Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Bio-Sphere

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks about a preference for biographies or autobiographies. My answer: both, depending on the subject. I prefer professional biographies of famous people, including historical figures, politicians, and celebrities. For instance; Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations, by Craig Nelson (reviewed here) The Age of Reagan (Vol. II): The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980 - 1989 by Steven F. Hayward (which I am just finishing now) Paul Newman: A Life by Shawn Levy (reviewed here) But I prefer autobiographies, or memoirs, of non-famous people. This is a new interest of mine, which I can trace back precisely to when Hubby gave me a copy of Oh! The Glory of it All!* by Sean Wilsey when we lived in San Francisco (Wilsey being the unsung son of San Francisco socialites). Since then, I have enjoyed several "random memoirs" -- as I think of them -- about non-famous people living interesting lives. These include: 7 Wheelchairs: A Life Beyond Polio by Gary Presley (reviewed here) Forbidden Bread by Erica Johnson Debeljak (reviewed here) * One of my favorite book titles of all times.


  1. Hmm. I think that non-famous people writing about themselves are more likely to be authors, whereas famous people typically are not writers. So to get the story on them, it's better somebody else writes it. Maybe? Yours is the most interesting answer I've ever read regarding this question. I've never quite thought of it this way.

  2. Thanks AC. And good point about the writer/non-writer angle. That makes sense.

  3. I normally don't like memoirs but I love autobiographies. I differentiate: the autobiography covers a whole life, memoir tries to recreate complete conversations.

    anyway, I loved a couple of autobiographies I read last year: Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom and Katherine Graham's Personal History. Both were great. I love biographies too though and I'd love to read that Thomas Paine one!!


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