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. 351
    Holly Smith says:

    Funny! I am reading Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer, too! It is so interesting!! (Got it from the library, so owning it would be nice!) I’m also reading Madeleine L’Engle’s “Two-Part Invention.” Very good! I love biographies…from George Mueller to Teddy Roosevelt. I’m a sucker for a good story! Have you read The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun? It is awesome. I quote all the time, “With God’s help, I can scale a wall!” And Rees Howells’ Intercessor, too is a life-changing book.

    Oh and hey, I have a new website. Check it out when you have a chance, dear Melissa! It will take awhile for me to not be Crown Laid Down 🙂

    Holly Smith

    • 351.1
      Sandi says:

      I just read Madeleine L’Engles Two Part Invention this summer, I bawled. Now I’m on a course to read everything she’s written, she’s such an amazing writer. I’ve also read The Heavenly Man, wow, it makes anything I’ve gone through look like a cake walk!
      And George Muellers story makes me cry too, God is so faithful!

  2. 352
    shannon says:

    I liked Bethge’s biography of B. 😉

    Also loved David Garrow’s book on MLK, “Bearing the Cross” (Taylor Branch’s three-volume work on King and the civil rights movement is superior but its scope is broader than just King) and John Lewis’ memoir “Walking the Wind.” I love civil rights memoirs.

  3. 353
    Debbie Castro says:

    I have to say “The Hiding Place” too.

  4. 354
    Kirsten says:

    I LOVE biographies and autobiographies. Everyone has a story worth telling. This is why I get sucked into reading blogs of people I don’t know – life is a really fascinating thing no matter who you are.

    And since I can’t pick just one. A few favorites:

    (Memoir) – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
    (Autobiographies) – Open by Andre Agassi and Born Again by Charles Colson

    I just picked up Corrie Ten Boom’s book from the library. Can’t wait to read it!

  5. 355
    Shannon Blessing says:

    I haven’t read biographies in years, but when I think back to my youth, I spent a lot of time reading on Helen Keller and Florence Nightingale. I also did a paper on Bonhoeffer in a World History class in high school, so I am sure I read quite a bit about him but do not remember very much of it.

  6. 356

    Just love a good biography! I prefer to read about real people and their faith because it so strengthens my own. Two of my favorites are “Christy” by Catherine Marshall and “Created for Commitment” by A. Wetherell Johnson (Founder of Bible Study Fellowship International).

  7. 357
    Hope365 says:

    Stacie Gerathy

    Dale Carnegie’s about the Life of Abraham Lincoln

  8. 358
    Andrea says:

    Great topic! Being the aviation enthusiast that I am, I absolutely love “Lindbergh” by A. Scott Berg. A very easy to read and quite interesting account of Lindbergh’s life. Also, his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh was an avid writer and kept diaries which have been published into several volumes. Very touching and beautiful.

    Andrea Rinebold 🙂

  9. 359
    Joy says:

    I’ve not read many biographies. But my favorite so far is a series of books called “Bryson City Tales” by Walt Larimore.

    Joy Goley

  10. 360
    Heidi says:

    I think for me it would be a toss up between A.W. Tozer or Smith Wigglesworth. These two powerful men had such an anointing upon their lives. Wigglesworth (gotta love his name) would have such intense prayer times that when he would get on the train people would just start saying “You convict me of sin” He also had the gift of healing and the numerous stories I have read were quite powerful.

    Tozer had such an intimacy with our heavenly Father. I love the fact that he literally wrote “The Pursuit of God” on his knees. When he didn’t understand something he wouldn’t ask anybody but God who gave him clear understanding of the matter.

    Both of these men’s lives challenge me to want to draw ever closer to my Father and desire ALL that He has for me.

    I haven’t read a bio on Spurgeon but I bet that would be awesome as well.

  11. 361
    Sarah Miller says:

    My favorite biography is of Elvis Presley; Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralnick. You can hear the breath of Elvis because of the detail and attention Guralnick writes with. This book recounts the first half of Elvis’ life, and the last half, Carless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley is my second favorite. Oh but it so heart-wrenching it hurts! Guralnick’s Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke is third. Sense any common thread here?

  12. 362
    Terre Munk says:

    I read Corrie Ten Boom’s, “The Hiding Place”. She was an extrordinary woman. If I should win, I would love to have the Elisabeth Elliot so that I could find out more about her.

  13. 363
    Kim says:

    “Rees Howell Intercessor” – The Story of a life lived for God by Norman Grubb

    Will change your life!

    Kim Morgan

  14. 364
    Lenae says:

    What an AWESOME post. I pray it inspires everyone to read more biographies! The favorite on my bookshelf is Richard and Sabina – A Biography of the Rev. Richard Wurmbrand and His Wife Sabina by Jack Cole. Their story is inspiring. They are the founders of The Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that gives aid to those persecuted for their faith.

  15. 365
    Tina says:

    I hate to admit it but I don’t really have one. I don’t really read biographies. I think I read John McEnroe’s once…strange…

  16. 366
    Kathy Riley says:

    My favorite biography is one that I read years ago abot the life of Dawson Trotman. The name of it is Daws.

  17. 367
    April says:

    I was very inspired by A Chance to Die and really enjoyed reading it.

  18. 368
    amy migura says:

    The Hidden Life of Otto Frank by Carol Ann Lee. It details the life of the father of Anne Frank, and discusses their life in the annex, their betrayal (and what prompted it) and imprisonment, and life after the camps. I have always loved the Anne Frank story, and this book continues the tale.

  19. 369
    Cindy Smith says:

    I am not sure it would be my all time favorite, but Corrie Ten Boom’s biography is a book that impacted my life greatly as a teen. I have always been interested in the Holocaust, and her faith was amazing!

  20. 370
    Kim Lee says:

    I’ve honestly never read either of these & I would be honored if I was chosen to recieve either one PLEASE~ Kim Lee

  21. 371
    Cristi says:

    I read lots of books, but not many biographies. However, I did read Angie Smiths book which is a biography of sorts. “I Will Carry You” Now if you read that be sure you have a box of tissues nearby. What a tear jerker. I knew I would cry reading it but the amazing way she brought the story of Lazarus into “her story” was beautiful. You should read it if you havent.
    Ok, and I do love The Story of Anne Frank.

    • 371.1
      Cristi says:

      Oh my goodness I didnt follow instructions did I? Sorry- My name is Cristi Welch! Hope that didnt mess up my chances. Wish I had a Kindle so I could read lots of the suggestions here. 🙂

  22. 372
    Linda LaFrombois says:

    . The Hiding Place – about Corrie ten Boom, written by John and Elizabeth Sherrill
    . A Severe Mercy – by Sheldon Vanauken
    . Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph Over the Holocaust, by Elwood McQuaid
    I’m so thankful for such a great cloud of witnesses. How proud our Father must be.

  23. 373
    Michelle Pritchard says:

    My favorite ‘biography’ right now — is God’s word — it HAS to be. 23 years of marrige, heartahce, infidelity and finally understanding my identity in Christ — has all lead me to HIS word – HIS life- HIS grace and mercy.

    The bible is my favorite biography!

    Okeechobee, Florida

    • 373.1
      Michelle Pritchard says:

      and besides — HIS word has commanded me to forgive and HIS word, has changed my heart and HIS word, shows me that showing grace to my wayward husband who is not quite repentant yet – – – – is what HE wants me to do — He is my Master — this is HIS manual and HIS word sets my mind – – that is my mission. To be in the center of HIS will and I can only know that by this wonderful book — HIS word.

      • Lois Bartell says:

        You go girl. You will never regret forgiving and loving! HIS ways are not our ways!!!!

  24. 374
    Tami Switzer says:

    My favorite autobiography is “Created for Commitment” by A. Wetherell Johnson. She was the founder of Bible Study Fellowship. It is an amazing story of how “God rescued her from agnosticism, delivered her from the terrors of a Japanese internment camp, and gave her the strength and wisdom to lead thousands into a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Ms. Johnson’s story is worth reading…one of the things I love to remember when she was struggling with her decision to teach ‘those who already had so much,’ was God’s reminder to her of Zech 4:10 “For who hath despised the day of small things?” Ms. Johnson had no idea of how God was going to use her notes to reach out to over 100,000 members worldwide. God is so Good!

  25. 375
    Gretchen says:

    “Burned but not Broken” by Michael Nolte

  26. 376
    AnnaRuth says:

    I LOVE biographies! One that I have clung to as my favorite from the time I was in Jr High is The Diary of Anne Frank. I feel like a piece of that story rooted its way into my soul.

    Of course now I’m going to duck out of this post while announcing that the biography I’m currently reading? Is Maureen McCormick’s… you know, Marcia Brady? :sigh: Yes, I’m leaving now… =P

    • 376.1
      deniseclaire1 says:

      I read Maureen’s autobiography last year. It was hard to read, regarding the way she abused herself, but the most heartbreaking part was how her brother and father neglected and abused Maureen’s mother while she was dying of cancer and then the suspected abuse of her father by her brother. My mother was dying of cancer when I read the book…I’m sure that played into my difficulty reading the book.

  27. 377

    “Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia” by Jean P. Sasson.

    I’m excited about this giveaway! This is fun!

    • 377.1
      Sara McNutt says:

      I’ve read this a couple times, including her follow-up ones. It led me to become passionate about helping women in Saudi Arabia, to the point that I got a tattoo in Arabic on my foot that says, “Send me Lord, for I am willing.” Not sure if it’s His will or not, but I’m open!

  28. 378
    Janice says:

    “the secret Holocaust Diaries” the untold story of Nonna Bannister
    by Denise George & Carolyn Tomlin
    Tyndale published this in 2009
    This is a true story written from the actual post Nonna wrote in her diary as a young girl growing up during World War II. I’ve read this book, recommended it to others, and purchased copies to give to family and friends. I would recommend everyone read this.

  29. 379
    Denise says:

    Over the years I have devoured numerous biographies about Christians and non. One of my more recent secular biographies I liked was “John Adams” by David McCullough. I also enjoy reading about missionaries for example, Amy Carmichael, Lottie Moon, Judson Taylor, and so many more!

  30. 380
    Jill Kraft says:

    I have enjoyed reading “50 People Every Christian Should Know” by Warren Wiersbe, with my children. I have been introduced to many spiritual giants that I have never heard of before.

  31. 381
    Kelley says:

    I love bios! Recent ones I’ve enjoyed are Laura Bush (Spoken from the Heart) & Sarah Palin (Going Rogue). Also Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali ~ a Somali woman who grew up a Muslim in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya & Ethiopia & became a member of Parliament in the Netherlands. But my favorite would have to be Ruth Bell Graham; An extraordinary life by Patricia Cornwell ~ yes THAT Patricia Cornwell ~ she actually knows the Graham family.

  32. 382
    Tami Arceneaux says:

    THE HIDING PLACE, Corrie Ten Boom

  33. 383
    Lynn Cairney says:

    Lynn Cairney
    The Triumph of Truth: A Life of Martin Luther

    (A priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 16th Century Germany who began the Reformation as a result of posting his 95 points, or Theses, which lead to a new body of Christians, or Protestant faith. He believed the Bible teaches justification by grace, through faith, which went against the church.)

    It was soooo difficult to pick this ONE, so so many, I just love biographies of amazing people who changed the world against all odds or popular beliefs. Truly inspires me.

  34. 384
    Jayne Stark says:

    I read a bio on Eric Liddell as a child and also saw Chariots of Fire. Wonderful testimony and story. I got to relive his life again a few months ago when my son needed to talk about a missonary for AWANA. To not run his race on Sunday in the Olympics and then a few days later run a race he was not even good at and win gold! The Lord blessed him for his stand. Eric went on to be a missionary in China, was taken captive and still used his life to bring people to the Lord until the day he died.

  35. 385
    Barbara says:

    Love anything written about Amy Carmichael…especially if it is written by Elizabeth Elliott. I carry Amy Carmichaels book “If” in my purse. I have had to get a new copy. My first one fell apart.

  36. 386
    Jayne Stark says:

    I just left the comment on Eric Liddell and gave the wrong e mail, sorry! This is the right one!

  37. 387
    Courtney R. says:

    Ok, this isn’t spiritual at all, but I read a biography about Shirley Temple when I was young and I loved it! I loved her movies and I was so jealous of her sweet curly hair. Ha!

  38. 388
    Deb says:

    The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

  39. 389
    Amy says:

    Same Kind of Different as Me – a book that changed me for the better.

    Amy Clutter

  40. 390
    Lauri Linder says:

    Wow! I’m not quite sure where to begin. I have always loved biographies and never could get enough of them as a little girl. One of my most recent favorites is John Adams by David McCullough. I was so impressed by his character, courage, and integrity and the way in which his Christian faith shaped his perspective and actions. I also am impressed by his devotion to his wife and the true marriage partnership that they enjoyed.

  41. 391
    Jill Wondel says:

    Gosh, I’m actually not much of a biography reader, although I did read a different one (not the Elliot version) on Amy Carmichael once. And Dietrich Bonhoeffer has always intrigued me, so I might have to check this one out too…

  42. 392
    Marie says:

    I actually have the book about Amy Carmichael, and I love it! As to my favorite biography…well, it’s more like a group of baby biographies. “Lives of the Kings and Queens of England” by Antonia Fraser. I am constantly finding myself paging through and imaging what it might be like to be a queen. 🙂

  43. 393
    Becca says:

    I’m not much of a biography reader but you have me intrigued…
    The biography that I remember the most was about Elizabeth Blackwell when I was in 4th grade. I do recall that she was the first woman doctor in the United States, and at the time hospitals were likely to have rats running across the beds. Some things just stick with you 🙂

    Becca M.

    • 393.1
      Becca says:

      I suppose I should have said “female physician”, as rereading it now “woman doctor” makes me think of an OB/GYN :-s

  44. 394
    Amberley says:

    My favorite biography, though it has been mentioned several times already, is:

    Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot.

    “For he is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot

    words to live by…

    ~Amberley Almarode

  45. 395
    Cinthia says:

    Oh, fun question. Let’s see. My first favorite is my son’s. He is now the ripe old age of 21 but when in middle school, he felt well, less than popular, so he wrote The Life of a Mild-Mannered Middle School Guy. It is hilarious and we read it annually to him, generally at his birthday parties. But that is officially an auto-biography, so I might not be included in the drawing for that one.

    My next favorite (recently, these do change out quite a bit depending on what I am currently reading) is Into Africa, The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard. You know, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” (There is some debate on whether he actually said that upon finding Dr. Livingstone of if it just made for a good story.) I read this with my mouth open going, are you kidding me? Seriously? These poor fellas were practically dead, teeth rotted out, all sorts of diseases and malnutrition and still looking for the source of the Nile…. a hundred years later and they could have flown right over it and said, “Well, I’ll be darned.”

    I love adventures where I am not the one getting malaria or crossing rivers with strange looking critters in them.

    Next in line, The Founding Mothers, The Women Who Raised Our Nation, by Cokie Roberts. Ladies, Abigail Adams and the rest of these chicks, whew. They were C to the 2nd power–Cool Chicks. I was inspired by Abigail and John’s romance, sigh, even though they literally were separated at times for years (and years). Seriously though, I was so inspired by the sacrifices they were willing and did make for our country. All of their letters to their husbands were about politics primarily and what they felt should happen. They were very open concerning their own views and happily married to their guys. They had real relationships and Ms. Roberts does a good job showing the reader that.

    Last, for you, Melissa, and your mom, two book worms, I’ll end with a quote from Anne Fadiman’s book, Confessions of a Common Reader (not a biography, but a book of personal essays). This is a quote from the essay when she and her husband took the plunge and finally “married their books.”

    “We had been married in this loft, in full view of our mutally quarantined Melvilles. Promising to love each other for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health–even promising to forsake all others–had been no problem, but it was a good thing the Book of Common Prayer didn’t say anything about marrying our libraries and throwing out the duplicates. That would have been a far more solemn vow, one that would probably have caused the wedding to grind to a mortifying halt.”

    Ah, too true. We say I do and then spend a lifetime marrying our stuff (emotionally and physically).

    If I win, could it be autographed????? 🙂

    Cinthia Milner
    Asheville, NC

  46. 396
    Cristi says:

    I definitely MUST stop reading all these suggestions and go to bed. Good Night.

  47. 397
    Amber Burger says:

    When we got the Bonhoeffer bio in the mail a while back I laughed because of how huge it was! Vernon, of course, finished it in a week or so. HE LOVED IT! and has recommended it to SOOO many. As much as he so loved this book, he still says that the biography of George Muller by A.T. Pierson is his very favorite but the Bonhoeffer one in second place. The Mueller Bio really shaped V’s life and ministry.

    As for me, I read “Shadows of the Almight:: the Life and Testement of Jim Elliot by Elizabeth Elliot was my first biography to love and has remained in first place. This book shaped my life and ministry in more ways then I could imagine because I read it in high school.

    Those are our bio picks. I am excited to read through peoples suggestions.

    Enjoy Bonhoeffer. One day I will be have the guts to read it. I have a “dont read attempt to read a book bigger than your Bible while mothering two small children” rule. 🙂

  48. 398
    Elaine says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE biographies!!!!

    I loved “The Hiding Place” (Corrie ten Boom)….

    “Jack, the Life of CS Lewis”…

    and “Quiet Strength” (Tony Dungy)….

    what a fun idea! I’ve enjoyed reading some of the entries… gives me ideas for my next read…..

    ~elaine kim

  49. 399
    Cristi says:

    Just realized my blog address was messed up on all my comments. Oh well maybe it is fixed now. God Bless and Good night. Hopefully I will be able to read some of these soon.

  50. 400
    paintergal says:

    I must admit, I don’t normally read non-fiction.
    So, I’m having a hard time coming up with a “favorite”.
    May I be included anyway?
    Carol Meinecke