My Top Autobiographies
These are my top autobiographies. When you read an autobiographies, you get a good sense of the character of the person. Their character can influence, inspire and help you. You may also be interested in Why you should read an autobiography and how to select one.
Mahatma Gandhi Autobiography
I’m inspired by Gandhi’s determination and his ability to think in terms of what is critical for individuals right now and at the same time, for countries over decades. I bought this when I visited his house in Mumbai (now a museum), so it has special meaning for me.
David Attenborough Autobiography
David Attenborough is inspiring for adults and children alike with his deep knowledge and interest in all living things as well as his ability to shift his thoughts to understand life and what drives life and life forms through the process of evolution. David Attenborough Life on Air is an easy and pleasurable read, and he has several other memoir style books to go on with after.
Listen to Malcolm X’s speeches and you know if this is for you. Integrity like no other.
James Herriot Autobiographical Stories
What Inspires me about James Herriot is his modesty, compassion and humor. Oh to have the skill to relate tales that make people laugh and cry.
Donald Rumsfeld Autobiography
Donald Rumsfeld initially inspired me with how quick he is on his feet, but reading his book, you realize that there is a huge amount of experience and planning which goes into making him what he is. P.S. The first few years of The West Wing also shows this often un-seen side of political dedication.
Abraham Lincoln Autobiography
It is Abraham Lincoln’s Speeches and Letters that I admire most, but although his autobiography is short, you still get a feeling for the man and the thought that he put into the issues of the time. This is also online for free here.
Mark Twain Autobiography
I admire Mark Twain’s pace in his writing, as well as his wit. His auto-biography starts:
“I speak from the grave rather than with my living tongue for a good reason: I can speak thence freely”
Actually it’s a little into the book, but that’s really getting into the head of the dead. Many of his works feel semi-autobiographical in nature and many can be also be found online here because they are out of copyright. I did find a couple of issues when I checked it out his Burlesque Autobiography which I hadn’t heard of before, but good, free reading anyway.
Michael Jordan Autobiography
Michael Jordan is inspiring because of his perseverance. Most people practice enough to be good, a few people practice enough to be among the best, but Michael Jordan perseveres until he can not fail to be the best.
Andrew Carnegie Autobiography
Andrew Carnegie was hugely successful in business and at the same time had a deep interest in human purpose and success principals. He worked with Napoleon Hill to produce the masterpiece in success planning- Think and Grow Rich. Anyone interested in Personal Development won’t go wrong reading his autobiography.
Paramhansa Yogananda Autobiography
Autobiography of a Yogi (Reprint of the Philosophical library 1946 First Edition)
I read this when I started researching this article double checking that my approach for finding a good autobiography. This is a super popular autobiography and I can see why. From the start, Paramhansa Yogananda drew me into a world view different from my own and challenged me to think differently about what is really important right now and what is possible vs my imagined future. As with all autobiographies, best read with an open mind.
Where to from here…
Your teachers may appear through insights you have while reading, or they may appear because you become inspired and speak inspiringly with other people who then become your teachers.
* Apologies to the great autobiographers who are not dead. This is just poetic licence. If you have written your autobiography, consider writing your last chapter on your death bed with awesome clarity and perspective.
These are my top autobiographies. You may also be interested in Why you should read an autobiography and how to select one.