The human experience is shared with each of us in such a unique fashion. Our dreams, our passions, and how we overcome tragedy is what ties us together. Even the most famous among us, while revered, have a story to tell. Autobiographies remind us that our journeys may not take the same path, but we’ll forever be bonded to this thing called life.
Autobiographies are first-hand experiences, written by the person who experienced them. Usually, the person is famous and shares with the world the things they’ve gone through, emotions they’ve felt, and the struggles they overcame. We may only know someone from their personal persona, but there’s always more than meets the eye.
If we can dig below the surface, there’s always a life lesson and a story to tell. By sharing the most important moments of their lives and challenges they overcame, it gives the rest of us hope. May we forever be motivated by the stories of others and remain in awe of their ability to inspire us through the ages.
What Did These Autobiography Books Do To Qualify For This List
Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the autobiography genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:
- quantity and quality of user reviews
- sales data
- public perception
- opinions of readers of this genres
- commercial success
- and of course personal opinion
Take a look at the best Autobiography Books you can read right now:
• Best Autobiography Books
• Best Autobiography Movies
• Best Autobiography Books in Audio
Table of Contents
Best Autobiography Books
Here are the best Autobiography books by the experts:
1)A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer
- Book Summary:This book is less than 200 pages but its weight multiplies a hundredfold when you start reading it. This book is the first of the four books Dave Pelzer used as a medium to tell his story to the world. He suffered from abuse in the hands of his own mother who was an alcoholic and emotionally unstable. He was starved, tortured, and beaten beyond imagination. This book was a New York Times Best Seller and sold more than 1.6 million copies worldwide.
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2)Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
- Book Summary:Did you know that President Obama published an autobiography even before his run for presidency? In this book, President Obama talks about his divided family history. It is a beautifully-written story detailing the complexities of his biracial life growing up and how he reconciled with his father’s family after his death. See what the train of thought was of the then 33-year-old man who became the first Black President of the United States of America.
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3)Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s Mass Market by Ray Kroc
- Book Summary:Do you want to see what’s inside one of the world’s largest and most successful fast food corporations? In this book, Ray Croc will show you how his visionary mind worked that made him a very successful businessman. Take note, he was already 52 years old when he met the McDonald’s brothers and established his first franchise. Now that’s a legend. Success, after all, happens only if you have the willingness and the mindset to achieve it.
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4)I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Mass Market by Maya Angelou
- Book Summary:This book explores the first 16 years of Maya Angelou’s life on the subjects of identity, racism, rape, and literacy. It is an uncensored take of a black child’s life and how she found her strength to voice her experiences. Read this memoir and see why she is among the biggest figures in the American Literature.
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5)When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Book Summary:Paul Kalanithi was a young doctor who had his life on track – married the person he loved, a stone’s throw away into finishing his training as a surgeon, worked and helped turn his patients’ lives around – until he was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. This memoir of family, love, medicine, and being in the face of death is delivered in what feels like a sober approach which makes this all the more heartbreaking.
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6)Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela
- Book Summary:Since Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela became one of the world’s most significant moral leaders after he was released from more than 25 years of imprisonment. In this book, he describes how he turned his life around from being engaged to political crimes to changing his country. He details all the trials and ordeals he endured personally and publicly for the greater good. His intellectual and nonviolent approach in handling the challenges thrown his way made a huge impact to South Africa and to the world.
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7)Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
- Book Summary:We will never actually know which part of this book has been exaggerated or worse, untrue as in her introduction, Jenny Lawson deliberately writes “This book is totally true, except for the parts that aren’t.” This is a rather unique memoir to read because the author is relatable, expressive, and wildly hilarious.
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8)The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
- Book Summary:This classic (more than 200 years ago!) made it to our list because it is considered as one of the best-written autobiographies of all time. It was originally meant for his son, talking about how he came about to understand the world. His hard work, humility, virtues, and making the right choice are believed to have encouraged the morals and values that made America great.Y
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9)Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
- Book Summary:In this book, Anne Lamott talks about how she got started as a writer. She highlights how she doesn’t embrace the concept of perfection and favors messes as the artists’ real friend. If you are a writer who suffers from writer’s block, writer’s jealousy (yes, it exists), or finding your voice – this book doubles as a practical guide to help you overcome the hurdle that are keeping you in a rut.
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10)Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- Book Summary:Learn what it was like to flee your home and live in an attic while the world comes crashing down on you. The diary of Anne Frank was one of the most treasured evidence of the Nazi Party’s treatment of the Jews. Anne started writing when she was 13 but ended abruptly two months after her 15th birthday. In this memoir, you will learn how a teenager handled this extraordinary life and how she tells the world that every person in this world has the right to live in freedom despite the race or religion.
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Best Autobiography Movies
If you enjoyed the best autobiography books, why stop there? Take a look at our list of best autobiography movies and witness these marvelous films from the big screen.
Movie Summary:Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali star in Green Book, a film inspired by a true friendship that transcended race, class, and the 1962 Mason-Dixon line.
Of all the movies up for Best Picture this is our choice. Based on a true story. Great script, great acting, wonderful message to our country. We have come a long way but have more work to do. This movie gave me hope for a better world. I love how the movie promoted human understanding, human feelings and human compassion. I watched a respect grow between the black and white race, the rich and poor, and the educated and uneducated. This movie does not promote division and hatred between people like Blackklansman does.
Great movie, and I’m not afraid to say I teared up a bit. Movies like this remind me that no matter how ugly the world gets, there’s decent human beings out there, who will love you for you. We all have more in common than we don’t. When we as a country can realize that, we can become the UNITED States of America.
2)The Big Short
Movie Summary:Based on the true story of four outsiders who saw what the big banks, media and government refused to: the global collapse of the economy. A bold investment leads them into the dark underbelly of banking, where everyone and everything is in question.
It’s really an eye opener as to the greed of the wealthy in this country, and how they scammed the poor, and gained even more wealth in the process!
Movie Summary:Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy star in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s visceral, epic tale of survival and betrayal inspired by true events that’s set in America’s uncharted wilderness.
Proof that the director has reached the level of master craftsman. This movie is two and half hours and is a true experience. You will leave exhausted. Don’t go because you have a free Sunday afternoon. I saw this on the big screen and was speechless. I then waited ten months until I watched it again on my big screen tv. Also, don’t pull out your big brain and try to figure it out. There’s nothing to figure out. The message of the movie is stated within the first five minutes and, if you forget, is repeated in the last few seconds— survive. The rest is spectacle and imagery. Suck up every minute of it. You will be hypnotized and then violently shaken out of your hypnosis every fifteen minutes or so. You will watch scenes that you know do not exist anymore but somehow you’re watching it. FEEL do not THINK,or this movie will mean nothing to you.
4)The Imitation Game
Movie Summary:Benedict Cumberbatch shines as real-life war hero and pioneer of modern-day computing, Alan Turing, who saved millions of lives by cracking Germany’s so-called unbreakable code during WWII.
One of the greatest movies ever filmed. I enjoyed seeing it in the theater and it is based on true history of a genius in math who helped break the German codes in WWII and helped win the war. It is also the story of a man who was persecuted after the war because it was against the law in Great Britain to be gay. Benedict Cumerbatch’s character in this movie is arrested and convicted for being a homosexual. He ended up taking his own life within only 2 or three months of the conviction.
An exciting and tense movie about the race to break the German codes in World War 2. One of my favorite movies
5)The Theory of Everything
Movie Summary:Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, this is the extraordinary story of love between the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, and his tireless first wife Jane.
Dr. Hawking is a fascinating character, as most truly brilliant people are. This movie is not so much about his science and his theories as it is about his life and his personality, and watching Eddie Redmayne portray Hawking is worth twice the price of admission. It was a brilliant performance, seconded by strong supporting actors and actresses. For me, the mark of a good movie is catching myself thinking about it for days or weeks afterwards, and “The Theory of Everything has lingered in my head ever since I watched it.
I am glad they made this movie while the subject is still living.
It is hopeful, uplifting, heartbreaking, tender and real. You will never forget it.
Best Autobiography Audio Books
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best autobiography books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out more of the best autobiography books in audio!
1)Sam Walton: Made in America by John Huey and Sam Walton
Book Summary:Meet a genuine American folk hero cut from the homespun cloth of America’s heartland: Sam Walton, who parlayed a single dime store in a hardscrabble cotton town into Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world. The undisputed merchant king of the late 20th century, Sam never lost the common touch.
Here, finally, inimitable words. Genuinely modest, but always sure of his ambitions and achievements. Sam shares his thinking in a candid, straight-from-the-shoulder style. In a story rich with anecdotes and the “rules of the road” of both Main Street and Wall Street, Sam Walton chronicles the inspiration, heart, and optimism that propelled him to lasso the American Dream.
2)When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Book Summary:At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed”, as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. This is one of the best autobiography books available in audio.
A gasping, well written, emotional memoir that gradually hits you with the power of a tsunami.
The story is compelling. I felt as if I read it almost too quickly, as it moved from beginning to end. Yet the writing invited me to linger, to reread, to highlight sentences crafted with care, to tease out the meaning beneath the meaning. I knew where the end was taking me, yet did not want the book to end. I will indulge myself and retread it at a more leisurely pace.
3)Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
Book Summary:How did Einstein’s mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson’s biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom.
The author has been successful in conveying the ideas and life history of Einstein. I thought it might be a ‘dry’ biography but it has turned out to be really fascinating and the author is particularly adept at simply explaining Einstein’s ideas and also his unique processes of thinking of his theories. The book is not just about physics, it also covers the personal stories of his life including his relationships with colleagues, family, and friends. It puts his life into an historical timeline with backdrops of both World War I and II. I came away with a more thorough understanding of the man and why he is lauded as the unique human being and Genius he was.
If you think this is a boring scientific recap of Einstein, think again! This dude had a crazy life more akin to a modern day rock star.
4)Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Book Summary:“Comedian Trevor Noah’s stories of growing up in South Africa are vivid, sometimes harrowing, and often laugh-out-loud funny. The bonus of audio is that listeners get to hear Noah tell these stories in his South African-accented English, as well as hear him speak snippets of various other South African languages…. Noah’s narration offers insights and intimacy, and as he gives voice to his mother, his friends, and his younger self, listeners are invited in to glimpse his world.
An informative, entertaining and enjoyable read. The time frame of his autobiography narrative jumps around a tad, and I wish years and dates were clearer, but I have a feeling the writing of Mr. Noah’s memoir was perhaps a cathartic journey, and told in a stream-of-consciousness way. Nevertheless, I still received an honest understanding of race relations in South Africa; the advantages of speaking several languages; domestic abuse and the injustice of the treatment of woman; the importance of teaching true history to people; and how America could be more honest and candid about race relations so our beautiful nation could heal exponentially. This excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech came to mind while reading: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We can learn a lot from Trevor Noah’s experiences.
This autobiography book is absolutely glorious. I’m so in love right now, I can barely function. This memoir is unquestionable one of the most engaging books I’ve ever read, filled with such greatly vivid and riveting anecdotes, made more profound and unforgettable by the fact that they’re true.
5)The Autobiography of Gucci Mane by Gucci Mane
Book Summary:For the first time, Gucci Mane tells his story in his own words. It is the captivating life of an artist who forged an unlikely path to stardom and personal rebirth. Gucci Mane began writing his memoir in a maximum-security federal prison. Released in 2016, he emerged radically transformed. He was sober, smiling, focused, and positive – a far cry from the Gucci Mane of years past.
My Son said it was the best book he has ever read. He is a fan of Gucci Mane but he said it was inspiring, and gave you a look at how other people have made it. He said it was pretty insane and graphic but a must-read in you are into the rap culture.
This is one of the most inspirational books I’ve read in a long time. This book not only made me feel like I can take on the world but it gave me a look at how gucci mane owned up to his mistakes and faced his challenges head on. He showed that if you make mistakes in life you will have to pay the consequences eventually one way or another, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t change and come out a better person because of it. Very inspirational, loved every part of this book.
What do you think about our list of best autobiography books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best autobiography books you can find other genres here.