Best Biography Books – Top 13 Picks To Learn About Influential People

by | Jul 9, 2020

Reading biographies are a great way to learn about the history and improve the future. Learning about the experiences of others will allow you to discover new ideas and approaches to events. 

Instead of reading a list of steps or a piece of advice, biographies allow you to see the world in new ways and form a new perspective. So, what are the best biography books? Let’s take a look!

Best Biography Books

Below are the 13 best biographies to help you gain insight on the lives and minds of the most influential people of our time. 

1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This riveting biography is based on over 40 interviews of Steve Jobs conducted by the author over the years. In this, you’ll gain insight on the transformation of modern life and the information age. This internationally best-selling biography will give you a look inside the mind of the ultimate icon of inventiveness.

Steve Job’s creative and entrepreneurial passions led him to revolutionize six industries: personal computers, music, animated movies, phones, digital publishing, and tablet computing. In this, you’ll learn about Job’s work, what he was up against, and his honest thoughts about where these industries have ended up today. 

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2. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin 

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals is a monumental biography about the political genius of Abraham Lincoln. In this, award-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin studies Lincoln’s mastery of men. By reading this, you’ll gain insight on how Lincoln saved Civil War-torn America and manifested his vision of peace.

Both a thrilling biography and work of narrative history, this is the book to bury yourself in if you want to study one of the world’s greatest leaders.

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3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This #1 New York Times best-seller is a compelling story of modern medicine, bioethics, and race relations. Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern tobacco farmer, had her cells taken without her permission. Quickly, they became one of the most important tools in modern medicine. Her cells happened to be the first immortal cells grown in human culture. 

Although Henrietta Lacks has been dead for over 60 years, her cells remain alive today. These cells were vital when the polio vaccine was developed, cloning was discovered, gene mapping increased, and more. 

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4. The Power Broker by Robert Caro 

The Power Broker by Robert Caro

The Power Broker is all about Robert Moses and the fall of New York. In this modern American classic, you’ll learn about what really shaped New York in the twentieth century. Robert Moses was the single most powerful man of his time. By telling his story, Caro uncovers the ways in which politics really happened.

Further, this book brings about vital information about national figures like F.D.R., Rockefeller, and many more. To learn how Robert Moses built and dominated New York, this is the biography for you. 

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5. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

In 1942, with the Nazis occupying Holland, 13-year-old Anne Frank and her family went into hiding. During this time, she recorded daily events and her personal feelings in her diary. One of the most celebrated and enduring books of the last century, with over 1 million copies sold, this book is one of the most admired biographies of all time.

Anne Frank is a representation of the indestructible nature of the human spirit. Her vivid impressions recorded during this period are guaranteed to open your eyes and pull on your heart strings. 

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6. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer 

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

In 1992, young man Chris McCandless walked deep into the Alaskan wilderness. Four months later, his SOS note and corpse were found. In Into the Wild, best-selling author Jon Krakauer explores McCandless’ internal drive to explore the outer limits. 

Ultimately, those who explore seek to leave civilization behind, seek enlightenment through solitude and become one with nature. 

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7. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Einstein- His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Einstein is one of the greatest icons of our age. His engaging humanity and extraordinary brilliance have made him a symbol of genius. Rebel and nonconformist, Einstein’s creativity and imagination drove both his life adventures and his scientific discoveries. In this detailed biography, Isaacson explains how Einstein’s mind influenced the mysteries of the universe that he discovered.

By reading this biography, you’ll learn how Einstein came to embrace a worldview based on respect for free spirits and free individuals. 

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8. Becoming by Michelle Obama 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

This #1 New York Times best-seller is a beautifully written memoir by former First Lady Michelle Obama. From a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama is one of the most compelling women of our era. Helping to create the most inclusive White House environment in history, she has been named a powerful advocate for women around the world. 

Furthermore, Michelle Obama has dramatically influenced the way in which families pursue healthier and more active lives. In this deep reflection, Michelle invites readers into her world and chronicles the experiences that have shaped her. 

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9. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela 

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom is a riveting memoir that re-creates the experiences that shaped Nelson Mandela’s destiny. Both compelling and uplifting, this isn’t just a memoir that recounts Mandela’s life. Rather, Long Walk to Freedom is an exhilarating story of an epic life and resilience. 

Mandela’s authentic voice shines throughout this book, making it personable and more entertaining than ever. 

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10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

In this international classic, Angelou writes about not just being a Black American, but a human being. In this, she explores what makes us laugh and what drives us to stand up again after we fall. 

Further, she evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south during the 1930s. While she loved the world, she also knew its cruelty far too well. In this, you’ll gain insight on Angelou’s accounts with discrimination, poverty, achivement, and celebration. 

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11. Educated by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was 17 when she first set foot in a classroom. Instead of traditional lessons, she grew up learning how to stew herbs into medicine and help her family prepare for the apocalypse. Not only had she never been enrolled in school, but she never possessed medical records or a birth certificate.

In this compelling biography, you’ll learn how Westover came to realize that her family’s offerings didn’t have to be her only source of education. Although her first day of formal education was at the age of 17, Tara Westover went on to win an esteemed fellowship from Cambridge and graduate with a PhD. 

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12. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Now a major motion picture, The Glass Castle is the startling biography of a successful journalist. In this, Walls narrates her adventures that led her from the American Southwest to an antique-filled apartment on Park Avenue. At the young age of 17, Walls escaped on a Greyhound bus to New York with her sister.

After pursuing the education and lifestyle that her parents sought to escape, Jeannette eventually succeeds in the life that she’s sought after. 

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13. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance 

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk is all about how the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping our future. The entrepreneur behind PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla can teach us a lot about why he wants to form a colony on Mars and send citizens into space. In the midst of his rough childhood conditions that consisted of parental abuse and bullying at school, Musk still thrived academically and paid his own way through University of Pennsylvania. How did he do this? By studying upstairs while he threw parties downstairs for an entry fee. 

By reading this biography, you’ll learn about the technological obsessions and personality traits that took over Musk’s life and led him to where he is today. 

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Final Thoughts: Best Biography Books

Biographies bring you closer to a clear historical perspective. To learn about the cultural references that still influence us today, reading the stories of influential professionals is a great place to start. The books above are valuable tools to face the world, helping you learn about other attitudes and how they shaped the world around us. 

Andrew Green

Andrew is a successful entrepreneur and lifelong learner. Throughout his career, he has watched hundreds of online courses that have allowed him to achieve success in highly competitive fields such as online marketing, investing, and sales. Andrew is committed to expanding his knowledge and expertise and he reviews the premium courses he watches on his online blog.
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