How Reading Biographies Can Change Your Life

Love the outdoorsIn some respects, I believe we all watch through the window – peering into the lives of others. Why else would we watch so much TV, read each others Facebook pages and gossip about each other?

An educational, legal and moral way of doing so is to read the autobiography or biography of others. Here are some ways I believe reading biographies (or autobiographies) can change your life.

Biographies show you new possibilities.

We are all bound by the environment in which we live. Sometimes it is hard to see past the confines of our daily life, to know that there are other dreams, other goals and other perspectives out there. Biographies are a non-threatening way to get out of your box, expand your horizons and dream big.

Biographies convince you that something CAN be done.

Have you ever thought something impossible, until someone comes along and does it? I have. Yet, when you read a biography, you find out what this person has done – usually something groundbreaking or new – and become convinced that, hey, you could do it too. After all, aren’t you every bit as good as the person in the biography?

Biographies tell you that others have difficulties and overcome them.

We are all on a journey through life. Others have gone before us. Some of them have encountered difficulties similar to ours and may have worked through those. Reading how someone else solved their problem can help you think through how to solve yours, or give you the courage to try.

Biographies help you understand what you can do, how to do it and inspire you to get started.

I like to read biographies of successful women. Women have long been considered second class citizens, not fit to be educated, employed, conduct their own business or vote. Indeed in some parts of the world, the female of our species has been wiped out at birth. Reading about successful women shows me what is possible, how it was accomplished and motivates me to do more.

Biographies let you peer into the minds and lives of others.

Reading a biography can give you in depth information on how that person thought, felt and acted. Reading an autobiography can do so even more. Having read Sam Walton’s autobiography, I feel I know him. I learned that he established a family partnership that held the shares of Wal-mart; and found out that he took his family to exotic locales each year for their family partner meeting. I learned why he went into discount retail and how he felt about beating his competitors at the discount game.

Where to find biographies.

In your public library.  Biographies are generally classified under the 900 series of the Dewey Decimal System. Search your catalog online for a specific person’s biography.

At the bookstore.  Barnes and Nobles is one of the last big brick and morter book stores. But, they have a web site and you can search for biographies here as well.

Online at Amazon.  Search by person, media type, or category.

On Project Gutenburg.  This project is one of several sources to offer free versions of great literature as well as free eBooks by contemporary authors.

Biographies to consider.

The Under 30 CEO article 10 Billionaire Biographies You Must Read suggests several, including Sam Walton, Richard Branson and Mary Kay Ash (of Mary Kay cosmetics).

I have recently completed The Snowball – Warren Buffet and the Business of Life; and Sam Walton – Made in America. I’m currently about halfway through the free Kindle version of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography from Project Gutenberg using the free Kindle reader for PC.

Last year, I read the diaries of the women who crossed the plains in covered wagons in Covered Wagon Women and it brought alive the courage, despair and hope that these women experienced in finding their manifest destiny on the way to a different life thousands of miles from home and family.

To see the lessons learned by Get Rich Slowly founder, JD Roth from reading biographies, read Great Lessons from Great Men on The Art of Manliness.

I’ve started writing my autobiography, have you?  If not, consider doing so.  I outlined why on my blog in 10 Benefits of Writing Your Autobiography.

What is your favorite biography read?  What did you learn from it?


How Reading Biographies Can Change Your Life — 4 Comments

  1. My husband is the biggest biography reader that I have ever seen. He loves to read anyways, but he really enjoys reading biographies on his favorite historical figures.

  2. Great Post Marie, totally agree biographies are the way to go, inspiration is a must have for achieving success! I have really taken to podcasts for inspiration now, and the best thing about them is they are free!!

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