Interesting, Fascinating, and Inspirational: My Most Memorable Biographies from A to Z

Steve, Trevor, and I are all avid readers. We regularly have Family Reading Night where we sit in the same room and read. We read individually. We listen to audiobooks in the car when we travel. Trevor belongs to a book club. We discuss the books we read over dinner. The three of us truly share a love of reading.

What we do not share, however, is a preference for the same genres. Steve loves science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers. Trevor gravitates toward fantasy, humor, and books about animals. I am all about memoirs and biographies. We each read some of each other's favorites, and there are plenty of books I could name that all three of us adore. This month, Trevor's book club discussed Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (affiliate link). It's a good example of a book all three of us really enjoyed... enough that we're arguing over who gets to read the next books in the series first. 

While Trevor is at Book Club, I use the time to browse the shelves for interesting memoirs or biographies that catch my eye. An idea popped into my head. I should think back on all the memoirs and biographies I've ever read and pick the most memorable person for each letter of the alphabet. After making my list, I'll fill in any gaps by searching the stacks specifically for those letters. Then in part 2, I'll ask you guys to challenge my list. If you have read a memoir or biography about a person who is more memorable, fascinating, inspirational, or interesting than the one I listed, let me know and I'll read that book and see if it bumps someone off my list. 

To clarify, this is not a list of the most important biographies, nor a judgement about the best literary works in the genre. It is a a list of books that have stayed with me for some reason or another. I am not saying that the autobiographies of Steve Martin and Anne Frank are in any way similar. Obviously they are not. Each is memorable for completely different reasons. On with the list! Full disclosure: Each of the photos is as affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking them, I receive a small commission.

On with the list!


Most Memorable Biographies from A to Z

    A:  Nujood Ali                           B: Anthony Bordain                     C: Julia Child                         D: Tomie dePaola


E: Auguste Escoffier                        F: Anne Frank                         G: Chris Gardner                     H: Homer Hickam


                                                   J: Rachel Jeffs                              K: Helen Keller                     L: Jenny Lawson

    M: Steve Martin                     N: Dr. Jerri Nielsen                                                                       P: Bill Peet


                                              R: Leigh Platt Rogers                      S: Jehan Sadat


                                                    V: Karl Vogt                       W: Stanley 'Tookie' Williams              X: Malcolm X 


                                                  Z: Louis Zamperini



A few notes about the books I chose:

  • It was painful narrowing down some of the letters. I've read a lot of great biographies and many of them could have made the list. But I had to ask myself which one left me thinking, or smiling, or raving about it the longest. 
  • There are at least two people on this list I am virtually certain you haven't heard of. Leigh Platt Rogers is a local author who came to my classroom to speak with my students back in my teaching days. What a storyteller! Her books are riveting, but she's even more interesting in person. Karl Vogt is my mom's uncle. He was one of at least 11,000 Germans and German Americans interned by the US government during WW2.
  • I have eclectic taste.

OK, I need your recommendations! Have you read any memorable biographies about someone with a last name starting with I, O, Q, T, U, or Y? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I haven't read a lot of biographies, even though my tastes in genres varies!! Ironically, I just did buy "Furiously Happy" for my BFF and I -- as we have a 'thing' for raccoons (except, we always call him Chester!! LOL!) - but I haven't read it yet, as I am working on a HEA series! What can I say, I am a romantic at heart!! *wink* :) I have NEVER been into Sci-Fi - however, I read "The Martian" and seriously, it has literally become my all time fave book EVER! The movie, as much as I LOVE Matt Damon, I feel didn't do it justice, but I could read that book over and over and over again! :)

  2. I haven't read this one - author last name UNG. It sounds good, but hard to read. Has 4.3 stars on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4373.First_They_Killed_My_Father

  3. I'm pretty sure that John Irving wrote a memoir about the process of turning one of his bestsellers into a movie. Love John Irving's books, especially A Prayer for Owen Meany. Maybe try his memoir for the Letter I. I bet it's great and a fun read.


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