Thursday, November 5, 2009

BTT: It's All About Them

Today's question:
Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or Autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?

My answer:
My initial reaction was to reply biographies, definitely.

I read a lot of biography when I was younger, but as I searched for a recent favorite, there were surprisingly few to choose from. To be sure, plenty are on my shelves, but none have made it to this year's "books read" list. I hope to read both Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee and Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin in 2010.

I have, however, read some great autobiographies and memoirs. Two favorites are Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela and Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. These were both fascinating glimpses into lives that couldn't possibly be more different from my own.

It seems that I've grown to prefer autobiographies and memoirs. Do you have one to recommend?

See more answers to this Booking Through Thursday question here.


  1. Interesting question. I think I prefer autobiographies. The Mitfords come to mind and so does Jung Chang's The Wild Swans. I enjoyed Infidel also tremendously. What an amazing and brave woman!

  2. Yeah, I like the story from the horse's mouth (assuming they speak the truth). If well-written, you get a much better sense for the inner thoughts and feelings of the person. I loved Clapton.

  3. The Nelson Mandel biography looks fascinating!

  4. I believe that I lean towards autobiographies..there's something about hearing it straight from them!

  5. I LOVED A Long Walk to Freedom. I learned so much!

    I like autobiographies if they are well done. On the other hand, I tend to dislike memoirs. If I want to read about someone's life, I want the whole thing. And memoirs seem to me to be more unreliable.

    so I'd prefer a biography before a memoir, but an autobiography before a biography.

  6. I think it depends on the subject; yes, autobiographies can be unreliable, but biographies can also be slanted...But I still read them both.

  7. The Literary Stew - Oh, I forgot about Wild Swans! Will add it to my 2010 reading's already on my shelf.

    Sandy - That can be a big assumption with autobiographies! My brother really liked Clapton, too.

    Reviewsbylola - Mandela's autobiography will stay with me for years to come!

    Staci - You just have to hope they're being truthful!

    Rebecca Reid - Long Walk to Freedom is my favorite autobiography - ever! I would like to reread it as some point.

    DS - I agree...but I still read them, too.

  8. Just dropping by to tell you you've won a copy of Your Family Constitution. Send me your mailing address so I can get it to you, and happy weekend! XOXO, b.


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