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The 10 Best Biographies To Read In 2021

For lovers of literature and inspiration, biographies and autobiographies are a whole world in their own right. We’ve compiled a list of ten books we believe provide a solid first foundation to start off the year of 2021. History, culture, travel, politics… Here are the 10 best autobiographies / biographies to add to your reading list.

I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography by John Thompson

In his autobiography, John Thompson writes about his life as a legendary Georgetown University Basketball Coach and unpacks America’s unresolved struggle with racial justice. Thompson was the first black Head Coach to win an NCAA Championship. In his book, he finally makes the private public by talking about basketball, growing up during Segregation, and today’s racial reckoning. 

They Don’t Need to Understand by Andy Biersack

Biersack tells the story of his childhood and adolescence, like how, at age 18, he decided to move to Hollywood to pursue his artistic passions, which forced him to live in his car. The iconic “Black Veil Brides” singer and solo artist known as “Andy Black” tells us about his never-ending battles with anxiety, fear, loneliness and the insurmountable difficulty of fitting in.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

McConaughey had the courage to compile and release his unconventional memoir filled with noisy stories, outlaw-type wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way of how to live with greater satisfaction. This book is the story of his life – his first 50 years that is. Greenlights also holds sensational life advice for men: know who you are, end complacency, differentiate macho from masculine, etc. Read it to know more!

A Promised Land by Barack Obama:

Barack Obama tells the story of his incredible journey as a young man seeking to become the President of the Free World. Obama delivers in a very personal way how he learned to become a politician, as well as the key moments of his historic mandate. He takes us with him to the White House, to Paris, Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and shares his thoughts with us on each ordeal he has faced.

While the Earth Sleeps We Travel by Ahmed M. Badr

Ahmed M. Badr is an Iraqi-American poet and former refugee. Badr has traveled to Greece, Trinidad & Tobago, and Syracuse, New York, where he has held storytelling workshops with hundreds of displaced youth: those living in and outside of camps, as well as those adjusting to life after resettlement. In his book, Badr seeks to highlight and amplify the often unheard perspectives of those navigating through and beyond the complexities of displacement.

Abe by David S. Reynolds

In this big and wonderful book, Reynolds provides the richest cultural context to explain everything about Abraham Lincoln in all his historical fullness. Abe focuses on how Lincoln’s engagement with the culture of the Antebellum period shaped the way he steered the country through the Civil War. As a cultural historian, Reynolds managed to depict colorful characters who were very well known at the time but have since become long forgotten (i.e. Charles Blondin).

Who Killed John Lennon by Lesley-Ann Jones

Jones, a music biographer, presents a full portrait of John Lennon: his loves, his music, his untimely death, and his subsequent legacy. Jones attempts to understand why Lennon went to live in self-imposed isolation in New York – where, in 1980, he was murdered. Jones uses fresh-hand research and shares exclusive interviews with those who were closest to Lennon, as well as previously undisclosed material, in an attempt to uncover who really killed John Lennon.

Finding My Father by Deborah Tannen

Tannen writes an intimate and powerful memoir of her family, in which she details the life of her father, whom she adored, from Warsaw to New-York City. Tannen also shares how her father deeply influenced her through his gift of writing and storytelling. In order to write his memoir – a promise she had made to him – Tannen recorded hours of conversations with him, during which he recounted the stories of his life. At some point, he hands Tannen journals he kept in his youth, and when she discovers letters he saved from a woman he might have married instead of her mother, Tannen is forced to rethink her assumptions about her father’s life and her parents’ marriage.

Goya: a Portrait of the Artist by Janis Tomlinson

A broad range of letters, court papers, and a sketchbook used by Goya during his artistic career all contributed to Tomlinson’s nuanced portrayal of a complex and multifaceted painter and printmaker, whose art has become synonymous with the compelling images of the people, events, and social revolution that defined his life and era. Tomlinson depicts a different image of the painter who has often been portrayed as a lonely figure obsessed with darkness and death; the reader is offered a new perspective on Goya’s youth, rich family life, extensive travels, and lifelong friendships.

On All Fronts by Clarissa Ward 

Ward is a world-renowned conflict reporter. In her book, she takes the reader on a riveting journey of stories from one hot zone to the next, from Afghanistan, to China, to Syria, and navigates the most intense of human experiences. On All Fronts is the unforgettable story of one extraordinary journalist and of a changing world.

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Marie from Clind

Marie has been in the EdTech sector for the past 4 years. She is COO at Clind. Clind is an EdTech startup building a personal learning assistant to help individuals grow and learn better on a daily basis.

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