By Katherine Sharma
I’m a fan of fiction, but I also love biographies and memoirs–from weighty tomes like Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson to slim books heavy with inspiration like I Am Malala by the youngest Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai, from souffles like Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert to the hard-to-swallow agonies of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, from the laughter of Bossypants by Tina Fey to the lyrical grief of The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.
I’m certainly not alone in appreciation of biographical literature. Biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and biographical fiction (which embellishes historical fact with imagined elements) are very popular in the book marketplace. Ever wondered why? When publisher Alfred A. Knopf checked with its 70,000-odd followers on Twitter to ask why biographies are popular, the answers fell into four categories: To better understand a certain era (history); to better understand a favorite artist (or hero); to learn something about life from someone who’s lived it; and to be inspired. In other posts, biography readers explain that they hope to mine the lives of others for lessons that will promote self-discovery and inspire personal courage, hope and change. Some say they seek a sort of mentoring at a remove, via others’ path to achievement and forewarning of pitfalls. And still other readers say they hope to promote mental and spiritual growth by exposure to different perspectives, experiences, times and cultures. A well-written biography can certainly aid readers with those goals. So put a few biographies on your summer reading list. For the “top 100 biographies and memoirs to read in a lifetime,” courtesy of Amazon, go to http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=11021806011