Question: Whose Life Story Have You Read?

Have you ever read a biography or autobiography that was difficult to put down? Have you ever read the story of another woman or man that caused you to really think?

When I was a child, a branch of the Dallas Public Library opened near our home. I often went to this library on Saturday mornings. Much of my time was spent in a section of books that contained the biographies and autobiographies for my age group. I loved these books. I read stories of presidents, generals, coaches, and world explorers. I read the biographies of people like Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, Winston Churchill, Louisa May Alcott, and many, many others. I read the biographies of people who lived in the USA and in other countries as well. It was wonderful.

I continue to love biographies. Just the other evening, I walked into a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Within a few minutes, I was thumbing through the new biographies. I stood in one place looking at biography after biography. There is something about reading a great biography that not only helps me understand the person who is the subject of the book but also sometimes helps me understand my own story.

Almost eighteen years ago, our family was traveling through Missouri. We spent one night in a downtown St. Louis hotel. I vividly recall getting up early the next morning and slipping out of the room while my family slept. I went downstairs to find a cup of coffee and a place where I could read. For the next hour or so, I sat at a small table on the sidewalk, nursing a cup of coffee, and read William Martin’s biography of Billy Graham. This biography was so refreshing to me. Graham’s integrity spoke volumes and was encouraging and even inspirational to me. I suspect that one reason for remembering the morning so vividly is that Graham’s story encouraged me at a critical time when I was very discouraged with my ministry.

Now please think for a moment about some of the biographies you have read. Think about the people who were the subjects of those biographies.



What attracts you to read a particular biography?

Whose life story have you read that you particularly enjoyed?

Whose life story would you one day like to read?

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10 thoughts on “Question: Whose Life Story Have You Read?

  1. Sometimes I simply wander along the shelves in the biography section of our public library and gaze at the titles of the books. Suddenly one will jump out at me – perhaps Lou Gehrig, or Ronald Reagan, or Helen Keller, or St. Francis de Sales… I'll simply be drawn to a particular person, generally one I know very little about, and that's the one I read.

    I just finished reading Come Be My Light, the book published after the death of Mother Teresa. Much of the book is about her "long dark night of the soul", which lasted years, and about her faithfulness to God even when it seemed he was absent from her and withholding his love from her. Her faithfulness was so inspiring. I recommend this book highly! I posted an excerpt from the book if you'd like to be tantalized:

    I just got an "itch" to read about Margaret Thatcher. I assume there's a biography about here. Will have to look!

  2. I loved Stephen Oates' three biographies: John Brown, Lincoln, & Martin Luther King. I'm almost finished with Ron White's "A. Lincoln." It is a marvelous book, beautifully written.

  3. I like biographies (and memoirs) because so often they reveal the good in people, the capacity that we have to overcome. When I read a biography, I remember that I'm not alone, and that people accomplish great things not in the absence of hardships, but through them.

    Some favorites from biography/memoir: My Grandfather's Son, by Clarence Thomas; Night by Elie Wiesel; C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowlands by B. Sibley; Truman by McCullough; and the biography of D. Bonhoeffer by his friend E. Bethge.

    I like reading biographies of U.S. Presidents, and want to do more of that. Can't decide what's next.

    • Frank– You are so right, biographies really do reveal the capacity to overcome. I often come away so inspired by people who persevered through hardships. I have read several of the books you've mentioned. I remember being particularly moved by McCullough's Truman.

      Thanks Frank.

  4. Some of my most favorite biographies have been about: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Winston Churchill, Clarence Thomas, Batsell Barrett Baxter, Marshall Keeble, etc. etc. etc.

    I think everyone should write their own autobiography before they die. In fact, I think they should be writing it all their life, literally. I journal regularly and in the process I am writing my own story in a certain color ink. One day my kids will get to read it, but not until I'm either very old or dead. They will be surprised I'm sure. This will be a lifetime work.

    • sdjquad– I too think it is wise to write something reflective for our children, especially something which tells them about our lives, values, and experiences. Thanks.

  5. Well, it wasn't a written biography, but recently we had a chance to meet up with an old acquaintance from late childhood, and he spent the afternoon and evening catching us up on his life for the past couple decades. I had a feeling it was going to be something inspirational, and, it was! Very bloggable.