Biographies Books

Updated on April 4, 2024
Article bySayantan Mukhopadhyay
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM
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14 Best Biographies Books [Updated 2023]

Below is the list of the top 14 best biographies books to read in 2023 –

  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ( Get this book )
  2. Alexander Hamilton ( Get this book )
  3. Into the Wild ( Get this book )
  4. Alan Turing: The Enigma ( Get this book )
  5. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike ( Get this book )
  6. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future ( Get this book )
  7. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon ( Get this book )
  8. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life ( Get this book )
  9. Sam Walton: Made in America ( Get this book )
  10. Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography No products found.
  11. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built ( Get this book )
  12. Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s ( Get this book )
  13. Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life without Losing Its Soul ( Get this book )
  14. Confessions of an Advertising Man ( Get this book )

Discuss each biographical book in detail and its key takeaways and reviews.


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#1 – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

About the book

This biography tells the story of a lady who, by sheer chance, became one of the most important women in the history of medical science. Yet, at the same time, she and her entire family were unaware of it.

Book review

This book is about Henrietta Lacks, the source of the immortal cell line HeLa, which was taken from her cervical cancer cells after her death in 1951 without her or her family’s knowledge. HeLa cells have been instrumental in developing the polio vaccine, cancer treatment, and virology and helped in making advances in the field of cloning, vitro fertilization, and gene mapping. However, nobody had any idea about the person behind all this because she was never acknowledged for her contribution (that too without her consent). Through this book, the author has presented the real face of “Hela” to the world and revealed how science could easily do wrong to the poor. In addition, the author has placed scientific research, patient privacy, and racism in the historical context.

Key Takeaways

<< Get this book >>

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#2 – Alexander Hamilton

by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton

About the book

This biography of Alexander Hamilton tells the fascinating story of a brilliant and charismatic man who beat the odds to shape and inspire the destiny of a newly born nation – America.

Book review

This book lucidly illustrates the splendid life of an enlightened federalist and one of the least appreciated founding fathers of America – Alexander Hamilton. The author has presented a vivid and captivating portrait of one of the greatest heroes of American history. At the same time, he has coherently explained the genesis of the American Republic. He thinks that the credit for America we see today doesn’t go to Jefferson’s democratic view but to Hamilton’s federalist’s vision. Also, the author expressed his irreverence towards Jefferson and presented a critical review of his character, much to the surprise of many Americans. Overall, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in the early years of the American Republic.

Key Takeaways

  • It comprehensively covers every aspect of Alexander Hamilton’s life – his astounding achievements, controversies, and workaholism.
  • In the book, Hamilton portrays as the protagonist who overcame the odds to lay the foundation of America that we know today.
  • It is another wonderfully researched book boosted by lucid writing.
<< Get this book >>

#3 – Into the Wild

by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild

About the book

This book tells the story of a young man named Christopher Johnson McCandless, who abandoned his family and belongings to hitchhike to Alaska into the wilds of Mt. McKinley.

Book review

The book tells the tragic story of a young man who was unhappy with most things around him, such as materialism and hunger. He was also not very happy with his family and decided to cut off ties with his family to hitchhike and head into the wilderness of Alaska. Sadly, four months later, in August 1992, this young man in his early 20s was found dead, probably from starvation. Although it is an unfortunate event, the author has managed to build a fascinating narration out of it by presenting all the facts without being judgmental in his tone. The narration is so engaging that even though you know about the inevitable end from the beginning of the book, you will still be hooked until the last page. He has beautifully painted the complex personality of McCandless based on thorough research of the interviews, journal entries, and letters.

Key Takeaways

  • The author has presented all the facts captivatingly, but it is up to the reader to interpret McCandless’s character.
  • It teaches you the need for smart balancing between isolation and indulgence.
<< Get this book >>

#4 – Alan Turing: The Enigma

by Andrew Hodges

Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film The Imitation Game - Updated Edition

About the book

This biography is about Alan Turing, a great English mathematician who pioneered the design of the modern-day electronic computer. He broke the German U-boat Enigma cipher during World War II (WW2).

Book review

The book deals with Alan Turing’s personal life in an extremely interesting way. The author has created a captivating and passionate portrayal of the genius of the great man who wanted to tackle the big questions. As per the author, despite being impractical, Turing’s work always had some practical application. Further, it is undoubtedly a great book, but you should be prepared for some headaches due to the sheer volume of mathematical concepts discussed exhaustively. A significant portion of the book dedicates to covering the details of the mathematics projects that Turing was part of at different stages of his life. Overall, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in knowing this genius.

Key Takeaways

  • It is an extremely well-written and meticulously researched book, which is slightly heavy on mathematics, given that it is a biography about a genius mathematician.
  • If you don’t have a mathematics or computer science background, you might find reading through the book owing to the large volume of mathematical concepts discussed.
<< Get this book >>

#5 – Shoe Dog

A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog: Die offizielle Biografie des NIKE-Gründers (German Edition)

This biography book is a must-read if you want to know how Nike has become what it is now.

Books Review

Success isn’t what it looks like – gorgeous on the surface. Success is chaotic, messy, and perilous and comes after many struggles, hard work, heartbreak, and sacrifice. If you want to know what success is, pick this biography. You may have read a lot of many entrepreneurial theory books. But this biography book is full of innate wisdom and hard-earned lessons. Every entrepreneur must read this book and learn how to leap. From constant struggle to finance a company to the positives and negatives of going public, from business relationships to turning around the entire management, from innovation to beat the odds, you will learn havoc in this mammoth 400-page book.

Key Takeaways

  • Preachers are everywhere. This biography book is not about preaching. It’s coming from the mouth of someone who had been there, who had built a fortune, and who had struggled hard to make his dreams a reality.
  • For both left-brainers and right-brainers, this book would be invaluable; you will find both logic of making a business work and a story of an entrepreneur in this book.
<< Get this book >>

#6 – Elon Musk

How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future

by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk: El empresario que anticipa el futuro (HUELLAS) (Spanish Edition)

If you want to experience two constant themes – “nothing is impossible” and “change the world”, read this book.

Books Review

This edition will help you peep into the brain of the world’s most celebrated and driven entrepreneur today. It’s not only a biography; it’s a book that teaches you how to think like Musk, dreamlike him, and set targets that take you to a different level altogether. This biography book is very well written and will give you an account of Elon Musk in minute detail.

How he started his first start-ups, Zip2 and X.Com, and built his empire using his vision and insane work ethic will grab your attention. It is the only book in which Elon Musk got involved. And the author has interviewed over 300 people to develop a detailed account of Elon Musk’s life and entrepreneurship.

Key Takeaways

  • This book is very well written. You will not feel that you’re reading 400 pages of complex materials.
  • If you’re curious about Elon Musk, this is the only book you should read.
  • You will learn how Elon changed the world with his insatiable urge to solve the world’s problems.
<< Get this book >>

#7 – The Everything Store

Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by Brad Stone

[Brad Stone] The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and The Age of Amazon - Hardcover

Amazon has taken over the world of e-commerce. To know how to read this edition.

Books Review

It is a great account of how Amazon has become the best bet on the internet. The only glitch in this biography book is that Jeff Bezos wasn’t involved in this book. In addition, the entire biography book is written on secondary data, resulting in few errors (unforeseeable to the general public). Besides these few errors, this book is one to read, reread, and apply wisdom to.

This book has won the prestigious “Winner of the

2013 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award”. If you ever want to start a business or want to grow an already running business, this book will be your aid. You will learn what to do and what not to do during horrid times in business.

Key Takeaways

  • If you’re ever wondering how Amazon manages to become so big, this biography book is a must-read.
  • From the old days when Amazon just started to now, you will know how Jeff Bezos has become the fearless leader of the century. Jeff Bezos’s story will inspire you to become a world-class leader as a beginning entrepreneur.
<< Get this book >>

#8 – How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Kind of the Story of My Life

by Scott Adams

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

It is the wittiest memoir you will ever read. After reading this book, you will never be the same again.

Books Review

This book entertains you, educates you, and challenges your thinking like an entrepreneur/individual. For example, he talked about having a system instead of setting goals. The system helps you regulate your activities daily, whereas goals are future-oriented (in most cases, goal setting is worthless for that reason).

And this biography book will also teach you to be pragmatic. Instead of going after “everything you can become,” we should follow our inherent capacity and work on them to become something worthwhile. Besides these, you will also learn how to create a product that you can scale instead of wasting your time on sales, understand patterns, manage luck, what core skills to build, and so on.

Key Takeaways

  • This book is a light read, but don’t take its wisdom lightly. If you apply its wisdom, you may create a great life (Scott Adams did).
  • Failures are inevitable if you want to move up in life. You can only get to success by stumbling on something.
  • The best lesson is the “system approach” over the “goal approach.”
<< Get this book >>

#9 – Sam Walton: Made in America

by Sam Walton & John Huey

Sam Walton: Made In America

Every small, big, new, and old entrepreneur should read this biography book.

Books Review

Grab this biography book if you are in business, especially retail. In this, you will learn how Wal-Mart, as an underdog, had made its mark. Four things are worth considering:

  • You will learn about the life of an entrepreneur who has started small and won big. If you can imbibe the lessons, you can do the same.
  • Most entrepreneurs want to avoid competing on price. Sam Walton built a business just by concentrating on a low-price model.
  • Every MBA curriculum should have this biography book. It’s a real piece of advice from someone who had seen it all and made it at the end.
  • To Sam Walton, his people were everything. Thus, he paid extremely high wages, and the employees cared for the customers.

Key Takeaways

  • It is a must-read if you want the distilled version of entrepreneurship in a single volume under 368 pages.
  • This book is a “reissue” edition. That means you will get to hear directly from Sam Walton.
  • “Customers are king,” if you value your customers first, you can’t help but win big.
<< Get this book >>

#10 – Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

by Walter Isaacson

No products found.

This book is a complete account of Steve Jobs’ life, entrepreneurship, and how he made a dent in this world.

Books Review:

This biography book is an assimilation of over 40 interviews with Steve Jobs and 100+ interviews with family members, near and dear ones, friends, colleagues, adversaries, and more. So everything written is distilled and written on the ground of first-hand facts and not based on fiction. This biography book shows a man like himself, selfish, mean, and sometimes a jerk. But he had some great qualities which had made him the man for which he has been revered worldwide.

One of the best qualities of Steve Jobs was their ability to lead forward. Criticism never bothered him and never quivered him in implementing his vision for the companies he built. He could bend reality as per his vision and became the most prominent entrepreneur of this century.

Key Takeaways

  • The writing of the book is the best takeaway. You will be able to vividly experience every scene, every story, and every minute detail of Steve Jobs’ life.
  • Every man has virtues and vices. The author didn’t hide the vices to promote the virtues, which made this work believable.
  • From entrepreneurship to life, Steve Jobs’s account will make you emotional and, at the same time, pumped up to create your utopia and your dent in the world.
No products found.

#11 – Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built

by Duncan Clark

Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built

Can an English teacher build a multi-million dollar business? Grab this book to know what’s possible if it seems like a fairy tale.

Books Review:

Alibaba isn’t a small company. It has been competing with the world’s largest companies, like Wal-Mart and Amazon. This book will teach you the possibility of what one can do. From very humble beginnings, Jack Ma became an English teacher. And then, he built Alibaba. After a decade and a half, it’s now throbbing like a giant and has changed the world’s economy to a large extent.

The author met Jack Ma in 1999 in a small apartment where he built this future giant. The author is not only an early advisor of Alibaba but has also witnessed Alibaba’s progress and Jack Ma’s leadership. From exclusive interview materials and personal experience, this biography book is written. This biography book not only includes Jack Ma’s account of building Alibaba, but it also paints a true picture of the socio-political situation of China at that time.

Key Takeaways

  • Jack Ma’s life and leadership lessons are inspiring. The price of the book will suffice just for this only.
  • The book is a short read, just over 300 pages, which helps you get an account of Alibaba within a few hours of reading.
  • If you ever thought that the Chinese economy revolves around emulation, this book will open your eyes.
<< Get this book >>

#12 – Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s

by Ray Kroc

Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's

If you start a business at the ripe age of 52, can you make it successful during your life? This book will make you believe that it’s possible.

Books Review:

One should read it for two particular reasons. Firstly, it will give you an insider look into McDonald’s food chain. Secondly, this book is an autobiography, which means that we would be able to experience a great story of the American dream. So it is important to read because it will give you the false rumors you would hear about McDonald’s. And it is also a person’s account of what’s possible if you have a great strategy and know where to build a franchisee.

Ray Kroc’s business became successful because of one particular reason – location. Location was McDonald’s competitive advantage, and Ray Kroc agreed that his business is not a food-chain business but a real estate business. Moreover, when Ray started McDonald’s, he was 52 years old and had diabetes. In addition, he suffered from gallbladder surgery, and he also had rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, his inspirational story reminds us of what’s possible when you have a burning desire to achieve success.

Key Takeaways

  • Grinding is winning. If you have it in you, you will do it. This book will show you how. That’s why this biography book is a must-read for every entrepreneur.
  • In this story, you will not only learn about how to go from rags to riches; you will also learn how to remain genuine in your desire to help people and help them grow. Ray Kroc helped his franchisees win. Regardless of their money, Ray was always ready to assist his franchisee.
<< Get this book >>

#13 – Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life without Losing Its Soul

by Howard Schultz

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

It will teach you that you can start late, with numerous diseases and no backup, and still win big if you have the willingness and desire to succeed. Success is, after all, a mindset.

Books Review:

If you have ever started a company and have run your business for a few years, you would know keeping it going is tougher than getting started in the first place. This story revolved around the comeback of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in 2008 when the company was in great financial danger. It took work to micro-manage every customer’s experience to ensure that the customers get the greatest service and that every customer is satisfied when they visit Starbucks.

Moreover, when every personal finance expert recommends skipping a $4 latte, the actual loss was of Starbucks. Howard Schultz saw that the vision of his successor would not help the company in the long run, so he came back and changed the company’s whole culture. But every company wouldn’t be so fortunate to do that. This book will show you how to run a company when your successor fails to run the company well.

Key Takeaways

  • Every entrepreneur who has already started a business must read this biography book to understand and implement a turn-around strategy for their companies.
  • Many entrepreneurs run the risk of growing too fast. This book will show you that “growth for growth’s sake is a losing proposition.”
  • If you don’t know how to lead your employees, they won’t be able to take care of your customers. After reading this biography book, you will learn to lead well and forward.
<< Get this book >>

#14 – Confessions of an Advertising Man

by David Ogilvy and Sir Alan Parker

Confessions of an Advertising Man

This biography book is for you if you are in the advertising industry or want to go in.

Books Review:

This top biographical book is by a man called “the father of advertising.” You would find a lot of information about the advertising world and the man himself. Ogilvy has broken down all the chapters so that you would get a series of lists of advertising on various sub-topics.

You will also learn about how a man has become the father of advertising, the stories of his career, how one should manage an advertising agency, etc. Originally, this biography book was written in 1963, and Ogilvy updated it in 1988 with an additional chapter, “The Story Behind This Book,” where he mentioned that he wrote this book to attract new clients to his advertising agency – we must say that the man was honest.

Key Takeaways

  • Before you ever market/advertise your business and products/services, you should read this book first. It will prevent you from making so many mistakes (one of which is not valuing copywriting as much as your products/services).
  • The book is short and written in easy-to-understand language. This top biography book will teach you how to write and copy its truest sense.
  • This book is an autobiography of a man who has risen from being an advertising company employee to becoming “the father of advertisement.”

Choose which one among these 14 you like most and grab it, read it, and implement the wisdom inherent within. Books are the only friends that always leave you better than before reading them.


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