Booking Through Thursday: Biographies

people who are more important than you.

This week’s Booking Through Thursday question: “There are so many crappy biographies … would you rather read a poorly-written biography of a fascinating life, OR an exquisitely well-written, wonderful one of a not-so-interesting life?”

No question—I’d rather read the well-written one. The poorly-written biography will be chore, no matter now fascinating its subject, but the well-written one might just render its subject more interesting. Case in point—while “cancer” is a disease and not a person, I have hardly ever read a more well-written biography than [amazon_link id=”1439170916″ target=”_blank” ]The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer[/amazon_link] by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Of course, I’m only about 10% into the book, but Mukherjee has managed to almost make it sound like a sentient villain on an evolutionary quest.

Of course, this question doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition, as one can usually choose to read a well-written biography of a fascinating person, like Amanda Foreman’s [amazon_link id=”0375753834″ target=”_blank” ]Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire[/amazon_link] (review). I read the book after seeing the Keira Knightley movie [amazon_link id=”B001L57ZZG” target=”_blank” ]The Duchess[/amazon_link].

Truth be told, I don’t read a lot of biographies. I currently only have eight books on my Goodreads biography shelf, and of those eight, I haven’t read six of them yet. I have autobiographies or memoirs on a different shelf. I welcome recommendations. Any must-read biographies?

photo credit: striatic

One thought on “Booking Through Thursday: Biographies

  1. I am not a big reader of biographies, but of the very very few I've read, I particularly liked David Starkey's book about the young Elizabeth I (Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne) and Marion Meade's biography of Dorothy Parker (What Fresh Hell Is This). And I always enjoy biographies of Oscar Wilde, but that is just because I have an intense love of Oscar Wilde.

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