Calling all Biography Lovers.


Happy Tuesday, friends!

We are going to do a fun little giveaway today!

For the last several evenings I’ve been reading Eric Metaxas’ biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer until the wee hours of the night. I was going back and forth between reading Metaxas’ biography (Thomas Nelson, 2010) and Eberhard Bethge’s (Revised Ed. Augsburg Fortress Press, 2000). Bethge’s book obviously has the advantage insofar as he was Bonhoeffer’s close friend and he also married Bonhoeffer’s niece, Renate. In the end, I decided to go with Metaxas’ biography because I heard great things about it from a good friend, and, well, it is 591 pages and not 1049. Seemed like reason enough to me.

For those of you who are not familiar, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Christian theologian who was executed for his involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Among his writings are well-known books such as The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together.  He was murdered on April 9, 1945, evidently under Hitler’s direct command. I thought that I knew quite a bit about Bonhoeffer since I have studied some of his theology in the past, but now I realize that I knew so very little about this extraordinary man. Did you know that his older brother worked on splitting the atom with Albert Einstein? At age 23? Crazy, huh? Metaxas, in my opinion, is a particularly meaningful person to have written this Bonhoeffer biography as he is half-German. His grandfather was one of many unwilling soldiers who nevertheless lost his life in the war. Metaxas’ own background plays a poignant role in the intimacy with which he tells his subject’s story.

I’m not typically a biography reader, but this one may convert me. Since I am a little over halfway through with this book, I’m already thinking about the next one I may want to read. I asked my Mom, the biography enthusiast, what her favorite one is and she said one of her “many favorites” is A Chance to Die, Elisabeth Elliot’s biography about the life and legacy of Amy Carmichael.

So, what about you?!

Are you a biography reader?

Tell us what your favorite biography is, along with your first and last name and you will have a chance to win your choice of either Eric Metaxas’ book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor Martyr, Prophet, Spy:

OR,  Elisabeth Elliot’s book, A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael:

We’ll do a random drawing and report *ten* winners on Thursday afternoon, along with further instructions.

Now, talk to me.

What is your favorite biography?


920 Responses to “Calling all Biography Lovers.”

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  1. 451
    Kim says:

    Anything about C.S. Lewis!

  2. 452
    deniseclaire1 says:

    I love reading well written and honest autobiographies and memoirs.

    Loved Corrie ten Boom’s.

    My most memorable one and probably my fave is Mary O Hara’s autobio, “Flicka’s Friend”, (she wrote “My Friend Flicka”). It is astounding because first of all, she wrote it at the age of 95, when she was blind and deaf.
    She typed the pages on an old typewriter and her son would come over and proofread the pages. Secondly, she was a actual genious and lived the most amazing life and was friends with so many famous people in California back in the day. She flew with the Wright brothers once!

    She was a survivor. She had two failed marriages (both husbands cheated on her) and lost a daughter to skin cancer.

    The thing that impacted and fascinated me the most though was her spiritual journey. She was the daughter of an Episcopalian minister, who as a teenager, questioned the Holy Trinity. She went through a LONG quest and journey (and many religions) for spiritual truth, studying with famous New Age teachers in California, in the 1920’s, I believe. Eventually, she returned to Christianity, finally settling in with Catholicism.

    Melissa, I don’t post my full name on the internet, ever…as my last name is very rare.

  3. 453

    I was a BIG biography reader as a teenager and still love them. I think living in a small rural village and worshipping in a teeny traditional parish church, biographies are partly responsible for allowing me to dream bigger than my surroundings.

    I love Corrie Ten Boom’s many books but of course ‘Hiding Place’. I’m hoping to visit her home soon because I live just a few hours away.

    I have a very dog-earred copy of Brother Andrew’s autobiography which is so powerful. And recently I read his more recent book about his work in the middle east which was inspiring.

    And the biography of Stephen Lungu, an African Evangelist with an incredible story. His biography is called Freedom Fighter but I think the recent edition is called Out of the Black Shadows.

    And (I know I know, supposed to be just one) “I dared to call him Father” by Bilquis Sheikh is a beautiful story of a Pakistani Muslim woman’s conversion.

  4. 454
    Tonya Shubert says:

    Hi, Melissa! This is my first time to comment on the blog, but I’ve been an avid reader for a while. Love your mom, and I’m so thankful for you, Amanda and Keith sharing her with us!

    I’ve never been a big fan of non-fiction, let alone biographies. But, I’m a daddy’s girl, and all my dad reads is non-fiction and predominantly biographies. A consuming love of reading runs deep on both sides of my family and I am certainly no exception.

    A couple of years ago, I was checking out the freshman reading list for my alma mater, West Texas A&M University. One of the books was “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I happened to be in my local Super Wal-Mart about a week later ( I live 300 miles from WTAMU) and noticed there were a few copies of “Night” on the shelf. I figured Someone was trying to tell me something, so I bought it and started reading it when I got home. I finished it that day. I was so emotionally robbed. Just every emotion you can think of came flooding out of me. And then, I began to marvel at the man who had lived through this horror as an adolescent. I was so impressed that he grew to a man of such intense compassion and empathy for the rest of humankind. It is not a true autobiography in that it only encompasses a few tyears of his life instead of its totality, but is one of the most moving books I have ever read.

    If you, your mom, or your sister have not read it, I urge you to order a copy. It is not long and reads very quickly! Thanks for an amazing post! God bless you!


    P.S. Please forgive any spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors, as I tapped this whole thing out on a Blackberry! 🙂

  5. 455
    Carol says:

    A Touch of Beauty, Biography Maxine Cavin
    (Pastor’s Wife of a large Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri) (& that was back in the 60’s)

  6. 456

    My favorite biography is A Man Called Peter, by Catherine Marshall. They made a movie out of that one, and I saw it at the drive-in about 1963. Then in my early twenties I discovered Catharine Marshall’s writings and was surprised to see there was actually a book by the same title. I had to get it. That was about 30 years ago. I just recently re-read A Man Called Peter, and it still inspires me and makes me cry. It also made me feel better about liking Agatha Christie mysteries because Peter Marshall liked mysteries too. 🙂

  7. 457
    Evie says:

    The most recent bio; not necessarily my favorite; is Lance Armstrong’s, “It’s not about the bike My Journey back to Life”. I read it this summer alongside my nephew Cameron who’s 11 and absolutely loves to read bio’s!

  8. 458
    Jenn Armstrong says:

    I loved Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope By: Don Van Ryn, Susie Van Ryn, Newell Cerak, Colleen Cerak. It is a great story of Christian character in this time when hard times come.

  9. 459
    Nancy Keggie says:

    I don’t read much non-fiction but I loved A. Scott Berg’s biography on Katherine Hepburn, “Kate Remembered”.

  10. 460
    Sue says:

    Without a doubt my favorite biography is George Mueller!
    Sue Dean

  11. 461
    Betsy says:

    “The Hiding Place”–Corrie ten Boom

    That one sounds good–I may have to check it out!

  12. 462
    Lora Nolan says:

    A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains.

  13. 463
    Lori V says:

    My favorite biography has been The Inklings about CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and the amazing group of men and women that influenced them.
    Lori Vinskus
    Newport, NC

  14. 464
    Cate says:

    I love Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot which is her book about her husband and his four friends who were martyred in Ecuador, I also love The Hiding Place which is Corrie Ten Booms autobiography about her time in a Nazi concentration camp.

  15. 465
    carole says:

    I’m not a big biography reader. I homeschool my 2 kids and we changed curriculum this year and we’ll be reading at least 6 biographies…and the first one is Amy Carmichael! I may have to sit down tonight and dig into it before the kids because I have to admit…I’m not really sure who she is!

  16. 466
    Christy Dale says:

    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

  17. 467
    WendyB says:

    Oh, it’s like trying to choose your favorite child!

    “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” was a hoot, as you can well imagine.
    Biographies of Abigail Adams and Queen Lilioukalani..
    “The Five Silent Years Of Corrie Ten Boom” was precious.
    A biography of Maria Von Trapp and one of Shirley Temple were interesting.
    “The Greatest Generation.” Wow. Probably not technically a biography, but wow.
    Melissa, my new husband is an Army chaplain and we are stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. He would adore the Bonhoeffer book! My favorite trip so far has been to Mainz, to the Gutenberg museum. You, with your love of books, would really enjoy it, I believe. I was an English major and am now a book editor; there’s nothing like the printed word, is there?

    Wendy Brzezinski

  18. 468
    Diane K. says:

    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

    I know are few others said the same thing, but this is one of my favorites. I love to read biographies and have learned that people are people, and we all have struggles.

  19. 469
    Traci Ashbaugh says:

    The Heavenly Man
    by Brother Yun

    Traci Ashbaugh
    Kannapolis NC

  20. 470
    Julie says:

    So many book so little time….I haven’t read nearly as many biographies as I would like to…however some of my recent favorites “Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy and Ruth Bell Graham: Celebrating an Extraordinary Life” by Stephen Griffith. “Bruchko” by Bruce Olson is another amazing story.

    While reading the Ruth Graham book I laughed out loud and then tried to read it to my son and was laughing too hard to get it out….she and her son Franklin….oh my…..

    • 470.1
      Julie says:

      Okay…so now I have had my first cup of coffee and its all coming back to me….the Ruth Bell Graham book sent me to “Rebel with a Cause” by Franklin Graham and that is the one I was reading out loud to my son. We both enjoyed it.

  21. 471
    Chrystie says:

    So funny! Just last week, I was just talking about how I would like to set a goal of reading several biographies per year…and we discussed Bonhoeffer, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliott as being ones that would be good to read.

    I have never been a biography reader, but the lives of Elisabeth Elliott/Jim Elliott and Dietrich Bonhoeffer fascinate me.

  22. 472

    I have only read one biography and it was when I was 17. It was Reba McEntire’s. I have seen some that I thought looked interesting, but just never took the plunge.

    Jennifer Warren

  23. 473
    Susan C says:

    The Hidding Place by Corrie ten Boom. It is filled with Faith.

  24. 474
    Desiree Crisp says:

    I will enjoy reading the commments to make a TBR book list! I just finished “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken. It is a autobiography/biography about Vanauken and his wife, their amazing marriage and their search for faith that led to their friendship with CS Lewis. The book includes 18 letters from Lewis. It isn’t particularily well written but their story is full and rich with adventure, great love for each other and ultimately for the Lord. Only 238 pages and worth the time.

  25. 475
    Kathie says:

    Corrie Ten Boom and Helen Keller are oldies, but definitely goodies. Elizabeth Edwards’ “Resilient” is probably the most recent.

  26. 476
    Melissa says:

    My favorite was the biography of Susanna Wesley. I have over nine different ones, including “Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings” (504 pages) edited by Charles Wallace, Jr. They are transcripts of Susanna’s letters, journal notes, and her writings. INCREDIBLE reading, especially for mothers!

    St. Mary’s County, MD

  27. 477
    Michelle says:

    Thank you for this post Melissa! Lots of great ideas for future reading!
    I have always loved the autobiography, “Created for Commitment”, by A. Wetherell Johnson. She was a remarkable woman dedicating her whole life to the call God had for her. She leaves a long standing legacy of teaching through Bible Study Fellowship.

  28. 478
    GlowinGirl says:

    I’m not a huge biography reader either (usually), but Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place touched me a great deal. And I’m not sure if you’d consider this a true biography, but Same Kind of Different As Me was a powerful read as well.

    I’ve been considering reading Metaxas’ book. It looks so interesting!

  29. 479
    Deneen Skyles says:

    I have to admit I have always loved Corrie Ten Boom and I first read “The Hiding Place” when I was in young teen. Now I know this may not count for a biography; (and I LOVE biographies), but to see this woman’s faith during a time that I can only try to grasp is inspiring. It serves as a reminder to me that only by a continuous connection and communication with Christ do I have ANY chance of surviving.

    (By the way, I was at the conference in Richmond, VA this past weekend)…am amazed everyday at how God works! I am a Sunday School teacher to high school kids and getting ready to start the new church year – guess what my first lesson’s main passage is?!?!?!?! John 1 !!!!!!
    How AWESOME IS THAT????? I can’t wait to get in there to them and share this lesson with them….my heart is racing now as I send this to you!

  30. 480
    Linda Hatcher says:

    I loved “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Diebler Rose. This amazing lady was a missionary in Papua, New Guinea when the second world war broke out. She and her husband were taken to a Japanese prisoner of war camp. She is as inspiring as Corrie ten Boom, only her personal testing took place in the Pacific theatre of the war. I first heard a recording she made on “Focus on the Family” radio broadcast twenty years ago, and it has continued to challenge and thrill me to this day!!

  31. 481
    Carrie says:

    The Hiding Place, hands down! That book has been with me since I was in elementary school – a favorite that I re-read yearly!

    Carrie Schmidt

  32. 482
    Michelle says:

    I think my favorite one is Bruchko. It’s a story about how Bruce Olson, a teenager, reached out to evangelize the murderous tribe of Motilone Indians. I couldn’t imagine experiencing the horrors that he experienced…..he was captured,tortured, suffered from disease among many other things all to take the gospel to a tribe of people that no one else would dare try to get close to. It’s an amazing and inspiring story.

    Michelle Shafer

  33. 483
    Janie says:

    Hey Siestas!
    My beloved grandfather and I read ‘Truman’ by David Mccullough together when I was in high school. It was a little beyond me, but we enjoyed discussing the history, the colorful nature of the pres, and his tough decision to make. Like most good books, it opened a myriad of discussions, and I really learned a lot about my grandpa, and about what life for him was like when he was a kid.
    Later PBS did a documentary of Truman, but my grandfather had passed. My husband was so confused as to why I was tearing up watching this thing as if Truman’s life in Independence Mo was so moving.

    I LOVE biographies, and as a LCMC Lutheran, I studied Bonhoeffer a little on my own. I love the hymn he penned in camp, too… I think it’s called ‘By Gracious Powers’.

    By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
    And confidently waiting come what may,
    we know that God is with us night and morning,
    and never fails to greet us each new day.
    Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
    Still evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
    Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation
    for which, O Lord, You taught us to prepare.
    And when this cup You give is filled to brimming
    With bitter suffering, hard to understand,
    we take it thankfully and without trembling,
    out of so good and so beloved a hand.
    Yet when again in this same world You give us
    The joy we had, the brightness of Your Sun,
    we shall remember all the days we lived through,
    and our whole life shall then be Yours alone.

  34. 484
    Julie Gale says:

    One of my favorites is “First Ladies”
    I do not recall the author, as I checked it out at the local library.

  35. 485
    Leanne from Canada says:

    Wow….this has brought back memories of many that I had forgotten I’d read. One of my recent “rereads” is Gifted Hands by Ben Carson. This is the story of a inner city boy who became one of the leading (Godly) pediatric neurosurgeons in the U.S.. I read this years before my teenage son was found to have a brain tumour….yet to be operated on, and believe me I have considered giving Ben Carson a call!! Leanne Cody

  36. 486
    Nancy Heath says:

    The one I have always loved is really an autobiography. “The Hiding Place” the story of Corrie Ten Boom and her family has been one of my favorites for years!

  37. 487
    Amy says:

    My favorite biographies so far are:

    Dream Big: The Henrietta Mears Story
    In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham
    Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Deibler Rose


  38. 488

    My favorite biography that I read was Lorna Luft, Me and My Shadows. It is the story about being Judy Garland’s daughter, the drugs, the emptiness, the addictions, the searching. It made me so greatful for the family I had been blessed with, and I developed compassion for thoes “more fortunate” than us.

  39. 489
    Janice says:

    My favorite is Rees Howells: Intercessor by Norman P. Grubb. God’s power was mighty in this man’s life simply because he believed Him in prayer! He was a Welsh miner who lived during the Welsh revival.

    Janice Hilt

  40. 490

    Do I read Biographies? DO I EVER!! I realized a long time ago that real live people have more interesting stories than anything a fiction writer can dream up! I have a couple of biographies that are my favorites:

    “The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt” & “Theodore Rex”
    by Edmund Morris~
    TR was born into wealth and privilege but his father left an indelible mark on him that he had great responsibility to others. He was a conservationist and a visionary-one of this country’s greatest Presidents!!

    “My Life Of Adventure” & “With Byrd At The Bottom Of The World”
    by Norman Vaughan~
    Vaughan, the last surviving member of the Byrd Expedition to the South Pole shares his life with us in these 2 autobiographies. He was planning to climb Mt. Vaughan again, (Admiral Byrd named this peak for him -the first time he climbed Mt Vaughan was when he was 89 years old!) for his 100th birthday but died just days short of his birthday in Dec 2005!

    “The Greatest Generation”
    by Tom Brokaw~
    A collection of WW2 memories by famous and not so famous, ordinary people. I LOVE this book, it’s touching, heart-warming and infused with Patriotism!!

    Connie Hopkins
    Denton, Texas

  41. 491
    Anna Mitchell says:

    The last biography I read was in High School, The Diary of Anne Frank. I really enjoyed it, then hit my twenties and did only what was required of me…too busy socializing and “falling in love.” *wink*
    Next came babies- and goodness knows there is very little- if any- reading going on at all through that season! Maybe a scattered parenting book and super-small daily devotional (like the ones on the small binder that some set on a desk or window sill above the kitchen sink. ie. nothing with tons of depth.)
    I am lonely for those baby days- but do see a silver lining appearing for me as my babies turn into school age children- and that is reading!
    I was at first a bit intimidated by how many other women posted all their brilliant reads–but then began to take notes of what some have read, especially the most common ones. I am happy to say, I have made a small list from some of the posts and will be seeking out some of these books! – So thanks for the great ideas!

  42. 492

    Mine would have to be Biography of Oswald & Biddy Chambers. I read one book called: Searching for Mrs. Oswald Chambers -which shed more light on this unique couple. After the death of Oswald Chambers at such a young age, and in an era of uncertainty, far away in another country, his wife was used by God to bring forth the treasures of the depth, length, breadth and height of his life lived in the intimacy of a holy God. His teachings to young men came out of his own life pouring into God’s Word and thus God pouring it back out onto those Oswald touched, both in life and after his home going to glory! Profound to me how God could and would use this man to speak from the grave and change the lives of his readers [most of those whom he never knew]. Amazing God!

    I’d love a chance to win one of the books. God has so overwhlemed me with His Presence this week – I finally ‘get’ what these others knew in their hearts all along.

    Choosing JOY, Stephanie

  43. 493
    Nancy Dickerson says:

    Glass Castle was a good biography. A hard life for the author that turned into a great book about triumph and love. Mental illness knows no class.

  44. 494
    Cheryl says:

    I honestly can’t think of the last biography I’ve read. My husband has a collection of biographies of well known Christians and I keep telling myself that I’m going to read them.
    I would love to read the Bonhoeffer one.

  45. 495
    Natalie says:

    I’m going to bend the rules a bit, and tell you what my favorite autobiography is, since I don’t usually read biographies. Without a doubt, it’s Corrie Ten Boom’s ‘The Hiding Place’. Absolutely life-changing account of her family’s involvement in the Dutch Resistance against the Nazis. My husband and I were fortunate enough to visit Holland a few years ago, toured Ten Boom’s home and actually in THE hiding place in her house. Incredible

  46. 496
    Jean Luhnow says:

    Just recently read Corrie Ten Boon’s, THE HIDING PLACE.
    Very inspiring and interesting biography.

  47. 497
    Rachel Sawatzky says:

    “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza. AMAZING testimony of a survivor of the Rwandan Holocaust. I have never, ever been so moved by a book. (short of the Bible) 🙂

    I have passed this book on to countless numbers of friends…and they’ve all been humbled, inspired, and encouraged by the incredible testimony of Immaculee.

    And just for fun, I love sport biographies…being a Michgian girl, I really liked the book “Fab Five” about the famous five Michigan freshman basketball players (1991).

  48. 498
    TheKing'sLittleGirl says:

    In the honesty department…….I don’t think I’ve read one as an adult. (You know, once I got out of college and no one assigned one to me.) After reading your excitment related to these two, I am cautiously interested! Blessings y’all! Tonya

  49. 499
    Connie Capps says:

    My favorite biography is John Newton From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken

  50. 500
    Crystal Mayo says:

    I just finished The Hidding Place about Corrie Ten Boom.