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Biographies as audiobooks

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Books on September 05, 2022
Here are some of the best biographies in audiobook format. From historical figures to famous artists, these are stories worth listening to.

    Seven great biographies as audiobooks

    Good biography audiobooks can make for a fascinating read, as you learn about actual events and people who made an impact on the world. For some readers, biographies can even be more exciting than a piece of science fiction.

    Today, we’re sharing with you seven amazing life stories you can listen to as audiobooks right now. But first, we’ll discuss why reading biographies is beneficial and why an audiobook would be the best way to do so.

    Advantages of reading biographies

    Biographies offer a unique insight into the lives of prominent historical figures. This doesn’t only mean a good biography is filled with interesting facts, however.

    One of the greatest qualities of biographies is that they’re inspirational. Iconic people often devise innovative solutions to a problem or make the right decisions when necessary.

    True story books aren’t limited to historical figures of the past. In fact, you can find biographies and autobiographies of prominent people still alive and active today.

    Some engaging biographies are about people such as:

    • Notable modern figures like Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Kristi Noem

    • Activists like Glennon Doyle

    • Celebrities like Will Smith, Matthew McConaughey, and Viola Davis

    You can even find award-winning memoirs about authors and memoirists, such as the unabridged Educated by Tara Westover, Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, or Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    Biographies have another strong point: they allow us to step into somebody else’s shoes. This is a crucial aspect of the human experience. Understanding pivotal moments from someone’s life can help us identify similar situations in our own lives.

    Why listen to biographies as audiobooks

    While reading biographies is a great choice, listening to them as audiobooks is even better. Not only will you feel more emotionally connected to the person’s life story by listening to it, but you’ll be able to accomplish so much more while doing so.

    Audiobooks make it easier to absorb written material even on a tight daily schedule. Since you don’t have to set aside time exclusively for reading, audiobooks allow you to multitask. You can listen to a biography while in transit or doing chores.

    This feature makes services like Audible so popular, but it’s not the only benefit of audiobooks. Listening to a book makes taking notes seamless, especially compared to reading a physical book. You don’t need to set the book aside and write or type whatever you want. Instead, you can keep on listening and simultaneously take notes.

    Audiobooks are also great for improving accessibility. Some people may have difficulty reading due to a learning disability or visual impairment. By listening to audiobooks, history and historical figures can come to life for people of all abilities. You can also use audiobooks to help you learn a new language!

    The list of the best biography audiobooks

    Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

    The book behind the blockbuster Broadway musical is an absolute must-read or, more precisely, a must-listen. The youngest of the Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton, had a fascinating life full of twists and turns.

    While he never became President, Hamilton played a vital role in nation-defining events. His personal life was just as fascinating, and the book contains many crucial moments from it. This is the kind of content that makes a biography a bestseller.

    This biography is an excellent pick for an audiobook for another reason: the book is no less than 800 pages long. It will be much easier to listen to than to flip the pages.

    Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert

    Winston Churchill’s autobiography counts among the world’s best memoirs. After all, his work earned him a Nobel Prize in literature. However, Churchill: A Life presents this politician’s life story from a more objective angle.

    Such an impartial take on the life and times of such a prominent figure can provide a more rewarding experience than listening to memoir audiobooks authored by those people themselves.

    There have been many biographies about the famed British Prime Minister. Yet, Gilbert’s book is arguably the best. It has the perfect mix of highly researched historical facts and engaging personal insights.

    A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar

    If you’ve seen A Beautiful Mind on the screen, it was more likely on the TV or in a movie theater than on your Amazon Kindle. The book was, of course, the inspiration behind the Hollywood blockbuster of the same name.

    This biography chronicles the life of John Nash, an American mathematician and Nobel Prize laureate. While his scientific contributions were vast, Nash was exceptional in another way, too: he had schizophrenia.

    A Beautiful Mind is based on the true story of a scientist making significant advances in his field while struggling to overcome his condition.

    Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera

    Frida Kahlo is another larger-than-life character who was immortalized in a movie. But before this Hollywood hit, there was Frida: A Biography.

    Like Steve Jobs had Walter Isaacson, Frida Kahlo had Hayden Herrera to bring her life story to audiences worldwide. When talking about the lives of prominent artists, this is undoubtedly one of the best books out there.

    Frida Kahlo had a challenging personal life marked by a severe injury in her early years and a troubled marriage. Yet, her artistic quest represents the greatest highlight, and this book brings that aspect front and center.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

    Not all biographies deal with the lives of famous people like Brandi Carlile, Molly Shannon, Michelle Zauner, or the late Anthony Bourdain. In fact, this book, dealing with the life story of a woman you likely haven’t heard of, might count among the best biography audiobooks out there.

    Henrietta Lacks became an unwitting hero of medical science. Henrietta had her cancer cells extracted and preserved without her knowledge, which was unfortunately standard practice at the time for African American medical patients.

    Her cancer cells became a significant resource for medical research and are used even today. But the story of Henrietta Lacks didn’t see the light of day until recently, making this biography an essential read.

    Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts

    Among many books written about the French military leader, Napoleon: A Life stands out in its depiction of the famed general.

    Instead of approaching Napoleon as a tyrant, this book delves into the depths of his military genius and complicated personal relationships. Roberts doesn’t ridicule Napoleon but gives a heartfelt account of his exciting life.

    Prince: A Private View by Afshin Shahidi

    Prince: A Private View provides a unique insight into the life and colorful personality of one of the most influential musicians of our age.

    The author, Afshin Shahidi, was Prince’s photographer for over a decade. This experience gave him one-of-a-kind access to the artist’s everyday life, making the biography a precious resource.

    Seven honorable mentions

    • Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance—the story about the founder of Tesla

    • Shoe Dog (Unabridged) by Phil Knight, an American billionaire

    • American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and Jim DeFelice

    • Radical Love by Zachary Levi, the star of Shazam

    • Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (Unabridged) by Patrick Radden Keefe

    • Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

    • The Storyteller by Dave Grohl, the founder of the Foo Fighters

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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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