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. 51
    Heather Rattray says:

    My favorite biography by far is the two volume set on the life and ministry of J. Hudson Taylor by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor. What a awesome life of faith he led! His legacy is being felt in China still today. My husband and I love him and China so much we named our son Hudson Taylor! This is a must read for sure!!

    • 51.1
      MaryD says:

      This was going to be my reply also. I loved the choice of Hudson Taylor to live as the Chinese did even when his fellow missionaries ostracized him for it. Also, when speaking in England he would not take offerings from people until they prayed about it. Could you ever imagine that happening today?

  2. 52
    Beth says:

    As random as this is, I read tons of biographies in elementary school – I went to a smaller school and finished all of the “good” fiction books, but loved to read.
    My favorite then was, by far, Liliuokalani, the princess of Hawaii. I don’t remember who wrote it, but it was an incredible story of standing up for one’s beliefs that really rocked my socks. It wasn’t written to make a child want to rebel or anything, but I can definitely see affects of it on my life now.
    Since middle school I have enjoyed reading and rereading Anne Frank’s diaries. It’s hard to imagine being persecuted like that for your faith or culture, but they’re so inspiring. For her family to keep their faith with death looming makes me reexamine my own life and make sure I’m LIVING out my faith and walking it.

  3. 53
    Kelly says:

    A Table in the Presence: The Dramatic Account of How a U.S. Marine Battalion Experienced God’s Presence Amidst the Chaos of the War in Iraq by LT. Carey H. Cash

    This book is an autobiography of Lt Cash’s experience in Iraq. This is by far the BEST book I’ve ever read! And I’m not a war book kind of person by far. As I read the book, I remembered hearing about many of the accounts on prime time news. However, Lt Cash provides the “rest of the story” about how God intervened in their daily lives. It’s a page turner and hard to put down.

    If you do read it, I encourage you to press on through the hard parts (like the chapter about the day they raided Baghdad) because they are all followed by God’s amazing Light in the midst of their horrendous battles.

    After reading this I bought many copies for friends and family.

  4. 54
    Tracey DeCicco says:

    I’ve read and enjoyed many biographies over the years, and by far, my favorite is another Eric Metaxas work, “Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery”. This is a wonderful book about William Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament in the 19th century, who spent his life working to abolish the slave trade in Great Britain. The story of his life and work, including the many dangers and insults he endured and the courage with which he faced them all, gives me the courage to always fight for what I know to be right. The move “Amazing Grace” is based on this book. I highly recommend both to everyone!

    • 54.1
      Melissa says:

      Tracey, I’ve heard the Wilberforce biography is wonderful as well! I’m thinking of reading that one next.

      • shannon says:

        Melissa and Tracey–try “Bury the Chains.” It’s a brilliantly written account of the anti-slavery movement in Britain and puts it in the context of how never before had one group of people risen up to agitate for the rights of another. Wilberforce is a character in it, but it’s not exclusively about him; it gives a much more nuanced look at the misfits, idealists, rebels, pacifists, Christians and freethinkers who made up the motley crew that spearheaded the movement, including the slaves who were working for their own freedom.

        It’s by an author I really respect, Adam Hochschild; his book on King Leopold of Belgium and his rape of the Congo is also terrific (King Leopold’s Ghost, I think it’s called).

        • Melissa says:

          Shannon, I will check the Adam Hochschild book out. It sounds wonderful. Also, I feel like your spirit is hovering over me, mocking me for taking the easy route and reading the Metaxas biography. I keep wondering what Bethge would have said and if Metaxas is spinning it. But, again, the Bethge biography is over 1,000+ pages. And I’m not getting a grade for this, alright. I’m glad to know you’re safe and sound in South Africa! Hope all is treating you well, girl! I’ll be in touch soon.

  5. 55
    Debbie says:

    True Stories are the Best! Three Cups of Tea by David Mortenson; Prisoners of Hope by Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer; Why I Stayed by Gayle Haggard; Let’s Roll (book about 9/11 flight in PA); and one I have in my reading stack unread: Bruchko by Bruce Olson

    • 55.1

      I have read ALL of those books and they were AMAZING!! Can you tell that I LOVE TO READ!!!

    • 55.2
      Kathy B says:

      Three Cups of Tea was such an unexpected delight. My daughter was supposed to read it for school, and b/c of my poor legalistic tendencies, I proof read it. Enjoyed it immensely and learned boatloads.

  6. 56
    Michelle says:

    I just have to chime in and say that at least my husband is in good company. He has had his nose stuck in Metaxas’s biography for the last week. I’ve never seen him so involved with a book. I’m not really a biography fan, but I may have to read it after him so I can be a part of all the others.

    • 56.1
      Melissa says:

      Michelle, How funny! Yeah, it has been tough for me to put down. I keep talking to Colin about it but I think I’m driving him crazy.

  7. 57
    Emily says:

    My fav is a book by Josh Hamilton – Beyond Belief. Great story!

  8. 58
    Sara Z. says:

    I am a newcomer to biographies as well. I have read a few autobiographies in the past, but am currently reading my first biography of an important historical figure – Queen Victoria. The book is called “We Two”. She was an amazing woman for her time and even today. I hope to read more biographies in the future. The world has been blessed with so many amazing people and I want to learn about as many of them as I can! 🙂

  9. 59
    Rikki says:

    I’m not sure it’s quite a biography but Corrie ten Boom’s “Tramp for the Lord” was awesome and led me to buy all of her books.

  10. 60
    Lindsey says:

    My favorite biography (actually it’s an auto-biography) is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. My fourth grade teacher introduced it to me and I have re-read it several times during my life. It’s wonderful. I’ve never posted a comment before, but I love that book so much, I figured it was worth it 🙂

  11. 61
    Ginny Wilson says:

    I’m currently in the middle of “Laura” by Donald Zochert–a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve really enjoyed reading about her real story, rather than the TV version. I’d love to read the Bonhoffer biography, though! I’ve read several historical fiction books that include him, but I’d love to know his real story as well.

  12. 62
    Sue says:

    I love biographys. Jim Elliot’s, Colson’s, Joni’s and so many other are so wonderful. I just finished Mary Beth Chapman’s book. Such a wonderful testimony of God in loss.

  13. 63

    Hmm…my favorite is probably Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey (hope I’m spelling his last name right!

    I’d love the chance to read Metaxas’s book on Bonhoeffer…thank you for the opportunity!

  14. 64
    Corrie says:

    Sorry if I sent an incomplete comment…mouse problems.

    I love biographies! It will be hard to choose one favorite for me. So, I’ll say two….I finished John Adams, by David McCullough not that long ago and I loved it. Who knew the second President of the US was so interesting? In school, GW and TJ got all the press! Next up on my biography list is one on Abigail.

    I think my all time favorite has to be In the Shadow of the Almighty, The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Elisabeth Elliot books!

    Thanks for the fun…
    Blessings to you ladies….

  15. 65
    Sylvia says:

    Definitely Ruth by Patricia Cornwell, Eleanor Roosevelt – the Defining Years and Hiding Place. Can’t wait to read Chance To Die.

  16. 66
    Deb says:

    I am not a huge biography reader, but everyone once in awhile I’ll pick one up. The biography that’s always remained emblazoned in my mind is the story of Anne Sullivan. I believe it was called “Helen Keller’s Teacher,” and I first read it when I was about 8 years old. It touched my heart to read about Anne Sullivan’s own difficult childhood and how she herself was blind at one time. Such an amazing story…

    Deb Whittemore

  17. 67
    Sarah says:

    The latest biography (I guess it could be in this genre) was the Sarah Palin book “Going Rogue”. I’m into politics and this was interesting.

    Another ‘memoir’ to put into any library is “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. She tells of her life growing up. JUST FAB!!!

  18. 68
    Kirstjen Pratt says:

    It may be too hard to choose one…the biography and memoir books are my favorite!

  19. 69
    Pam says:

    Infidel by Ayaan H. Ali.
    Her life’s story is so compelling, thought provoking and important considering our current times.

  20. 70
    Kim White says:

    The first biography I ever read remains my favorite ~ D.L. Moody : the American evangelist.
    This biography started my love of them. ♥

  21. 71
    Lina says:

    “The Hiding Place”…Corrie ten Boom. I haven’t read either of the books recommended and would LOVE to!!

  22. 72
    Stephanie Billings says:

    I have so many!!

    ‘Tis Herself by Maureen O’Hara
    Martha Washington:First Lady of Liberty by Helen Bryan
    Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
    David by Charles Swindoll (if you consider that a bio)

    Alexandria, VA

  23. 73
    Meg says:

    “The Journey” by Billy Graham,

  24. 74
    Rachel Bergeron says:

    I love biographies!!!
    I think my favorite is ”Hidding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom.
    It has changed my life as a young teenager…


  25. 75
    rebecca says:

    I just heard a radio program about Bonhoeffer and was intrigued by his life and his faith – would love to learn more about him. I don’t read many biographies so I don’t have a lot to choose from but I really enjoyed a book about mothers of well-known leaders in Christianity. John Wesley’s mom really stood out to me – she had a TON of children!!!

    But my all-time favorite biographies are the journals my grandparents wrote their life stories in – amazing!! It was such a blessing and a delight to read about their lives – growing up in the depression, driving cars on the train tracks, taking food to neighbors in the sled, and so much more, stories I never knew.

    That is my favorite – by far.


    • 75.1
      Melissa says:

      Rebecca, You are so fortunate to have those life stories from your grandparents. What a gift!

    • 75.2
      rebecca says:

      oops forgot to leave my last name 🙂

      rebecca jamerson

      and thanks Melissa – it is a treasure – especially considering my grandmother finished writing in hers a couple of months before she went to be with the Lord – and oh what a journey He took her on in her 90yrs.

  26. 76
    Alicia Love says:

    My favorite biography is “A Chance to Die.”

  27. 77
    MaryLisa says:

    I just finished Undaunted Courage about Meriwether Lewis because we were taking a road trip through North Dakota and Montana. I decided I wasn’t as much of a fan of Lewis and Clark as I was of Sacagawea who made the whole trip with 30+ men, her overly dramatic “husband” and a brand new baby strapped to her back. Now there’s a woman who knows how to get out of a pit!

  28. 78
    Joy says:

    Definitely Jim Elliot’s bio: Shadow of the Almighty. I’ve read other great biographies, but I say this one because I read it in college — a very spiritually formative time for me. It confronted me on my true loyalties (God vs. man) and challenged me to… “wherever I am, be all there.”

    Still does.

    Joy Allmond
    Charlotte, NC

  29. 79
    Kristin says:

    I LOVE Amy Carmichaels, A chance to die. Right now I am reading the biography of Oswald Chambers…so, so good!

  30. 80
    Marybeth says:

    Not my most recent reading, but………..Corrie Ten Boom’s,”The Hiding Place” and Isobel Kuhn’s, “By Searching”.
    Marybeth Dodson

  31. 81
    Tina says:

    The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is by far one of my favorite biographies. Heart-wrenching and painful at times to read, but awing and extremely informative throughout.

    My favorite quote from the book:
    “I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotistical, in regarding this event as a special interposition of divine Providence in my favor. But I should be false to the earliest sentiments of my soul, if I suppressed the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence. From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise.”

    Ah! What a powerful statement of faith, hope, and perseverance. Oh how I like that he refers to God as “Divine Providence” throughout the narrative…and how he recognized God’s hand in his life at an early age; even in the midst of turmoil and injustice.

    I highly recommend it!


  32. 82
    angela says:

    Does it count that I watched the biography movie of Bonhoeffer’s life? I’d love to try out the book! Not much of a biography reader, so maybe this would convert me too.

  33. 83
    Charity Njesada says:

    I LOVE biographies!!! I just read “Rebel with a Cause” by Franklin Graham a few weeks ago, and it was great! Most of my favorites are missionary biographies in the International Adventures books by YWAM publishing… AMAZING! Also, I must mention “God’s Smuggler” by Brother Andrew and “Vanya” by Myrna Grant.

  34. 84
    Megan says:

    I LOVE Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper, about 7 amazing, encouraging women of the faith!

  35. 85
    Kaye, IL says:

    I know this may sound obvious to y’all but as I’m not much of a biography reader I couldn’t think of one I’ve read recently. Then, it dawned on me, the Bible! I just love how cover to cover it speaks of nothing but our Savior and His Glorious Father. Thank you LPM for always speaking His truth into our lives.

  36. 86
    Pamela Murray says:

    CREATED FOR COMMITMENT by A. Weatherell Johnson – the story of the founder of Bible Study Fellowship – fascinating!

  37. 87
    Charlotte says:

    A couple of good ones about C S Lewis–Jack by George Sayer. and C S Lewis by A N Wilson.

  38. 88
    Tia Rosa says:

    I love biographies, I think they make it easier to learn about history because they are more relatable and personal. The last biography that I read was “The Hiding Place” about Corrie Ten Boom’s life. I felt like I had never suffered after reading her story.

  39. 89
    Lindsey Deitch says:

    “Once Blind: The Life of John Newton” by Kay Strom gave me a completely new insight into the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace. Fascinating story of a courageous and transformed man.

  40. 90
    Connie Harper says:

    My favorite has to be “The Hiding Place”, by Corrie Ten Boom. The fact that she went through so much with her sister at her side is so special to me. My sister is my best friend!

  41. 91
    Erin in Chilli says:

    Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham
    written by Patricia Cornwell

  42. 92
    Sylvia says:

    Oops – I forgot to give my full name so repeating
    Definitely Ruth by Patricia Cornwell, Eleanor Roosevelt – the Defining Years and Hiding Place. Can’t wait to read Chance To Die. I’m currently reading Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoffer.

    Sylvia Goree

  43. 93
    Julie says:

    Narrowing it down to one is hard, but I think the one that stands out for personal impact is “No Compromise” – the life story of Keith Green, written by his wife Melody and David Hazard. His music is timeless and all these years later my husband and I still listen to it and cry.

    It’s nice to have these other recommendations too. Thank you Melissa!

  44. 94
    Dawn Schneider says:

    Since you like Eric Metaxas, you would probably like Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. It’s an incredible witness to God’s glory and His ability to work through our humanity.

  45. 95
    Elizabeth Mullins says:

    Mine is probably Facing Terror by Carrie McDonnell whose husband was murdered when they were serving in Iraq along with several other missionaries. What an amazing story of a woman with such courage.
    I would highly reccomend it to anyone.

    • 95.1
      Kathy B says:

      Whew! I forgot about that one. It has really stayed with me. Her love for Arabic speaking Muslims was challenging and inspiring.

  46. 96
    Melanie says:

    I haven’t read a biography in YEARS (having 4 kids forced me to give up some luxuries…reading has been one of them!)…but would love to read either one of these…

  47. 97
    Jennifer B. says:

    Well….I don’t remember what books I read, they were borrowed from the library and I have a terrible memory….but as a little girl I did book reports on Joan of Arc and Harriet Tubman, as an adult and born again believer I read biographies of them and found them both so inspirational! They were both mighty women of God who did remarkable things for Him!

  48. 98
    Tracy Ruckman says:

    I have two favorites, not sure if they count as biographies or autobiographies. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, and God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew.

    I read them both as a child, and loved them so much, I read them aloud to my husband after we got married. He fell in love with them, too.

    Thanks for the book recommendations – I’ll check them out.

  49. 99
    Kelly S says:

    Without hesitation George Mueller.

    Thanks for the chance to win…I love books!!!

  50. 100
    Katie says:

    I think the one that most impressed me was Jim elliot’s. It was over 10 years ago I read it and still think of it often. I’ve been hearing about Bonhoeffers biography and had put it on my soon to read list, so I’m excited!