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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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2

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4.09 avg rating — 301,136 ratings
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3

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4.31 avg rating — 817,424 ratings
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4

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4.25 avg rating — 744,105 ratings
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5

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4.38 avg rating — 620,261 ratings
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6

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3.92 avg rating — 27,751 ratings
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7

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4.21 avg rating — 328,149 ratings
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8

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3.90 avg rating — 37,923 ratings
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9

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 624 ratings
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10

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4.05 avg rating — 475,731 ratings
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11

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4.14 avg rating — 10,178 ratings
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12

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4.41 avg rating — 212,347 ratings
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13

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4.11 avg rating — 738,941 ratings
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14

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4.30 avg rating — 154,202 ratings
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15

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4.09 avg rating — 466,851 ratings
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16

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3.96 avg rating — 748,242 ratings
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17

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4.38 avg rating — 91,533 ratings
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18

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3.98 avg rating — 493,327 ratings
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19

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4.17 avg rating — 75,457 ratings
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20

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4.21 avg rating — 126,472 ratings
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21

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4.08 avg rating — 117,017 ratings
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22

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3.81 avg rating — 338,504 ratings
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23

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4.13 avg rating — 326,321 ratings
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24

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4.05 avg rating — 257,033 ratings
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25

by
4.08 avg rating — 658,252 ratings
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26

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4.54 avg rating — 100,902 ratings
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27

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3.98 avg rating — 76,688 ratings
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28

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4.05 avg rating — 147 ratings
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29

by
4.15 avg rating — 142,419 ratings
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30

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4.05 avg rating — 297,385 ratings
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31

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3.71 avg rating — 161,677 ratings
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31

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4.24 avg rating — 75,564 ratings
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33

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3.98 avg rating — 552,795 ratings
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34

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3.79 avg rating — 25,887 ratings
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35

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4.35 avg rating — 252,627 ratings
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36

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 77,043 ratings
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37

by
4.08 avg rating — 91,165 ratings
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38

by
4.32 avg rating — 177,198 ratings
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39

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4.04 avg rating — 99,938 ratings
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40

by
4.13 avg rating — 141,186 ratings
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41

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3.84 avg rating — 155,998 ratings
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42

by
4.17 avg rating — 71,442 ratings
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43

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4.18 avg rating — 25,256 ratings
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44

by
3.91 avg rating — 82,275 ratings
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45

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3.85 avg rating — 54 ratings
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46

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4.34 avg rating — 168,239 ratings
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47

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4.34 avg rating — 117,481 ratings
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48

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4.13 avg rating — 11,833 ratings
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49

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4.17 avg rating — 36,381 ratings
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50

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4.19 avg rating — 45,405 ratings
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51

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4.28 avg rating — 125,381 ratings
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52

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4.12 avg rating — 365 ratings
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53

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4.21 avg rating — 68,125 ratings
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54

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3.71 avg rating — 322,031 ratings
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55

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3.93 avg rating — 52,502 ratings
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56

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4.04 avg rating — 278 ratings
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57

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4.17 avg rating — 17,598 ratings
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58

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4.10 avg rating — 46,474 ratings
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59

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4.10 avg rating — 41,752 ratings
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60

by
4.10 avg rating — 36,018 ratings
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61

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4.20 avg rating — 43,833 ratings
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62

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4.11 avg rating — 70,143 ratings
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63

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4.13 avg rating — 53,701 ratings
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64

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4.06 avg rating — 128,567 ratings
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65

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4.09 avg rating — 93,511 ratings
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66

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3.91 avg rating — 55,089 ratings
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67

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4.03 avg rating — 128,779 ratings
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68

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4.09 avg rating — 20,413 ratings
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69

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 48,485 ratings
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70

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4.33 avg rating — 24,956 ratings
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71

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4.33 avg rating — 52,832 ratings
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72

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4.22 avg rating — 38,720 ratings
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73

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4.24 avg rating — 9,367 ratings
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74

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4.07 avg rating — 37,803 ratings
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75

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4.61 avg rating — 36 ratings
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76

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4.53 avg rating — 43 ratings
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77

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4.23 avg rating — 5,883 ratings
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78

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4.28 avg rating — 137,154 ratings
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79

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3.95 avg rating — 26,800 ratings
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80

by
4.09 avg rating — 102,470 ratings
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81

by
4.09 avg rating — 219,593 ratings
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82

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3.96 avg rating — 44,284 ratings
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83

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3.72 avg rating — 9,178 ratings
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84

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4.09 avg rating — 215,972 ratings
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85

by
3.87 avg rating — 20,402 ratings
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86

by
4.21 avg rating — 59,781 ratings
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87

by
4.06 avg rating — 8,109 ratings
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88

by
4.11 avg rating — 41,162 ratings
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89

by
4.12 avg rating — 24,821 ratings
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90

by
3.82 avg rating — 54,171 ratings
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91

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3.73 avg rating — 87,274 ratings
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92

by
4.07 avg rating — 39,686 ratings
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93

by
3.91 avg rating — 2,170 ratings
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94

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4.13 avg rating — 48,959 ratings
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95

by
3.95 avg rating — 176,858 ratings
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96

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4.17 avg rating — 30,245 ratings
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97

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4.07 avg rating — 19,423 ratings
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98

by
3.97 avg rating — 32,583 ratings
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99

by
4.15 avg rating — 1,294 ratings
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100

by
4.22 avg rating — 49,176 ratings
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1,204 books · 1,144 voters · list created February 16th, 2015 by Jon (votes) .
346 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Jon 15 books
35 friends
Tara 56 books
39 friends
Mary 5941 books
382 friends
Diane 355 books
9 friends
Theresa 115 books
22 friends
Jennifer 2358 books
62 friends
B 237 books
0 friends
Joan 364 books
16 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 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.


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