and one of the most iconic sports personalities of all time. 

Belonging: The Autobiography

By alun wyn jones.

Book cover for Belonging: The Autobiography

This is the tale of a lad from Mumbles who became the most capped rugby player of all time. Having watched the 1997 Lions Tour of South Africa in the hall of his school, he ascended the sport to become named the 2021 Lions Captain. This is a stirring story about physical achievement, but also about  perthyn , or belonging. Belonging to the team, to the legions of fans, to the great players of the past, and to the country of Wales itself.

They Don't Teach This

By eniola aluko.

Book cover for They Don't Teach This

In her autobiography, footballer Eni Aluko addresses themes of dual nationality, race and institutional prejudice, success, gender and faith through her own experiences growing up in Britain. Part memoir, part manifesto for change, They Don't Teach This is a must-read book for 2020. 

Touching The Void

By joe simpson.

Book cover for Touching The Void

A million-copy bestseller, Touching The Void recounts Joe Simpson and Simon Yate's near fatal dscent after climbing Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. A few days after reaching the summit of the mountain, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frost-bitten, with news that that Joe was dead. What happened to Joe, and how the pair dealt with the psychological traumas that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes not only an epic of survival but a compelling testament of friendship. 

The best celebrity autobiographies and biographies

By adrian edmondson.

Book cover for Berserker!

From brutal schooldays to 80s anarchy, through The Young Ones and beyond, Berserker! is the one-of-a-kind, fascinating memoir from an icon of British comedy, Adrian Edmondson. His star-studded anecdotes and outrageous stories are set to a soundtrack of pop hits, transporting the reader through time and cranking up the nostalgia. But, as one would expect, these stories are also a guaranteed laugh as Ade traces his journey through life and comedy. 

Being Henry

By henry winkler.

Book cover for Being Henry

Brilliant, funny, and widely-regarded as the nicest man in Hollywood, Henry Winkler shares the disheartening truth of his childhood, the difficulties of a life with severe dyslexia and the pressures of a role that takes on a life of its own. Since the glorious era of  Happy Days  fame, Henry has endeared himself to a new generation with roles in such adored shows as  Arrested Development and  Barry , where he’s revealed himself as an actor with immense depth and pathos. But Being Henry  is about so much more than a life in Hollywood and the curse of stardom. It is a meaningful testament to the power of sharing truth and of finding fulfillment within yourself.

Life Lessons

By jay blades.

Book cover for Life Lessons

‘Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.’ Let Jay’s words of wisdom – gleaned from his own triumphs over adversity – help you to find your best path through life. Filled with characteristic warmth and humour, Jay talks about the life lessons that have helped him to find positivity and growth, no matter what he’s found himself facing. Jay shares not only his adventures and escapades but also the way they have shaped his outlook and helped him to live life to the fullest. His insight and advice give you everything you need to be able to reframe your own circumstances and make the best of them.

A Funny Life

By michael mcintyre.

Book cover for A Funny Life

Comic Michael McIntyre specialises in pin-sharp observational routines that have made him the world's bestselling funny man. But when he turns his gaze to himself and his own family, things get even funnier. This bracingly honest memoir covers the highs, lows and pratfalls of a career in comedy, as Michael climbs the greasy pole of success and desperately attempts to stay up there.

by Elton John

Book cover for Me

Elton John is one of the most successful singer/songwriters of all time, but success didn't come easily to him. In his bestselling autobiography, he charts his extraordinary life, from the early rejection of his work to the heady heights of international stardom and the challenges that came along with it. With candour and humour, he tells the stories of celebrity friendships with John Lennon, George Michael and Freddie Mercury, and of how he turned his life around and found love with David Furnish. Me is the real story of the man behind the music. 

Gotta Get Theroux This

By louis theroux.

Book cover for Gotta Get Theroux This

After three decades reporting on the lives of some of the world's most extreme people, now Louis Theroux is telling his own story. From his socially awkward (his words, not ours) TV debut in 1994, to his journeys across America and his interview with now disgraced Jimmy Saville, Louis looks back on his career with his trademark razor-sharp observation and self-deprecating humour. 

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And away..., by bob mortimer.

Book cover for And Away...

National treasure and beloved entertainer, Bob Mortimer, takes us from his childhood in Middlesborough to working as a solicitor in London in his highly acclaimed autobiography. Mortimer’s life was trundling along happily until suddenly in 2015 he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required immediate surgery and forced him to cancel an upcoming tour. The book covers his numerous misadventures along his path to fame but also reflects on more serious themes, making this both one of the most humorous and poignant celebrity memoirs of recent years. 

by Walter Isaacson

Book cover for Steve Jobs

Based on interviews conducted with Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson's biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is filled with lessons about innovation, leadership, and values and has inspired a movie starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen. Isaacson tells the story of the rollercoaster life and searingly intense personality of creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized the tech industry. Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written and put nothing off limits, making this an unflinchingly candid account of one of the key figures of modern history.

Maybe I Don't Belong Here

By david harewood.

Book cover for Maybe I Don't Belong Here

When David Harewood was twenty-three, his acting career began to take flight and he had what he now understands to be a psychotic breakdown. He was physically restrained by six police officers, sedated, then hospitalized and transferred to a locked ward. Only now, thirty years later, has he been able to process what he went through. In this powerful and provocative account of a life lived after psychosis, critically acclaimed actor, David Harewood, uncovers a devastating family history and investigates the very real impact of racism on Black mental health.

Scenes from My Life

By michael k. williams.

Book cover for Scenes from My Life

When Michael K. Williams died on 6 September 2021, he left behind a career as one of the most electrifying actors of his generation. At the time of his death, Williams had nearly finished his memoir, which traces his life in whole, from his childhood and his early years as a dancer to his battles with addiction. Alongside his achievements on screen he was a committed activist who dedicated his life to helping at-risk young people find their voice and carve out their future. Imbued with poignance and raw honesty,  Scenes from My Life  is the story of a performer who gave his all to everything he did – in his own voice, in his own words.

Celebrating the Seasons with the Yorkshire Shepherdess

By amanda owen.

Book cover for Celebrating the Seasons with the Yorkshire Shepherdess

From the rural heart of Swaledale, Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen shares stories of life with a large family and a large herd of sheep, as the year turns from lambing to haymaking to midwinter feeds in the snow. From leaping hares to rare moorland flowers, her beautiful photos help bring the text to life, as do the interspersed recipes for the seasonal meals she feeds her family. Yorkshire curd tart anyone?

More Myself

By alicia keys.

Book cover for More Myself

Alicia Keys' More Myself is a celebrity autobiography with a difference. After years of playing sold-out arenas and topping the charts, Keys is now stepping back and asking, ‘who am I, really?’ Part memoir, part narrative documentary, More Myself offers an insight into the life and mind of one of the world's most celebrated musicians through her quest for her truth. 

Read an extract from Alicia Keys's autobiography

The best political and historical autobiographies, queen of our times, by robert hardman.

Book cover for Queen of Our Times

This is the definitive biography of Queen Elizabeth II by one of Britain’s leading royal authorities. With original insights from those who knew her best, interviews with world leaders and access to unseen papers, bestselling author Robert Hardman explores the full, astonishing life of our longest reigning monarch in this compellingly authoritative yet intimate biography.

The Fall of Boris Johnson

By sebastian payne.

Book cover for The Fall of Boris Johnson

Sebastian Payne, Whitehall Editor for the Financial Times, tells the behind-the-scenes story of the fall of former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. After being touted saviour of the Conservative Party, it took Johnson just three years to resign after a series of scandals. From the blocked suspension of Owen Patterson to Partygate and the Chris Pincher allegations, Payne gives us unparalleled access to those who were in the room when key decisions were made, ultimately culminating in Boris's downfall. This is a gripping and timely look at how power is gained, wielded and lost in Britain today.

by Con Coughlin

Book cover for Assad

In  Assad , Con Coughlin, veteran commentator on war in the Middle East, examines how a mild-mannered ophthalmic surgeon has transformed himself into the tyrannical ruler of a once flourishing country. Until the Arab Spring of 2011, the world’s view of Bashar al-Assad was largely benign; so much so that a profile of Mrs Assad in American  Vogue  was headlined ‘The Rose in the Desert’. But since Syria has descended into a horrific civil war, all that has changed. In this vivid and authoritative account Coughlin draws together all the strands of Assad's remarkable story and reveals how has held on to power by whatever means necessary. 

by Sung-Yoon Lee

Book cover for The Sister

The Sister , written by Sung-Yoon Lee, a scholar and specialist on North Korea, uncovers the truth about Kim Yo Jong and her close bond with Kim Jong Un. In 2022, Kim Yo Jong threatened to nuke South Korea, reminding the world of the dangers posed by her state. But how did the youngest daughter of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, his ‘sweet princess’, become the ruthless chief propagandist, internal administrator and foreign policymaker for her brother’s totalitarian regime? Readable and insightful, this book is an invaluable portrait of a woman who might yet hold the survival of her despotic dynasty in her hands.

Long Walk To Freedom

By nelson mandela.

Book cover for Long Walk To Freedom

Deemed 'essential reading for anyone who wants to understand history' by former US President, Barack Obama, this is the autobiography of one of the world's greatest moral and political leaders, Nelson Mandela. Imprisoned for more than 25 years, president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, the Nobel Peace Prize winner's life was nothing short of extraordinary. Long Walk to Freedom vividly tells this story; one of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph, written with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader. 

The Truths We Hold

By kamala harris.

Book cover for The Truths We Hold

Born the daughter of immigrants and civil rights activists in California, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris grew up with a strong sense of social justice. In her bestselling memoir The Truths We Hold , she shares how her childhood and the lessons she's learnt in her career as a lawmaker have inspired and shaped the person and politician that she is today, and her manifesto for a fairer future. 

The Diary of a Young Girl

By anne frank.

Book cover for The Diary of a Young Girl

No list of inspiring autobiographies would be complete without Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl . Charting the thirteen-year-old's time hiding in a 'Secret Annex' with her family to escape Gestapo detection, this book (which was discovered after Anne Frank's death), is a must-read, and a testament to the courage shown by the millions persecuted during the Second World War. 

The best literary autobiographies

Father and son, by jonathan raban.

Book cover for Father and Son

On 11 June 2011, three days short of his sixty-ninth birthday, Jonathan Raban suffered a stroke which left him unable to use the right side of his body. Learning to use a wheelchair in a rehab facility outside Seattle and resisting the ministrations of the nurses overseeing his recovery, Raban began to reflect upon the measure of his own life in the face of his own mortality. Together with the chronicle of his recovery is the extraordinary story of his parents’ marriage, the early years of which were conducted by letter while his father fought in the Second World War.

Crying in H Mart

By michelle zauner.

Book cover for Crying in H Mart

This radiant read by singer, songwriter and guitarist Michelle Zauner delves into the experience of being the only Asian-American child at her school in Eugene, Oregon, combined with family struggles and blissful escapes to her grandmother's tiny Seoul apartment. The family bond is the shared love of Korean food, which helped Michelle reclaim her Asian identity in her twenties. A lively, honest, riveting read.

I Heard What You Said

By jeffrey boakye.

Book cover for I Heard What You Said

Before Jeffrey Boakye was a black teacher, he was a black student. Which means he has spent a lifetime navigating places of learning that are white by default. Since training to teach, he has often been the only black teacher at school. At times seen as a role model, at others a source of curiosity, Boakye’s is a journey of exploration – from the outside looking in. In the groundbreaking  I Heard What You Said,  he recounts how it feels to be on the margins of the British education system. Thought-provoking, witty and completely unafraid,  I Heard What You Said  is a timely exploration of how we can dismantle racism in the classroom and do better by all our students.

The Reluctant Carer

By the reluctant carer.

Book cover for The Reluctant Carer

The phone rings. Your elderly father has been taken to hospital, and your even older mother is home with nobody to look after her. What do you do? Drop everything and go and help of course. But it's not that straightforward, and your own life starts to fall apart as quickly as their health. Irresistibly funny, unflinching and deeply moving, this is a love letter to family and friends, to carers and to anyone who has ever packed a small bag intent on staying for just a few days. This is a true story of what it really means to be a carer, and of the ties that bind even tighter when you least expect it. 

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Best Autobiographies

These are the top autobiographies and memoirs according to the web’s most popular book blogs. ranked by how often they were featured..

Best Autobiographies

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20 best autobiographies you have to read in 2023

Whether you're a long-time lover of non-fiction or you're new to the world of autobiographies, this is our list of the 20 best autobiographies you've got to read in 2023.

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Are you dreaming of a summer holiday? Perhaps you're fantasising of afternoons spent lying on the beach or by the pool — your laptop and office job just a mere memory... And there's nothing that says holiday quite like a new book.

Autobiographical writing is a skill that is hard to master. Done well, it can give you a behind the scenes peek into the world of your favourite star, or give you an insight into historical events and cultural context that would otherwise be near impossible to understand.

While books can make some of the best gifts for others they also can be a great gift for yourself — especially if you're looking to take a break from the screens that surround us in modern life. Having said that, reading a physical book isn't the only way to enjoy these amazing stories.

Getting an Amazon Kindle can be a great way to carry lots of books round with you if you're travelling, and you can often download books for a much lower cost. Listening to audiobooks is also a great way to stay on top of your reading when you're on the go. Amazon Audible lets you download books onto your phone and listen as you go, and it's also running a 30-day UK free trial right now.

We love the experience of going into a bookshop, looking at all the covers and picking out a few new titles. But life can get busy, and it can be tricky to find the time to continue to support your local bookshop. Shopping from a site like Bookshop.org also lets you support independent bookshops from home.

Here's our list of the best autobiographies that you should read in your lifetime.

Looking for better ways to experience your favourite audiobook? Check out guides to the best wireless earbuds and the best smart speakers . For more on audio, take a look at the best DAB radios .

Best autobiographies at a glance:

  • Open, Andre Agassi , £10.99
  • Everything I Know About Love, Dolly Alderton , £10.99
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou , from £4.99
  • Wild Swans, Jung Chang , from £5.99
  • The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion , from £6.99
  • The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher , £10.99
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank , from £8.54
  • All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot , from £8.54
  • This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay , from £5
  • Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela , from 99p
  • I'm Glad My Mom Died, Jennette McCurdy , from £10
  • Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama , £9.99
  • Becoming, Michelle Obama , from £7.99
  • Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, Alan Rickman , from £7.50
  • Just Kids, Patti Smith , £12.34
  • Wild, Cheryl Strayed , £8.99
  • Taste, Stanley Tucci , from £1.99
  • Educated, Tara Westover , £10.99
  • I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai , from £7.59
  • Crying In H Mart, Michelle Zauner , £8.49

Best autobiographies to read in 2023

Open, andre agassi.

Open Andre Agassi

Written in 2009, this is the autobiography of the American former World No.1 tennis player, Andre Agassi. Written in collaboration with JR Moehringer from a collection of hundreds of hours of tapes, this memoir gives top insight into the life of a professional sportsperson.

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Agassi's was a career of fierce rivalries and it's fascinating to hear these from the perspective of an insider. Like many high-performing careers, in sport children are singled out for their talent at a young age, and Agassi describes the intensity of training for himself and his fellow tennis players in their collective pursuit of excellence.

This book would make a great present for any tennis fan, and gives an interesting insight into the man behind the nickname 'The Punisher'.

Buy Open by Andre Agassi for £10.99 at Waterstones

Everything I Know About Love, Dolly Alderton

Dolly Alderton Everything I Know About Love

Everything I Know About Love follows Times columnist Dolly Alderton through her early life and 20s. It tackles themes of dating, love, friendship as Alderton comes of age and grows into herself. Dispersed with recipes in the style of Nora Ephron's Heartburn, the book gained a cult following since it was published in 2018 and won a National Book Award (UK) for best autobiography of the year.

Alderton's memoir has also now been turned into a BBC TV show which follows a fictionalised version of Alderton and her friends as they navigate life in London.

Buy Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton for £10.99 at Foyles

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

I know why the caged birds sing Maya Angelou

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is the first of seven autobiographies Angelou wrote about her life. It follows her childhood, beginning when she's just three years old and spanning to when she is 16 — from her time as a child to when she had a child herself. The book follows the young Maya as she and her brother Bailey are moved between family members following the separation of her parents.

Discussing themes of racism, sexual assault and displacement, the expertly crafted narrative is widely taught in schools here and in the US. Written in the aftermath of the death of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings became an instant classic and is a must-read.

Buy I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou from £4.99 at Amazon

Wild Swans, Jung Chang

Wild Swans Jung Chang

Slightly different from traditional first person autobiographies, in this book Jung Chang tells the stories of three generations of women in her own family — her grandmother, her mother and herself. At a time when China is becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the world, this book provides vital context into the 20th century history of the country.

Through the stories of her grandmother who was given to a warlord as a concubine, and her mother who was a young idealist during the rise of Communism, she captures moments of bravery, fear, and ultimately survival.

The book, which is banned in China, has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and is as beautifully written as it is educationally fascinating.

Buy Wild Swans by Jung Chang from £5.99 at Amazon

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion

Published in 2005 when it went on to win Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, this book follows Didion in the year after her the death of her husband of nearly 40 years, John Gregory Dunne. In this harrowing depiction of grief, love and loss, Didion turns her personal experience into one that is universally relatable.

Didion and Donne's adopted daughter Quintana fell ill days before his death and was still in hospital when he died. Didion recounts her experience caring for her throughout the book, all while going through her own grief.

While not an easy read, this is an incredibly powerful one.

Buy The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion from £6.99 at Amazon

The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher

The Female Diarist Carrie Fisher

This might be an obvious choice for any Star Wars fan, but we think the appeal of this book stretches far beyond just that. Made up of the diaries Fisher wrote when she was 19 years old and first started playing Princess Leia, the book was released shortly before her death in 2016.

Any peak behind the scenes of such a well-known franchise is bound to be popular, and this examines her experience as a young adult thrust into the world of fame and sex. Unlike her deeply person earlier memoir Wishful Drinking, in which Fisher described her struggles with mental illness, The Princess Diarist is full of bombshell revelations and funny punchlines, making for an enjoyable read.

Buy The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher for £10.99 at Foyles

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank

The title of this book is clever because in so many ways, Anne Frank's diary is just that — the diary of a young girl. But it is also a vital account of history.

Starting on her 13th birthday, Anne writes about her life with her family living in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. Alongside other Jews, Anne and her family go into hiding to escape persecution from the Nazis. She deals with all the feeling teenagers experience growing up, but also grapples with her isolation, lack of freedom, and trying to understand what is happening in the world around her.

Important reading for young people and adults alike, Anne's writing brings home the realities of human suffering levelled upon the Jewish people by the Nazis. Anne's father Otto Frank was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust, and he published his daughter's diary in line with her wishes.

Buy The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank from £8.54 at Bookshop.org

All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot

All Creatures great and Small James herriot

This book would make a great gift for the animal lover in your life, or any fan of the great outdoors. In it, James Herriot recounts his experiences as a newly qualified vet working in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s.

The first in his series of memoirs, All Creatures Great and Small finds Herriot in situations where there are high stakes, and more often than not some hilarity (think escaped pigs!). In the years since their first publication, the books have become classics.

If you want more of All Creatures Great and Small, there is also a TV adaptation to get stuck into.

Buy All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot from £8.54 at Bookshop.org

This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt Adam Kay

This autobiography follows Adam Kay through his years as a junior doctor specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology and working within the NHS. It will have you crying of laughter and sorrow as the young doctor finds himself helping people from all walks of life, all while his own personal life falls into disarray.

Kay's debut publication was the bestselling non-fiction title of 2018 in the UK and stayed at the top of the charts for weeks.

This is Going to Hurt was adapted into a limited drama series by the BBC earlier this year starring Ben Whishaw, which used elements of the book to explore wider themes around health and the NHS.

Buy This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay from £5 at Amazon

Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to freedom Nelson Mandela

This autobiography hardly needs an introduction. It tells the life story of former South African President and antiapartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, covering his childhood, education and the 27 years he spent in prison.

Mandela is internationally praised for overcoming enormous persecution and struggle, rebuilding South Africa's society as President. The film adaptation of his autobiography stars Idris Elba as Mandela, and was released shortly after his death.

The Kindle edition of this book starts from just 99p, and the paperback is £7.96.

Buy Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela from 99p at Amazon

I'm Glad My Mom Died, Jennette McCurdy

I'm glad my mom died Jannette McCurdy

Jennette McCurdy's memoir has been one of the most talked about books of 2022. A former child star best know for her role on Nickelodeon's iCarly in the USA, McCurdy's memoir describes her experience growing up in the limelight with an abusive parent.

The book's title has, unsurprisingly, been a big talking point, but it addresses an issue faced by many who write about their life experiences — how do you write about your true experience without damaging your relationships? In this frank and often funny book, McCurdy describes the emotional complexity of receiving abuse from someone you love.

Buy I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy from £10 at Amazon

Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama

Dreams from my father Barack Obama

Published nearly 15 years before he became President of the United States, Barack Obama's first memoir is a deep exploration into identity and belonging. In this book which begins with him learning about his father's death, Obama explores his own relationship with race as the son of a Black Kenyan father and a white American mother.

Written with his recognisable voice, Obama travels back to Kansas where his mother's family is from (they later moved to Hawaii where Obama spent most of his childhood) before making the journey to Kenya.

This makes an interesting read not only to learn more about the background of a man who holds such an important place in America's history, but also in shedding light on how we all relate to our own parentage and what makes us who we are.

Buy Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama for £9.99 at Waterstones

Becoming, Michelle Obama

Becoming Michelle Obama

America's former First Lady Michelle Obama recounts experiences of her life in this record breaking autobiography, from growing up on the south side of Chicago with her parents and brother, to attending Princeton University and Harvard Law School before returning to Chicago as a qualified lawyer. It was whilst working at a law firm in the city that she met her husband Barack Obama.

Obama uses her elegant story telling to take us along on the incredible journey she went on, as an accomplished lawyer, daughter, wife and mother to becoming First Lady. This is an autobiography that lets you see history from the insider's perspective and is definitely a must read.

Buy Becoming by Michelle Obama from £7.99 at Amazon

Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, Alan Rickman

Madly Deeply the diaries of Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman was much loved for his roles in fan favourite films, such as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. This collection of diary entries, written with the intention of being made public and published after his death, give his witty insights into his day-to-day life but also his take on world events.

The book is filled not only with delightful showbiz gossip, but also with snippets of hidden moments — from his disbelief and grief at the sudden death of actor and friend Natasha Richardson, to the relief he feels that the costume for Severus Snape still fits.

Buy Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman by Alan Rickman from £7.50 at Amazon

Just Kids, Patti Smith

Just Kids Patti Smith

On its release in 2010, Patti Smith's memoir won the US National Book Award for Nonfiction. In many ways it is a love letter to her life long friend, the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. In Just Kids, she recounts their meeting, romance and how they continued to inspire and encourage each other in their artistic pursuits for the rest of their lives.

This story which so vividly depicts life is, however, overshadowed by Mapplethorpe's death. Read for a vivid description of the New York art scene in the late '60s.

Buy Just Kids by Patti Smith for £12.34 at Bookshop.org

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

Wild Cheryl Strayed

In this autobiography, Cheryl Strayed writes about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail, from the Mojave Desert in California to Washington State in the Pacific North West. In total, Strayed walks over a thousand miles on her own and in the process, she walked back to herself.

This memoir is beautifully written, moving between stories from the trail to those about Strayed's childhood, her struggles with heroin use and the sudden death of her mother — the main motivation for her walk. Full of suspense, warmth and humour, this book will make you think about your life and your family, and probably make you want to go on a walk.

Wild was adapted into a film in 2014, produced by and starring Reese Witherspoon.

Buy Wild by Cheryl Strayed for £8.99 at Waterstones

Taste, Stanley Tucci

Taste Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci has long been beloved for his nuanced and charming acting performances, but in the last few years has gained popularity for his true love — food. Between his CNN series Searching for Italy making us all cross eyed with food envy, and his cookbook The Tucci Table written with wife Felicity Blunt, there's no getting away from the fact that Stanley Tucci is giving Italian food an even better name than it had already.

But there's a good reason for Tucci's renewed love of food and his devotion to these passion projects. He was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2018 which left him unable to eat for several months, and even after he was able to eat again, his sense of taste was changed. In this memoir, he recounts his early relationship with food in his grandparent's kitchen and at his parent's table, and how his relationship with food has shaped all the loves of his life.

We recommend having a bowl of pasta in front of you while you read this!

Buy Taste by Stanley Tucci from £1.99 at Amazon

Calling all bookworms, take a look at the best Kindle deals and the best Audible deals for this month.

Educated, Tara Westover

Educated Tara Westover

This is a frankly astonishing memoir in which Tara Westover recounts how she came from a Mormon fundamentalist background without a birth certificate or any schooling, and ended up studying for her PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Westover gives readers a peak behind the curtain into the lifestyle of a group who do everything they can to stay away from the outside world. She recounts the experience of herself and her siblings as they grew up in an environment where they were often injured and didn't have access to medical help.

The juxtaposition of loving her family and yet needing to escape is acutely described, and she writes so cleverly about the complex subject matter, often admitting that her version of events may not be the correct one. Westover expertly uses her own story to examine themes of religion, love and above all education - and we promise you won't be able to put it down.

Buy Educated by Tara Westover for £10.99 at Foyles

I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai

I am Malala Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai's story is undeniably an incredible one. After the Taliban took over in Swat Valley in Pakistan where she was born, Yousafzai was prevented from going to school. Despite being just a child herself, she became outspoken on girls' right to learn and in 2012, she was shot in the head by a masked gunman while on the bus to school.

After the attack Yousafzai moved to the UK with her family. In this autobiography, she describes the importance of female education, starting the Malala Fund, and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. This book will leave you inspired.

Buy I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai from £7.59 at Bookshop.org

Crying In H Mart, Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner is an Asian-American singer-songwriter and guitarist best known as lead of the band Japanese Breakfast. In this memoir, Zauner explores her relationship with her Korean heritage and how her mother's death forced her to reckon with the side of herself she had all but lost.

At the heart of this book about love, loss and grief is food. It acts as a constant dialogue between Zauner and her mother, as well as an enduring connection with her Korean heritage. This makes for a highly emotional and thought-provoking read.

Buy Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner for £8.49 at Waterstones

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List of famous autobiographies – GK

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List of all Autobiographies of Famous people : 

Questions on Autobiographies and their authors can be expected in the Gk section of MBA exams like IIFT, XAT, CMAT, etc. Along with the recent releases, students are also expected to know the books and authors of famous autobiographies written over time. So, here we have a list of famous autobiographies that will be useful for your MBA exam GK preparations.

GK quiz

autobiographical books name

A detailed list of all autobiographies of Famous personalities:

Recent autobiographies (2021 – 2022).

Note: We will keep updating this list for the entire year (2020).

Autobiographies of Presidents & Prime Ministers

Autobiographies of famous politicians:, autobiographies of historical figures:, autobiographies of judges:, autobiographies of activists, autobiographies of sportsmen and athletes, autobiographies of writers:, autobiographies of film makers:.

We hope you found this article on the list of famous autobiographies useful. The current list will be updated by us routinely so do keep checking out the blog for current updates that could come in this year’s exam.

Happy Learning!

Also read: List of National parks in India

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Anisha has done MBA in Marketing from NMIMS And Executive Management(PMNO) from Harvard Business School. She has been instrumental in growing the CATKing Digital with her experience from Marico and Henkel in the past.

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Become a Writer Today

21 Best Autobiographies Every Writer Should Read

Are you looking for the best autobiographies to add to your reading list? Take a look at a few suggestions in our guide!

If you are interested in learning about the life of a famous person, you should consider reading their autobiography. An autobiography is a great way to learn more about what their life was like, some of the challenges they had to overcome, and the impact they had on the world. With so many famous historical figures publishing autobiographies, the list can be long, but some autobiographies are better than others.

What are some of the top autobiographies you should consider exploring? See if you can learn some lessons from their lives that you can apply to your own. And, if you are wondering what’s the difference between autobiographies and memoirs, check out our article on the most famous memoirs to find out!

1. The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou, 2004

2. the diary of a young girl by anne frank, 1945, 3. becoming by michelle obama (2018), 4. the autobiography of benjamin franklin, 1909, 5. long walk to freedom by nelson mandela, 1994, 6.  an autobiography by agatha christie, 1997, 7.  i am malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the taliban by malala yousafzai, 2013, 8. narrative of the life of frederick douglass, 1845, 9. autobiography of an androgyne by earl lind, 1918, 10. the autobiography of malcolm x by malcolm x, 1965, 11. autobiography of a yogi by paramahansa yogananda, 1946, 12. autobiography of mark twain, volume 1 by mark twain, 2010, 13. living for change: an autobiography by grace lee boggs, 1998, 14. becoming a visible man by jamison green, 2004, 15. an american life by ronald reagan, 1999, 16. chronicles volume 1 by bob dylan, 2004, 17. cash: the autobiography by johnny cash, 1997, 18. always running: la vida loca: gang days in l.a. by luis j. rodríguez, 1993, 19. flying free: my victory over fear to become the first latina pilot on the us aerobatic team by cecilia aragon, 2020, 20. a full life by jimmy carter, 2016, 21. courage to soar: a body in motion, a life in balance by simone biles, 2016, faqs about the best autobiographies.

Maya Angelou

Without a doubt, any list of the greatest autobiographies of all time has to start with The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou . This is one of the most famous memoirs of all time. This is a remarkable collection that provides some insight into the minds of one of the greatest authors of all time. 

“She said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and even more intelligent than college professors.” Maya Angelou, The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou

Anne Frank

This is one of the greatest autobiographies of all time. The Diary of a Young Girl is known throughout the world, and it is a collection of writings from Anne Frank. During the two years, she was hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. She shares intimate details regarding the Nazi occupation, what her life was like growing up, and the heartbreaking impacts of WWII. 

“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.” Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Michelle Obama

Some people would instead call Becoming  by Michelle Obama a Memoir, but it is, in fact, an autobiography. This book is divided into three parts, giving people some insight into her life history and how she has tackled some of the world’s biggest challenges. It also lets people know the tremendous responsibility she shouldered over the years and what she sacrificed for others. Want to read more autobiographies? Check out our round-up of the best memoir writers .

“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.” Michelle Obama, Becoming

Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin was written between 1771 and 1790 but was not published until the early 1900s. It focuses on his early life and unique adulthood, particularly his role as a founding father of the United States. He also attempted to follow 13 virtues in his life to achieve moral perfection. His suggestions for leading a viable life are as valid today as they were back then. 

“If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fix’d in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error.” Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was one of the leading activists against the apartheid movement in Africa. He was arrested numerous times, and spent decades in prison, but eventually rose to become the first black president of South Africa. This autobiography gives people an inside look at what his life was like, his formal education, and what his time in prison meant to him. 

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Agatha Christie

Any fan of mysteries is likely a fan of Agatha Christie. Her autobiography looks at what it takes to become one of the most prolific mystery writers of all time. This autobiography accounts for her life through to the age of 75. It is more than 500 pages long but reads like a conversation with the author herself.

“It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them. ” Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie: An Autobiography

Malala Yousafzai

Never underestimate the power of one voice and how it can change the world. That is exactly what I Am Malala seeks to communicate. She is a rare person in society in that she is immediately recognizable by a single name. She ignited the promise of activism among the young generation and has already driven tremendous change throughout the world.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was one of the leading abolitionists, and he helped countless enslaved people escape the horrible shackles of slavery. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass , gives people a first-hand look at his harrowing childhood and adventurous adulthood. Even though it is difficult to grapple with some of the darker sides of American History, it is critical to take a closer look at just what his experience was like. 

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” Frederick Douglass

This autobiography was written in 1918, and the Autobiography of an Androgyne is unique. It has clear prose and serves as a guide for those seeking to transcend the binary state of the world. It is considered to be a groundbreaking book in the world of transgender literature. It is also a reminder of how far the world has come, yet also how far the world has to go. 

“This should be sufficient to show that homosexuality was discussed among the Romans and Greeks, and it is well known that the Bible is not quiet about it.” Earl Lind, Autobiography of an Androgyne

Malcolm X

The Civil Rights Movement is still alive and well to this day, and Malcolm X is widely seen as one of the most outstanding civil rights leaders in the history of the United States. This autobiography was written in conjunction with Alex Haley and contained a lot of interviews with Malcolm X and excerpts from his writing. Unfortunately, Malcolm X was tragically assassinated, but his fight for racial justice lives on to this day. 

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against.” Malcolm X, The Autobiography

Paramahansa Yogananda

Yoga has become incredibly popular during the past few decades, but the  Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda has been in print for over 75 years. It has been estimated that this book has been printed over four million times, and it has widely been credited as sparking the popularity of yoga in the United States. This autobiography guides readers on how they can cultivate their inner strength. 

“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself……” Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens, who is better known by his pen name Mark Twain, is one of the most prolific writers of all time. A master of the written word, his autobiography allows people to look at what it takes to become one of the greatest writers. His autobiography  was not published until 100 years after he had passed away.

“In this Autobiography I shall keep in mind that I am speaking from the grave. I am literally speaking from the grave, because I shall be dead when the book is published.” Mark Twain, Autobiography of Mark Twain

Grace Lee Boggs

If you would like to see what life was like for someone who lived more than 100 years, Living for Change: An Autobiography is an autobiography worth exploring. Grace Lee Bloggs played an integral role in numerous social movements, and this autobiography details her life as an intellectual, activist, and partner alongside some of the leading social justice warriors of the past century.

“Look on yourself as a citizen in a kingdom of persons, he advised. Act always as if the maxim of your action could become a universal law, always treating mankind, as much in your own person as in that of another, as an end, never as a means.” Grace Lee Boggs, Living for Change: An Autobiography

Jamison Green

Jamison Green is an educator, author, and civil rights activist. His autobiographical account provides an inside look at what life is like as someone who has transitioned from female to male. Becoming A Visible Man mixes theory, activism, and personal stories together to provide a riveting look at what life is like as a member of a marginalized community. 

“Being true to oneself creates the integrity and self-respect we need to have if we are to extend that respect to others.” Jamison Green, Becoming a Visible Man

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan is remembered as the president who brought the Cold War to an end, and his eight years serving as president of the United States so a lot of change in the country. This autobiography, An American Life , gives everyone a look at the mindset behind his decisions and the impact he has had on the country and the world. 

“For more than five years, I’d made little progress with my efforts at quiet diplomacy—for one thing, the Soviet leaders kept dying on me.” Ronald Reagan, An American Life

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has won various Grammy awards for his contributions to music, but his autobiography also won a Quill Award alongside a Nobel Prize in literature. He is a gifted storyteller, which is certainly something that shines through in this autobiography. 

“Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it’s like they didn’t fade away at all.” Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One

Johnny Cash

Always seen dressed in black, Cash: The Autobiography by Johnny Cash lets people inside one of the most talented and darkest musical minds in history. It tells a story regarding some of his most pivotal musical moments, his life on stage, and the impact he had on pop culture. This book is a unique opportunity to dive into his mind.

“They’re powerful, those songs. At times they’ve been my only way back, the only door out of the dark, bad places the black dog calls home.” Johnny Cash, Cash

Luis J. Rodríguez

This is a classic autobiography, and it is frequently listed among banned books. Always Running talks about what life is like in a Los Angeles gang. It provides an inside look at what his battles were like, what he had to do to survive, and the impact gang life had on himself, his family, and Los Angeles as a whole. 

When you win, we win; but when you go down, you go down alone.” Luis J. Rodríguez, Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.

Cecilia Aragon grew up as a shy, bullied girl. In her autobiography, Flying Free: My Victory over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team , she talks about what she had to do to sore above it all. She had a special strength in math, and she was eventually introduced to flying. It eventually clicks everything into place for her, and she works hard to accomplish her dreams. This story lets the reader walk along her unique path with her, from a bullied girl to a triumphant success. 

“This was my first real job, one that might even lead to a career, and I had to hang onto it. I wanted to hang onto it. I had to succeed at something.” Cecilia Aragon, Flying Free: My Victory over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team

Jimmy Carter

Even though Jimmy Carter may not be remembered as the greatest president, he is one of the greatest people ever to hold the Oval Office. Of course, A lot of problems marked his presidency, but his autobiography is about much more than just his career in the Oval Office. His impact on Habitat for Humanity cannot be overstated, and A Full Life gives people a look at just what he has meant to the world. 

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.” Jimmy Carter

Simone Biles

Simone Biles is widely seen as the most accomplished gymnast of all time, but she also struggled with various mental health issues. Nevertheless, her impact on society is significant, and Courage to Soar: a Body in Motion, a Life in Balance , provides everyone with a look at what her journey has been like. The autobiography has a friendly, generous, and soothing voice as it describes all of the challenges she had to overcome in her life. 

“I would hope I would inspire kids everywhere to know that you can do anything you put your mind to.” Simone Biles, Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, a Life in Balance

What is the top-selling autobiography?

It is difficult to say what the best-selling autobiography is of all time. The most recent best-selling autobiography is Becoming Michelle, about Michelle Obama. One of the best-selling autobiographies of the past few hundred years is The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. You might be interested in exploring more biography authors, check out our round-up of best biography authors . 

How many pages are in the longest autobiography ever written?

The length of pages can vary depending on how it is printed, but the longest autobiography is widely considered to be Finn Kalle Päätalo. It is 26 volumes, and it is considered to be the longest autobiographical narrative in the world. 

Is autobiography or biography better?

One is not necessarily better. A biography provides a different perspective because it is not necessarily written by the main focus of the biography itself. On the other hand, an autobiography may provide you with a better perspective on the mindset of the individual. You may also want to explore essays about autobiographies to learn more. 

Looking for more reading material? Check out our round-up of the best Hemingway books !

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10 Autobiographies You Should Read At Least Once In Your Life

By Marilynn McLachlan 10th May 2022

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10 Autobiographies You Should Read At Least Once In Your Life

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Sometimes there are stories inside that are bound to be told. And, thankfully, great people, hurt people, vulnerable people and people who have had their lives transformed—for better or worse—have jotted down their compelling stories so that we can all be touched by them.

Autobiographies are a window into the soul and sometimes they are so powerful they can change the reader. Here are our top picks of the 10 you should read at least once in your life.

Wild | Cheryl Strayed

In a powerful journey from lost to found, this is the compelling autobiography of Cheryl Strayed. At 26 she had lost everything—her mother to cancer, her marriage and her home. She decided to take the empowering step of walking eleven hundred miles along the East Coast of America—alone. It is a brave and harrowing decision that sees Strayed pushed to her physical, mental and emotional limits. But in the wilderness there are no parties or drugs to escape within and so slowly and surely she begins to confront her past, forgive herself and dream of a future that isn’t self-destructive.

“How wild it was, to let it be,” she writes.

While many know the movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Wild  is also worth putting on your must-read list. Wild is raw, true and ultimately heart-warming.

The Diary Of A Young Girl | Anne Frank

With the threat of WWII breathing down her neck, Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday. Little did she know that she would spend two years in hiding with her parents and sister and record every brave, terrified and beautiful moment they spent together. Written in Dutch, it was later translated into English with much acclaim.

“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart,” she writes.

Later, Anne and her family were caught and sent to a concentration camp and she sadly died of typhus. But her insights and her words in The Diary of a Young Girl  continued to touch hearts long after her last breath.

The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell | Marilyn Manson

Full disclosure: this book will shake you to the core. There are parts that are revolting, sexist and chilling. That said, you won’t be able to put it down. From his Christian upbringing, Manson takes the reader deep into his life—from backstage at rock concerts to jail and beyond. It’s a compelling read about the man who shook the world. At his peak, an atheist and an elitist, Manson was feared by many. He was accused of being at least somewhat responsible for influencing Klebold and Harris, who were the deadly killers of 13 souls at Columbine High School.

“I walked away exhilarated by my success, because there's nothing like making a difference in someone's life, even if that difference is a lifetime of nightmares and a fortune in therapy bills,” he writes in The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell.

It’s a book that will take you places you’d rather not go. Indulge if you have morbid curiosity, but be warned, you’ll remember it long after you’ve put it down—even when you’d rather forget.

The Anti Cool Girl | Rosie Waterland

The Anti Cool Girl is another book that will take you down the rabbit hole that is the dark side of humanity. If anyone had a rough start in life, it is Rosie Waterland. In this book she doesn’t hold back from abuse, alcoholism and battling weight issues. Spending her life trying to fit in, one day she has an epiphany and decides to live her life as she really is—an anti cool girl.

Her claim to fame was writing pithy recaps of the Bachelor series but expect none of this in this book. There literally is no subject that she won’t hold back on, even if it is shitting the bed.

It’s a book that will have you horrified one moment and then laughing out loud at the next.

Long Walk To Freedom | Nelson Mandela

The face of peace for multiple generations, Long Walk To Freedom chronicles Nelson Mandela’s early years and the 27 years he spent in prison in South Africa. Winning the hearts the world over, a Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of South Africa, he is one of the most memorable people of our time.

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite,” he writes. “Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”

At 700 pages, this isn’t a light read, but Long Walk To Freedom is a book that everyone should read at least once.

The Year Of Magical Thinking | Joan Didion

One of America’s most iconic writers, including writing for Vogue, novels and non-fiction books, she turned her pen towards grief in the year following the death of her husband, John Dunne. In the days before Christmas, 2003, the pair watched as their adopted daughter, Quintana, fell ill with what seemed like the ‘flu. But, it soon turned from pneumonia to septic shock and she was placed on life support in an induced coma.

“Life changes in the instant,” she writes. “The ordinary instant.”

And then, the night before New Year’s Eve, Dunne suffers a fatal heart attack and Didion’s world is changed forever.

While their daughter did pull through, a short time later, a slip resulted in a brain bleed. The Year Of Magical Thinking is Didion’s way of clawing through the grief and trying to make sense of all that has happened to her. A powerful insight into mourning, it has been criticized for its lack of raw emotion, but it doesn’t make it any less rewarding of a book.

Daring To Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening | Manal Al-Sharif

While most Western women take advantage of the right to drive, there are millions around the world who are not afforded this luxury. And so it was with Manal Al-Sharif. Growing up a religious radical (she even went so far as burning her brother’s cassettes because the music was forbidden), her feelings changed when she trained as a computer security engineer and she began to see hypocrisy all around her.

“How odd it is 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 if he works with women or speaks to them,” she writes.  “Why do Saudi women allow subjugation to a man and adhere to men’s rules and conditions? Why did I?”

Challenging the status quo, Daring To Drive , tells Al-Sharif’s rise to accidental activist as she fought for the right for women to drive—and won.

On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft | Stephen King

Whether you’re a budding writer or an avid reader, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft is a must read. The author of more than 50 books that have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide, King is a master storyteller. But, not just any stories—his writing has sent chills down spines and led to many a nightmare. Beginning with his childhood, King recounts his battle with drugs and alcohol and the incident that almost killed him while he was writing the book. In the second half, he moves into the craft of writing, encouraging people to stop overthinking, forget the blocks and just do it. More than a book on writing, this is a book about life.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings | Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s talent for words will have you swept—uncomfortably and completely—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 endured. It worsened when she told her mother of the rape and later the rapist was killed and she blamed herself. Fearful, she became a selective mute and turned to great literary works to fill her mind.

“To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision,” she writes. “Few, if any, survive their teens. Most surrender to the vague but murderous pressure of adult conformity. It becomes easier to die and avoid conflict than to maintain a constant battle with the superior forces of maturity.”

Graduating ahead of her year group and setting the stage for what would become one of the greatest literary voices, Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings  is a must read.

Open: An Autobiography | Andre Agassi

From one of the most talented people to ever set foot on a tennis court comes an autobiography that is both compelling and shocking. His rise to success was not without a cost. His training started as a young child and at age 13 he was at a Florida tennis camp—which he hated. Rebellious, the talented teenager became a pro at the tender age of 16 and he writes of his professional and personal heartbreaks before winning Wimbledon in 1992.  A force of nature both on and off the court, he writes candidly about his relationship with Brooke Shields and later his loss of confidence.

“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 the obstacles,” he writes. “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 a bad back.”

But Open: An Autobiography is a tale of resurrection—he made a comeback to tennis as the eldest number one player in history.

Looking for more book inspo? Here are 10 books that will change the way you think. 

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