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.”

If you'd like your own pic by your comment, go to Click the first button "Get your gravatar today ->", and it will walk you through a simple process to select a picture.


  1. 251
    bridget says:

    one of my favorites is Joni Erickson Tada’s – the first one Joni, then she wrote another one more recently looking back over 20+ years in her chair and all it had taught her, that was very powerful.
    Fun question!

  2. 252
    carla says:

    I have read many involving WWII veterans most recently I am reading about Jimmy Stewart’s lengthy career in the military. I was surprised to find out that he flew missions in Vietnam starting out as a private in WWII and ending as a General? Imagine that. It was especially meaningful to me because my late Father-in-law was in the Core of Engineers during WWII and we often talked about that time in history.

  3. 253
    Kaila Hedger says:

    My absolute favorite biography is “Mountain Rain: a biography of James Fraser” by Eileen Crossman. I had to read it in one of my Intercultural Studies classes in college and I fell in love. James Fraser was a missionary to inland China and just has an incredible story of grace and God’s sufficiency in spite of trials. I have recommended it to many of my friends because it has impacted my life so much…and I would highly recommend it to anyone else who is wanting a challenge in their life too!

  4. 254
    Renee says:

    Love reading biographies! One of my favorite “grown up” biographies is really an autobiography, Left to Tell, Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza.

  5. 255
    marita says:

    Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton

    I am just amazed by the character of early reformers and find it so interesting to read how they came to accomplish all that they accomplished.


  6. 256
    Linda says:

    My favorite biography is “Tapestry” by Edith Schaeffer.

    I just watched the movie, “Bonhoeffer” with my husband and it was amazing and sad that he died only a couple of weeks before Hitler.

    I have an autographed copy of A Chance To Die. I was blessed to be able to meet Elisabeth Eliot and visit with her about 12 years ago when she signed my copy and told me she’d only do so if I’d read Amy Carmichael’s book called “If”. If you haven’t red it, you should get a copy. It is tiny, but packed with intensity.

  7. 257
    Lindsay Winton says:

    Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven
    No Greater Love by Mother Theresa (not technically a biography but a portrait of her life)

  8. 258
    karen says:

    Hard choices! I love Noel Piper’s “Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God.” And while these aren’t strictly classified as biographies, “As We Forgive” by Catherine Claire Larson and “The Price of Stones” by Twesigye Jackson Kaguri are outstanding as well. (I’m still looking for a good George Mueller biography if anyone has read one, btw.)

    Karen Meredith

  9. 259
    Julie says:

    I’m not sure if these count but I loved the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child.

  10. 260
    Diana A says:

    I am reading a great page-turner right now that I just find fascinating, absorbing, captivating and truthful!
    I’m reading The Holy Bible written by the Word of God Himself!
    I can honestly suggest it to you, you will find it worth the read too! The Best Autobiography Ever!

    Diana Azzuolo

  11. 261
    Bev Nordlund says:

    Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

    James Hudson Taylor missionary to China

  12. 262
    Donna Ellenburg says:

    In homeschooling my children I’ve read many of “their” books on various missionaries. I love reading how God was at work in these lives and how “sold out” they were to God. Two of my favorites were on Hudson Taylor (God’s Adventurer) and George Muller (The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans).

  13. 263
    Susan Smith says:

    I’m currently reading a biography on Paul Revere. The Revolutionary Paul Revere by Joel Miller. It is great!

  14. 264
    Anna Scantlan says:

    My favorite biography is “GOD’S SMUGGLER” written by Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill.

    It is SO inspiring! It made me want to join in and help deliver Bibles to people who need them. It also encouraged me to PRAY BIG PRAYERS! And to expect God to come through.

    One more that is worth the read is “The Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway. Very inspirational story about God used Brother Yun to minister to the Chinese people in the house churches.

    Amazing stories!

    BTW, funny that you would bring this book up about D.B. by Eric Metaxas, I was just looking this book up and thinking about buying it last night (Hardback or audio? Hmmm…). 🙂
    Pretty cool!

  15. 265
    Barb says:

    Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell.

    This book inspired my two teenage boys and it inspired me. We talk about this book often and I know God has used it to inspire my boys to be men.

  16. 266
    Jennifer Brand says:

    Sorry to say “Dora the Explorer” is what I am reading now. I hope someone else is at home with small children and can relate!

    • 266.1

      Oh, Jennifer! Your post just made me cry out, “AMEN, SIESTA!” I’m attempting to read “Do Great Things” by Alex and Brett Harris but keep having to stop to change diapers, wipe spills, settle tantrums and referee older siblings, change more diapers, connect with my husband, diapers again…
      I would really, really like to read “John Adams” by David McCullough as it’s been so highly recommended by my father. This is just not the right season for me and lengthy biographies! May you drink deeply from the Word of God during this HOLY and TRYING and FLEETING time, Jennifer! Know I am totally with you! And I’m a Jennifer, too, so it will be easy to pray for you. 🙂

  17. 267
    Ruth C says:

    I haven’t read that many biographies, though I intend to, so I have a fairly big collection by now because I had heard that biographies of great Christians are a great way to be encouraged. But I did remember that one of my favorite books of all time was Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. Which fits with the Bonhoeffer bio. Also, I read two biographies of Maria von Trapp and they were good, too.

  18. 268
    Patti says:

    Not sure if this would qualify, as I’m not sure it is written in it’s entirety. I would love to read Beth Moore’s biography….her testimony in bits and pieces is inspiring to say the least.

  19. 269
    Renee says:

    The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Hands down the biography that has most changed my life. I have probably read it 25+ times and have no doubt I will read it again that many times. She is one of those ladies I am most anxious to embrace when we someday share the golden streets of Heaven!

  20. 270
    Kathy B says:

    How much fun to see the obvious excitement your post stirred up, Melissa. I think you struck a nerve.

    OK, as for Bonhoeffer, I would have to recommend his “Letters and Papers from Prison”. I thought it insightful into his mindset during those incredibly difficult days. I wouldn’t call it an easy read, but one that leaves you with an impression. I saw it listed as one of the most influential books ever written. That was enough for me.

    Though more autobiographical, another book on that same list was Aleksandr Sozhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago”. A friend of mine that was raised under communism in eastern Europe first recommended it to me. I’ll offer the disclaimer that it should be rated R for horrendously graphic tales from Russian gulags or prisons. But it also tells tremendously heart-wrenching truths about some of the suffering that went on behind the iron curtain. And those people’s pain deserves to be heard in a similiar vein to how we honor holocaust victims by allowing ourselves to hear some of their horror. I don’t ever want to read it again, but I’m different for the knowledge it shared. Kind of how you might feel after watching “Schindler’s List”. You probably don’t ever want to see it again, but you’re glad you did–just that once, for the effect that knowledge can have on you.

    • 270.1
      Kathy B says:

      Sorry. Didn’t read instructions very well: Kathy Burrus.
      And since I’m back on here and my comment is “awaiting moderation” anyway, I should confess: sometimes I read something difficult just to say I read it. I believe my motives were at best mixed here. If you decide not to pass on this comment, I’ll be fine with that. I may even suggest it.

      Besides, The Hiding Place and Through Gates of Splendor deserve much higher billing than this.

      Fear not. I love you LP girls.

  21. 271
    Lacey C. says:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to read a good biography. And though I love to read anything and everything, biographies can get a little dull, so I usually only read ones that were recommended to me. My pastor through my teen years used to have a book-club of sorts with his congregation and read through about 2 or 3 biographies of christians each year with us. My all-time fave, that I read no less than 5 times over, was an auto-biography titles “More Precious Than Gold,” by John and Brenda Vaughn.

  22. 272
    LK says:

    Ten Fingers for God – the biography of Paul Brand, a Christian leprosy specialist in India

  23. 273
    Elaine Pierce says:

    Oswald Chambers – Abandoned to God (The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost For His Highest) by David McCasland

  24. 274
    Marie Pruitt says:

    Hudson Taylor’s
    Spiritual Secret

    I loved the story of faithfulness the Lord bestowed upon him in his missionary journey.

    Marie Pruitt

  25. 275
    Sandy Sayers says:

    There are too many to name! I love, love, love the biographies of missionaries, famous or not. I’ve read the books on Amy Carmichael, Elizabeth Elliott, Hudson Taylor and many more; enjoyed Hannah Whitall Smith’s; Ruth Graham Bell. Wonder when I’ll read your mom’s autobiography?! 🙂

  26. 276
    Becky says:

    I love biographies!
    You mentioned the Elisabeth Elliot, but I also liked Ruth, A Portrait, by Patricia Cornwell and Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose.

  27. 277
    Christi says:

    I’m not ordinarily a big biography reader but your post peaked my interest on Bonhoeffer. I think I will definitely check that out. I’ve been curious about him since doing a college project on Sweeden during World War 2. I would definitely be interested in getting this book.


  28. 278
    Debbie says:

    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Thanks, Melissa.

  29. 279
    Shalom says:

    My favourite biography is “A Chance To Die” about Amy Carmichael, and also “Ten Fingers For God” the story of Paul Brand. I love anything about Cory Ten Boon and then there is the “Apostle of Sight” the amazing story of Victor Rambo. Even though I do not agree with his doctrine the life of Albert Schwitzer is facinating. I am going to check out your bios of Bonhoeffer, his life story is so touching, I would like to know more about the life of his fiance too. Shalom

  30. 280
    Melissa says:

    George Mueller – The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans
    An amazing story of God’s provision and faithfulness and ability to radically change hearts.
    Melissa Curtin

  31. 281
    Nicole says:

    I am a big fan of biographies–it’s like People Magazine without the unnecessary info;) One of my faves is “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagzia. It’s her story of meeting Jesus while surviving the Rwandan genocide. OH MY HEAVENS–this is a must-read. Get it, sister!

    p.s. Ironically, my book group is doing the Amy Carmichael book THIS month…haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet, so I really NEED to win:)

  32. 282
    Leigh Ann says:

    I have never been much of a biography reader. Although, after reading your post I think I will put both of those biographies on my library queue. They both sound very interesting. Thanks for the summary!

    ~Leigh Ann

  33. 283
    Melissa Park says:

    I love to read autobiographies so it was hard to pick a favorite. But I would say one of my favorites is “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Deibler Rose. She was a missionary during World War 2 to New Guinia. She spent 4 years in a Japanese prison camp and suffered greatly for her faith. It is also one of my favorite because I got to hear her give her testimony in person and it was life changing.

  34. 284
    Vickie says:

    OOOOHHHHH, I LOVE BOOKS TOO! I suppose a fav would be Corrie Ten Boom, “The Hiding Place”. Honestly, if we spent 1 day in this womans shoes, we’d probably never complain again. I admire this woman to no end. She loved her some God! Amen is all I can say. Amen.

  35. 285
    Colleen says:

    I’m more of a memoir girl, but I have to say, your writing about Bonhoeffer reminded me of a book I read a few years ago called Walls by Hiltgunt Zassenhaus. I don’t know that it’s still in print, but it’s about a woman who gets a job screening letters for the Nazis (maybe in Poland?) and then figures out a way to use her job to smuggle vitamins, etc. to the prisoners. She writes about getting to know the prisoners through reading their letters, while she was scanning them, and then of the honor it was to meet some of them. The details are pretty fuzzy, but you might enjoy it after just having read about Bonhoeffer. I’ll have to check that one out.

  36. 286
    Rebecca says:

    What a “coincidence” – Bonhoeffer was just mentioned by a fellow Bible Study member this week and I made a mental note to read it, and Elisabeth Elliott and Amy Carmichael are two of my favorite missionaries ever and I never know one wrote about the other!

    If “The Hiding Place” counts as a biography, and I think it should, then that’s my #1 favorite. Corrie ten Boom is an amazing woman and I’ve learned so much from her life testimony.

  37. 287
    conwaymom says:

    I loved “Abandoned to God” – by David McCasland. It is a wonderful book about my favorite devotional author – Oswald Chambers. Another really good book is Life and Legacy – the story of Stephen Olford written by Dr. John Phillips.

    Karen Hitchcox

  38. 288
    Patti says:

    Wish I could re-do my previous comment…but I guess what I should have said is Beth’s autobiograhpy!!!! And while reviewing ya’ll’s comments, I’m wondering which one I should start with….great suggested reading. We will be in snow in a few weeks here in Northwest Colorado, so I’m thinking of getting into some of these great books for the winter.

  39. 289
    Vickie says:

    Um…Oops! I didn’t state my last name. That would be Vickie Barbee…Corrie Ten Boom, “The Hiding Place”. Sorry..speed reading has many disadvantages. 🙂

  40. 290
    Salina Gibson says:

    Biography of Christa McAuliffe (teacher who died in the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion)

  41. 291
    Leigh says:

    The biography of Wetherell Johnson, Founder of Bible Study Fellowship is my current favorite. This is likely because I read it recently and I am a BSF Children’s Leader.

    Leigh Clemmons

    • 291.1
      Kristen says:

      I’m a BSF DL….excuse me, Group Leader. They’ve changed it this year. I started in Matthew & am thrilled about Isaiah! My two little ones are in the children’s program (3 & almost 1) and I adore our leaders. They pray over my babies & it makes such a difference. I’m sorry to say I’ve never read the biography. Is it good? I’ve been meaning to but honestly, I keep forgetting about it when I’m at the library!

  42. 292
    Kelly says:

    This certainly doesn’t fall into the spiritual category but one of my favorites is Andre Agassi’s bio ‘OPEN’ I’m not even a tennis fan but my husband downloaded it for me and I was hooked. Couldn’t put it down.

    • 292.1
      Melissa says:

      Kelly, One of my best friends read Open and said it was the best book she has ever read in her life! She is a mother of four and said she couldn’t wait til all the kids went to bed so she could read it 🙂

  43. 293

    “The Burden is Light” by Eugenia Price

    Jennifer Shuler
    White, GA

    I just realized that I’m pretty sure I have only read autobiographies. I would love to read either of the biographies you are giving away!!!

  44. 294
    Marissa says:

    I loved a chance to die as well. So good. My favorite would have to be: Dorothy Sayers: A Careless Rage for Life, by: Coomes

  45. 295
    Gayla says:

    Gayla Pappenfoht — Sandburg’s Lincoln — The Prairie Years

  46. 296
    Cindy Jenkins says:

    Cindy Jenkins
    Shadow of the Almighty, about Jim Elliot

  47. 297
    sandy says:

    My husband just finished watching “Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace” I just caught the last 30 minutes and bawled at the end.
    I just finished reading “The Hole in the Gospel” by Richard Stearns (kind of a biography) and have just started “Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God.”
    It is humbling and inspiring to read about these faithful men and women of God and how much they sacrificed in order to advance the gospel.

  48. 298
    Pam Bynum says:

    Helen Keller. It is amazing how she was able to learn how to talk and to be educated.

  49. 299
    Mary Cooper says:

    definitely Joni Eareckson Tada’s The God I Love!! love her.

  50. 300
    Christina says:

    The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway