“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” – Francis Bacon
I don’t think Bacon was thinking of Biographies when he wrote the book, but we can unanimously agree that some biographies are sure to be chewed and digested. Biographies allow you a window into someone’s life in a way that as you read them, you live them and you are them as long as your heart is buried in the pages of these biographies. It is for this very reason that We, at BookArt101, have compiled a list of the most famous and best biographies of all times. Read the blog and find out which books will make it to your to be read list.
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
Herrera in her biography of Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo in some part does justice to the persona that Frida was and sometimes, it fails. The starting and the end of the book were particularly well-knit. In the middle, Herrera talks of Farida’s work in great detail and also includes what others said about her. Ferrera’s interpretation of Frida’s art seems to be objective except at times, it may seem that Herrera based Frida entirely on her work. But, there were times in Farida’s life when she did not paint at all.
But having said that, if you are a Frida fan, You must check out this 500 plus page book. You are in for many confirmations and some surprises. Check it out as It is a sacred documentation of her life and after.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer in his Into the Wild wins your heart as soon as you start reading it. It is the story of a man who had the courage to venture out into the wild leaving behind all that consumerism forces on us. The book deals with his journey: how he reached places, the people he met and diary entries. The book felt quite objective to me, personally.
Some people read it as a cautionary ale whereas others rever it as an adventure book. Whatever your reason maybe. This is a book that must be read by everyone. If you can find no reason to read the book, then the fact that it will challenge your pre-existing views on the world.. Read it for that. For all the movie buffs here, there is a movie by the same name.
Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday
One of the words when I think of Mao: The Unknown story for a Book Review is its depth. The book is filled with incredible detailing. It is a must-read for all history buffs but while you are at it don’t let the author’s opinion influence you. Go with the facts presented and you will be fine. The role of Russia and how his allies later turned against him is covered in depth in the book.
Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have done extensive and exhaustive research to write this book which was a humongous task. Not every writer likes to spend so much of their time collecting sources. For that and that alone, It is a commendable book. If you are interested in Chinese History, don’t go without reading this book.
Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley By Peter Guralnick
Peter Guralnick’s Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley is much more than a biography. It is also much more than the life of Elvis Presley. It rises above him and becomes a document of the succession of culture, time and Presley. No Book Review can do justice to this book. For all the Presley fans and Music lovers, this gem is a must-read.
Peter Guralnick captures and documents the rise of the star, his shy life before and the change afterwards. What I love the most about the book is how Peter Guralnick covers even minute details like the signing of contracts, recording sessions and never makes it boring. Elvis Presley is a star, of course! but Peter Guralnick too has left no stone unturned to capture the larger than life and charismatic personality of his subject.
Mad Girl’s Love Song by Andrew Wilson
Andrew Wilson’s Mad Girl’s Love Song is a biography of Sylvia Plath. Every time Plath’s name is taken, Ted Huges’ name comes as a boulder you can not get rid of. But Andrew Wilson has done a good job of changing the narrative from their failed marriage to her work, her childhood and what Sylvia Plath stood for. Andrew Wilson’s book is a must-read for the poetry geeks and Sylvia fans out there!
Having said that, if you are a Sylvia fan who has read The bell jar and other biographies written on her. You might want to skip this one or upon reading find it a bit less holistic than the others. Wilson’s handling of her affairs is interesting and the book does a good job of portraying them.
This book is real, Poets. (You have not made it up inside your head.)
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson, known for writing genius biographies of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the biography of Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs. For all the tech fans and people looking for inspirational stories, this should be a go-to book. For People in Management and CEO’s this book contains quite a few nuggets of information.
The book covers Jobs and his idea of being ruthless while building your A-team, owning your work and protecting it, and a balance between intellect and intuition. Read the entire book if you want to actually understand what is meant by the last sentence. The essence is not what Jobs did but how he did it. What happened behind the screen? How were so many decisions taken by Jobs which not only changed the way of Apple but the whole path of technology in general? What was he thinking? How did he react to the results? The book is an answer to these questions.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X, Alex Haley
Alex Haley also known for his epoch work, Roots writes a detailed account of Malcolm X’s life in the autobiography of Malcolm X. Haley does full justice to the American civil rights hero. He writes in a very detailed yet precise manner.
The book details his philosophy, his prison journey, mecca and his struggle as well as contribution to bring spirituality and civil rights to the mainstream. Alex Haley writing for Malcolm X uses a candid, unmistakably strong voice in a matter of fact tone. I personally have never read anything more moving than this book.
Einstein: His Life And Universe by Walter Isaacson
I have already established Issacson’s genius as a biographer. In his Einstein: His Life And Universe, Walter Issacson gives an in-depth, well researched and very interesting of Albert Einstein. Walter discusses his physics theories as well as his philosophy. Though I did not understand a lot of Physics that was being talked about a lot, I did like the little anecdotes that were strewn around the book.
If you are a science or physics fan or like reading the stories of great personalities, this is a must-read for you. I felt like Sheldon Cooper after having read it and there is no doubt you will find yourself a member of the Big Bang Theory to relate to after having read the book.
Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross
This book is Heaven for all the music lovers. A biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross about the lead Nirvana Singer is almost bible like to anyone who has been a teen in the nineties and the later generations that loved Nirvana. The book not only contains anecdotes from his life after he got famous but also explores his childhood and growing up.
Charles R. Cross does a good job of documenting their sessions, song releases, touring and songwriting. If you are a Kurt fan, You would not want to miss this out!
Savage Beauty: The Life Of Edna St. Vincent Millay By Nancy Milford
When it comes to researching the matter, Nancy Milford does a good job at it in her Savage Beauty: The Life Of Edna St. Vincent Millay. The book has information and exclusive pictures from her life. What I loved about the book was that Milford presented facts without any froth and moved on. I would have absolutely loved it if she had lingered on in some places or added more of her poetry but this typically only documented facts approach was also strangely liked by me.
The book doesn’t show her as perfect as usually biographies do. This book shows her as a human being, her flaws out in the open, the good and the bad both together making you fall in love with her personality no matter if you liked her poetry or not. For literature lovers, this is heaven.
So, This is it from my end. I hope you enjoyed reading the reviews of different biographies as much as I enjoyed reading and writing them. Hopefully, you have picked something for your TBR by now. I would love it if you would share your views with us after reading these books. What else do you want me to review? Please let me know in the comments section. Please don’t forget to share the listicle with your friends.
If you liked this blog, you will also like our blog on unmissable book to movie adaptions, here!