100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime: Readers' Picks

The Amazon books editors got together and chose 100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime. We want to know what books you would choose. Add titles below, and vote on the titles added by fellow readers.

See all of our picks at www.amazon.com/100biographies.
1

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4.16 avg rating — 2,963,361 ratings
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2

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4.34 avg rating — 1,030,019 ratings
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3

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4.12 avg rating — 465,139 ratings
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4

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4.28 avg rating — 967,119 ratings
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5

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4.35 avg rating — 819,752 ratings
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6

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3.89 avg rating — 36,069 ratings
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7

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4.25 avg rating — 442,781 ratings
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8

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3.90 avg rating — 53,436 ratings
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9

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4.07 avg rating — 628,412 ratings
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10

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3.75 avg rating — 2,018 ratings
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11

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4.09 avg rating — 18,235 ratings
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12

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4.41 avg rating — 277,109 ratings
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13

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4.14 avg rating — 1,034,873 ratings
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14

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4.32 avg rating — 226,347 ratings
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15

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4.02 avg rating — 662,153 ratings
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16

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4.12 avg rating — 565,365 ratings
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17

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4.35 avg rating — 141,495 ratings
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18

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3.99 avg rating — 928,491 ratings
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19

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3.66 avg rating — 5,116 ratings
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20

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4.06 avg rating — 139,852 ratings
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21

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4.19 avg rating — 421,030 ratings
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22

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4.19 avg rating — 155,745 ratings
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23

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4.18 avg rating — 104,247 ratings
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24

by
4.35 avg rating — 468,494 ratings
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25

by
4.53 avg rating — 155,643 ratings
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26

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4.04 avg rating — 334,711 ratings
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27

by
4.12 avg rating — 830,720 ratings
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28

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3.83 avg rating — 459,854 ratings
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29

by
4.23 avg rating — 100,011 ratings
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30

by
4.05 avg rating — 104,552 ratings
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31

by
4.13 avg rating — 175,759 ratings
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32

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3.99 avg rating — 643,095 ratings
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33

by
4.05 avg rating — 362,598 ratings
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34

by
3.71 avg rating — 190,112 ratings
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35

by
3.97 avg rating — 88,648 ratings
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36

by
3.76 avg rating — 35,705 ratings
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37

by
3.60 avg rating — 1,348 ratings
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38

by
4.29 avg rating — 72 ratings
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39

by
4.15 avg rating — 199,773 ratings
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40

by
4.32 avg rating — 240,273 ratings
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41

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4.32 avg rating — 152,304 ratings
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42

by
4.08 avg rating — 111,753 ratings
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43

by
4.02 avg rating — 127,677 ratings
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44

by
3.91 avg rating — 101,317 ratings
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45

by
3.91 avg rating — 208,912 ratings
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46

by
4.34 avg rating — 242,954 ratings
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47

by
3.72 avg rating — 1,763 ratings
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48

by
4.08 avg rating — 363 ratings
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49

by
4.14 avg rating — 64,069 ratings
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50

by
4.12 avg rating — 85,977 ratings
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50

by
4.15 avg rating — 88,338 ratings
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52

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3.73 avg rating — 367,882 ratings
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53

by
4.23 avg rating — 170,114 ratings
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54

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4.10 avg rating — 34,522 ratings
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55

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4.08 avg rating — 15,686 ratings
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56

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3.93 avg rating — 62,216 ratings
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57

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4.12 avg rating — 149,832 ratings
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58

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4.14 avg rating — 19,927 ratings
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59

by
4.15 avg rating — 43,584 ratings
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60

by
4.11 avg rating — 81,791 ratings
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61

by
4.04 avg rating — 63,641 ratings
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62

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4.04 avg rating — 56,507 ratings
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63

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4.10 avg rating — 47,669 ratings
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64

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3.98 avg rating — 63,042 ratings
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65

by
3.90 avg rating — 58 ratings
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66

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3.90 avg rating — 65,925 ratings
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67

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4.08 avg rating — 66,319 ratings
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68

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4.11 avg rating — 65,674 ratings
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69

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4.06 avg rating — 60,051 ratings
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70

by
4.05 avg rating — 150,565 ratings
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71

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4.27 avg rating — 39,549 ratings
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72

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4.46 avg rating — 469,833 ratings
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72

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3.58 avg rating — 1,340 ratings
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74

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4.22 avg rating — 54,100 ratings
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75

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4.05 avg rating — 181,533 ratings
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76

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4.29 avg rating — 75,982 ratings
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77

by
4.04 avg rating — 30,115 ratings
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78

by
4.24 avg rating — 90,677 ratings
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79

by
4.06 avg rating — 147,121 ratings
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80

by
4.18 avg rating — 76,301 ratings
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81

by
4.11 avg rating — 82,748 ratings
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82

by
4.08 avg rating — 17,469 ratings
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83

by
4.16 avg rating — 32,919 ratings
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84

by
4.07 avg rating — 250,257 ratings
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85

by
4.29 avg rating — 179,088 ratings
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86

by
4.08 avg rating — 261,612 ratings
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87

by
3.90 avg rating — 35,162 ratings
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88

by
4.24 avg rating — 4,926 ratings
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89

by
4.23 avg rating — 12,796 ratings
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90

by
4.28 avg rating — 37,557 ratings
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91

by
3.60 avg rating — 1,277 ratings
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92

by
4.09 avg rating — 32,370 ratings
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93

by
3.94 avg rating — 53,240 ratings
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94

by
4.13 avg rating — 455,915 ratings
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95

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 25,781 ratings
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96

by
4.09 avg rating — 58,556 ratings
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97

by
3.94 avg rating — 238,411 ratings
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98

by
4.08 avg rating — 8,930 ratings
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99

by
3.74 avg rating — 11,224 ratings
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100

by
3.89 avg rating — 24,920 ratings
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1,434 books · 1,472 voters · list created February 16th, 2015 by Jon (votes) .
396 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Jon 0 books
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Tara 56 books
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Diane 488 books
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Theresa 115 books
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Jennifer 2439 books
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B 319 books
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Joan 502 books
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Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Nogales Too many books on this list are not biographies or memoirs. The Catcher in the Rye is a lovely book but it's fiction. Likewise The Great Gatsby. The Bible is not a memoir or a biography.


message 2: by Booklovinglady (last edited Mar 02, 2015 11:57PM) (new)

Booklovinglady Michelle wrote: "Too many books on this list are not biographies or memoirs. The Catcher in the Rye is a lovely book but it's fiction. Likewise The Great Gatsby. The Bible is not a memoir or a biography."

I agree, so I have removed all five books (three different versions of the Bible were on the list).

I'm not sure The Bell Jar (#10) qualifies either, as I always thought is was a novel (and Sylvia Platt's only one, as far as I know). Anyone?


message 3: by Booklovinglady (last edited Mar 02, 2015 11:58PM) (new)

Booklovinglady I suppose Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country (#89) could be seen as a memoir, although to me it is more of a travel story than an actual memoir/biography.

I've read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and that's not a biography but a novel (can't even be a memoir or a biography, as the author left Afghanistan as a toddler...), so I've removed the book.

Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang is also fiction, so again, I've removed the book. (Don't be misled by the book's title!)

I've also removed To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, as it is a novel (it received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction !!). The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck also won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, so that's another one I've removed.


People, please, don't just add books because you think they might be a biography or a memoir, but make absolutely sure before you add! If you have even the slightest doubt, don't add...


message 4: by Mel (new)

Mel Foster Removed The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. Great book, not biography, autobiography, or memoir.


message 5: by Ruth (new)

Ruth E. R. Booklovinglady wrote: "Michelle wrote: "Too many books on this list are not biographies or memoirs. The Catcher in the Rye is a lovely book but it's fiction. Likewise The Great Gatsby. The Bible is not a memoir or a biog..."

Yes, The Bell Jar is a novel. So is The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman. I found so many novels on this list that I gave up.


message 6: by Ruth (new)

Ruth E. R. Yes The Bell Jar is a novel. So is The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. I came across so many novels on this list that I gave up.


message 7: by Ruth (new)

Ruth E. R. The Laura Ingalls Wilder series is fiction. The Souls of Black Folk is an essay collection, not a memoir or biography.


message 8: by Ruth (new)

Ruth E. R. 104 Number Theory Problems. I think this list needs restart but perhaps it will end up just as irrelevant the second time around.


message 9: by Ruth (new)

Ruth E. R. Also, some of the biographies are known for being contrived, such as Sybil.


message 10: by Ruth (new)

Ruth E. R. Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King etc is a 3-volume HISTORY of the Civil Rights Movement. Come on-- can't anyone come up with some actual biographies of darker-skinned people?


message 11: by Mel (last edited Mar 12, 2015 06:01PM) (new)

Mel Foster Ruth wrote: "Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King etc is a 3-volume HISTORY of the Civil Rights Movement. Come on-- can't anyone come up with some actual biographies of darker-skinned people?"
Ruth, please don't be upset at others--just add it!(That is, if it is bio and not more a history of a movement. I've never read it at all). I already had 13 black bios on my own list of 38, so without scrolling the whole list it seems like you're being a bit hyperbolic. Again, please add valuable bios.


message 12: by Mel (new)

Mel Foster Ruth wrote: "Also, some of the biographies are known for being contrived, such as Sybil."
Absolutely! That is my dilemma with some of them. I maintain that some people's autobiographies/bios are more fiction than other people's historical fiction.
I deleted the Little House set as per its Goodreads classification. I also deleted The Souls of Black Folk. There is a bio of W.E.B. Du Bois on the list. (My edition of The Souls of B F began with a powerful account of Du Bois's early adulthood)(and feel free to add other Du Bois bios).


message 13: by Mel (new)

Mel Foster Anybody have a good argument for keeping Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises?


message 14: by Mel (new)

Mel Foster All quibbling about a few mis-added books aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this list. Happy reading to all! I am excited to read some of these.


message 15: by Aubrey (last edited Mar 23, 2015 08:43PM) (new)


message 16: by Ruth (new)

Ruth E. R. I did finally get through the list and found some to add that I hope will be appreciated. All in all, I think the list is good. Thanks for taking off the more obvious fictions... This is all in good fun.


message 17: by Donna (new)

Donna Davis Removed for being fiction: Little House in the Big Woods; Little House on the Prairie; The Long Winter. The same applies to any others in this series that anyone might contemplate adding: historical fiction, not memoir.

The system found and deleted 3 duplicates also.


message 18: by Booklovinglady (new)

Booklovinglady Ruth wrote: "All in all, I think the list is good. ..."

Dito ;-)


message 19: by Booklovinglady (last edited Apr 08, 2015 10:19PM) (new)

Booklovinglady Removed for being a novel (fiction) instead of a biography/memoir: Slaughterhouse-Five


message 20: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Booklovinglady wrote: "Michelle wrote: "Too many books on this list are not biographies or memoirs. The Catcher in the Rye is a lovely book but it's fiction. Likewise The Great Gatsby. The Bible is not a memoir or a biog..."

I just looked at the list today and these books are still on the list. Maybe someone put them back on?


message 21: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ At least some are still there. Memoirs and biographies are NOT FICTION, i.e., not novels nor short stories nor essays.


message 22: by Crescent Moon (new)

Crescent Moon Michelle wrote: "Too many books on this list are not biographies or memoirs. The Catcher in the Rye is a lovely book but it's fiction. Likewise The Great Gatsby. The Bible is not a memoir or a biography."

Also, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Hunger Games (seriously? The Hunger Games??? )


message 23: by Crescent Moon (new)

Crescent Moon Well I just added a few new choices - The Perfect Storm by Carl Junger, Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat and Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Into The Mount Everest Disaster just to name a few and they seem to have all disappeared from the list.

To say the least, this is very frustrating when A) Memoirs are defined as : "a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources." and b) the title of this Listopia list reads "100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime: Readers' Picks" -- Reader's Picks? I think not. Is this how all participants are treated? I just wasted some precious time.


message 24: by Peg (new)

Peg Please remove Eragon as well, it's ficton.


message 25: by Booklovinglady (last edited May 14, 2019 09:13PM) (new)

Booklovinglady Peg wrote: "Please remove Eragon as well, it's ficton."

Which number? (There are 13 pages at the moment, which is bit much to search for a book...)


message 26: by Book2Dragon (new)

Book2Dragon Eragon is definitely fantasy and not biography/memoir. Someone must have slipped that one in.


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