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The ReadDown

Must-Read Biographies and Memoirs

This holiday, give a beloved biography and memoir to your friend who loves to learn! Share new nonfiction reads about famous figures including Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bill Cunningham and many more. Find more holiday books by browsing our gift guide.
  1. 1

    Debussy

    A beautifully written and original biography of one of the greatest and most popular of modern composers–which also deeply investigates his much-loved music.

    Debussy Book Cover Picture
  2. 2

    To Shake the Sleeping Self

    From travel writer Jedidiah Jenkins comes a long-awaited memoir of adventure, struggle, and lessons learned while bicycling the 14,000 miles from Oregon to Patagonia.

    To Shake the Sleeping Self Book Cover Picture
  3. 3

    Becoming

    An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States. In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era.

    Becoming Book Cover Picture
  4. 4

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    The first full life—private, public, legal, philosophical—of the 107th Supreme Court Justice, one of the most profound and profoundly transformative legal minds of our time; a book fifteen years in work, written with the cooperation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself and based on many interviews with the justice, her husband, her children, her friends, and her associates.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg Book Cover Picture
  5. 5

    There Will Be No Miracles Here

    The testament of a boy and a generation who came of age as the world came apart–a generation searching for a new way to live.

    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture
  6. 6

    Endurance

    The veteran of four space flights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few have. Now, he takes us inside a sphere utterly hostile to human life. He describes navigating the extreme challenges of long-term spaceflight. But perhaps the most haunting challenge is that of being unable to help should tragedy strike at home, something Kelly knows about firsthand.

    Endurance Book Cover Picture
  7. 7

    Call Me American

    The incredible true story of a boy living in war-torn Somalia who escapes to America–first by way of the movies; years later, through a miraculous green card.

    Call Me American Book Cover Picture
  8. 8

    Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)

    The singer, guitarist, and songwriter—best known for his work with Wilco—opens up about his past, his songs, the music, and the people that have inspired him. Few bands have inspired as much devotion as the Chicago rock band Wilco, and it’s thanks, in large part, to the band’s singer, songwriter, and guiding light: Jeff Tweedy.

    Let's Go (So We Can Get Back) Book Cover Picture
  9. 9

    The Monk of Mokha

    “A gripping, triumphant adventure” (Los Angeles Times) from bestselling author Dave Eggers, the incredible true story of a young Yemeni American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war.

    The Monk of Mokha Book Cover Picture
  10. 10

    Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

    A timeless story rediscovered by each new generation, The Diary of a Young Girl stands without peer. For both young readers and adults it continues to capture the remarkable spirit of Anne Frank, who for a time survived the worst horror the modern world has seen—and who remained triumphantly and heartbreakingly human throughout her ordeal.

    Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation Book Cover Picture
  11. 11

    From the Corner of the Oval

    In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein unexpectedly lands a job in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. Against the backdrop of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and, in the process, discovering her voice.

    From the Corner of the Oval Book Cover Picture
  12. 12

    The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

    Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman reveal the full story behind their epic romance–presented in a series of intimate conversations between the couple, including photos, anecdotes, and the occasional puzzle.

    The Greatest Love Story Ever Told Book Cover Picture
  13. 13

    The Best Cook in the World

    From the beloved, best-selling author of All Over but the Shoutin’, a delectable, rollicking food memoir, cookbook, and loving tribute to a region, a vanishing history, a family, and, especially, to his mother. Including seventy-four mouthwatering Bragg family recipes for classic southern dishes passed down through generations.

    The Best Cook in the World Book Cover Picture
  14. 14

    Everything Happens for a Reason

    At thirty-five, everything in Kate Bowler’s life seems to point toward “blessing.” She is thriving in her job, married to her high school sweetheart, and loves life with her newborn son. Then she is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live.

    Everything Happens for a Reason Book Cover Picture
  15. 15

    Between the World and Me

    In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

    Between the World and Me Book Cover Picture
  16. 16

    A Mind Unraveled

    The compelling story of an acclaimed journalist and New York Times bestselling author’s ongoing struggle with epilepsy—his torturous decision to keep his condition a secret to avoid discrimination, and his ensuing decades-long battle to not only survive, but to thrive.

    A Mind Unraveled Book Cover Picture
  17. 17

    Rush

    The monumental life of Benjamin Rush, medical pioneer and one of our most provocative and unsung Founding Fathers. One of the youngest signatories of the Declaration of Independence, he was also, among stiff competition, one of the most visionary.

    Rush Book Cover Picture
  18. 18

    Lessons

    Supermodel and philanthropist Gisele Bündchen shares personal stories, insights, and photos to explore lessons that have helped shape her life.

    Lessons Book Cover Picture
  19. 19

    Beastie Boys Book

    A panoramic experience that tells the story of Beastie Boys, a book as unique as the band itself—by band members ADROCK and Mike D, with contributions from Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, Luc Sante, and more.

    Beastie Boys Book Book Cover Picture
  20. 20

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

    From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor.

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life Book Cover Picture
  21. 21

    She Wants It

    In this poignant memoir of personal transformation, Jill Soloway takes us on a patriarchy-toppling emotional and professional journey. When Jill’s parent came out as transgender, Jill pushed through the male-dominated landscape of Hollywood to create the groundbreaking and award-winning Amazon TV series Transparent. 

    She Wants It Book Cover Picture
  22. 22

    Fashion Climbing

    For Bill Cunningham, New York City was the land of freedom, glamour, and, above all, style. Growing up in a lace-curtain Irish suburb of Boston, Bill dreamed of a life dedicated to fashion. But his desires were a source of shame for his family, and after dropping out of Harvard, he had to fight them tooth-and-nail to pursue his love.

    Fashion Climbing Book Cover Picture
  23. 23

    Room to Dream

    In this unique hybrid of biography and memoir, David Lynch opens up for the first time about a life lived in pursuit of his singular vision, and the many heartaches and struggles he’s faced to bring his unorthodox projects to fruition.

    Room to Dream Book Cover Picture
  24. 24

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads

    In 1994, Clemantine Wamariya  and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety.

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture
  25. 25

    Young Benjamin Franklin

    In this new account of Franklin’s early life, Pulitzer finalist Nick Bunker portrays him as a complex, driven young man who elbows his way to success. Always trying to balance virtue against ambition, Franklin emerges as a brilliant but flawed human being, made from the conflicts of an age of slavery as well as reason.

    Young Benjamin Franklin Book Cover Picture
  26. 26

    Richard Nixon

    From a prize-winning biographer comes the defining portrait of a man who led America in a time of turmoil and left us a darker age. We live today, John A. Farrell shows, in a world Richard Nixon made.

    Richard Nixon Book Cover Picture
  27. 27

    Educated

    Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

    Educated Book Cover Picture
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