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. 101
    Elizabeth Rice says:

    One of my favorites is Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place.” If only there were more time to read!

  2. 102
    Dori says:

    John Adams by David McCullough. Great read. His wife was as extraordinary as he was.

    • 102.1
      Warm in Alaska says:

      Loved this book, too! Have had a lot of family members read this and they, too, were so informed and inspired by his amazing and Godly life. (No wonder it won a Pulitzer!)

  3. 103
    Meredith Sauer says:

    Hands down, “Shadow of the Almighty” by Elisabeth Elliot about her brave husband Jim. It challenges me each time I read it.

  4. 104
    Darcie Young says:

    Hang A Thousand Trees with Ribbons (the Phillis Wheatley Story)

    Darcie Young

  5. 105
    Kimberly says:

    I agree with your mom–A Chance to Die is a great favorite of mine.
    Another really good one is Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper–it is about 5 different women Sarah Edwards, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn Kim and Helen Roseveare–who is my all time favorite I have read several books by her and about her…
    I LOVE BIOGRAPHIES but have not read any on Bonhoeffer…but will soon! Thanks for the tip!

  6. 106
    Melissa Simpson says:

    ZELDA by Nancy Milford

    –Melissa Simpson

  7. 107
    Corrie Cline says:

    The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom & Evidence Not Seen, etc. I LOVE biographies!!! 🙂
    Corrie Cline

  8. 108
    toknowhim says:

    I am not normally a biography reader, but I have been wanting to read the book that you are reading currently.

    If you are looking for another good biography, my friend read one about George Mueller (I maybe spelling his last name wrong), and she was just blown away by the life that he lived.

    Thanks for the chance to win a book…
    Blessings, Kim

  9. 109
    Sarah M says:

    Loved Jim Elliot’s bio, but more so love reading The Journals of Jim Elliot. I bought A Chance to Die a couple of years ago but never actually read it entirely. Perhaps this will serve as a reminder to add it to my ‘to be read’ basket that I keep by my bed!

    Sarah Mize

  10. 110
    Kimberly says:

    Kimberly Cumby, from Idaho
    growing up all we read were biographies so it was hard to chose JUST one! but here it is!
    The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov
    if you want a longer list i can give you one! 😀

  11. 111
    Amy says:

    I love A Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boon. I just finished and enjoyed Laura Bush’s Spoken from the Heart, which is an autobiography-maybe that still counts!

  12. 112
    flip flops says:

    Ok my favorite is the Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom It was the book I read when I first became a christian and it has always been my favorite.

    Lyn Steriti

  13. 113
    Tammy says:

    I love and have read many times the autobiographies by Corrie Ten Boom: The Hiding Place and Tramp For the Lord

    Tammy Kron

  14. 114
    Melinda says:

    I don’t know if it would be truly considered a biography, but I absolutely loved “The Murder of King Tut” by James Patterson.

  15. 115
    Jaimee Lavin says:

    My favorite so far is Evidence Not Seen ~ I’m noticing that it’s already been mentioned a few times, so it’s definitely a must-read! This is a wonderful idea, and it’s encouraging to me to continue reading biographies. And as a side-note, every book that I have read by Ruth Bell Graham has been excellent! I love her “realness” – very down to earth and sincere.

    • 115.1
      Robin says:

      Jaimee, Evidence Not Seen is mine too! The story about how God provides 100 bananas for her in prison will always stick with me!

  16. 116
    Christy says:

    “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom and “Gates Of Splendor” by Elisabeth Elliott.

  17. 117
    Juli Aaron says:

    I love biographies! They can be so inspiring! My latest favorite is Joni Eareckson Tada’s autobiography, “The God I Love”

  18. 118
    susan says:

    My favorite biography is “First We Have Coffee” — come on, the title had me right there! I’m Scandinavian and this is the story of Margaret Jensen’s immigrant family. I have read and reread it — amazing story of love and forgiveness . Biographies are my favorite!

    Love your blog, girls! Thanks for your authenticity.

  19. 119

    I love the biography of missionary to China, Gladys Aylward. Turned down by the missionary society as unfit she raised enough money working as a maid to pay for her independent travel to China where she worked as a missionary for many years. During WWII she single-handedly led about 150 children ON FOOT through the mountains to safety. A journey of a month or more. Amazing story of God’s power!

    Marilyn…in Mississippi

    • 119.1
      Joyce Watson says:

      Do you have the movie “The Inn of Seventh Happiness”?
      It is the story of Gladys Aylward and it is one of my favorite movies. They have this story in cartoon form for kids also. I showed it during VBS this year to the younger kids.
      The song “This ole man he play one, he play knick-knack on my drum”…is in the movie and that is where the song origninated from. I don’t know if you remember it, but we use to sing that song on the way to school everyday. The bus driver didn’t like alot of noise, so he had us sing.

    • 119.2
      Yolanda says:

      Sweet Marilyn, as you know, I just watched this in DVD format and LOVE LOVE LOVED IT! As do I you.

  20. 120
    Melissa Bryant says:

    Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman;

    Brother West: Living
    and Loving Out Loud,
    A Memoir
    by Cornel West (I guess this would be considered an autobiography);

    Sojourner Truth—can’t remember the name…..

    oh yeah, my name is Melissa Bryant

  21. 121
    Christy Nall says:

    My favorite biography is George Mueller.
    Christy Nall

  22. 122
    Tara says:

    I loved reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in high school.

  23. 123
    Cynthia Schmidt says:

    I just read the NY Times bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, which intertwines Henrietta’s life, that of her descendents, and the HeLa cells that came from her and revolutionized medicine. I highly recommend it. Years ago I remember reading Corrie ten Boom’s “Hiding Place” and would really like to read it again. Currently I am (plodding) through Jean Edward Smith’s biography of “FDR”. I am a history teacher so I enjoy reading biographies from that point of view. Thanks for your recommendations and I applaud you on your research and studies.

  24. 124
    Bethany says:

    The best ever was the life story of Keith Green No Compromise, it really ignited my heart to live for Christ alone.
    I also really enjoyed Going Rouge by Sarah Palin. I am not much into politics but this book could have pushed me that way.

    Bethany Paget

  25. 125
    Leslie says:

    One of my favorites was Gladys Aylward.


  26. 126
    Renee says:

    I love to read biographies and some of my favorites are George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, Corrie ten Boom. Haven’t read the two you have listed today, but you can bet they will be added to my list of books to read.

  27. 127
    Cindy Baumann says:

    Hi Melissa –
    I’ve been looking for & requesting recommendations of biographies. This is so neat. Thanks for the recommendations, the chance to win one, and this whole list of recommendations!! It seems like a treasure trove and I am so grateful. Thanks so much!

    My favorite biography so far is “Just As I Am” by Billy Graham. What a life. So inspiring.

  28. 128

    fun! I’ve read “A chance to die” and it was great! I’ve also got “Cost of Discipleship” next to my bed. I can only read a few pages at a time but it’s soooo very good.

    right now, I’m reading a young reader’s edition biography to my 6 year old for school on Gladys Alward. He’s gotten into missionaries since VBS and chose this one out of the few “young reader” Christian heros books I got. So, that’s what we’re reading right now!

    Not sure about my favorite. But I am glad there’s so many to choose from!

  29. 129
    Karene says:

    All of my favorite “biographies” in my library are actually autobiographies or memoirs. I love them!

    But a favorite biography that I own and have actually read is Helen Keller’s Teacher by Mickie Davidson (a Scholastic book that I bought, read, and loved when I was 8, like another siesta).

    Karene Wells

  30. 130

    My favorite is from my childhood, “The Diary of Anne Frank”. It and the “The Hiding Place” have always been two of my favorites. My grandfather fought in that war and I am a history buff having heard stories from that era.

  31. 131
    Warm in Alaska says:

    Oh Yippee! I’m so going to love this post! Biographies are my MOST FAVORITE genre. Ever!

    I’m going to limit myself (hard, hard though it be) to some of my fave female biographies. Here goes:

    Catherine Booth – A Biography of the Cofounder of the Salvation Army; by Roger Joseph Green

    The General was a Lady: The Story of Evangelina Booth; by Margaret Troutt

    Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson; by Daniel Mark Epstein

    The Little Way of Saint Therese of Lisieux: Into the Arms of Love; by John Nelson

    —and so many, many more – but these are the ones that popped straight to mind. If you’ve never read anything about the “Booth” ladies – please, give yourself a huge treat and do so (also, you get lots of English history from the mid 1800’s – up to early 1900’s American history as well). Amazing women.

    Aimee S. McPherson is such an interesting read. This particular book is not written from an overtly Christian perspective – but is a very fair book.

    I loved the St. Therese book because it helped me view my Catholic brothers and sisters with much more appreciation (not that I was jaundiced before – I just simply didn’t know much – and this very sweet missive, which I wept my way through, gave me a really rich perspective that I am grateful for).

    I will now practice heretofore unrealized restraint and not hog up too much more space!

    Oh, but I can’t leave without a major “shout out” to the Christian biographies written for children (ages 8ish on up thru adults) by Janet and Geoff Benge. Simple, well written, and graced with love, my children and I have been richly blessed by so many of their books. Highly recommended.

    • 131.1
      Warm in Alaska says:

      I may love biographies, but apparently I’m not so good with instructions! First and last name: Carolyn Sessom

      • Warm in Alaska says:

        Now I’m really embarrassed ~ I see that I’m worse with instructions than I had realized. Sorry I took up so much space and didn’t limit myself to my one and only favorite bio. I’ll try harder next time, girls…

  32. 132
    Amber V. says:

    I am currently reading “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom and really enjoying it.

  33. 133
    Darlene says:

    Charlie’s Victory by Charlie and Lucy Wedemeyer. Very inspiring account of his battle with Lou Goehrig’s disease.

    • 133.1
      Darlene Turner says:

      Forgot my last name: Darlene Turner.

      Also, when I was a young girl, I read, and was enthralled, by Helen Keller’s book.

  34. 134
    Candace says:

    If you haven’t read The Heavenly Man you must read it! 🙂 That book is the story of Brother Yun, a persecuted Christian/pastor in China. That book stirred me and my faith more than just about any other I’ve read in the past 10 years or more…I’m an avid reader and LOVE reading…I have read many of Elisabeth Elliott’s books but I don’t think I’ve read her biography! I will have to look for those you have mentioned…thanks for sharing!!

    • 134.1
      Warm in Alaska says:

      LOVED the The Heavenly Man – bought it by the caseload and gave it away like candy the first couple years after reading it. It was such a blessing to me during a very dark season. So glad you’ve read it, Candace!

  35. 135
    Jane Whitely says:

    My favorite biography, so far, is John Adams, by D. McCullough. My husband and I “read” it by audiobook. It’s long, but very interesting.

  36. 136
    Tammy says:

    i read abput Jane Austen as she is my favorite author. The book was written by her nephew. I am also fascinated by Abraham LIncoln. I have read many about him.

  37. 137
    lavonda says:

    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.
    I read it in elementary school, and it’s stayed with me ever since. I still have the same original copy in a bookcase near my bed.
    What a tremendous story. How very much we take for granted today.

    • 137.1
      lavonda says:

      Another favorite is Elie Wiesel’s Night. I saw him in an interview last year and went out that day and bought his book. He was fascinating to listen to, and I read his book in one sitting.

  38. 138
    Kori says:

    I am not a big biography reader either, however, on a flight home from AZ I picked Deanna Farve’s, Don’t Bet Against Me (Sorry I’m not sure if the title is correct). Was a fantastic book, I finished it on the flight from AZ to IL! Was fascinating to hear her and Brett’s story as well as how she battled breast cancer.

    • 138.1
      Kori says:

      I realized that I didn’t include my last name…So Sorry. Kori Stanton. I am truly blessed today as it is the first day of school here in WI!

  39. 139
    Cindy says:

    Through Gates of Splendor about Jim Elliott–After traveling to Ecuador I had to read it. Also, Approaching the Magic Hour about Walter Anderson. Reading about his life and mental illness made me appreciate his art even more.

  40. 140
    Lyli Dunbar says:

    Have you read Bruchko? I couldn’t put that one down. I read it in one night.

  41. 141
  42. 142
    Rebecca says:

    My dear dad is 82 and he still read biographies. If I won I would for sure give him the Bonhoeffer book and then I would gently borrow it to read myself. I have been looking at it for weeks now.
    My first biography read was Hellen Keller. She amazes me even today whenever I hear something new or one of her quotes.
    Rebecca F.

  43. 143
    mariel says:

    I fave is definately “The Hiding Place”…I love biographies of mighty men and women of the faith and the true stories of what God did in and through their lives! Such sweet testimony!!

  44. 144
    Susan Parish says:

    I’ve only recently started reading biographies and started with two sports books that I really enjoyed: Josh Hamilton’s Beyond Belief and Tony Dungy’s Quiet Strength. These men have had very different paths, but God has brought each through some tough times and they are both great witnesses for Christ!

  45. 145
    Heather in CA says:

    While I am not an advid biograohy reader, I am interested in them….I feel like they are the original “reality” before reality TV…which I LOVE! 🙂

    Heather Smith

  46. 146
    Jessie says:

    having 4 young children does not afford me the chance to read too often, but this past year I resolved myself to pick up more books that aren’t directed to a preschool audience. I just recently read, “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Deibler Rose and I loved it. It is so powerful and convicting. I would highly recommend it.

    Jessie Spellman

  47. 147
    Amy says:

    My favorite biography is ‘Me, Myself, and Bob’ by Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales). I would love to read Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer!

  48. 148
    Melanie says:

    My favorite biography of all time is “All Over But the Shoutin'” by Rick Bragg. It’s about Bragg’s mother, Margaret, and the sacrifices she made for her children in a poverty-stricken part of Alabama. One of THE best books I’ve ever read.

  49. 149
    Ruth from North Idaho says:

    I love J Hudson Taylor, God’s Man in China by Mrs. Howard Taylor. It may be out of print now, but I buy copies whenever I see it somewhere to give away.

  50. 150

    I’m not sure this is where I am supposed to respond to the biography, but here goes. One of my absolute favorite biographies is “Golda Meir.” I can’t remember the name of the author, but if you want to read an amazing history of a woman, this book touched my heart so much. To see what thenation of Israel has gone through, and to see how God used this woman, is amazing. Be blessed!