I devour memoirs and autobiographies. Can’t get enough of them – especially the ones written with refreshing honesty and humility. These books inspired me to keep following my life dreams just like the authors did!
So, if you’ve lost your mojo, have found yourself stagnating or would just like to take your life to the next level, have a read of one of these inspiring books…
A Moveable Feast (1964)
A memoir by Ernest Hemingway about his time spent as a poor unknown writer living in Paris with his first wife, Hadley, after World War I. He fondly remembers how he learned his craft writing in Parisian cafes. He also recounts his escapades with other writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce. You might also be inspired by his witty and warm anecdotes, and like me, want to take a sabbatical year to write in Parisian cafes!
Goodreads rating: 4.04 out of 5
Managing My Life: My Autobiography (2002)
Sir Alex Ferguson writes about his tough Govan upbringing in Scotland and becoming a professional footballer. He takes us from his transition into management to leading Manchester United to a unique treble in 1999 to being awarded a knighthood for his services to football. I found it a great look behind the scenes into how he remained at the top for so long by learning to adapt his team’s tactics and his leadership style.
Goodreads rating: 4.10 out of 5
Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography (2017)
Sir Richard Branson, in his first memoir Losing My Virginity (1998), explained how he’d survived, had fun, and made a fortune doing business his way. In this, his second volume of memoirs, he brings his life up to date, covering all his Virgin successes and failures during the two decades since. I was inspired by his tales of working to make the world a better place with philanthropists and world leaders such as Bill Gates and Nelson Mandela.
Goodreads rating: 4.12 out of 5
The Moon’s a Balloon (1971)
Actor, David Niven, recounts his remarkable rise from childhood in England to his time with the British Army to becoming one of Hollywood’s great actors. His astonishing and hilarious tales of partying with the legends of his era helped this book sell more than five million copies worldwide. It allowed me to dream about being part of a more glamorous world. This was the first inspiring autobiography I ever read, and I’ve been hooked on them ever since!
Goodreads rating: 4.16 out of 5
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story (2012)
Arnold Schwarzenegger spares nothing in his inspiring autobiography. It’s the story of how he achieved his three dreams: to become a body-building world champion, the world’s highest paid movie star, and then the Governor of California. He also explains how his real estate investments made him his first million, not his acting. What I like about this book is that it’s also about living with your regrets.
Goodreads rating: 4.19 out of 5
Happiest Refugee: My Journey From Tragedy To Comedy (2010)
When comedian Anh Do was a young boy, he and his family escaped to Australia by boat from war-torn Vietnam. After many years of struggle growing up in a refugee family, he completed university. He was about to start a corporate job when he had a life changing event. Ahn met a comedian, who told him that in his job he only worked four hours a week. I laughed and cried my way through this funny and very inspiring autobiography!
Goodreads rating: 4.21 out of 5
Autobiography of a Yogi (1946)
Paramahansa Yogananda, one of the spiritual masters of our time, chronicles his life with great wit and eloquence. His life begins in India searching for a spiritual master, and he then spends 30 years teaching in America. Apple founder, Steve Jobs, made sure to re-read this modern spiritual classic every year. This inspiring autobiography has now sold more than four million copies and made a profound difference to the lives of so many, including me!
Goodreads rating: 4.23 out of 5
Open: An Autobiography (2009)
Andre Agassi doesn’t brag about his eight grand slam tennis championships, great wealth or life as a celebrity. This truly haunting story begins with a bullying father, followed by his failed relationships; and ends with the crippling pain he experienced from a deteriorating spine playing a sport he came to resent. I wouldn’t choose to re-visit this revealing story, but I do recommend you read it once because of its incredible impact.
Goodreads rating: 4.25 out of 5
Agatha Christie: An Autobiography (1977)
Agatha Christie, the ‘Queen of Crime’, sold more than two billion books; but until her inspiring autobiography, the world knew little about her private life. This book is a cobbled collection of different pieces she had written about her life over many years. So, it wasn’t published until nearly two years after her death. As a writer, I felt compelled to read about the life and times of the world’s best-selling novelist and I wasn’t disappointed!
Goodreads rating: 4.27 out of 5
“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character (1985)
In 1965, Richard Feynman, won the Nobel Prize in Physics for contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics. The eccentric theoretical physicist was a keen populariser of physics. He is famous for the entertaining lectures he gave and for playing the bongo drums! In his time, he was one of the best-known scientists in the world, but there is a lot more to this man than just physics, as you will discover…
Goodreads rating: 4.28 out of 5
Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (1994)
Nelson Mandela, the former leader of South Africa, in this riveting life story, recounts his fight for human rights and racial equality. He describes the political warfare going on in the 50s, his eventful 27 years in jail; and upon his release, how he helped end apartheid. I agree with Barack Obama, who said these memoirs are ‘essential reading for anyone who wants to understand history – and then go out and change it.’
Goodreads rating: 4.34 out of 5
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (2016)
Founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the amazing tale of how he and some friends built Nike into one of the world’s most iconic and profitable brands. Full of humour, insight and wisdom, this is probably the best-written memoir I’ve read in the last couple of years. It’s a great lesson in overcoming adversity. It’s well worth a read if you’re about to start something from scratch and are looking for inspiration.
Goodreads rating: 4.48 out of 5
If you like other types of non-fiction books, you might like to read one of my book summaries, such as The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.