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This Is My Story: The Best Biographies of 2018

As Michelle Obama’s memoir smashes 2018 sales records, we look at the best biographies that have come out this year.
by Joshua H. Phelps | Dec 3 2018

In an already bumper year for nonfiction releases and political tell-alls, Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming has been smashing sales records. Shipping 1.4 million copies in just its first week, it set a new record for first-week sales at the 145 year-old bookstore chain, Barnes & Noble.

But it’s not the only biography that’s been taking bookstores by storm this year. Many of the unforgettable books we’ve read this year come from authors representing all walks of life. Some of them have made history while others were subject to the whims of the past until they determined to speak for themselves.

These stories show the transformative power of education, the freedom and hope that faith provides, and the determination that propels us onward and upward to new heights: voices from Death Row and the White House, from the moon and back down to the golf course, read up on some remarkable lives.

1. From the South Side to 1600

The former first lady shares intimate, personal details of her childhood and family, how she met the man who would become the 44th President of the US. From a precocious and willful child to a role model for young women, Becoming helps us understand a defining figure of the past decade.

2. Learning Who You Are

Stories of religious zealots in the US pop up in the news from time to time, but what would it be like to grow up with them? Tara Westover describes her experiences being raised in such an environment and the culture shock from what many of us take for granted. As she progresses through college, she discovers how she can ultimately define her own narrative.

3. Space Race Case

The events of the space race are now over fifty years behind us. They have become almost mythological. Kurson’s book sheds light on the people and tensions that helped define the achievement of NASA’s Apollo 8 mission.

4. Silicon Valley Royalty

Living in California during the 80s and 90s, plus also being the daughter of Apple’s CEO may sound ideal, but Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s book shows some of the personal costs of being so deeply involved with someone considered a visionary and revolutionary.

5. Taking Some Mulligans

Around the turn of the 21st century, to mention golf without saying “Tiger Woods” seemed next to impossible. Nowadays, he is undergoing the rehabilitation of his career and personal life. Benedict’s and Keteyian’s biography traces the influences that led to this dramatic rise and fall.

6. H2O NGO

Raised by born-again Christians. Budding musician. Club promoter. Founder of an NGO providing potable water praised by the likes of President Barack Obama. Any one of these could make for a compelling story. Scott Harrison has been all of them.

7. And In Heels

Beth Comstock has faced numerous headwinds throughout her career. From the choice to raise her child as a single parent to being a woman and an introvert in divisions and roles that are traditionally thought to cater to men and extroverts. Throughout, she demonstrates an adaptability and creativity that allowed her to excel where many of her male counterparts sank.

8. Presidential Reflections

Though he has not been president for nearly forty years, Jimmy Carter has maintained an active life of civic duty. In this book, he explores the role faith has played throughout his life and whether there are limits to faith. With a background in the sciences, Carter also offers his thoughts on how faith in religion and faith in science do not contradict each other.

9. A Force for Change

The image of Texas frequently involves rugged individualism. Cecile Richards is certainly no exception, standing up for her ideals and building communities to drive change. Involved in some of the most contentious issues of our day, Richards’s story serves as an example of moral fortitude.

10. Finding Light in the Dark

How should one feel after almost thirty years on death row for a crime one did not commit? Bitter? Upset? How would one stay sane? Anthony Ray Hinton’s journey showcases many shortcomings in the legal system, but also serves as a tribute to the strength of the human spirit even in the worst of circumstances.

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