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Immerse Yourself in Extraordinary Lives with the World’s Best Biography books

Whether you seek greatness or wisdom in any area of life, these bestselling biographies can help you learn from those who have attained astonishing heights.
by Michael Benninger | May 20 2020

The world is full of fascinating people, and biographies offer us an inside look at the how some of history’s most important and influential individuals lived their lives. With so many tremendous titles to choose from, you don’t need to look far to find a brilliant biography. But there are only so many hours in a day. How can you make the most of the minutes you have available?

That’s why we created Blinkist. Our app transforms the best biographies and other nonfiction into quick reads that deliver powerful insights in short, memorable packages. So no matter if you want to learn about scientists, entrepreneurs, or Mongolian emperors, Blinkist has it all. Here’s a look at some of the top biographies in our library.

Popular Biographies on Blinkist

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s Becoming was not only the bestselling autobiographies of 2018, but sold more copies than any other book published in the US that year. Now, the story of the ensuing book tour has become a Netflix documentary by the same name and the former First Lady’s media juggernaut keeps gaining momentum. This inspiring read charts her journey from being born Michelle Robinson on Chicago’s South Side to taking up residence — and making a mark — in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

One of the smash hits of 2020, Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley is a memoir of working at the heart of Silicon Valley at the height of the tech boom. When she moved to California from New York in her mid-twenties looking for work, stability, and a taste of the idyllic life so many startups promised they were building, she quickly discovered a very different world underneath a shiny facade. Not only a personal memoir but a biography of Silicon Valley during a time of seemingly unlimited growth, this book is an essential read to understand the world we now live in.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Chronicling the spectacular life of the single-minded entrepreneur who co-founded Apple Inc., Isaacson crafted a biography that became a bestseller, recounting Jobs’ early experiences with meditation and hallucinogens. The book also details how his relentless perfectionism led him to become one the most influential visionaries of the modern era.

Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune by Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson

Richard Branson’s bestselling autobiography reveals the fearless determination and adventurous mindset that helped him transform himself from a high-school dropout into one of the richest men on the planet while pioneering advancements in industries ranging from record stores to space travel.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Author and psychologist Viktor Frankl describes the harrowing experiences he faced during his internment in Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and explains how this horrific time helped him learn how to stay sane in the face of unfathomable atrocities by discovering meaning in his own life.

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Spanning from Einstein’s early life as an outsider in Germany to his final days in the USA, this biography, another bestseller by the author of Steve Jobs, shows how Einstein’s tendency to go against the grain, his insatiable curiosity, and his championing of human freedom shaped one of the 20th century’s most prominent minds.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Discover the untold story of the black female mathematicians who left their teaching jobs in the segregated South and shaped NASA’s space program by sending the first American into orbit and landing the first humans on the moon.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Charting the tumultuous events that transpired during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, this exceptional biography explains how the 16th President of the United States used his political savvy to inspire to change the world by keeping the North united while simultaneously abolishing slavery and ending the Civil War.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

This inspiring autobiography tells the story of a boy who overcame a turbulent childhood and how his relentless pursuit of the American dream helped him further beat the odds and find success, first in the Marine Corps and later in Silicon Valley.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

After a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer in his mid-thirties, he embarked on an extraordinary search for the truth about our existence, while uncovering the hidden relationship between chance and mortality.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

Shining a light on how Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire helped shape the modern world, this book explains how the underappreciated Asian leader overcame hardships during childhood and ultimately formed civilization’s first commercial empire.

Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein

This look at the life of legendary investor Warren Buffett illuminates how a unique mix of consistency, frugality, and hard work catapulted a humble paperboy into one of the world’s wealthiest people and one of history’s most charitable philanthropists.

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

This enthralling look at the life and passions of one of America’s most influential diplomats covers the founding father’s illustrious career path from essay writer to scientist to quintessential statesmen.

Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank Abagnale and Stan Redding

Enter the exciting and dangerous life of a world-class con man who faked his way into Pan Am in order to travel the world for free, then scammed banks and swindled millions from unwitting victims by using his charisma to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

Gutenberg the Geek by Jeff Jarvis

A popular biography detailing a goldsmith’s 20-year journey to invent and perfect the printing press, this book explores the development of one of mankind’s most influential inventions and explains how Johannes Gutenberg encountered many of the same obstacles as modern day entrepreneurs.

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton

Find out more about the fascinating life of the Underground Railroad’s most notable hero, who herself escaped the bonds of slavery before helping hundreds of others do the same during the American Civil War.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: How One Woman’s Cells Changed Scientific Thinking Forever by Rebecca Skloot

The first time I heard the story of Henrietta Lacks, my jaw dropped. Lacks was a tobacco farmer who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Scientists then used her cell strand — commonly referred to as HeLa — to develop cures for polio among other diseases. This book examines the life of Lacks, her now-immortal cells, and how people of color have been routinely exploited by the medical industry

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Released to critical acclaim and instant bestseller status in 2018, Westover’s Educated is an often harrowing personal account of extreme religiosity, self-education, and overcoming a brutally difficult childhood to become a successful adult. However, achieving her academic dreams came at a high price. A gripping, beautiful book.

How Not To Be A Boy: A Comedian’s Journey With Masculinity and Gender by Robert Webb

One half of the British comedy duo that brought us Peep Show, Robert Webb is well-known for playing a host of characters opposite his writing partner, David Mitchell. How Not To Be A Boy delves into his upbringing in rural England, and what it was like not to be a traditional “boy” in a world that exalts manliness. Moving, heartfelt, and — of course — funny, it’s a powerful look at the limits of gender roles.

You never know what kind of inspiration you’ll draw from what you read. With this list of the best biographies in our current selection, you can discover more about various periods in history and about the kinds of people who have shaped our world. Dive into any of these titles now by launching the Blinkist app or explore the 2,200+ other books in our ever-expanding library. Happy reading!

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