Must Read Autobiographies and Biographies

Hi guys! What’s new? Long time, no?

Over the past few days I have been analyzing the evolution of genres I like to read. I know it took a looonnngggg time (sigh). Jokes apart, I never knew how biographies and autobiographies that I detested reading earlier ( too harsh, no?) would become the love of my life!

I have read some amazing books over the past few years and I thought it would be a nice to list a few of my favorites and probably, have a discussion with you people, later.

So here are my favorite biographical titles(in no particular order) that you MUST read once in your lifetimes.

  1. A.P.J Abdul Kalam: A Life by Arun Tiwari

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A book which beautifully encapsulates the journey of a small boat owner’s son who establishes himself as an illustrious scientist and later the 11th President of India. Author Arun Tiwari takes his readers on an exhilarating voyage on how the struggles of childhood were transformed into inspiring achievements through dedication, passion and hard work by the celebrated ‘Missile Man of India’. Finishing the novel would leave you desperately wanting a few more glimpses in the life of the man, loved by the rich-poor and young-old alike. A suggestion for all the the ‘word-adventures’, your thirst for a quest can be quenched a little if you read the titles by the Man himself, including ‘Ignited Minds’, ‘ Wings of Fire’, ‘Believing In Yourself’ among many others. So, Happy Reading!

2. The Story of my Experiments with Truth by M.K Gandhi

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This was probably the first autobiography that I ever read in my life, it was an experiment in itself. And mind you, an experiment that bore beautiful results. What can be said about an autobiography never meant to be written, which later became one of the most popular reads of all times. The book is divided into five parts, each focusing on a different phase of Gandhi’s life. You begin reading about a young boy dealing with an early marriage and the loss of his father. You witness him experimenting with stealing smoking, drinking and eventually atoning for his sins. Further into the novel, you meet a young man, a lawyer in South Africa struggling against oppression. As the young man turns mature and wise you embark on a journey of attaining freedom, with him and his countrymen. The impact different global events had of his life, his thoughts, his ideologies is described in a charismatic way in the book. A story about life and acceptance of truths surely makes the cut to be on your ‘To Read’ list…so what’s stopping you? Go grab this book from a bookstore and immerse yourself in the simmering magic of truthful words.

3. The story of my life by Helen Keller

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How can anyone miss a story of a gracious lady conquering the world with deafness, blindness, determination and courage as her partners? The book paints the early impressions of a picture with an infant Helen battling with an illness which renders her blind and deaf for life. Her frustrations as a result of being caged in a dark, soundless world turns her in an angry and bitter child, which changes after a teacher enters her life. Under the guidance of her teacher Miss Anne Sullivan, Helen learns to read and speak. She establishes herself as a child writer with her short stories, losses and regains her lost spirit and confidence with the events that unfold subsequently. With each page you turn, you meet a new Helen, defeated yet again, but endowed with another layer of patience and grit dazzling on her soulful armor.

4. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

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An unfinished account of life by one of the Founding Fathers of the United States is a rejuvenating read from the textbooks and office files we have to read every day(gosh, those are b-o-r-i-n-g). It begins as an address to Franklin’s son William and later delves deeper into the various struggles and breakthrough achievements of the polymath (eh, big word)! The book is divided into four parts, mainly focusing on Franklin’s journey of publishing his first paper anonymously and subsequently establishing his own printing firm. A few glimpses in his world of inventions, discoveries and politics are given up till the last chapter which remains incomplete. It ends on a mysterious, thrilling note giving off an entire different satisfaction of finishing an unfinished book. You also get to read about Franklin’s ancestors and his childhood, his interests, his hobbies, his love of reading, all of which reflects in his adulthood and helps him become the man as we know him today. So what do you think, is today a good time to read an unfinished draft?

5. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

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A memoir by the founder of Nike, this book is probably an exception in this list, but it undoubtedly deserves a mention. It covers the phase of author’s life, when he decided to establish a shoe company and how he went about the plan. Originally named “Blue Ribbons”, the company helped Knight fulfill his dream of averting a war from its source (no insights this time). As you read along the pages, you will fall in love with the young, reckless, sometimes self-doubting, broke Knight and live with him the euphoric feelings as he cracks his first deal, finds a partner in his mentor, earns his first profit and the saga continues. The book points to the various troubles Nike faced and how Knight’s right and motivating attitude lead his team to victory. It is a story of struggle, spurs of failure and ultimately the sweet victory which deserves your sincere reading (now that’s a record of using an alphabet multiple times in a sentence)!

6. Becoming by Michelle Obama

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I read it recently and you know how I felt? I should have read it as soon it was released! It’s that amazing! An autobiography by the former First Lady recollecting her childhood days, transforming into the colorful days of youth, to finally leading her life as a part of the First Family. This book too is split into different parts highlighting the various junctures of her life. Through the incidents of childhood (some extremely hilarious) she points to the undercurrent of lessons learnt which changed her perspective towards life. Her compelling story telling coupled with wit and wisdom (I am getting better with alliterations) reflect her accomplishments and disappointments while juggling roles throughout her life. With some surprising revelations both political and private you are assured a life-affirming and adventurous time reading this book!

If you are planning to enjoy this long (way-to-go) weekend with bunch of new books to read, these are the titles that you can bank upon.

Let me know in the comments sections any other books that I can read in this category or books that I should add in the list.

Multiple blog posts are coming up to make up for the time, I have not been able to keep my followers updated!

Also, as always, don’t forget to follow my blog.

Cheers!

The Pursuit of Happyness: Book Review

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Hello people! How’s it going? For the record, I am having a pretty terrible week (sigh). The Big Bang Theory is ending this week and we might never see Dr. Sheldon Cooper and his antics again… With so many epic sagas ending this year, it’s going to be difficult to find happiness in our lives once again, right?

Coincidentally the book I had been reading recently, is ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’. Wow! Is there a divine power at play these days?

So coming to the book, I really could not understand, why the title of the book was chosen to be ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’? I have come up with two possible theories for that. One maybe, it is a story of life and struggling against the odds to find happiness (which seems likely). And the other inspired by the daycare where happiness was spelled with a ‘y’, and the protagonist was determined to let his son know the right thing. Maybe, maybe he was also determined to let the world the right thing about himself too; his worth, his potential underneath his dark skin. Which of the two, do you think is the most appropriate theory?

While you read a book, you either like a book or do not like it (although it seldom happens)! But this book has forced me to choose a middle path of partially liking this book.

” The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearls.”

Plot

It begins with the author Chris Garner, a successful stockbroker, taking us on a tour through his life, his struggles, his failures, his decisions and finally his victories. Carving his escape through an abusive childhood, without a father figure, he enrolls to render his services into Navy. With time he becomes an able medical practitioner(the only black on the team of whites) practicing in the Navy later joining his senior and dabbling in the field of research. He marries a woman as he prepares for medical school. Infidelity causes his marriage to drift apart and him embracing fatherhood for the first time. Determined to make it big, he decides to work as a stockbroker against the wishes of his family. He faces extreme shortage of money, rejections and failures but ultimately he wins big and establishes a multi-million company.

Characters

Chris Gardner: The protagonist of the novel. He begins his journey of life,aspiring to be Miles Davis, an actor and later leads his life as a Navy soldier-turned-medical practitioner and researcher- successful stockbroker. His experiences as a childhood, mold him as an adult and is reflected in his ways of upbringing his children. One relates to the struggle he goes through to reach to the top and gets inspired oneself to move along no matter how difficult the path is.

Christopher Gardner Jr.: The only guiding light in his Poppa’s world, when his path becomes too dark. Although only his childhood is reflected in the book, his antics are enough to melt your heart and his words are enough to leave a lasting impression on your soul.

Bettye Jean Triplett: The protagonist’s mother and his first guide to the world beyond. It is her belief in her son that leads to him believing in himself and ultimately meeting his destiny. Her actions seem serene and timid all her lifetime, which sows seeds of serenity and calmness in her son, an attribute of whose worth he realizes much later in his life.

There are other characters in the protagonist’s life, who impress him, inspire him, torment him, help him, teach him and ultimately make him a bigger and better person. It would take the entire space of blog post to describe each one of them, so how about you guys read the book and you describe the various characters to me in the comments section?

Writing Style

This novel is mostly written in the first person perspective with a prologue and epilogue by the author himself. The book is divided into different parts, each describing a phase of his life. You begin the book by reading about his childhood and finish it as you read about his roller coaster ride to success. His journey of establishing his own company and running it, is not shown in the book. This is one aspect which the readers, I am sure ,would have loved to read. Only if he had taken us with him on a trip to his company scaling the heights, this book would have been more interesting to read.

Book Review

Well the book is quit an amazing read, but there are some things which could have been presented in a better way. The struggle of a boy (transitioning into manhood) among abuses, poverty, violence and lack of a father figure sure generates empathy in the readers’ minds and makes us applaud the author for coming out of bad memories of childhood so beautifully. We are then transported in his youth and his ‘misadventures’ in that phase of life. While I was impressed at how high he was soaring profession, I cannot help but felt indignant about his infidelity. Had he not committed this blunder, I sure his life way have turned out to be happier right from the beginning. Although this blunder resulted in him having his bundle of joy (or joys, should I say)in his hands, but any satisfaction, any gift cannot justify this deed of his. We then meet a young father, testing his destiny and working hard to meet both ends meet and at the same time waiting to fly. The words in these pages sting your heart hard and you cry with the author and wipe your tears with the motivation provided by his son. As I have said earlier as well, the book ends abruptly. If only the authors have provided an insight into the world of the author’s company, this book would have soared heights. Also, the topic of the author’s relationship with his biological father and mentors is touched upon briefly and not explored fully. Encounters and relationships like these need more in depth writing. Apart from these glitches, this book is a good read over the weekend and acts as the best gift for budding entrepreneurs. You remember those childhood stories, completed with ups, downs and many morals at the end. This book is just like those stories, only for adults and not for children.

For me, this book stands at 3/5. I con’t believe I am saying this, the movies with the same name moved me more than the book. Probably it was Will Smith’s acting and presence on screen. Never mind, it’s always better to read the book than to watch a movie. Just for the heads up many parts are omitted from the movie, the focus being on the last part of the book only. So you will have to read the book anyways, to know the complete story. Or you can just refer to my blog (wink)!

I hope you had a better week than mine and you guys are better at handling your emotions when some faced with some tragic ends!!!

Until the nest next time, let’s reminisce about the good ol’ Big Bang Theory days!

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Cheers!