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?