Best Biographies and Memoirs | James Clear

Best Biographies and Memoirs

Best Biographies and Memoirs

Looking for good biographies and memoirs? This is my list of the best biographies and memoirs of all-time. If you only have time to read one or two books, I recommend looking at the Top Biographies and Memoirs section below.

Further down the page, you’ll find more biography and memoir recommendations. Picking the best books in any category is really tough, but selecting the best biographies is essentially impossible. There are so many amazing stories and incredible people. Many of these books are fantastic as well.

I try to carefully curate all of my reading lists and you can be sure that any biography and memoir on this page is worth your time. Enjoy!

The Top Biographies and Memoirs

When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: The memoir of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University, who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in his mid-thirties. Kalanithi uses the pages in this book to not only tell his story, but also share his ideas on how to approach death with grace and what it means to be fully alive.

Read the full book summary »


Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
by Jon Krakauer
Print | eBook | Audiobook


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
Print | Audiobook


Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)
by Richard P. Feynman
Print | Audiobook


Red Notice
by Bill Browder
Print | eBook | Audiobook


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
by Daniel James Brown
Print | eBook | Audiobook


A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
by Bill Bryson
Print | eBook | Audiobook


More Biography Book Recommendations

Just Mercy
by Bryan Stevenson
Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Simply punishing the broken only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.

Read the full book summary »


On the Move: A Life
by Oliver Sacks
Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: Oliver Sacks was a brilliant physician and a fantastic writer. He lived a full life that included dealing with criticism over being gay, attending medical school at Oxford University, experimenting with heavy drug use, traveling the United States and Canada by motorcycle, suffering life threatening injuries, squatting a California state record of 600 pounds, and being honored by the Queen of England for his many books and storied career as a physician. Sacks is a symbol of the importance of writing, the power of exploration and inquisitiveness, and the need for empathy.

Read the full book summary »


Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World
by Tracy Kidder
Print | Audiobook


Just Kids
by Patti Smith
Print | eBook | Audiobook


The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin
Print | Audiobook


Night
by Elie Wiesel
Print | Audiobook


The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley
by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Print


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
Print | eBook | Audiobook


The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie
by Andrew Carnegie
Print | Audiobook


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
by Fredrick Douglass
Print | Audiobook


My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey
by John Wooden
Print


Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
by Mason Currey
Print | Audiobook


The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
Print | Audiobook


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
Print | Audiobook


Not Fade Away
by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton
Print

The Book in Three Sentences: It is more important to live fully than to live in a straight line. The surest gauge of the impact a life makes is how many other lives it touches. Nothing in life looks the same once you truly understand that you are not exempt from death.

Read the full book summary »


The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story
by Michael Lewis
Buy It: Print | eBook | Audiobook


The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
by Naoki Higashida
Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: This book is an autobiography written by a 13-year-old boy from Japan about what it is like to live with autism. The way autistic people view the world is very different than the way we may perceive them to view the world. This disconnect between how we view and treat people with autism and how they actually view the world makes living with autism even more difficult.

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Bossy Pants
by Tina Fey
Print | Audiobook


The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
by Michael Lewis
Print | eBook | Audiobook


Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
by Michael Lewis
Print | eBook | Audiobook


Seabiscuit: An American Legend
by Laura Hillenbrand
Print | eBook | Audiobook


On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
Print | eBook | Audiobook


The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
by David Grann
Print | eBook | Audiobook


Kon-Tiki
by Thor Heyerdahl
Print | eBook


Related Reading Lists

Or, browse all book recommendations.