Best 2017, Best Books, Best Year-End, Biography

The Best Biography & Memoir Books of 2017 (A Year-End List Aggregation)

December 28, 2017

“What are the best Biography & Memoir books of 2017?” We aggregated 14 year-end lists and ranked the 171 unique titles by how many times they appeared in an attempt to answer that very question!

There are thousands of year-end lists released every year and like we do in our weekly Best Book articles, we wanted to see which books appear the most. The top 31 books, all of which appeared on 2 or more best Bio, Memoir, & Autobiography lists, are ranked below with images, summaries, and links for more information or to purchase. The remaining 125+ books, as well as the top book lists, are at the bottom of the page.

Make sure to take a look at our other Best of 2017 book lists:

You can also take a look at our Best Biography & Memoir books from last year as well as all the other Best 2016 articles!

Happy Scrolling!

 



Top 31 Biography Books Of 2017



31 .) An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • The Washington Post

“In fewer than three hundred words, Khizr Khan electrified viewers around the world when he took the stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. And when he offered to lend Donald Trump his own much-read and dog-eared pocket Constitution, his gesture perfectly encapsulated the feelings of millions. But who was that man, standing beside his wife, extolling the promises and virtues of the U.S. Constitution?

In this urgent and timeless immigrant story, we learn that Khizr Khan has been many things. He was the oldest of ten children born to farmers in Pakistan, and a curious and thoughtful boy who listened rapt as his grandfather recited Rumi beneath the moonlight. He was a university student who read the Declaration of Independence and was awestruck by what might be possible in life. He was a hopeful suitor, awkwardly but earnestly trying to win the heart of a woman far out of his league. He was a brilliant and diligent young family man who worked two jobs to save enough money to put himself through Harvard Law School. He was a loving father who, having instilled in his children the ideals that brought him and his wife to America—the sense of shared dignity and mutual responsibility—tragically lost his son, an Army captain killed while protecting his base camp in Iraq. He was and is a patriot, and a fierce advocate for the rights, dignities, and values enshrined in the American system.”

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30 .) Between Them: Remembering My Parents by Richard Ford

Lists It Appears On:

  • Noted
  • NPR Books

“How is it that we come to consider our parents as people with rich and intense lives that include but also exclude us? Richard Ford’s parents—Edna, a feisty, pretty Catholic-school girl with a difficult past; and Parker, a sweet-natured, soft-spoken traveling salesman—were rural Arkansans born at the turn of the twentieth century. Married in 1928, they lived “alone together” on the road, traveling throughout the South. Eventually they had one child, born late, in 1944.

For Ford, the questions of what his parents dreamed of, how they loved each other and loved him become a striking portrait of American life in the mid-century. Between Them is his vivid image of where his life began and where his parents’ lives found their greatest satisfaction.”

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29 .) Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Lists It Appears On:

  • Multnomah County
  • Sit Tableside

“Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.”

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28 .) Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks

Lists It Appears On:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kirkus Review

“Both George Orwell and Winston Churchill came close to death in the mid-1930’s—Orwell shot in the neck in a trench line in the Spanish Civil War, and Churchill struck by a car in New York City. If they’d died then, history would scarcely remember them. At the time, Churchill was a politician on the outs, his loyalty to his class and party suspect. Orwell was a mildly successful novelist, to put it generously. No one would have predicted that by the end of the 20th century they would be considered two of the most important people in British history for having the vision and courage to campaign tirelessly, in words and in deeds, against the totalitarian threat from both the left and the right. In a crucial moment, they responded first by seeking the facts of the matter, seeing through the lies and obfuscations, and then they acted on their beliefs. Together, to an extent not sufficiently appreciated, they kept the West’s compass set toward freedom as its due north.

It’s not easy to recall now how lonely a position both men once occupied. By the late 1930’s, democracy was discredited in many circles, and authoritarian rulers were everywhere in the ascent. There were some who decried the scourge of communism, but saw in Hitler and Mussolini “”men we could do business with,”” if not in fact saviors. And there were others who saw the Nazi and fascist threat as malign, but tended to view communism as the path to salvation. Churchill and Orwell, on the other hand, had the foresight to see clearly that the issue was human freedom—that whatever its coloration, a government that denied its people basic freedoms was a totalitarian menace and had to be resisted.”

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27 .) Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among The Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, And Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me To Live For Taste by Bianca Bosker

Lists It Appears On:

  • Multnomah County
  • NPR Books

“Professional journalist and amateur drinker Bianca Bosker didn’t know much about wine—until she discovered an alternate universe where taste reigns supreme, a world of elite sommeliers who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of flavor. Astounded by their fervor and seemingly superhuman sensory powers, she set out to uncover what drove their obsession, and whether she, too, could become a “cork dork.”

With boundless curiosity, humor, and a healthy dose of skepticism, Bosker takes the reader inside underground tasting groups, exclusive New York City restaurants, California mass-market wine factories, and even a neuroscientist’s fMRI machine as she attempts to answer the most nagging question of all: what’s the big deal about wine? What she learns will change the way you drink wine—and, perhaps, the way you live—forever.”

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26 .) Dreaming The Beatles: The Love Story Of One Band And The Whole World by Rob Sheffield

Lists It Appears On:

  • Multnomah County
  • NPR Books

“Rob Sheffield, the Rolling Stone columnist and bestselling author of Love Is a Mix Tape offers an entertaining, unconventional look at the most popular band in history, the Beatles, exploring what they mean today and why they still matter so intensely to a generation that has never known a world without them.

Dreaming the Beatles is not another biography of the Beatles, or a song-by-song analysis of the best of John and Paul. It isn’t another exposé about how they broke up. It isn’t a history of their gigs or their gear. It is a collection of essays telling the story of what this ubiquitous band means to a generation who grew up with the Beatles music on their parents’ stereos and their faces on T-shirts. What do the Beatles mean today? Why are they more famous and beloved now than ever? And why do they still matter so much to us, nearly fifty years after they broke up?”

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25 .) Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble

The veteran of four spaceflights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few have. Now, he takes us inside a sphere utterly hostile to human life. He describes navigating the extreme challenge of long-term spaceflight, both life-threatening and mundane: the devastating effects on the body; the isolation from everyone he loves and the comforts of Earth; the catastrophic risks of colliding with space junk; and the still more haunting threat of being unable to help should tragedy strike at home–an agonizing situation Kelly faced when, on a previous mission, his twin brother’s wife, American Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot while he still had two months in space.

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24 .) Grant by Ron Chernow

Lists It Appears On:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • The Economist

“Ulysses S. Grant’s life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don’t come close to capturing him, as Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.

Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way, Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant’s military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.”

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23 .) I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O’Farrell

Lists It Appears On:

  • Noted
  • The Guardian

“I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O’Farrell’s astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter–for whom this book was written–from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life’s myriad dangers.
Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. In taut prose that vibrates with electricity and restrained emotion, O’Farrell captures the perils running just beneath the surface, and illuminates the preciousness, beauty, and mysteries of life itself.”

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22 .) One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter: Essays by Scaachi Koul

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • NPR Books

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi Koul deploys her razor-sharp humor to share all the fears, outrages, and mortifying moments of her life. She learned from an early age what made her miserable, and for Scaachi anything can be cause for despair. Whether it’s a shopping trip gone awry; enduring awkward conversations with her bikini waxer; overcoming her fear of flying while vacationing halfway around the world; dealing with Internet trolls, or navigating the fears and anxieties of her parents. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color: where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision, or outright scorn; where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, leaving little room for a woman not solely focused on marriage and children to have a career (and a life) for herself.

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21 .) Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble

“After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.
Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.”

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20 .) Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia Williams and Jeannine Amber

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Multnomah County

“They called her Rabbit.

Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) was born and raised in Atlanta at the height of the crack epidemic. One of five children, Pat watched as her mother struggled to get by on charity, cons, and petty crimes. At age seven, Pat was taught to roll drunks for money. At twelve, she was targeted for sex by a man eight years her senior. By thirteen, she was pregnant. By fifteen, Pat was a mother of two.

Alone at sixteen, Pat was determined to make a better life for her children. But with no job skills and an eighth-grade education, her options were limited. She learned quickly that hustling and humor were the only tools she had to survive. Rabbit is an unflinching memoir of cinematic scope and unexpected humor. With wisdom and humor, Pat gives us a rare glimpse of what it’s really like to be a black mom in America.”

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19 .) Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Noted

“The story of Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone’s founder, editor, and publisher, and the pioneering era he helped curate, is told here for the first time in glittering, glorious detail. Joe Hagan provides readers with a backstage pass to storied concert venues and rock-star hotel rooms; he tells never before heard stories about the lives of rock stars and their handlers; he details the daring journalism (Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, P.J. O’Rourke) and internecine office politics that accompanied the start-up; he animates the drug and sexual appetites of the era; and he reports on the politics of the last fifty years that were often chronicled in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine.

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18 .) Sting-Ray Afternoons: A Memoir by Steve Rushin

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Multnomah County

“It’s a story of the 1970s. Of a road trip in a wood-paneled station wagon, with the kids in the way-back, singing along to the Steve Miller Band. Brothers waking up early on Saturday mornings for five consecutive hours of cartoons and advertising jingles that they’ll be humming all day. A father-one of 3M’s greatest and last eight-track-salesman fathers-traveling across the country on the brand-new Boeing 747, providing for his family but wanting nothing more than to get home.

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17 .) The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

Lists It Appears On:

  • Multnomah County
  • NPR Books

“This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.”

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16 .) The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Goodreads

“Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes — she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime.”

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15 .) The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Alexievich, Svetlana

Lists It Appears On:

  • Multnomah County
  • The Guardian

“For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.”

In The Unwomanly Face of War, Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women—more than a million in total—were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten.

Alexievich traveled thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women’s stories. Together, this symphony of voices reveals a different aspect of the war—the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories.”

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14 .) The Wine Lover’s Daughter: A Memoir by Anne Fadiman

Lists It Appears On:

  • Library Journal
  • NPR Books

An appreciation of wine–along with a plummy upper-crust accent, expensive suits, and an encyclopedic knowledge of Western literature–was an essential element of Clifton Fadiman’s escape from lower-middle-class Brooklyn to swanky Manhattan. But wine was not just a class-vaulting accessory; it was an object of ardent desire. The Wine Lover’s Daughter traces the arc of a man’s infatuation from the glass of cheap Graves he drank in Paris in 1927; through the Château Lafite-Rothschild 1904 he drank to celebrate his eightieth birthday, when he and the bottle were exactly the same age; to the wines that sustained him in his last years, when he was blind but still buoyed, as always, by hedonism.

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13 .) Toscanini by Harvey Sachs

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kirkus Review
  • The Economist

“It may be difficult to imagine today, but Arturo Toscanini―recognized widely as the most celebrated conductor of the twentieth century―was once one of the most famous people in the world. Like Einstein in science or Picasso in art, Toscanini (1867–1957) transcended his own field, becoming a figure of such renown that it was often impossible not to see some mention of the maestro in the daily headlines.

Acclaimed music historian Harvey Sachs has long been fascinated with Toscanini’s extraordinary story. Drawn not only to his illustrious sixty-eight-year career but also to his countless expressions of political courage in an age of tyrants, and to a private existence torn between love of family and erotic restlessness, Sachs produced a biography of Toscanini in 1978. Yet as archives continued to open and Sachs was able to interview an ever-expanding list of relatives and associates, he came to realize that this remarkable life demanded a completely new work, and the result is Toscanini―an utterly absorbing story of a man who was incapable of separating his spectacular career from the call of his conscience.

Famed for his fierce dedication but also for his explosive temper, Toscanini conducted the world premieres of many Italian operas, including Pagliacci, La Boheme, and Turandot, as well as the Italian premieres of works by Wagner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Debussy. In time, as Sachs chronicles, he would dominate not only La Scala in his native Italy but also the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He also collaborated with dozens of star singers, among them Enrico Caruso and Feodor Chaliapin, as well as the great sopranos Rosina Storchio, Geraldine Farrar, and Lotte Lehmann, with whom he had affairs.”

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12 .) We Are Never Meeting In Real Life.: Essays by Samantha Irby

Lists It Appears On:

  • Multnomah County
  • NPR Books

With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., “bitches gotta eat” blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette—she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”—detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms—hang in there for the Costco loot—she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.

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11 .) What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • NPR Books

“For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.”

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10 .) What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women And The Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro

Lists It Appears On:

  • Multnomah County
  • NPR Books

Everyone eats, and food touches on every aspect of our lives—social and cultural, personal and political. Yet most biographers pay little attention to people’s attitudes toward food, as if the great and notable never bothered to think about what was on the plate in front of them. Once we ask how somebody relates to food, we find a whole world of different and provocative ways to understand her. Food stories can be as intimate and revealing as stories of love, work, or coming-of-age. Each of the six women in this entertaining group portrait was famous in her time, and most are still famous in ours; but until now, nobody has told their lives from the point of view of the kitchen and the table.

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9 .) Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris

Lists It Appears On:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Noted
  • NPR Books

“For forty years, David Sedaris has kept a diary in which he records everything that captures his attention-overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secrets confided by total strangers. These observations are the source code for his finest work, and through them he has honed his cunning, surprising sentences.

Now, Sedaris shares his private writings with the world. Theft by Finding, the first of two volumes, is the story of how a drug-abusing dropout with a weakness for the International House of Pancakes and a chronic inability to hold down a real job became one of the funniest people on the planet.

Written with a sharp eye and ear for the bizarre, the beautiful, and the uncomfortable, and with a generosity of spirit that even a misanthropic sense of humor can’t fully disguise, Theft By Finding proves that Sedaris is one of our great modern observers. It’s a potent reminder that when you’re as perceptive and curious as Sedaris, there’s no such thing as a boring day.”

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8 .) Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kirkus Review
  • Noted
  • NPR Books
  • The Economist

“He was the wittiest, the prettiest, the strongest, the bravest, and, of course, the greatest (as he told us himself). Muhammad Ali was one of the twentieth century’s most fantastic figures and arguably the most famous man on the planet.

But until now, he has never been the subject of a complete, unauthorized biography. Jonathan Eig, hailed by Ken Burns as one of America’s master storytellers, radically reshapes our understanding of the complicated man who was Ali. Eig had access to all the key people in Ali’s life, including his three surviving wives and his managers. He conducted more than 500 interviews and uncovered thousands of pages of previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department files, as well dozens of hours of newly discovered audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. Collectively, they tell Ali’s story like never before—the story of a man who was flawed and uncertain and brave beyond belief.”

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7 .) An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, And An Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kirkus Review 2
  • Library Journal
  • NPR Books
  • The Guardian

When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enroll in the undergraduate Odyssey seminar his son teaches at Bard College, the two find themselves on an adventure as profoundly emotional as it is intellectual. For Jay, a retired research scientist who sees the world through a mathematician’s unforgiving eyes, this return to the classroom is his “one last chance” to learn the great literature he’d neglected in his youth–and, even more, a final opportunity to more fully understand his son, a writer and classicist. But through the sometimes uncomfortable months that the two men explore Homer’s great work together–first in the classroom, where Jay persistently challenges his son’s interpretations, and then during a surprise-filled Mediterranean journey retracing Odysseus’s famous voyages–it becomes clear that Daniel has much to learn, too: Jay’s responses to both the text and the travels gradually uncover long-buried secrets that allow the son to understand his difficult father at last. As this intricately woven memoir builds to its wrenching climax, Mendelsohn’s narrative comes to echo the Odyssey itself, with its timeless themes of deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home. Rich with literary and emotional insight, An Odyssey is a renowned author-scholar’s most triumphant entwining yet of personal narrative and literary exploration.

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6 .) Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kirkus Review
  • Noted

“Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.

His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions.”

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5 .) The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Multnomah County
  • NPR Books
  • The Washington Post

“Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal.

How does one live each day, “unattached to outcome”? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty?

Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?”

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4 .) The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Library Journal
  • Noted
  • NPR Books

“When Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.

Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules—about work, about love, and about womanhood.”

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3 .) Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Book Riot
  • Kirkus Review 2
  • Multnomah County
  • NPR Books
  • The Washington Post

“Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates “like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972.” His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church’s country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents’ rectory, their two worlds collide.

In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence—from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group—with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own. Lockwood details her education of a seminarian who is also living at the rectory, tries to explain Catholicism to her husband, who is mystified by its bloodthirstiness and arcane laws, and encounters a mysterious substance on a hotel bed with her mother. “

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2 .) You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Book Riot
  • Goodreads
  • Kirkus Review 2
  • NPR Books

“Family relationships are never simple. But Sherman Alexie’s bond with his mother Lillian was more complex than most. She plunged her family into chaos with a drinking habit, but shed her addiction when it was on the brink of costing her everything. She survived a violent past, but created an elaborate facade to hide the truth. She selflessly cared for strangers, but was often incapable of showering her children with the affection that they so desperately craved. She wanted a better life for her son, but it was only by leaving her behind that he could hope to achieve it. It’s these contradictions that made Lillian Alexie a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated, and very human woman.

When she passed away, the incongruities that defined his mother shook Sherman and his remembrance of her. Grappling with the haunting ghosts of the past in the wake of loss, he responded the only way he knew how: he wrote. The result is a stunning memoir filled with raw, angry, funny, profane, tender memories of a childhood few can imagine, much less survive. An unflinching and unforgettable remembrance, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME is a powerful, deeply felt account of a complicated relationship.”

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1 .) Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Book Riot
  • Goodreads
  • Kirkus Review 2
  • Multnomah County
  • NPR Books
  • Sit Tableside
  • The Guardian
  • The Washington Post

“New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens, and twenties—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be. “

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The 125+ Additional Best Memoir Books Of 2017



 

# Book Author Lists
(Titles Appear On 1 List Each)
32 18 And Life On Skid Row Sebastian Bach NPR Books
33 A Year in the Wilderness: Bearing Witness in the Boundary Waters Amy and Dave Freeman
Multnomah County
34 ADMISSIONS: LIFE AS A BRAIN SURGEON Henry Marsh
Kirkus Review 2
35 After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography Chris Kraus NPR Books
36 Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time Hilary Spurling
The Economist
37 Autumn Karl Ove Knausgaard NPR Books
38 Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel To The End Of The World Nell Stevens NPR Books
39 Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit Chris Matthews
Barnes & Noble
40 Born to Run
Sit Tableside
41 CALDER: THE CONQUEST OF TIME: THE EARLY YEARS: 1898-1940 Jed Perl
Kirkus Review
42 Calling A Wolf A Wolf Kaveh Akbar NPR Books
43 Chester B. Himes: A Biography Lawrence P. Jackson NPR Books
44 Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, the Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge Erica Wagner
The Economist
45 Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook Alice Waters Amazon
46 Dadland Keggie Carew NPR Books
47 Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years Nelson Mandela and Mandla Langa NPR Books
48 Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening Manal Al-Sharif Goodreads
49 David Bowie: A Life Dylan Jones
Multnomah County
50 Dear Friend, From My Life I Write To You In Your Life Yiyun Li NPR Books
51 Dear Ijeawele, Or, A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Multnomah County
52 Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West Tom Clavin
Barnes & Noble
53 Drawn Out: A Seriously Funny Memoir Tom Scott Noted
54 Driving to Treblinka Diana Wichtel Noted
55 DYING: A MEMOIR Cory Taylor
Kirkus Review 2
56 Empty Branch, Finding Hope Through Lament Marilyn Weisenburg
Multnomah County
57 Everything All at Once: How to Unleash Your Inner Nerd, Tap into Radical Curiosity and Solve Any Problem Bill Nye
Barnes & Noble
58 Everything Is Flammable Gabrielle Bell NPR Books
59 Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 Naoki Higashida
The Economist
60 Fire!!: The Zora Neale Hurston Story Peter Bagge NPR Books
61
Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table
The Guardian
62 Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life Robert Dallek NPR Books
63 Fred Korematsu Speaks Up Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi
Multnomah County
64 FREUD: THE MAKING OF AN ILLUSION Frederick Crews
Kirkus Review
65 Ghosts of Seattle Past: An Anthology of Lost Seattle Places Jaimee Garbacik
Multnomah County
66 GOETHE: LIFE AS A WORK OF ART Rüdiger Safranski
Kirkus Review
67 Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In and Out of Jazz Fred Hersch
The Washington Post
68 Gorbachev: His Life And Times William Taubman NPR Books
69 GORILLA AND THE BIRD: A MEMOIR Zack McDermott
Kirkus Review 2
70 Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code Laurie Wallmark
Multnomah County
71 HANK AND JIM: THE FIFTY-YEAR FRIENDSHIP OF HENRY FONDA AND JAMES STEWART Scott Eyman
Kirkus Review
72 HENRY DAVID THOREAU: A LIFE Laura Dassow Walls
Kirkus Review
73 HOOVER: AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES Kenneth Whyte
Kirkus Review
74 Hostage Guy Delisle NPR Books
75 HOURGLASS: TIME, MEMORY, MARRIAGE Dani Shapiro
Kirkus Review 2
76 How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child Sandra Uwiringiyimana Goodreads
77 How to Murder Your Life Cat Marnell Goodreads
78 I HEAR SHE’S A REAL BITCH Jen Agg
Kirkus Review 2
79 IMAGINE WANTING ONLY THIS Kristen Radtke
Kirkus Review 2
80 In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown Amy Gary Amazon
81 Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me Bill Hayes Amazon
82 It’s Not Yet Dark Simon Fitzmaurice
Barnes & Noble
83 JANE AUSTEN AT HOME: A BIOGRAPHY Lucy Worsley
Kirkus Review
84 JONATHAN SWIFT: THE RELUCTANT REBEL John Stubbs
Kirkus Review
85 Keeping On Keeping On Alan Bennett NPR Books
86 L’Appart: The Delights And Disasters Of Making My Paris Home David Lebovitz NPR Books
87 LIFE IN CODE: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY Ellen Ullman
Kirkus Review 2
88 Lighter Than My Shadow Katie Green Amazon
89 LIGHTS ON, RATS OUT: A MEMOIR Cree LeFavour
Kirkus Review 2
90 LOU REED: A LIFE Anthony DeCurtis
Kirkus Review
91 LOVE AND TROUBLE: A MIDLIFE RECKONING Claire Dederer
Kirkus Review 2
92
Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret
The Guardian
93 Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey Of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Helene Cooper NPR Books
94 Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet Lyndal Roper
Multnomah County
95 Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World Eric Metaxas
Barnes & Noble
96 Mean Myrian Gurba
Library Journal
97 Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes On My Dementia Gerda Saunders NPR Books
98 Mid-Life Ex-Wife Stella Grey
Multnomah County
99 MONOGRAPH BY CHRIS WARE Chris Ware, illustrated
Kirkus Review 2
100 Mozart’s Starling Lyanda Lynn Haupt NPR Books
101 Muddy: The Story Of Blues Legend Muddy Waters Michael Mahin, illustrated NPR Books
102 My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness Nagata Kabi NPR Books
103 My Life Louis Kenoyer
Multnomah County
104 My Life as Eva: The Struggle is Real Eva Gutowski
Barnes & Noble
105 My Life With Bob Pamela Paul
Multnomah County
106 My Life, My Love, My Legacy Coretta Scott King, as told to Barbara Reynolds NPR Books
107 My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward Mark Lukach Goodreads
108 Narrow River, Wide Sky Jenny Forrester
Multnomah County
109 NO ONE CARES ABOUT CRAZY PEOPLE: THE CHAOS AND HEARTBREAK OF MENTAL HEALTH IN AMERICA Ron Powers
Kirkus Review 2
110 Once We Were Sisters Sheila Kohler
Multnomah County
111 Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life Jonathan Gould NPR Books
112 Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder Caroline Fraser Amazon
113 Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose Joe Biden
Barnes & Noble
114 Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime Ben Blum Amazon
115
Ravilious and Co: the Pattern of Friendship
The Guardian
116 Real Friends Shannon Hale
Multnomah County
117 Richard Nixon: The Life John A. Farrell NPR Books
118 Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making A Living Manjula Martin, ed.
Multnomah County
119 Sin Bravely: A Memoir Of Spiritual Disobedience Maggie Rowe NPR Books
120 SIX ENCOUNTERS WITH LINCOLN: A PRESIDENT CONFRONTS DEMOCRACY AND ITS DEMONS Elizabeth Brown Pryor
Kirkus Review
121 Spineless Juli Berwald
Multnomah County
122 SPOILER ALERT: THE HERO DIES: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, LOSS, AND OTHER FOUR-LETTER WORDS Michael Ausiello
Kirkus Review 2
123 STALIN: WAITING FOR HITLER, 1929-1941 Stephen Kotkin
Kirkus Review
124 Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary Walter Stahr NPR Books
125 Sunshine State: Essays Sarah Gerard NPR Books
126 The Beat of the Pendulum – A Found Novel Catherine Chidgey Noted
127 The Bettencourt Affair: The World’s Richest Woman And The Scandal That Rocked Paris Tom Sancton NPR Books
128 The Book of Emma Reyes
Library Journal
129 The Book of Forgotten Authors
The Guardian
130 The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine Lindsey Fitzharris NPR Books
131 The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest For The Perfect Dish To Mend A Broken Heart Emily Nunn NPR Books
132 THE COOKING GENE: A JOURNEY THROUGH AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULINARY HISTORY IN THE OLD SOUTH Michael W. Twitty
Kirkus Review 2
133 The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World Maya Jasanoff
The Economist
134 The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan-American Highway Teresa Bruce
Multnomah County
135 The Family Imprint: A Daughter’s Portrait Of Love And Loss Nancy Borowick NPR Books
136
The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist
The Guardian
137 The Hate Race: A Memoir Maxine Beneba Clarke
The Economist
138 THE INHERITANCE Niki Kapsambelis
Kirkus Review 2
139 The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, And The Power Of Seeing Damion Searls NPR Books
140 THE INVENTION OF ANGELA CARTER: A BIOGRAPHY Edmund Gordon
Kirkus Review
141 The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home Sally Mott Freeman Amazon
142 THE KELLOGGS: THE BATTLING BROTHERS OF BATTLE CREEK Howard Markel
Kirkus Review
143 The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home Denise Kiernan
Barnes & Noble
144 The Mighty Franks Michael Frank Noted
145 The Misfit’s Manifesto Lidia Yuknavitch
Multnomah County
146 The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince Mayte Garcia Goodreads
147 The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano Elizabeth Rusch
Multnomah County
148 The Night Ocean Paul La Farge
Multnomah County
149 The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (editors) NPR Books
150 The Push: A climber’s journey of endurance, risk, and going beyond limits Tommy Caldwell
Multnomah County
151 The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple Jeff Guinn Amazon
152 The Sarah Book Scott McClanahan NPR Books
153 The Scent Of Jasmine: Coming Of Age In Jerusalem And Damascus Anan Ameri NPR Books
154 THE SONGS WE KNOW BEST: JOHN ASHBERY’S EARLY LIFE Karin Roffman
Kirkus Review
155 The Stranger in the Woods Michael Finkle
Multnomah County
156 The Totally Unscientific Study Of The Search For Human Happiness Paula Poundstone NPR Books
157 The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds Michael Lewis
The Economist
158 The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992
The Guardian
159 The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story Of Love, Spies, And The Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies Jason Fagone NPR Books
160 The World Broke In Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, And The Year That Changed Literature Bill Goldstein NPR Books
161 The Year I Was Peter The Great: 1956 – Khrushchev, Stalin’s Ghost, and a Young American in Russia Marvin Kalb NPR Books
162 This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare Gabourey Sidibe NPR Books
163 THIS LONG PURSUIT: REFLECTIONS OF A ROMANTIC BIOGRAPHER Richard Holmes
Kirkus Review 2
164 Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me. Lily Collins Goodreads
165 Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches John Hodgman
Multnomah County
166 We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True Gabrielle Union
Barnes & Noble
167 Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir Amy Tan
Barnes & Noble
168 Who Thought this was a Good Idea?: And other questions you should have answers to when you work in the White House Alyssa Mastromonaco
Multnomah County
169 Within the Sanctuary of Wings Marie Brennan
Multnomah County
170 You & A Bike & A Road Eleanor Davis NPR Books
171 YOU SAY TO BRICK: THE LIFE OF LOUIS KAHN Wendy Lesser
Kirkus Review


14 Best Autobiography Book Sources/Lists Of 2017



Source Article
Amazon Best biographies and memoirs of 2017
Barnes & Noble The Best Books of 2017
Book Riot THEFOLLOWINGAREBOOKRIOT’SBESTBOOKSOF2017.
Goodreads Best Memoir & Autobiography
Kirkus Review Best Biographies of 2017
Kirkus Review 2 Best Memoirs of 2017
Library Journal Memoirs
Multnomah County The Best Books of 2017
Noted The 100 Best Books of 2017
NPR Books NPR’s Book Concierge Our Guide To 2017’s Great Reads
Sit Tableside Favorite Books of 2017
The Economist Books of the Year 2017
The Guardian The best biography and autobiography books of 2017
The Washington Post The 5 best memoirs of 2017

 

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