In the March 2018 newsletter we asked readers what their favourite autobiography/biography was. Here’s the feedback:

Jan: If you would like more snow, we can send you some ! Here in NE Pennsylvania we have enough to share!!
Getting back together the biography…I just finished “Grandma Gatewoods Walk”. If you like to hike or just wander in the woods, this is a must read! Emma Gatewood became the first woman to walk the ENTIRE Appalachian Trail in one shot!!!! It was 1955 and she was 67 ! No modern backpack, Timberland hiking boots, GPS in her cell phone (what’s a cell phone?) , freeze dried food, etc. just Emma and her few things in a sack she felt she would need. And she did it 3 times! Once I started reading I couldn’t put it down. She was a mom,a grandma, a wife (who was abused by her husband) and had belief in herself that she could do it. And she hiked not just the Appalachian. She also walked the Oragon Trail. A great read , a true story, someone to look up to.
Hope some of your readers try it.

Lisa: Hi! Your question of the month made me realize two things: I don’t read enough of the genre, and, the two that instantly came to mind are both all-time favorite books, period. I highly recommend them both — Goodall is a hero of mine and I loved Child’s joie de vivre that came across the pages so well.

Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey by Dr. Jane Goodall
My Life in France by Julia Child

I can’t wait to read others’ comments to this in hopes of finding more books to read (as if that’s a problem, ha)!

Kenicia: I had to really think about what my favorite biography has been. I think Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place” is probably the best autobiography I’ve ever read.

WV: My favorite biography without question is that of John Wanamaker. Second would be that of Andrew Carnegie

Kathy: One of my favorite auto/bios is Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns. No drama, no drugs, no spousal abuse – just a man’s love for his wife. And some gentle humor.

Lynn: Sum It Up by Pat Summitt

Christine: Hi Graeme,

Enjoy your newsletters. I’m a book lover like you and have always found biographies and autobiographies fascinating. One of my favorites is “Personal History” by Katharine Graham, who owned and ran The Washington Post. Since the movie “The Post” came out recently, it’s made me want to read it again. When I read it the first time it helped me understand what it was like for a woman, raised to be a high society wife, to suddenly be responsible for a large newspaper. She wasn’t perfect and probably didn’t win popularity contests but she survived a lot of life’s challenges and that’s always interesting to me.

Thomas: Two biographies I recently read were those of actors Jimmy Stewart and Glenn Ford. I don’t read them very often, but perhaps I could fit in a few more. Thanks for the coming book list. I see a few I’m interested in.

Eamon: Good morning, sir. Another great read, thank you. Am into a terrific Irish writer at the moment. Caimh McDonnell. He is very funny with very moving plots and great characters. He is currently completing the fourth book in his Dublin trilogy(!) The first story is called The man with one of those faces.
I’m also into Kay Ellis. A great crime author and not a hint of Mills&Boon anywhere.
Finally! To stay on subject, The Moon’s a Balloon and Bring On The Empty Horses by Mr David Niven are my favorite biographies.

Sharon: I enjoy your email very much! It always gives me so many new books to read.

My favorites are Agatha Christie’s Autobiography and Winston Churchill’s biography by William Manchester.

Rosemary: I don’t usually read autobiographies/biographies but I’m a space cadet and really enjoyed “Spaceman” by Mike Massimino.
He’s just an ordinary guy who struggled and studied very hard to become an astronaut. I could hear his voice as I read the book, which makes him a great story teller and he has a great sense of humor.
Also “Endurance” by Scott Kelly. I’ve been to their lecture at the University of Buffalo Distinguished Speakers series with his twin. They are both the most awesome story tellers and again, just plain, ordinary guys who finally applied themselves and went on to accoomplish great things.

Rhea: Hi! Happy March!

My favorite biography is “As I Knew Him: My Dad Rod Serling” written by his daughter Anne Serling. Since I read the book many years ago, I stole a few lines from my own review of the book to share with you: 🙂

As famous as he is, I’m sure most people never give much thought to the man behind the Twilight Zone episodes except to acknowledge his genius. I certainly never thought of him as a husband or father; Rod Serling was just the man who guided viewers to another dimension.

Reading “As I Knew Him” pulled back the curtains and showed me the man behind the icon – the child of hardworking parents, the brave paratrooper for whom the war never really ended, the fighter for social justice and equality, the writer who weaved his life experiences into art and entertainment and most importantly, the family man whose priorities never seemed to shift from those he loved.

It’s really an excellent biography. Very emotional.

Stephen: By far my favorite is

The Power Broker by Robert Caro

One of may favorite non fiction books of all time

Both books are so informative and interesting. You can tell that William Manchester admired Churchill tremendously. Although I didn’t feel that the third volume reflected Manchesters admiration, it was completed after his death using his notes but missing the warmth.

Agatha Christie’s autobiography was wonderful, I learned a lot about her. Her life was so full of life!

William: free france’s lion; the life of philippe Leclerc DEGAULLE’S GREATEST GENERAL

Cathy: A book that has always stuck in my mind is The Survival of Jan Little, by John Man. Originally published in 1986, this fascinating autobiography follows a woman and her daughter as they leave the US to live in the Amazon with a man that Jan has met. The primitive conditions that these three people live in and the remoteness from any form of civilization leaves you wondering how this woman survived the way she did. The book will have you reading with your mouth open, shaking your head, or maybe both at the same time.-

Linda: I am an avid reader, but don’t really like autobiography or biography books. I remember reading a book on Anne Frank and Amelia Earhardt in my teens, but once I got out of school I did not read them anymore. Just don’t really like them. As an adult, the only two that might come close are “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy” by O’Reilly. Found them both fascinating and good. I prefer my reading to be my escape from reality. Hardly ever read non-fiction. My latest reads were the “Outlander” series. Finally finished them. Must say I was disappointed in the last 3. Found too much of it boring and bringing in too many characters to the story. At 1,000+ pages they were a struggle to get through. Now reading “The Widow” by Barton and am happy to be out of Jamie and Clare’s story. Looking forward to a lot of books that I have collected and waiting for me on my shelves. Thank you once again for some excellent ideas. I have not been disappointed yet by one of your recommendations.

Joanna: I Never Had it Made, by Jackie Robinson!

I tend to read a lot of Historical Fiction, with contemporary fiction (Jodi Picoult, etc, as a palate cleanser)…I think I’ve sent you lists of series I’ve enjoyed and re-read…couldn’t think of another autobiography I’d recommend.

Tom: Favorite biography: Peter Ackroyd’s life of Sir Thomas More. He tells More’s story as a Londoner (Ackroyd’s passion is London) and a transitional figure in the history of the West, as More defends the centrality of faith while Henry VIII advances the power of monarchy. It’s great through and through but I defy any reader not to be hooked by the opening tour de force where Ackroyd describes what it was like to be born in London in the Middle Ages. A masterpiece.

Chrisse: biography of sorts I loved back in the day: A Man by Oriana Fallaci. Female journalist interviews Muammar Gaddafi and it upends her life in unexpected ways.

Also a terrific autobiography is Personal History by Katharine Graham, who had the role of publisher of her family’s paper, the Washington Post, thrust upon her when her husband (the publisher at the time) takes his life. A fascinating tale of a child of high privilege making her way to becoming one of the most powerful women in the country, and overseeing one of that century’s most controversial stories, the Pentagon Papers.

And I just finished You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie – a stunning portrait of his love/hate relationship with his mother. This is just a terrific, terrific book – full of love, heartbreak, poetry and a compelling narrative of reservation life and its effects on those who live there and those who leave.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Your Favourite Autobiography/Biography

One Response to “Reader Mailbag: Your Favourite Autobiography/Biography”

  1. BJ VanderLaan: 4 years ago

    Amelia by Susan Butler! The movie, Amelia, starring Hilary Swank is based on this book. Beautifully written and very personal.


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