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18 Best Business Biographies to Read

By: Angela Robinson | Updated: October 21, 2021

You found our list of top business biographies .

Business biographies are narratives that tell the stories of entrepreneurs and the birth and growth of influential companies. These works deal with topics such as childhood influences, education and early career, business founding, and the evolution of entrepreneurial empires. The purpose of these books is to provide further context and insight into the personal factors that contributed to the creation of companies, and to inspire and educate current and future entrepreneurs.

These works are a subset of business books and are similar to entrepreneur books and CEO books .

This list includes:

  • autobiographies of business founders
  • biographies of business leaders
  • entrepreneur biographies
  • business biographies about women

Here we go!

List of business biographies

Here is a list of biographies of business leaders that shed light on how to launch and nurture legacies and empires.

1. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog is one of the most popular autobiographies of business founders of all time. This memoir has received endorsements from the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

In his own words, Nike founder Phil Knight recounts the journey of founding the sneaker company and its ascent into a top athletic wear brand. Knight gives a peek into his early life and influences, as well as insights into his leadership and business philosophy. Shoe Dog is a masterful illustration of tenacity, vision, and the business lifestyle.

Notable Quote: “Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.”

Read Shoe Dog .

2. Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire by Brad Stone

Amazon unbound book cover

Amazon Unbound is Brad Stone’s followup to the bestselling book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. This latest biography about the founder of Amazon charts the company’s rise to global titan status and chronicles Bezos’ evolution as a leader within the past decade. The work includes the company’s development of cloud technology, Alexa, and Prime Video, as well as acquisitions of Whole Foods and The Washington Post . The book continues the narrative of the story of Amazon and its founder and lays forth the next chapter in the saga of the e-commerce giant.

Notable Quote: “Jeff is master of ‘this isn’t working today, but could work tomorrow.’ If customers like it, he’s got the cash flow to fund it.”

Read Amazon Unbound .

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3. Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca

Iacocca an autobiography book cover

Iacocca: An Autobiography is a firsthand account of the life of the legendary auto executive. Lee Iacocca’s life is a prime example of the American dream– raised by immigrants, he rises up the ranks in corporate America and dominates the auto world. In the course of this journey, Lee Iacocca revolutionized the automobile industry and earned icon status. The autobiography traces the highlights of Iacocca’s illustrious career, from his part in creating the Mustang and ascent to president of Ford, to saving the Chrysler brand, and defeating hurdles along the way. Iacocca: An Autobiography is a motivational read and a rallying call for resilience.

Notable Quote: “In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product, and profits. People come first. Unless you’ve got a good team, you can’t do much with the other two.”

Read Iacocca: An Autobiography .

4. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow

titan the life of john d rockefeller book cover

Titan  traces the life of legendary businessman John D Rockefeller. This biography aims to examine Rockefeller through a new lens. Many other accounts either overly-glorify Rockefeller as a hero or condemn him based on The Standard Oil Company’s later scandals. Ron Chernow angles to lift the veil on and gain insight into the notoriously private Rockefeller by compiling a comprehensive account of his full life. The book follows John Rockefeller Sr from his childhood to death. In doing so, the author not only recounts the moves and deals that helped build a business and charity empire, but also shares stories and quotes that more thoroughly flesh out the figure behind the great deeds.

Notable Quote: “Rockefeller equated silence with strength: Weak men had loose tongues and blabbed to reporters, while prudent businessmen kept their own counsel.”

Read Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

5. The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution by Gregory Zuckerman

The man who solved the market book cover

The Man Who Solved the Market is a bestselling book about Jim Simons, the mathematician who pioneered an algorithm-driven approach to investing that achieved unheard-of market returns. The book unpacks Simon’s backstory by tracing the codebreaker’s early adolescence, education at MIT, early career, and finally the late-life acclaim and founding of Renaissance Technologies. Gregory Zuckerman connects Simons’ story to the broader current climate and notes the influences the discovery had on the wider world. The Man Who Solved the Market also holds lessons about teamwork and professional collaboration.

Notable Quote: “Scientists and mathematicians are trained to dig below the surface of the chaotic, natural world to search for unexpected simplicity, structure, and even beauty”

Read The Man Who Solved the Market .

6. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams

How to fail at almost everything and still win big book cover

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big is equal parts amusing and profound. In this book, Dilbert comic creator Scott Adams traces his career, paying special attention to the flops, setbacks, and disappointments. By focusing on failure, Adams explains how he was able to transform losses into lessons and eventual opportunities. The author’s signature wry sense of humor elevates the underdog narrative beyond motivational fluff and into actionable advice.

While telling his own tale, Adams drops tidbits such as:

  • Goals are for losers. Systems are for winners.
  • The most important metric is to track your personal energy.
  • Conquer shyness by being a huge phony (in a good way.)

While this book is structured more like a self-help guide than a traditional biography, it is full of personal anecdotes that provide a much more rounded picture of the famous cartoonist.

Notable Quote: “Failure always brings something valuable with it. I don’t let it leave until I extract that value.”

Read ​​ How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big .

7. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

The snowball book cover

The Snowball provides a personal portrait of the Oracle of Omaha. In this exclusive biography, Warren Buffet allows Alice Schroeder and the readers intimate access into his inner life by way of years of one-on-one interviews with the author. The book reveals previously non-public details about Buffet’s childhood, career, and relationships, and sheds light on the investor’s inner-drivers, values, and areas of personal growth. The Snowball shows Warren Buffet’s human side and gives extra context to the magnate’s extraordinary accomplishments.

Notable Quote: “Intensity is the price of excellence.”

Read The Snowball .

8. Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last by Wright Thompson

Pappyland book cover

Pappyland is a tale of familial entrepreneurial duty and legacy preservation. The book tells the tale of Julian Van Winkle III’s battle to save his father and grandfather’s lifework and the reputation of the family whiskey business. The work chronicles Van Winkle’s early struggles to keep the business afloat in leaner years to the eventual rise to several-hundred-dollar-a-bottle prestige, and the resulting need for innovation and reinvention that stayed true to the company’s roots. Few entrepreneur biographies touch so heavily on themes of family devotion and obligation, making Pappyland a moving and relatable read as well as a practical business study.

Notable Quote: “That’s the work of adulthood. Sorting out the good and bad within.”

Read Pappyland .

9. The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger

The Ride of a Lifetime book cover

The Ride of a Lifetime is a self-penned profile of Disney executive Robert Iger. The book recounts Iger’s rise from entry-level employee at ABC to head of the most powerful media company in the world. Iger reflects on the industry changes that he saw and had a hand in during his long and lucrative career, and highlights the keys to his professional success. While the book is not strictly a memoir, Iger structures this guide with personal details that give context to his business behaviors. The Ride of a Lifetime provides a direct look at the philosophies of the man behind the mouse.

Notable Quote: “Ask the questions you need to ask, admit without apology what you don’t understand, and do the work to learn what you need to learn as quickly as you can.”

Read The Ride of a Lifetime .

10. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs Official Biography

Walter Isaacson’s official profile on Steve Jobs ranks as one of the best biographies of business leaders. Drawing on over 40 interviews with Jobs and hundreds more with family and friends, colleagues, and rivals, Isaccson weaves a thrilling account of the icon’s life. The result is a comprehensive collection of life events that shaped the subject told from multiple perspectives. From childhood to college, inventions and product launches, collaborations and clashes, career setbacks and redemptions, and roller-coaster relationships, Steve Jobs paints an appropriately complex portrait of a larger than life figure with undeniable human flaws.

Notable Quote: “One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are.”

Read Steve Jobs .

11. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

Elon musk book cover

Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk is a profile of a monumental current businessman. This biography retells Musk’s extraordinary story of overcoming childhood adversity in South Africa only to become one of the most influential figures in Silicon Valley and modern industry. The book touches on Musk’s early pursuits in PayPal, the founding of Tesla, as well as the eventual decision to set sights on space and enter the aerospace frontier. The book is an exploration of Musk’s character and vision, charting his life through his innovations and ideas.

Notable Quote: “Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not.”

Read Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future .

12. Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton

Made in america book cover

Sam Walton: Made in America is the story of Walmart and the man who made Walmart the behemoth that it is today. This autobiography reveals how Walton grew a single dime store into a retail giant. The book explores how Walton built his foundations, structured his business, grew the company, bounced back from missteps, and kept control over his mission even as his empire expanded around the country and the world. Sam Walton: Made in America is a book about big business world ambition paired with small-town values, and is a distinctly American tale of commercial success and the achievement of a distinct vision.

Notable Quote: “Great ideas come from everywhere if you just listen and look for them. You never know who’s going to have a great idea.”

Read Sam Walton: Made In America .

13. Empire State of Mind: How Jay Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office by Zack O’Malley Greenburg

Empire state of mind book cover

Empire State of Mind is a love letter to Jay Z’s business acumen. This biography recounts the rapper’s meteoric rise from ghettos to boardrooms. The book highlights some of the key points in Carter’s career, including the inception of Roc-a-Fella records, marriage to Beyoncé, birth of Roc Nation, and expansion into the streetwear, alcohol, and streaming spaces. Viewing Jay-Z as a businessman above all and hailing his hustler mindset, Empire State of Mind spins a tale of entrepreneurship, self-creation, and re-invention.

Notable Quote: “One of the main reasons for this success is Jay-Z’s ability to build and leverage his personal brand. As much as Martha Stewart or Oprah, he has turned himself into a lifestyle.”

Read Empire State of Mind .

14. Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans by Paul Van Doren

Authentic book cover

Authenti c is one of the final projects of Vans founder Paul Van Doren. The memoir tells the tale of how a high school dropout went on to helm one of the most beloved shoewear brands in the world. This autobiographical account charts Van Doren’s journey of working in a rubber factory as a teenager to creating the renowned skateboard shoe company, to preserving the legacy throughout the decades. The book examines the decisions that made the foundations of the empire and the elements that rocketed the company to fame. The story also deals with the personal and professional obstacles that threatened and informed the work. Authentic is a parable for following passions and staying true to style and vision even in the face of change.

Notable Quote: “What I’ve accomplished comes down to one thing: my knack for identifying and then solving problems. What I do better than anything else is cut out distractions. If a system isn’t working efficiently, I can see where it’s jammed, eliminate the problem, and find a way to keep everything moving forward.”

Read Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans .

15. Believe IT: How to Go from Underestimated to Unstoppable by Jamie Kern Lima

Believe It book cover

Believe IT tells the life story of Jamie Kern Lima, founder of IT Cosmetics and waitress-turned-entrepreneur who overcame the odds to build a company worth a billion dollars and to become the first female CEO of a L’Oreal brand. The book lays out defining events such as Lima learning of her adoption in early adulthood, and shows how the authors’ life hardships prepared her to face the adversity of a beauty industry that constantly told her she would not succeed. Believe IT is part manifesto and part memoir, and full-throttle motivational read.

Notable Quote: “How we react to times of uncertainty, and whether we make decisions based in love or fear, can change the course of our life. Champions aren’t made when the game is easy. In any area of life.”

Read Believe It: How to Go from Underestimated to Unstoppable .

16. The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar J Mazzeo

The widow Clicquot book cover

The Widow Clicquot is a historical business biography, and is one of the most fascinating business biographies about women. The book tells the tale of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, a businesswoman who gained control of her family’s business and revolutionized champagne. The biography describes how Clicquot Ponsardin turned misfortune into fortune and made a mark on the world at a time when opportunities for women were limited. The Widow Clicquot is an empowerment message and fascinating historical story wrapped into one riveting account.

Notable Quote: “Widowed at the age of twenty-seven, with no formal business training and no firsthand experience, Barbe-Nicole transformed a well-funded but struggling and small-time family wine brokerage into arguably the most important champagne house of the nineteenth century in just over a decade.”

Read The Widow Clicquot .

17. Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson

Losing my virginity book cover

Losing My Virginity is billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson’s first autobiography. The book pinpoints the most essential events and influences in Branson’s life. As most business biographies do, the work starts with the executive’s upbringing and moves through his life chronologically. Branson’s many adventures include professional forays into the music and airline industries, as well as personal exploits such as trying to circle the globe in a hot air balloon. Alongside his colorful stories, the businessman shares his personal and professional philosophies, chiefly the belief of working hard yet having passions and wins beyond work. Losing My Virginity advocates for living a full and rounded life and taking control in both personal and business spheres.

Notable Quote: “I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive then I believe you are better off not doing it. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”

Read Losing My Virginity .

18. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark

Alibaba the house that jack ma built book cover

Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built is a striking profile of the founder of one of the most expansive eCommerce companies in China and the world at large. The book highlights Ma’s humble beginnings as an English teacher as well as his late start to the world of entrepreneurship, and explores how the businessman rapidly climbed from running a company out of an apartment to securing a record-setting multi-billion dollar IPO. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built provides a comprehensive history of Jack Ma’s life and professional journey and Alibaba’s evolution.

Notable Quote: “Today is brutal, tomorrow is more brutal, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful. However, the majority of people will die tomorrow night.”

Read Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built .

Founders, CEOs, and industry leaders are so often mythologized and painted as larger-than-life, that it can be easy to forget that these figures are humans with backstories and deeply personal lives. Business biographies provide perspective and additional insight into the motivations and influences of these legends and help flesh out more fully-formed profiles of these grand personas. These memoirs also portray the history of major companies and can paint fuller portraits of organizations’ origins and growth. By reading biographies on business leaders, professionals can be more mindful and in-control of their own work aspirations.

For more reading recommendations, check out this list of books on leadership or these business books by women .

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FAQ: Business biographies

Here are answers to common questions about business biographies.

What are business biographies?

Business biographies are narrative nonfiction works that follow the lives of industry leaders and chart the launch and growth of important organizations. These books often draw from interviews and mix facts and history with philosophy.

What are the best business biographies?

The best business biographies include Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, The Snowball by Alice Schroeder, and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

Author avatar

Author: Angela Robinson

Marketing Coordinator at teambuilding.com. Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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Entrepreneurs and founders must constantly adapt and learn from every possible source, and books are no exception.

This is especially true for business biographies, as they tend to be personally written by the most powerful and game-changing people in the business world.

Below there’s a list of the best 25 business biographies, carefully picked to satisfy everyone’s taste.

25 Best Business Biographies

1) alibaba: the house that jack ma built.

Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built

Name of book : Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built

Description of the book : This excellent entrepreneur biography tells the ultimate story about the world-famous Chinese entrepreneur and founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma. 

The author, Duncan Clark, was an early advisor to Jack Ma in early 1999 when Alibaba was founded. You can read everything about Jack Ma, his breakthrough idea, and the impact it made in the e-commerce sector.

Entrepreneurs can also read about the humble beginnings of Alibaba, how Jack overcame his Silicon Valley rivals, and the story of Alibaba’s domination, with 80% of the market share. 

Author : Duncan Clark

Length : 304 pages

‍Notable quote : “Customers first, employees second, and shareholders third.”

2) Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

Name of book : Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

Description of the book : Onward is an excellent entrepreneur biography that presents the story of the popular coffee brand Starbucks and how they managed to stay on ‘top of their game’ during the 2008 crisis. 

The former CEO Howard Schultz describes his return after 8 years and the methods he implemented afterward. 

The biography offers a deep look at how Howard overcame all odds during the most challenging economic times in history and how Starbucks saved its soul and regained its profitability without sacrificing anything.

Author : Howard Schultz and Joanne Gordon

Length : 350 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Beverages have to be created. And they’re created by looking at what trend is in, say, the fashion industry – what color’s hot right now.”

3) Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

Name of book : Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

Description of the book : Steve Jobs is a well-presented entrepreneur autobiography regarding one of the most influential founders ever. The book is based on over 40 interviews with Steve Jobs, his family members, and colleagues. 

You can see how Steve Jobs got his ideas and how he rose above the challenges throughout time. Walters shows how Jobs revolutionized multiple industries, including music, animated movies, phones, and tablet computers.

As an entrepreneur, you will undoubtedly find this book quite helpful as it shows Steve's methods and work ethic during his journey and how to maintain your sanity during extreme times.

Author : Walter Isaacson

Length : 627 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.”

4) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Name of book : Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Description of the book : Nike’s CEO and founder Phil Knight decided to open up and tell his story behind one of the most iconic brands today, Nike. 

His idea to sell high-quality and cheap-priced shoes imported from Japan was born in 1962. Knight shares all details from his journey, including obstacles he overcame, risks he took, and the sacrifices made for Nike to become what it is today.

You can also read plenty about the first partners and relationships with his employees, proving to us that everything is possible through teamwork and loyalty.

Author : Phil Knight

Length : 400 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Let everyone else call your idea crazy... just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where ‘there’ is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”

5) Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Name of book : Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Description of the book : Have you ever wondered how Rockefeller gained his reputation and wealth? Well, award-winning biographer Ron Chernow explored that subject and wrote a book about it, too. 

Titan shows the impressive story behind the most controversial family in the US and their place in history. Chernow tells us a detailed story about John D. Rockefeller, Sr, and his ruthless methods and ethics that made him the world’s first billionaire.

You can clearly see how Rockefeller founded the most powerful and feared monopoly in American history, Standard Oil , all the way to his demise at the behest of President Teddy Roosevelt.

Author : Ron Chernow

Length : 832 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Success comes from keeping the ears open and the mouth closed”

6) Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony

Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony

Name of book : Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony

Description of the book : Made in Japan takes you on a journey behind Sony Corporation , from its co-founder, Akio Morita. 

As one of the best entrepreneur biographies, you can take a deep look at Japan’s business techniques and methods and how the Japanese think, which can be priceless information for founders.

The story narrated by the authors is centered on how Sony was built, from its humble beginning after World War II to its meteoric post-war rise as the most influential company for music entertainment, and multimedia.

Author : Akio Morita , Edwin M. Reingold and Mitsuko Shimomura

Length : 352 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Curiosity is the key to creativity.”

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7) The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Name of book : The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Description of the book : The Everything Store is the definitive biography of Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos. Brad Stone narrates the story of Jeff Bezos’s corporate culture and the methods he implemented at Amazon . 

You will read what it took for Jeff to build this company and how he changed how we shop and read... Forever!

Author : Brad Stone

Length : 384 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Some of these investments will pay off, others will not, and we will have learned another valuable lesson in either case.”

8) Sam Walton: Made in America

Sam Walton: Made in America

Name of book : Sam Walton: Made in America

Description of the book : This is considered one of the greatest entrepreneur biographies because it describes the origin story of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club . You will read how Sam founded the biggest retail stores in history and the largest private employer in the world. 

The authors clearly state what it took for Sam to create Walmart and what techniques he used in that process. Also, you will read about all methods regarding the planning and hiring process that attracted many workers. Today, Walmart is the largest corporation in terms of revenue.

Author : Sam Walton and John Huey

Length : 346 pages

‍Notable quote : “Great ideas come from everywhere if you just listen and look for them. You never know who’s going to have a great idea.”

9) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Name of book : Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Description of the book : Ashlee Vence presents the detailed life of Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX . It gives you a deep look into Musk’s ideas and innovations about the future he envisioned. Everything changed when Elon sold PayPal and shifted his focus on future investments, like clean automobiles and space programs.

Musk’s story is used to explore the question: can inventors still compete in today’s fierce global competition?

Author : Ashlee Vence

Length : 392 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not.”

10) The Snowball; Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

The Snowball; Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

Name of book : The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

Description of the book : The Snowball presents the story of Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors in history and the founder of Berkshire Hathaway Holdings.  

Alice Schroeder narrates this well-read CEO biography about the life of Warren Buffett and the idea to create a holding company that owns stocks in multiple famous corporations like Coca-Cola, American Express, and Apple.

As an entrepreneur, you will find important information about Warren’s secrets despite living in privacy for most of his life.

Author : Alice Schroeder

Length : 960 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.”

11) Morgan: American Financier

Morgan: American Financier

Name of book : Morgan: American Financier

Description of the book : One of the best business biographies, Morgan gives you a never-before-seen insight about J. Pierpont Morgan, one of the greatest investors in US history. 

In this book, you will read how Morgan reorganized the nation’s railroad and appointed himself as a one-man central bank. The author also guides the reader into Morgan’s life outside his business.

Author : Jean Strouse

Length : 816 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “No problem can be solved until it is reduced to some simple form. The changing of a vague difficulty into a specific, concrete form is a very essential element in thinking.”

12) Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles

Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles

Name of book : Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles

Description of the book : Here, There and Everywhere is one of the best business biographies regarding The Beatles chief engineer, the man responsible for their unique sound. 

Geoff Emerick describes his journey from the start of The Beatles in 1962, all the way to their meteoric rise to the top. In the book, you will find out how Geoff pioneered innovative recording techniques and how he achieved the sound of their most famous songs that changed rock music forever.

As an entrepreneur, you can learn that starting at a young age can be the best move you can make - just like Geoff did when he was 15 years old!

Author : Geoff Emerick

‍ ‍Notable quote : “It was down to me—not George Martin, not anyone else—to turn the Beatles’ new vision into a reality.”

13) Bloomberg by Bloomberg

Bloomberg by Bloomberg

Name of book : Bloomberg by Bloomberg

Description of the book : Bloomberg by Bloomberg is the origin story of Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg L.P. 

Written by Michael himself, this book takes us deep into Bloomberg’s life and his idea of creating his own company after he got fired at the age of 39.

Throughout the book, readers will learn more about his creative mind and the challenges he faced at Wall Street , all the way up to founding the fastest-growing media empire on Earth.

Author : Michael R. Bloomberg

Length : 272 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : If you're going to succeed, you need a vision, one that's affordable, practical, and fills a customer need. Then, go for it.”

14) Carnegie

Carnegie

Name of book : Carnegie

Description of the book : Carnegie takes us on a journey into the life of Andrew Carnegie, one of the major figures in American history. 

Peter Krass describes the origin story of the titan who made his fortune through the steel industry and how he used the wealth upon his retirement.

The readers can take a look at how Andrew influenced the world’s political stage and the way he founded the largest and the most profitable steel industry on the planet. As a founder, you will learn how Andrew became one of the biggest philanthropists in the world, despite his notorious reputation.

Author : Peter Krass

Length : 612 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “The poor enjoy what the rich could not before afford. What were the luxuries have become the necessities of life. The laborer has now more comforts than the landlord had a few generations ago.”

15) Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company

Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company

Name of book : Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company

Description of the book : Every manager must understand that eventually everything changes. This is the critical point in Only the Paranoid Survive by former Intel CEO Andrew Grove. 

The charismatic innovator narrates his story in Intel and how he helped the company to remain the largest chip producer. Readers will discover the strategic inflection points or SIPs Andrew faced in his career and how he beat the Japanese competition.

Only the Paranoid Survive can be the ultimate lesson about leadership skills, which you can benefit almost instantly.

Author : Andrew S. Grove

Length : 224 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Only the Paranoid Survive.”

16) iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It

iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It

Name of book : iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It

Description of the book : Take a deep look into the creation of Apple and the first personal computer, brought to you by the charismatic Steve Wozniak. 

In iWoz , you will read about the early starts for Wozniak and the idea behind Apple . Narrated by Steve himself, he presents details about his personal life like never before and describes his groundbreaking idea to combine the first real personal computer named Apple I . 

Authors : Steve Wozniak and Gina Smith

Length : 313 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “The world needs inventors--great ones. You can be one. If you love what you do and are willing to do what it really takes, it's within your reach. And it'll be worth every minute you spend alone at night, thinking and thinking about what it is you want to design or build. It'll be worth it, I promise.”

17) My Life and Work: Autobiography of Henry Ford

My Life and Work: Autobiography of Henry Ford

Name of book : My Life and Work; Autobiography of Henry Ford

Description of the book : Published in 1922, this entrepreneur autobiography gives you the slightest details regarding Ford’s beginnings, the strategies he used to revolutionize the automotive industry, and how he got into the business.

Henry Ford guides the reader through his history and his own business philosophy used to create Ford Motor Company. 

Author : Henry Ford

Length : 204 pages

‍Notable quote : “There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail

18) Commodore: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

Commodore: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

Name of book : Commodore: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

Description of the book : This is the detailed story about Cornelius Vanderbilt, the forefather of modern American business. 

Readers will find out how Cornelius built his fortune and his vision to turn New York into the financial capital we see today. This book sheds light on Cornelius’s private life from previously unreleased articles.

Author : Edward J. Renehan Jr.

Length : 364 pages

‍Notable quote : “Never tell anyone what you are going to do till you have done it.”

19) Jack: Straight from the Gut

Jack: Straight from the Gut

Name of book : Jack: Straight from the Gut

Description of the book : Many readers would agree that this book is one of the best business biographies. The authors will introduce you to the life of former General Electrics Chairman and CEO Jack Welch. 

You will find out how Jack managed to run one of the biggest corporations of our time in a robust economic era in the US.

Authors : Jack Welch , John A. Byrne , and Mike Barnicle

Length : 496 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : "There is no straight line to anyone's vision or dream."

20) Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Name of book : Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Description of the book : Written directly by former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, this entrepreneur biography contains detailed information and tips on how to manage your company. 

Entrepreneurs and founders will read about Tony’s early start and learn the creativity he used to run Zappos to the top of its industry.

Author : Tony Hsieh

Length : 246 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “I had decided to stop chasing the money, and start chasing the passion.”

21) Iacocca: An Autobiography

Iacocca: An Autobiography

Name of book : Iacocca: An Autobiography

Description of the book : Let’s dive into the automotive world once again. Lee Iacocca, the former legendary President at Ford and Chairman at Chrysler, is the man behind this book . 

In this entrepreneur biography, Lee guides the reader from his humble beginnings and working at Ford and how he saved Chrysler Corporation from bankruptcy during the 1980s. 

Lee presents his vision and how he came up with the idea to create the Mustang , one of Ford’s famous models.

Authors : Lee Iacocca and William Novak

Length : 357 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Get all the education you can then go out and do something - do anything.”

22) American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

Name of book : American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

Description of the book : American Icon gives us a magnificent story about Ford Motors and its turnaround of the leadership from its CEO Alan Mulally. 

The book explains how Alan managed to save the company in the 2008 crisis, upon rejection of financial help from the government. 

Alan implemented the methods he used in Boeing , reorganized Ford’s management, and turned the corporation into the largest automotive producer during those difficult times.

Entrepreneurs can read this book and see what plans Alan used to prevent Ford’s collapse.

Author : Bryce G. Hoffman

Length : 432 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “You have to expect the unexpected, and you have to deal with it.”

23) The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Rev olution

23) The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution

Name of book : The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution

Description of the book : The Man Who Solved the Market is a best-selling book about mathematician Jim Simons and his pioneering algorithm-driven approach to investing. 

The book follows Simons’s path to success, starting with his early years, education at MIT and work at IBM, and finally, his late-life acclaim as the founder of Renaissance Technologies. 

The is a great entrepreneur biography for those wanting to learn more about finances, teamwork, and professional collaboration.

Author : Gregory Zuckerman

Length : 359 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Any time you hear financial experts talking about how the market went up because of such and such—remember it’s all nonsense.”

24) The Animated Man: A Life Of Walt Disney

The Animated Man: A Life Of Walt Disney

Name of the book : The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney

Description of the book : Michael Barrier is the man behind one of the best business biographies, the origin story of Walt Disney. In this book, readers will discover important details from Walt’s life and how he got the idea to make cartoons.

Michael recorded countless interviews with Disney’s partner and friends to write this book.

You will see what challenges Walt overcame and how he battled out of the disaster that occurred in 1941.

Author : Michael Barrier

Length : 393 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : "I am not a literary person. As far as realism is concerned, you can find dirt anyplace you look for it. I'm one of those optimists. There's always a rainbow. The great masses like happy endings. If you can pull a tear out of them, they'll remember your picture.”

25) I’d Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta

I’d Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta

Name of the book : I’d Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta

Description of the book : I’d Like the World to Buy a Coke takes us on a journey in the life of Roberto Goizueta, one of the longest-serving and highest-paid CEOs in history. 

The book explains Roberto’s arrival from Cuba in the 1960s and his rise while working in Coca-Cola. You will find out how Roberto reorganized Coca-Cola, the leader in the soft-drink industry, and his marketing strategies that made Coke the most popular beverage on Earth. 

Author : David Greising

Length : 334 pages

‍ ‍Notable quote : “Not to take risks is the biggest risk.”

What Business Biographies Did We Miss?

So there you have it!

25 of the best entrepreneur biographies out there that can undoubtedly give you some sort of inspiration as you prepare yourself for the next ‘big’ step. 

All of these biographies are written with the purpose of helping entrepreneurs, as many of them come from groundbreaking founders and investors that reshaped the business world. 

Just like always, if we missed any biography that deserves a spot on our pretty list , don’t forget to send us an email - we’re more than happy to update our list with more and more entrepreneur biographies.

Questions About Business Biographies

What are business biography books.

Business biography books tell the behind-the-scenes stories of the greatest minds in the business industry, including Walt Disney, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos.

What Are The Best Business Biographies?

The best business biographies are Alibaba, by Duncan Clark, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, and Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight.

What Are The Best CEO Biographies?

CEO biographies are a segment of business biographies, which share the stories of the CEOs of the biggest companies. Only the Paranoid Survive, by Andrew Grove, Jack, by Jack Welch, and Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh, are the best CEO biographies.

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100 Best Business Biography Books of All Time

We've researched and ranked the best business biography books in the world, based on recommendations from world experts, sales data, and millions of reader ratings. Learn more

top business biographies to read

A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Phil Knight | 5.00

top business biographies to read

Bill Gates This memoir, by the co-founder of Nike, is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like: messy, precarious, and riddled with mistakes. I’ve met Knight a few times over the years. He’s super nice, but he’s also quiet and difficult to get to know. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader... (Source)

Warren Buffett The best book I read last year. Phil is... a gifted storyteller. (Source)

Andre Agassi I've known Phil Knight since I was a kid, but I didn't really know him until I opened this beautiful, startling, intimate book. And the same goes for Nike. I've worn the gear with pride, but I didn't realize the remarkable saga of innovation and survival and triumph that stood behind every swoosh. Candid, funny, suspenseful, literary - this is a memoir for people who love sport, but above all... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

top business biographies to read

Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Ashlee Vance | 4.76

top business biographies to read

Richard Branson Elon Musk is a man after my own heart: a risk taker undaunted by setbacks and ever driven to ensure a bright future for humanity. Ashlee Vance's stellar biography captures Musk's remarkable life story and irrepressible spirit. (Source)

Casey Neistat I'm fascinated by Elon Musk, I own a Tesla, I read Ashlee Vance's biography on Elon Musk. I think he's a very interesting charachter. (Source)

Roxana Bitoleanu A business book I would definitely choose the biography of Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance, because of Elon's strong, even extreme ambition to radically change the world, which I find very inspiring. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Walter Isaacson | 4.73

top business biographies to read

Elon Musk Quite interesting. (Source)

Bill Gates [On Bill Gates's reading list in 2012.] (Source)

Gary Vaynerchuk I've read 3 business books in my life. If you call [this book] a business book. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Everything Store

Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Brad Stone | 4.70

top business biographies to read

Doug McMillon [I read and give this book because] you need to understand what you’re up against. (Source)

Santiago Basulto I love to read biographies and stories of companies. Hatching Twitter is a really good book, and if you’re into that sort of books, bios of Steve Jobs (by Isaacson) or Jeff Bezos are great too. (Source)

Tracy DiNunzio It's a great book and especially for people starting out. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Made in America

Sam Walton, John Huey | 4.59

"Here is an extraordinary success story about a man whose empire was built not with smoke and mirrors, but with good old-fashioned elbow grease." (Detroit Free Press)

top business biographies to read

Jeff Bezos Expounds on the principles of discount retailing and discusses his core values of frugality and a bias for action—a willingness to try a lot of things and make many mistakes. Bezos included both in Amazon’s corporate values. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Rob "Crypto Bobby" Paone @tmac604 Read it earlier this summer, a great book 👍 and also hilarious to compare to current corporate excess ala WeWork (Source)

top business biographies to read

Life and Work

Ray Dalio | 4.58

top business biographies to read

Mark Cuban The book I wish I had as a young entrepreneur. (Source)

Tony Robbins I found it to be truly extraordinary. Every page is full of so many principles of distinction and insights—and I love how Ray incorporates his history and his life in such an elegant way. (Source)

Bill Gates Ray Dalio has provided me with invaluable guidance and insights that are now available to you in Principles. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Ride of a Lifetime

Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

Robert Iger | 4.56

top business biographies to read

Brian Chesky Bob's book is great and he's an excellent CEO. (Source)

Brené Brown I expected a book written by the person who has led Disney for decades to be defined by both gripping storytelling and deep leadership wisdom. [The author] delivers, and then some! [This book] is leadership gold—you won’t forget the stories or the lessons. (Source)

Karlie Kloss [Karlie Kloss] says [this book] really inspired her to become a better boss. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Art of the Deal

Donald J. Trump, Tony Schwartz | 4.48

top business biographies to read

Jim Hanson You already had Trump officials testifythey disagreed w/ @realDonaldTrump Interesting thing about executive power The executive has the power Not the advisers Here's a good book on it https://t.co/KGlUpucCNI Time for the acquittal https://t.co/xICCPPuvM5 (Source)

Marc M. Lalonde The easiest way to Clean Up my Friends List is to post this... I love this book! | Let's get to know each other a little. I'll start... Here's MY Story: https://t.co/o8gIl1TxR7 #AskLalonde #marcmlalonde #wealthy #inspiration https://t.co/6ULSKHiIj3 (Source)

Secret Agent Number Six The failing George W. Washington and his dad George H.W. Washington were fake Presidents. They did not think of The Constitution before I did.They stole all of my ideas for it from "The Art of the Deal" which you should read right now because its the best book ever. No collution! (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Outsiders

Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success

William N. Thorndike | 4.47

top business biographies to read

Warren Buffett In his 2012 shareholder letter, Buffett praises The Outsiders as "an outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation." Berkshire Hathaway plays a major role in the book. One chapter is on director Tom Murphy, who Buffett says is "overall the best business manager I've ever met." (Source)

top business biographies to read

Michael Dell Thorndike explores the importance of thoughtful capital allocation through the stories of eight successful CEOs. A good read for any business leader but especially those willing to chart their own course (Source)

Mason Hawkins The Outsiders is a must-read for leaders—and aspiring leaders—striving to become exceptional CEOs, and for investors interested in partnering with exceptional stewards of corporate capital. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Ben Horowitz | 4.45

top business biographies to read

Larry Page Ben's book is a great read - with uncomfortable truths about entrepreneurship and how to lead to a company. It's also an inspiring story of a business rebirth through sheer willpower. (Source)

Mark Zuckerberg Ben's experience and expertise make him one of the most important leaders not just in Silicon Valley but also in the global knowledge economy. For anyone interested in building, growing or leading a great company, this book is an incredibly valuable resource - and a funny and insightful read. (Source)

Dustin Moskovitz [Dustin Moskovitz recommended this book during a Stanford lecture.] (Source)

Don't have time to read the top Business Biography books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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top business biographies to read

The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Ron Chernow | 4.41

top business biographies to read

Ryan Holiday A biography has to be really good to make read you all 800 pages. To me, this was one of those books. Since reading it earlier this year, I’ve since found out it is the favorite book of a lot of people I respect. I think something about the quality of the writing and the empathic understanding of the writer that the main lessons you would take away from someone like Rockefeller would not be... (Source)

top business biographies to read

Adam Townsend @Sociopathlete Great book (Source)

top business biographies to read

Anas Alhajji @Morg2006 Yep, I already have it. great book. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Millionaire Next Door

The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy

Ph.D. Stanley, Thomas J., Ph.D.; Danko, William D. | 4.39

top business biographies to read

Dave Collum @cullenroche You ever read "Millionaire Next Door"? You just described parts of it. Great book, IMO. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Intelligent Investor

The Classic Text on Value Investing

Benjamin Graham | 4.39

top business biographies to read

Warren Buffett To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information. What's needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework. This book precisely and clearly prescribes the proper framework. You must provide the emotional discipline. (Source)

Kevin Rose The foundation for investing. A lot of people have used this as their guide to getting into investment, basic strategies. Actually Warren Buffett cites this as the book that got him into investing and he says that principles he learned here helped him to become a great investor. Highly recommend this book. It’s a great way understand what’s going on and how to evaluate different companies out... (Source)

top business biographies to read

John Kay The idea is that you look at the underlying value of the company’s activities instead of relying on market gossip. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Snowball

Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

Alice Schroeder | 4.37

top business biographies to read

Marvin Liao My list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make... (Source)

John Kay It’s on the list, firstly, because Buffet is the most successful investor in history. (Source)

Chude Jideonwo It's been so long, and I've been so busy that I haven't been able to recommend a book. I am sorry! I have read so many fantastic ones though, no matter how busy I have been. And I am soooooo excited to recommend this one. I love Warren Buffett ... https://t.co/ML0pM3G29k https://t.co/6yhfhT8WF5 (Source)

top business biographies to read

Creativity, Inc.

Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace | 4.33

top business biographies to read

Mark Zuckerberg This book is written by the founder of Pixar and is about his experience building a culture that fosters creativity. His theory is that people are fundamentally creative, but many forces stand in the way of people being able to do their best work. I love reading first-hand accounts about how people build great companies like Pixar and nurture innovation and creativity. This should be inspiring to... (Source)

Timothy Ferriss No matter your circumstances, storytelling and creativity are two 'meta-skills' that can take your business and life to the next level. Ed is a master. (Source)

Ezra Klein An amazing, amazing book. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Sheryl Sandberg | 4.33

Mark Zuckerberg For the past five years, I've sat at a desk next to Sheryl and I've learned something from her almost every day. She has a remarkable intelligence that can cut through complex processes and find solutions to the hardest problems. Lean In combines Sheryl's ability to synthesize information with her understanding of how to get the best out of people. The book is smart and honest and funny. Her... (Source)

Oprah Winfrey Honest and brave... The new manifesto for women in the workplace. (Source)

Richard Branson If you loved Sheryl Sandberg's incredible TED talk on why we have too few women leaders, or simply believe as I do that we need equality in the boardroom, then this book is for you. As Facebook's COO, Sheryl Sandberg has first-hand experience of why having more women in leadership roles is good for business as well as society. Lean In is essential reading for anyone interested in righting the... (Source)

top business biographies to read

High Output Management

Andrew S. Grove | 4.33

top business biographies to read

Mark Zuckerberg [Andy’s] book played a big role in shaping my management style. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Ben Horowitz Andy Grove, who built himself from nothing to run Intel, stopped what he was doing to teach us his magic. And not through some ghostwriter either — Andy wrote this book himself. What an incredible gift. (Source)

Drew Houston The best book on management ever written. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Poor Charlie's Almanack

The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

Peter D. Kaufman, Ed Wexler, Warren E. Buffett, Charles T. Munger | 4.32

top business biographies to read

Warren Buffett From 1733 to 1758, Ben Franklin dispensed useful and timeless advice through Poor Richard's Almanack. Among the virtues extolled were thrift, duty, hard work, and simplicity. Subsequently, two centuries went by during which Ben's thoughts on these subjects were regarded as the last word. Then Charlie Munger stepped forth. (Source)

Bill Gates [On Bill Gates's reading list in 2011.] (Source)

Naval Ravikant I always recommend [this book] as my top business book. (Source)

top business biographies to read

A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice

Bill Browder | 4.28

top business biographies to read

Eric Ries This reads like a thriller, but is an urgent and important story about the dangers of Putin’s Russia and the events leading to the Magnitsky Act. (Source)

Anand Sanwal @geoffreysbatt @patrick_oshag 2/ Reminded a bit of the story of @Billbrowder as told in the remarkable book Red Notice which chronicles his investments in Russia very early before everyone saw the opportunity (Source)

Jonathan Kay Am reading @Billbrowder's amazing book Red Notice. Did not know incredible story of Bill's dad, who got his @Princeton math PhD at age 20. Like many Jews of era, suffered massive discrimination, stigmatized because of his own dad's communism. Then Eleanor Roosevelt saves the day https://t.co/Bp5PFiIxm1 (Source)

top business biographies to read

Delivering Happiness

A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Tony Hsieh | 4.27

top business biographies to read

Chip Conley [The author] is a wise guy. Sincerely. He’s one of the wisest and most thoughtful business leaders of the modern age. (Source)

Adam Johnston Inspiring case study into building brand and customer service. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Julie Rice [At SoulCycle] we’re all big fans of [this book]. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Power Broker

Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

Robert A. Caro | 4.27

top business biographies to read

Barack Obama He may have the country’s finest experts at his fingertips, but it still doesn’t hurt to read up on environmental and economic issues. (Source)

Ryan Holiday It took me 15 days to read all 1,165 pages of this monstrosity that chronicles the rise of Robert Moses. I was 20 years old. It was one of the most magnificent books I’ve ever read. Moses built just about every other major modern construction project in New York City. The public couldn’t stop him, the mayor couldn’t stop him, the governor couldn’t stop him, and only once could the President of... (Source)

Ben Greenman Well, if you look at a picture of a place, you can normally get a sense of what it’s like. But hopefully what books do, or what thinking does, is to show you what that place is like underneath. The Power Broker is the definitive history of how, in modern America, cities get built, power gets thrown around, neighbourhoods are overpowered by developers and politicians. It’s gigantic and it’s a... (Source)

top business biographies to read

This is Going to Hurt

Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

Adam Kay | 4.23

top business biographies to read

Quinn Cummings @lorapenza You might love @amateuradam's book. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

Daniel Yergin | 4.21

top business biographies to read

Chris Goodall A wonderfully readable history of the development of the oil age. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Losing My Virginity

The Autobiography

Richard Branson | 4.20

top business biographies to read

Yaro Starak Richard Branson, another guy with his second bio came out just recently, sort of like the part II of his life, the next 20 years. I grabbed that because his bio… I should actually go back and answer your first and second question about biggest impact and “Losing My Virginity” by Richard Branson was a huge one back in the late 90s for me, more about big thinking. The guy is crazy and I would never... (Source)

Holger Seim When it comes to biographies I particularly like Losing My Virginity. (Source)

Robin Sharma I encourage you to read his autobiography “Losing My Virginity” as well as his book “Business Stripped Bare” if you haven’t gone through them yet. Uber-inspiring. For people who want to become Remarkable Entrepreneurs – and express their absolute best. (Source)

top business biographies to read

My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business

Dick Van Dyke | 4.20

top business biographies to read

The Wealth of Nations

Adam Smith | 4.19

top business biographies to read

Elon Musk Adam Smith FTW obv. (Source)

Barack Obama Obama, unsurprisingly, appears to be more drawn to stories sympathetic to the working classes than is McCain. Obama cites John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle,” about a labor dispute; Robert Caro’s “Power Broker,” about Robert Moses; and Studs Terkel’s “Working.” But he also includes Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” and “Theory of Moral Sentiments” on his list. (Source)

Neil deGrasse Tyson Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on planet? [...] The Wealth of Nations (Smith) [to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself]. If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Hit Refresh

Satya Nadella, Greg Shaw, Jill Tracie Nichols | 4.18

top business biographies to read

Bill Gates With every new technology, there are challenges. How do we help people whose jobs are replaced by AI agents and robots? Will users trust their AI agent with all their information? If an agent could advise you on your work style, would you want it to? That is what makes books like Hit Refresh so valuable. Satya has charted a course for making the most of the opportunities created by technology... (Source)

Aviers Lim I would recommend biographies of Elon Musk and Satya Nadella. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The 1-Page Marketing Plan

Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd

Allan Dib | 4.16

top business biographies to read

The Elon Musk Blog Series

Wait But Why

Tim Urban | 4.15

top business biographies to read

Setting the Table

The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

Danny Meyer | 4.15

top business biographies to read

Chip Conley One of the best books on hospitality ever written. (Source)

Noah Kagan A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life... During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives. I want to share them with you. I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book. (Source)

Julie Rice We did a lot of reading [this book] at SoulCycle. (Source)

top business biographies to read

One Up On Wall Street

How to Use What You Already Know to Make Money in the Market

Peter Lynch, John Rothchild | 4.15

top business biographies to read

Patrick Swalls Read this if you want to learn more about the stock market. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Cable Cowboy

John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business

Mark Robichaux | 4.15

The Reckoning

David Halberstam | 4.14

top business biographies to read

David J Lynch This one sort of speaks to something I’ve long been interested in. We get this general education in schools that follows the basic themes of presidents and wars and that kind of thing and then there’s this alternative history of finance and economics, and Lords of Finance impressed me because it gives you that alternative history, particularly through the inter-war years from the end of World War... (Source)

How to Win at the Sport of Business

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

Mark Cuban | 4.13

top business biographies to read

Jason Khalipa I like it because it gets me fired up. (Source)

top business biographies to read

An Autobiography

Lee Iacocca, William Novak | 4.13

top business biographies to read

Ramit Sethi Every few years for the last 20 years, Ramit has read Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca and William Novak. (Source)

Shankar Sharma Reading the Iacocca autobio at age 21, was absolutely transformational. Taught me more than an MBA degree. The second book that did something similar at that age for me, was "The Mind of The Strategist" by Kenichi Ohmae. Such great business wisdom in these books. RIP Lee https://t.co/PCpkRiKwUV (Source)

top business biographies to read

Grinding It Out

The Making of McDonald's

Ray Kroc, Robert Anderson | 4.13

top business biographies to read

Aj Joshi @brianadgey Great book 👍🏼 very inspiring (Source)

top business biographies to read

The First Tycoon

The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

T.J. Stiles | 4.12

top business biographies to read

Josh Sternberg @mhbergen @nitashatiku “If [Cornelius Vanderbilt] had been able to sell all his assets at full market value at the moment of his death he would have taken one out of every 20 dollars in circulation.” From great book on Vanderbilt https://t.co/7SljC6fmbG (Source)

top business biographies to read

Skunk Works

A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed

Ben R. Rich, Leo Janos | 4.12

top business biographies to read

Chris Anderson @elidourado @pmarcas_likes What broke was our risk tolerance. The "Skunkworks" book is a great insider story of that. The day that the financial auditors outnumbered the engineers was the day the innovation died: https://t.co/ncrsulEZyC (Source)

top business biographies to read

Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire

James Wallace and Jim Erickson | 4.12

top business biographies to read

Trillion Dollar Coach

The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell

Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle | 4.12

top business biographies to read

Sheryl Sandberg Bill shared his wisdom generously, expecting nothing back but the joy he got from teaching others. I was privileged to have him as my coach for several years. Many times since then, when asked for advice by others, I think of Bill and try to live up to the example he set. (Source)

Tim Cook Bill's passion for innovation and teamwork was a gift to Apple and the world. Trillion Dollar Coach has captured his tireless spirit so future generations can learn from one of our industry's greatest leaders. (Source)

Sundar Pichai Whenever I saw Bill, he gave me great perspective about what really matters. At the end of the day, it's the people in your life. Bill had such strong principles around community and how to bring people together. We used those principles - detailed in Trillion Dollar Coach - to form the foundation of Google's leadership training, so all of our leaders can continue to learn from Bill. (Source)

top business biographies to read

How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

Howard Schultz, Joanne Gordon | 4.12

Ron Conway Story of his return to Starbucks, and the success of the company in a tumlutuous economic time in history. (Source)

top business biographies to read

In the Plex

How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

Steven Levy | 4.11

top business biographies to read

Bill Slawski In The Plex is a great introduction to Google, and the many who work there. I knew many by the patents they file, so it was good to learn more about them as people. Some good insights to some algorithms in the book, too. https://t.co/TVz7GsD8nX (Source)

Alan Pierce I’m currently reading “In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Life" and am excited on gaining more insight into how google is changing the world and hopefully to get some valuable understanding I can use to maximize business decisions and read future trends while assessing investment opportunities for my company, ABM Investments. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Straight from the Gut

Jack Welch and John A. Byrn | 4.11

top business biographies to read

Warren Buffett In his 2001 shareholder letter, Buffett gleefully endorses Jack: Straight from the Gut, a business memoir of longtime GE executive Jack Welch, whom Buffett describes as (Source)

Tudor Mihailescu In every industry, there would be many relevant books but nothing would replace being in touch with the customers and people in own organisation. It’s a vast of space to recommend books, but I would suggest that learning how proven entrepreneurs or managers have done this as a good start (read about Jake Welch – Straight from the Gut, Steve Jobs, Shoe Dog – Phil Knight or Elon Musk) – admittedly,... (Source)

Annika Falkengren I read Jack Welch’s book back in 2003 and it was at the time a great source of inspiration. There were a couple of things that got stuck in my mind and in some cases changed my mind: that there are no shortcuts, that facts always must be faced no matter how brutal and that losing or failing had a value as long as your learn from them. His thoughts on how crucial the soft values are, inspired me a... (Source)

top business biographies to read

What It Takes

Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence

Stephen A. Schwarzman | 4.11

top business biographies to read

Eric Schmidt Reveals how [the author] has achieved the rarest kind of leverage in multiple fields. (Source)

Norman Ornstein What it Takes remains the best book written about American politics and politicians. i reread every few years. Want to know about Biden? Read it! https://t.co/ZlLwbRqADa (Source)

top business biographies to read

Trailblazer

The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change

Marc Benioff, Monica Langley | 4.11

top business biographies to read

Bill Gross I've been waiting "im"patiently for @Benioff 's new book to come out. It just came out on Kindle 10 minutes ago. It's terrific. Such a powerful, simple, but important lesson and message, "Values create Value!" I'll be sharing more highlights as I read further.. https://t.co/KAgrFs31fC (Source)

Jim Cramer I love this book and have already used it as the basis for several @MadMoneyOnCNBC segments and a talk to young entrepreneurs !!! https://t.co/fLYtdYAMxC (Source)

Natalie Petouhoff Trailblazer: @salesforce Founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff’s Inspiring New Book Shows How Business is the Greatest Platform for Change @Benioff https://t.co/lcIQbvG1Qo https://t.co/TKCiIpK6ZB (Source)

top business biographies to read

The House of Morgan

An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

Ron Chernow | 4.11

top business biographies to read

Made in Japan

Akio Morita and Sony

Akio Morita, Edwin M. Reingold, Mitsuko Shimomura | 4.11

Bill Graham Presents

My Life Inside Rock And Out

Bill Graham, Robert Greenfield | 4.11

James Murphy Bill Graham Presents My Life Inside Rock and Out because I think it’s very important for young people to understand the history of the concert business before trying to jump into it. You need to have a clear understanding of where it’s been to know where it’s going and how you can help take it there. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Built from Scratch

How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion

Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Bob Andelman | 4.10

When a friend told Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank that, "You've just been hit in the ass by a golden horseshoe," they thought he was crazy. After all, both had just been fired. What the friend, Ken Langone, meant was that they now had the opportunity to create the kind of wide-open warehouse store that would help spark a consumer revolution through low prices, excellent customer service, and wide availability of products.

Built from Scratch is the story of how two incredibly determined and creative people-and their associates-built a business from nothing to 761...

Built from Scratch is the story of how two incredibly determined and creative people-and their associates-built a business from nothing to 761 stores and $30 billion in sales in a mere twenty years.

Built from Scratch tells many colorful stories associated with The Home Depot's founding and meteoric rise; shows that a company can be a tough, growth-oriented competitor and still maintain a high sense of responsibility to the community; and provides great lessons useful to people in any business, from start-ups to the Fortune 500.

Great Stories

A Company with a Conscience

Great Lessons

Bernie Marcus is a cofounder of The Home Depot and currently serves as chairman of the board. From the company's inception until 1997, he served as CEO. With his wife, Billie Marcus, he founded the Marcus Developmental Resource Center, which provides support services for mentally impaired children and their parents. He sits on many boards of directors, including the New York Stock Exchange, and participates in many civic organizations, including the City of Hope, a cancer research center.

Arthur Blank is a cofounder of The Home Depot and is the company's president and CEO. He serves on the board of trustees of several organizations, including the North Carolina Outward Bound School, the Carter Center, Emory University, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He was inducted into the Babson College Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs and was honored by the City of Hope for his fund-raising leadership.

Bob Andelman lives with his wife and daughter in St. Petersburg, Florida, and has collaborated on many bestselling business books, including Mean Business and The Profit Zone .

top business biographies to read

Frank Blake Very meaningful to me, not only because it’s the story of the founding of the Home Depot, but also because of my start as the CEO of Home Depot. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Rich Dad Poor Dad

What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!

Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter C.P.A | 4.10

top business biographies to read

Will Smith [Will Smith mentioned sharing this book with his son.] (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Man Who Solved the Market

How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution

Gregory Zuckerman | 4.10

top business biographies to read

Abhishek Kar @Singh7575 ~The man who solved the market Nice book and interesting insights from Jim's life. Read it last month. Happy reading👍 (Source)

Andy Sum I finished reading a book! Pretty interesting biography and background on some of the emotions involved in quantatative trading. Worth reading. https://t.co/doi843dcGN (Source)

Steve Burns The new book on Jim Simons is in my top 5 favorite trading books of all time ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It is already the #19 best seller in Amazon nonfiction The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution Kindle Edition by Gregory Zuckerman https://t.co/FAZFigNNXy https://t.co/Jjz38Qpdnu (Source)

top business biographies to read

Let My People Go Surfing

The Education of a Reluctant Businessman--Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual

Yvon Chouinard, Naomi Klein | 4.10

top business biographies to read

Alastair Humphreys @SecondS37175185 A fantastic book. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Paul Kedrosky @dpfishman Yes, fantastic book by incredible human. (Source)

Holger Seim When it comes to biographies I particularly like Let My People Go Surfing. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Shark Tales

How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business

Barbara Corcoran, Bruce Littlefield | 4.09

top business biographies to read

Trust Me, I'm Lying

Confessions of a Media Manipulator

Ryan Holiday | 4.09

Timothy Ferriss Ryan is part Machiavelli, part Ogilvy, and all results. From American Apparel to the quiet campaigns he's run but not taken credit for, this whiz kid is the secret weapon you've never heard of. (Source)

Dov Charney Behind my reputation as a marketing genius there is Ryan Holiday, whom I consult often and who has done more for my business than just about anyone. (Source)

Tucker Max The strategies Ryan created to exploit blogs drove sales of millions of my books and made me an internationally known name. The reason I am standing here while other celebrities were destroyed or became parodies of themselves is because of his insider knowledge. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Jack Welch, Suzy Welch | 4.09

top business biographies to read

Living Proof

Onyx Moonshine's Journey to Revive the American Spirit

Adam von Gootkin | 4.09

Capital Gaines

Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff

Chip Gaines | 4.09

top business biographies to read

The Unbeatable Legend in Business World

All About Microsoft and How it Became The Most successful enterprise on The Earth!

Rahul Doshi | 4.09

top business biographies to read

Liar's Poker

Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Michael Lewis | 4.09

With the eye and ear of a born storyteller, Michael Lewis shows us how things really worked on Wall Street....

With the eye and ear of a born storyteller, Michael Lewis shows us how things really worked on Wall Street. In the Salomon training program a roomful of aspirants is stunned speechless by the vitriolic profanity of the Human Piranha; out on the trading floor, bond traders throw telephones at the heads of underlings and Salomon chairman Gutfreund challenges his chief trader to a hand of liar's poker for one million dollars; around the world in London, Tokyo, and New York, bright young men like Michael Lewis, connected by telephones and computer terminals, swap gross jokes and find retail buyers for the staggering debt of individual companies or whole countries.

The bond traders, wearing greed and ambition and badges of honor, might well have swaggered straight from the pages of Bonfire of the Vanities . But for all thier outrageous behavior, they were in fact presiding over enormous changes in the world economy. Lewis's job, simply described, was to transfer money, in the form of bonds, from those outside America who saved to those inside America who consumed. In doing so, he generated tens of millions of dollars for Salomon Brothers, and earned for himself a ringside seat on the greatest financial spectacle of the decade: the leveraging of America.

top business biographies to read

John Lanchester It’s still a wonderfully entertaining book: An absolutely hilarious, very, very dark, vivid account of how Michael Lewis came out of Princeton and, with basically no qualifications, got a job in the bond trading department of Salomon Brothers (Source)

Audrey Russo Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path? Answer: Anything by Peter Senge. The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler Black Swan – Taleb Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao. Creative Class – Richard Florida Creativity Inc. by Ed... (Source)

top business biographies to read

How the Internet Happened

From Netscape to the iPhone

Brian McCullough | 4.08

top business biographies to read

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

The Classic Novel Based on the Life of Legendary Stock Market Speculator Jesse Livermore

Lefevre Edwin, Price Tim | 4.08

top business biographies to read

Steve Burns "By far, the best investing book is Reminiscences Of A Stock Operator. Everything in that book is true about how markets work, how human nature works, the mistakes people make, the greed that they have, the ways they get themselves in trouble." - Gundlach https://t.co/asuBsN0BvM (Source)

Alykhan Satchu My all time favorite Book https://t.co/UxwPMlAcXU (Source)

Joshua M. Brown Each new generation of traders gets inspired by this book but I have come to love it as more of a cautionary tale. and FYI, this is the better book for that context: https://t.co/116lNciXCF https://t.co/mEYn2ZAqPI (Source)

The Big Payback

The History of the Business of Hip-Hop

Dan Charnas | 4.08

top business biographies to read

Lords of Finance

The Bankers Who Broke the World

Liaquat Ahamed | 4.07

top business biographies to read

Barry Ritholtz It covers a 50-year period from before World War I and leading up to World War II. Even if you’re not interested in finance, it’s a great read. (Source)

David J Lynch Lords of Finance gives you that alternative history, particularly through the inter-war years from the end of World War I into the Great Depression. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Pour Your Heart Into It

Highbridge | 4.07

Yaro Starak There were also more traditional books or businesses I read about, like the biography of Starbucks. It’s really more the biography of the CEO, Howard Schultz, a lot about him growing the Starbucks brand. Since I spent a lot of time writing in Starbucks cafés, that was an important company to me. (Source)

Jilliene Helman I really, really like company biographies. They're just kind of the style of book that I've gotten really into. [...] I've read the Starbucks CEO book. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Unauthorized Autobiography

J.T. Owens | 4.07

top business biographies to read

Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out

Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch, and How Craft Beer Became Big Business

Josh Noel | 4.07

top business biographies to read

Heroes of the Computer Revolution

Steven Levy | 4.06

top business biographies to read

American Gun

A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms

Chris Kyle, William Doyle | 4.06

top business biographies to read

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Kind of the Story of My Life

Scott Adams | 4.06

Timothy Ferriss Scott has an incredible approach to 'career planning' that's as effective as it is unusual. He’s beaten all the odds and can help you do the same. (Source)

Gennady Batrakov [One of the] few books that made a great deal of impact on my life. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Birth of Loud

Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll

Ian S. Port | 4.06

top business biographies to read

Confessions of an Advertising Man

David Ogilvy, Sir Alan Parker | 4.06

top business biographies to read

Rory Sutherland @GuruAnaerobic Love it. His best book. (Source)

Ronn Torossian Considering the overlap of similarities between PR and advertising, it is vital to learn from such legends as Ogilvy. His concepts, tactics, and techniques and are a must-read for not only those in marketing and PR but business in general. (Source)

Ola Olusoga For business, I've read Influence by Robert Cialdini 3 times, and Traction by Gabriel Weinberg twice, so if number of times read indicates favor, then those are it. There are a whole bunch of others, like The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman, Confession of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy, The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, and Running Lean by Ash Maurya, that I've also enjoyed and recommend to... (Source)

top business biographies to read

Andrew Carnegie

David Nasaw | 4.06

Charles T. Munger The definitive biography of an industrial genius, philanthropist, and enigma. At the meeting in May of this year, Munger also mentioned the Mellon Brothers as people to study. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Where Wizards Stay Up Late

The Origins Of The Internet

Katie Hafner | 4.05

At last, Hafner and Lyon have written a well-researched story of the origins of the Internet substantiated by extensive interviews with its creators who delve into many interesting details such as the controversy surrounding the adoption of our now beloved "@" sign as the separator of usernames and machine addresses. Essential reading for anyone interested in the past...

At last, Hafner and Lyon have written a well-researched story of the origins of the Internet substantiated by extensive interviews with its creators who delve into many interesting details such as the controversy surrounding the adoption of our now beloved "@" sign as the separator of usernames and machine addresses. Essential reading for anyone interested in the past -- and the future -- of the Net specifically, and telecommunications generally.

top business biographies to read

Lev Grossman If you want to go all the way back, Janet Abbate’s Inventing The Internet really takes it all the way back to the Eisenhower administration and the very beginnings of electronic computers. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Every Tool's a Hammer

Life is What You Make It

Adam Savage | 4.05

top business biographies to read

Scott Smith When @Alchemister5 and I decided to open @dnpeek, he gave me this book that @donttrythis wrote. I personally love hammers Jason. ;) https://t.co/ZabTx6JxGX (Source)

top business biographies to read

Learning to Breathe Fire

The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness

J.C. Herz | 4.04

top business biographies to read

Lead from the Outside

How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change

Stacey Abrams | 4.04

top business biographies to read

Wild Company

The Untold Story of Banana Republic

Mel Ziegler, Patricia Ziegler | 4.04

top business biographies to read

Against the Odds

James Dyson | 4.04

top business biographies to read

Console Wars

Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

Blake J. Harris | 4.04

top business biographies to read

The King of Oil

The Secret Lives of Marc Rich

Daniel Ammann | 4.03

top business biographies to read

This Is Not a T-Shirt

A Brand, a Culture, a Community--A Life in Streetwear

Bobby Hundreds | 4.03

Gary Vaynerchuk Simply put, Bobby Hundreds is a social beast. He knows how to tell a story, where to tell that story, and he's great at bringing people together. He's also crazy dedicated to his work and has the laser-focused attention to detail needed to not only build an everlasting globally relevant brand, but any successful business. (Source)

Jessica Alba Building a brand is about identifying and fulfilling a need in a way that no one else can. It takes vision, dedication, and attention to detail. The Hundreds is a prime example of what it looks like when you've combined all these elements along with tapping into a culture and community. This is Not a T-Shirt guides you through methods and tools you can apply to get you one step closer to... (Source)

Tony Hawk This is Not a T-Shirt tracks the history of surf and skate culture and their relationship to streetwear—from the Zephyr skate team of the 1970s to brands like Stüssy, Supreme, BAPE, and, of course, The Hundreds, which has managed to stay relevant for more than fifteen years in a fickle market. This book is an insider's guide to the prevailing trends in youth culture of the last few decades that... (Source)

top business biographies to read

Sell It Like Serhant

How to Sell More, Earn More, and Become the Ultimate Sales Machine

Ryan Serhant | 4.03

top business biographies to read

Climate of Hope

How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet

Michael Bloomberg, Carl Pope | 4.03

top business biographies to read

iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon

How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It

Steve Wozniak, Gina Smith | 4.03

top business biographies to read

The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products

Leander Kahney | 4.03

top business biographies to read

Bitcoin Billionaires

A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption

Ben Mezrich | 4.03

top business biographies to read

Kim Dotcom The Winklevoss brothers mailed me this awesome must-read book #bitcoinbillionaires with a really nice personal note. Thank you @winklevoss and @tylerwinklevoss. Facebook was stolen from you but what you’ve created since then is even more impressive. Crypto is the future. https://t.co/iAkfU1Dm65 (Source)

Bill Lee Thank you @tylerwinklevoss @winklevoss for sending me the must read @benmezrich book with the nice signed note. You guys are ushering in the crypto revolution and have captured lightning in a bottle again. #respect #BitcoinBillionaires https://t.co/QNaJLkQPJa (Source)

top business biographies to read

Negro with a Hat

The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey

Colin Grant | 4.03

top business biographies to read

The Facebook Effect

The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World

David Kirkpatrick | 4.03

Craig Pearce If you read to maintain motivation and be entertained, I recommend a few books that in addition to telling great stories, also contain lessons and learnings. You won’t gain many step-by-step type lessons from these books but you will come away realizing that not all startups, regardless of what stage they are in, are as well polished as they make you think. You will realize that they make... (Source)

Angela Pham The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick made me a fan of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg years ago. I didn’t hesitate to take my current role at Facebook because I feel so strongly about their integrity and leadership, no matter the negative sentiments and media narratives the company has endured recently. (Source)

top business biographies to read

The Attention Merchants

The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads

Tim Wu | 4.02

top business biographies to read

Yuval Noah Harari A very insightful book that surveys the history of modern information technology and its political implications, from the age of print and radio to the era of Google and Facebook. It gives the context of the current battle to control human attention. (Source)

Marvin Liao I tend to jump from book to book and may switch if I am interested in some new topic. This is a pleasure for me (which I also do benefit work wise from too). It’s quite a random list because I have eclectic interests (or just scatterbrained most likely) on tech business, AI, general global economy, geopolitics, rising Biotech economy & history. I'm basically 15% to 50% into all these books. (Source)

Rafat Ali Have to say @superwuster is best business writer there is. Just finished Master Switch , now reading “Attention Merchants”, the best history-in-context-with-rigor-and-intellectual-analysis writer/explainer there is. If I ever write a book, want to write it like Tim Wu. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Kevin Freiberg | 4.02

top business biographies to read

The House That Jack Ma Built

Duncan Clark | 4.02

Tim Draper Duncan Clark gets into the heart and soul of Alibaba and its founder, Jack Ma, who deftly maneuvered through the discontinuities and barriers in China to create one of the greatest companies in the world. China has thrived under the leadership of Jack Ma. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the present China and the heartbeat of a great entrepreneur. (Source)

Ken Wilcox This book provides excellent insight into the world of Jack Ma, perhaps the most famous of the leaders of the new economy in China. Duncan Clark is a real China 'Old Hand', unique in his knowledge of the Jack Ma generation. This book is definitely on the short list for those who wish to understand the Chinese economy today. (Source)

Erik Cheong I am a big fan of Jack Ma, I have 4 different books talking about Jack. He is a top entrepreneur & visionaire, who started out as a modest English teacher and built Alibaba into one of the world’s largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend on. I am impressed about how he overcame his humble origins and early failures to achieve massive... (Source)

Paul Allen | 4.02

top business biographies to read

An Invisible Thread

The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny

Laura Schroff | 4.01

top business biographies to read

LeBron, Inc.

The Making of a Billion-Dollar Athlete

Brian Windhorst | 4.01

top business biographies to read

My Years with General Motors

Alfred Sloan | 4.01

top business biographies to read

Ben Horowitz My Years at GM by Alfred Sloan was very interesting particularly on scale issues. (Source)

Bogdan Iordache If you have to read just one business book to understand the global corporate world we live in today, I think this is it. And I think Bill Gates said this first. Alfred P. Sloan was the CEO of General Motors in its early beginnings, and he went through all the stages of the growth, going bust, growth and then consolidation of the beginning (when some companies were creating mechanical horses - no... (Source)

The Virgin Way

Everything I Know About Leadership

Richard Branson | 4.01

Madalina Uceanu I would recommend any biographies of business people, but definitely I would have on the list any of Richard Branson's books. That should cover a better business and mentality understanding. (Source)

top business biographies to read

Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit

William Knoedelseder | 4.00

top business biographies to read

The Maverick and His Machine

Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM

Kevin Maney | 4.00

top business biographies to read

Just for Fun

The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary

Linus Torvalds, David Diamond | 4.00

top business biographies to read

Death of the Territories

Expansion, Betrayal and the War that Changed Pro Wrestling Forever

Tim Hornbaker | 4.00

18 Biographies of the Most Successful People in Business

It’s officially summer, so Fortune put together a reading list for those of us who can’t just sit idly by the pool with a mindless beach read.

With the help of Term Sheet readers, we compiled a list of some of the best business biographies of all time. These timeless reads are entertaining and deeply personal as they detail the lives of business magnates, tech titans, and media powerhouses.

Now, onto your suggestions:

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

A Bill Gates (and Term Sheet reader) favorite, Shoe Dog offers an inside look at how Phil Knight built his startup Nike into the global brand it is today.

Personal History by Katharine Graham

You’ve seen the movie, now read the book. Katharine Graham is the woman who led the Washington Post through the scandals of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. This one has it all — courage, candor, and dignity.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

This is a personally revealing and complete biography of the man known everywhere as “The Oracle of Omaha.” Warren Buffett is one of the most respected businesspeople of our time, but his life has been a mix of strengths and frailties. As revealed in this book, Buffett’s legacy will not be his ranking on the scorecard of wealth — it will be his principles and ideas.

Related: The Best Business Books of All Time

THE ORIGINALS

Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

You may already know that Franklin was a writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, but this is a look into how this country’s ultimate founder helped define America’s national identity.

Titan by Ron Chernow

John D. Rockefeller has been referred to as “the Jekyll-and-Hyde of American capitalism.” He was a ruthless business magnate while also being a major philanthropist. This one is a business staple.

Carnegie by Peter Krass

One of the major figures in American history, Andrew Carnegie was a businessman who made his fortune in the steel industry and ultimately gave most of it away. He used his wealth to ascend the world’s political stage, influencing the presidencies of Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt. In this compelling biography, Peter Krass reconstructs the complicated life of the titan who came to power in America’s Gilded Age.

Morgan, American Financier by Jean Strouse

For decades, J. Pierpont Morgan served as America’s unofficial central banker. He was the force behind mammoths like General Electric , U.S. Steel, and vast railroad empires. Since his death, he has remained a mysterious figure — both celebrated as a hero of industrial progress and also vilified as a rapacious robber baron.

The Patriarch by David Nasaw

This biography examines the life of Joseph P. Kennedy, the founder of the 20th century’s most famous political dynasty. It tracks the path of a man who participated in the major events of his times — the booms and busts, the Depression and the New Deal, two world wars, a cold war, and the birth of the New Frontier.

THE SELF-MADE

Sam Walton, Made in America by Sam Walton/John Huey

Over the course of his life, Sam Walton built one of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations from scratch. This is the story of a small-town folk hero who revolutionized retail distribution and changed the game as we know it. Hard to believe that was once a single store in a tiny town is now a behemoth with revenue to the tune of $500 billion.

I Love Capitalism! by Ken Langone

The life of Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone is a perfect portrayal of the American Dream. He recounts how a poor boy from Long Island became one of the most successful businessmen in America. In this memoir, Langone walks readers through how he struggled to get an education, broke into Wall Street, and scrambled for an MBA.

Jack, Straight From the Gut by Jack Welch

Under Jack Welch’s leadership, General Electric reinvented itself several times over by integrating new and innovative practices into its many lines of business. This book recounts his career and the style of management that helped to make GE one of the most successful companies of the last century.

THE TECH TITANS

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and The Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

It is mind-boggling to think Amazon started out as an online bookstore. That wasn’t nearly enough for its wildly ambitious founder, Jeff Bezos. This is an in-depth account of how Bezos’ large bets forever transformed the retail industry.

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

I personally like this book because it delves into the psyche of one of the most innovative (albeit unusual) entrepreneurs of our time. Vance gives readers an exclusive look into SpaceX , Tesla, and SolarCity, while also giving us a better understanding of Elon Musk’s mind.

Wild Ride by Adam Lashinsky

Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky wrote about Travis Kalanick, one of the most polarizing figures in Silicon Valley. Lashinsky takes readers on quite a ride as he meticulously details Uber’s meteoric rise — and its jaw-dropping plunge into controversy.

THE DISRUPTORS

A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald K. Fierstein

This biography delves into the life of Edwin Land, the breakthrough inventor of the Polaroid. At the time of his death, he stood third on the list of most prolific inventors, behind only Thomas Edison and one of Edison’s colleagues. It’s a compelling look at the man behind one of the most important legal battles over intellectual property of our time — Polaroid versus Kodak.

Bloomberg by Bloomberg by Michael Bloomberg

Brash, aggressive, and supremely self-confident, Michael Bloomberg has been hailed as the new standard for what it takes to win in the Information Age. His specialized media approach — including manipulable online data feeds, a global newswire, and extensive magazine and broadcast outlets — have turned the business of business news upside down.

THE LEADERS

Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead by Cecile Richards

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards has been an activist since she was taken to the principal’s office in seventh grade for wearing an armband in protest of the Vietnam War. She had a remarkable childhood in conservative Texas, where her civil rights attorney father and activist mother taught their kids to be troublemakers. In the Richards household, the “dinner table was never for eating—it was for sorting precinct lists.”

The House of Dimon by Patricia Crisafulli

In a candid look at Wall Street’s top banker, former business journalist Patricia Crisafulli goes behind the scenes to recount the critical events that have shaped Dimon’s career. He managed to survive one of the most difficult and most tumultuous periods in Wall Street history. This story reveals how he did it and explores what lies ahead.

PS: I also asked Twitter for more biography suggestions — you can find them here .

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Best Business Biographies for Startup Founders to Read in 2024

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  • Startup Resources
  • Business Biographies

Last Updated: October 11, 2023 By TRUiC Team

No matter what startup path you're walking, there's a very good chance that someone has forged it, or at least something similar, and succeeded. So who better to learn from than those who've already climbed the mountain and conquered it?

Business biographies are fast becoming the go-to content for startup founders and small business owners who want to learn from the best. We've sourced the 10 best business biographies for entrepreneurs to read in 2024. Ready to be inspired?

Running short on time?  Try Blinkist to gain key insights from the books below.

Best Business Biographies for Entrepreneurs

1. ‘alibaba: the house that jack ma built’ by duncan clark.

After Amazon, Jack Ma's Alibaba is probably the most famous success story in ecommerce history. In the biography “Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built ” Duncan Clark tells Ma's story of humble beginnings as an English teacher which culminated in his creation of a company that forever changed the global economy. 

This biography will be particularly beneficial to startup founders in countries where government policy can often be a stumbling point to success. Ma's home country of China was not always his ally in building Alibaba into a company that currently holds 80% market share, but this unlikely titan of business managed to outwit competitors from all over the world to achieve unimaginable success.

2. ‘Creativity, Inc.’ by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Any startup founder in a creative space will find the biography of Ed Catmull, founder of animation giant, Pixar, riveting. “Creativity, Inc. ” is written by Catmull with the help of Amy Wallace and details how Catmull brought his college dream of creating the world's first computer-animated movie to fruition with the release of the smash hit, Toy Story in 1995. Of course, this was simply the first of many successes for Catmull and Pixar, and his unlikely journey from startup to entertainment glory is a must-read for anyone on a similar path. Catmull also now heads up Disney Animation. Additionally, the book provides a few excellent leadership insights, especially where managing creatives is concerned. 

3. ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight

Although this business biography is based around the journey of the creator of sports brand Nike, it holds insights and valuable lessons for all startups and businesses. “Shoe Dog” is written by Phil Knight, the founder of the world-famous brand, and as far as business biographies go, this one, which is also a New York Times bestseller, carves out a new space for the genre. 

Knight walks readers through Nike's journey from an intrepid startup to an iconic household name. If you're a startup founder struggling with funding, you'll definitely want to find out how Knight built Nike with an initial funding of $50 from his dad.

4. ‘Losing My Virginity’ by Richard Branson

Richard Branson's biography “Losing My Virginity” charts his journey from a young entrepreneur with a dream to create businesses that would make a positive difference in the world, to becoming one of the most well-known and revered business leaders in the world. Branson's businesses also cross numerous spaces and industries, which just goes to show that strong insights are translatable no matter the subject. 

For startup founders, it can often feel that creating a successful business and having a well-balanced personal life are two completely irreconcilable goals, and this is perhaps one of the most important insights this business biography offers with Branson providing tips on how he learned to manage this aspect as he built Virgin.

5. ‘The Man Who Solved The Market’ by Gregory Zuckerman

Startup founders in the finance or fintech space will find Jim Simons' story of creating an algorithm-driven approach to investing which would go on to achieve unheard-of market returns, invaluable. The business biography, “The Man Who Solved The Market,” written by Gregory Zuckerman, details Simons' early years as a mathematician with a dream. 

Simons would go on to found his company, Renaissance Technologies, and change the face of investments forever. Despite the very specific subject matter, the book also holds some valuable general insights into teamwork and collaboration for startup founders in any sector.

Looking for more business books? Check out our list of the best startup books and book recommendations by startup founders !

6. ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big’ by Scott Adams

Now, Dilbert (yes, the comic book series), is, of course, not technically a company or business, but this list would be incomplete without this contribution from Scott Adams. Adams, the creator of the highly successful comic strip, penned “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” in which he explains how he managed to take some of his biggest failures and turn them into successes. The book also presents a very interesting management idea called the Dilbert Principle which purports that businesses will systematically shift poorly performing team members to management, as this is the area in which they can do the least damage. If you're a startup founder building a team from the ground up, you'll definitely want to consider whether the Dilbert Principle might apply to your team. 

7. ‘Sam Walton: Made In America’ by Sam Walton

“ Sam Walton: Made In America” is a business biography that will undoubtedly inspire any startup founder in the retail space. In the book, Sam Walton, the founder of the retail giant, Walmart, shares his rags-to-riches tale of taking his dream from a single dime store to a massive international chain. Perhaps one of the most unique elements of the book is Walton's insights on how to pair your own personal values with your business journey and keep a hold on your identity throughout. Walton also shares leadership insights around recognizing and fostering great thinkers within your team. Despite being set in the retail space, Walton's insights are valuable for entrepreneurs in any industry, especially if they find themselves struggling to maintain their personal values while doing business. 

8. ‘Believe It’ by Jamie Kern Lima

Female startup founders will be motivated and engaged by the business biography of Jamie Kern Lima, who went from serving tables for tips to owning a billion-dollar cosmetic startup. “Believe It ” has been called part biography, part manifesto, and perfectly plots out how some defining moments in Lima's life contributed to her success despite those events seeming like stumbling blocks when they first occurred. 

The book's subtitle, "How to Go From Underestimated to Unstoppable," perfectly sums up the type of motivational read startup founders can expect from this business biography.

9. ‘The Widow Clicquot’ by Tilar Mazzeo

The business biography about one of the world's most iconic food and beverage brands is a historical tale, but it proves the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and its insights are just as relevant to modern startup founders. 

“The Widow Clicquot” is certainly a story of female empowerment in the startup space with writer Tillar Mazzeo relating how Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin managed to take control of her late husband's business and turn it into an empire. All this while living at a time in history when women were not seen as business leaders. This is another biography that will be appreciated by female startup owners who are pushing to smash through those glass ceilings. 

10. ‘Elon Musk’ by Ashlee Vance

This business biography, written by Ashlee Vance, is about such an accomplished entrepreneur that it covers three of the most well-known brands in the world. “Elon Musk,” a book about the businessman of the same name, will inspire and motivate any startup founder who feels their idea is crazy. 

Musk, after all, was told this on several occasions by many different people, from his beginnings in South Africa to his journey through Silicon Valley, but when suddenly, his ideas started to take shape and change the world, those people would eat their words. The book also provides a sneak peek into what we can expect from Musk's future plans for SpaceX and why he believes that company may just be his biggest yet.

Recommended : Read our list of the best startup books !

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All the books longlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award

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The Man Who Knew by Sebastian Mallaby

The Man Who Knew

Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson

Empire Of Pain

The Man Who Solved the Market by Gregory Zuckerman

The Man Who Solved the Market

Reset by Ellen Pao

The Match King

The Snowball by Alice Schroeder

The Snowball

The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan

The Age of Turbulence

Blood and Oil by Bradley Hope, Justin Scheck

Blood and Oil

Flash Crash by Liam Vaughan

Flash Crash

Make, Think, Imagine by John Browne

Make, Think, Imagine

Damaged Goods by Oliver Shah

Damaged Goods

Who is Michael Ovitz? by Michael Ovitz

Who is Michael Ovitz?

Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella, Greg Shaw, Jill Tracie Nichols

Hit Refresh

Brazillionaires by Alex Cuadros

Brazillionaires

The Profiteers by Sally Denton

The Profiteers

Sons of Wichita by Daniel Schulman

Sons of Wichita

The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

The Innovators

Car Guys vs Bean Counters by Bob Lutz

Car Guys vs Bean Counters

No Angel by Tom Bower

Myself and Other More Important Matters

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Home — Collections — 13 Best Business Biographies That Will Show You the Struggles of World’s Biggest Entrepreneurs

13 Best Business Biographies That Will Show You the Struggles of World’s Biggest Entrepreneurs

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Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others – it’s what Otto von Bismarck used to say . And what other better way to do that than by reading the biographies of those you admire?

Some of the most popular entrepreneurs admitted that they attribute their success to reading memoirs of the people they admire. Here’s a list of the  best business biographies recommended by them (is there something missing, any book that we absolutely-definitely-must add to this list? let us know !). There’s also one entrepreneur biography – or more – sprinkled in there, as well, so have a blast!

Oh, but before that, did you know we have a really good weekly newsletter where we write about things that make us better business people, better entrepreneurs, better professionals. So go HERE and see an example and subscribe!

Best Business Biographies: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

1. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk mentioned in multiple interviews that he learned a lot from reading biographies. Well, same thing is true regarding his biography. Published by Ashlee Vance in 2015, it’s a must-read for everyone who wants to shoot for the stars the same way he does.

“ Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future ” serves a great lesson on the sacrifices you’ll need to make when you have ambitious, almost impossible plans, and nobody believes in you.

Richard Branson , the founder of Virgin Group, recommended this book, saying that “ Elon Musk is a man after my own heart: a risk taker undaunted by setbacks and ever driven to ensure a bright future for humanity. Ashlee Vance’s stellar biography captures Musk’s remarkable life story and irrepressible spirit. “.

Best Business Biographies:

2. The Everything Store

Another fascinating biography, if you want to read all about how Jeff Bezos and Amazon conquered the world. Even though Jeff’s wife gave it a 1-star review on Amazon, you can still draw lots of lessons from it, especially about management, leadership and inovation.

Written by Brad Stone after he conducted tens, perhaps even hundreds of interviews with Amazon employees, Jeff’s former colleagues and family members, this is the most comprehensive book you’ll find about how Amazon became the everything store.

Best Business Biographies: Duncan Clark - Alibaba, The House That Jack Ma Built

3. Alibaba – The House That Jack Ma Built

And speaking of Amazon… If you want to know more about its main competitor, how Jack Ma built the giant empire we now know as Alibaba, read this biography published last year by Duncan Clark.

Jack managed to get past China’s political obstacles and turned Alibaba into one of the biggest companies in the world.

This is what Sir Martin Sorrell , CEO of WPP, had to say about this book: “ Anybody who thinks the Chinese just copy or steal technology from the West should read this book and think again. Jack Ma is part Bill Gates, part Steve Jobs, part Larry Page, part Sergey Brin, and part Mark Zuckerberg, all rolled into one “.

Best Business Biographies: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

4. Steve Jobs

This book probably needs no introduction, as I’m confident it’s the most popular biography from this list. Based on more than 40 interviews conducted by Walter Isaacson over 2 years with Steve Jobs , as well as hundreds of interviews with his family members, friends, colleagues and so on.

Jobs cooperated for this book and encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly, saying that: “ I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of, such as getting my girlfriends pregnant when I was 23 and the way I handled that, but I don’t have any skeletons in my closet that can’t be allowed out. ”

Best Business Biographies: Creativity, Inc. Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration - Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace

5. Creativity, Inc

And since we mentioned Steve Jobs, here’s another book that might interest you: Creativity, Inc. is the story of Pixar Animation and its co-founder, Ed Catmull . If you want to learn great lessons on leadership and management, check it out.

Mark Zuckerberg is one of the CEOs who read and recommend this book.

Best Business Biographies: Lee Iacocca - An Autobiography

6. Iacocca: An Autobiography

In his podcast with Tim Ferriss , Ramit Sethi mentioned that he read Iacocca: An Autobiography every few years for the last 20 years.

Lee Iacocca’s best selling autobiography was originally published in 1984 and follows his career in the auto industry, first with Ford, and afterward with the Chrysler Corporation. Iaccoca’s considered an American legend, a businessman who turned around Chrysler when the company was facing a crucial point.

Best Business Biographies: Jay-Z Empire State of Mind

7. Empire State of Mind: How Jay Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office

“I’m not a businessman – I’m a business, man.” – This book follows Jay Z and how he climbed from the ill famed streets of Brooklyn, where he spent his childhood, to the heights of the business world.

Ryan Holiday recommended this biography, saying that: “ This is a biography that also functions as a business book. It shows how Jay applied hustling techniques to the music business and eventually built his empire “.

Best Business Biographies: Phil Knight - Shoe Dog

8. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

This is probably one of the best biographies published in the recent years. Shoe Dog follows Phil Knight’s memories, from the times when he was just a young boy, lost and with no idea what to do with his life, until he built the giant sports brand that we know today as Nike.

Bill Gates wrote on his blog about this book: “ […] is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like: messy, precarious, and riddled with mistakes. I’ve met Knight a few times over the years. He’s super nice, but he’s also quiet and difficult to get to know. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale. ”

Best Business Biographies: Titan, The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

9. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller

This is one huge biography, with more than 800 pages filled with the life and story of John D. Rockefeller. Considered to be the Jekyll-and-Hyde of American capitalism, Rockefeller “ was known as both a rapacious robber baron, whose Standard Oil Company rode roughshod over an industry, and a philanthropist who donated money lavishly to universities and medical centers “.

Best Business Biographies: Poor Charlie's Almanack - Charlie Munger

10. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

This book is recommended by Warren Buffett , who co-founded Berkshire Hathaway together with Charlie Munger. It’s a collection of his speeches and talks.

Best Business Biographies: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman Adventures of a Curious Character - Richard P. Feynman

11. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

I’ve been bumping into this book for a long time, as it’s one of the most recommended books by entrepreneurs. Filled with stories and memories of Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics, who was always questioning the status-quo and testing assumptions. In this book he recalls all the experiences he conducted, but also his pranks and adventures (even the ones he pulled in the years he was working on the Manhattan Project).

Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin , are among the fans of this book. Noah Kagan , founder of Sumo, even said that he if you ever meet him in person, he always has an extra copy, “ because it’s just that amazing “.

I have to agree – I finished it recently, after a few nights of reading Feynman’s adventures until 4 AM (yes, it’s just that addictive!).

Best Business Biographies: The Snowball - Warren Buffet and the Business of Life - Alice Schroeder

12. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

We couldn’t mention Charlie Munger without bringing up his partner’s biography. Lots of books were written about Warren Buffett , the “Oracle of Omaha”, but this was written with his cooperation and is considered to be the best.

Best Business Biographies: Richard Branson - Losing My Virginity

13. Losing My Virginity

And last but not least: the autobiography of the famous entrepreneur Richard Branson . If you want to find out more about how he built the business empire Virgin Group, this is a good place for you to start.

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The 30 Best Biographies of All Time

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Blog – Posted on Monday, Jan 21

The 30 best biographies of all time.

The 30 Best Biographies of All Time

Biographer Richard Holmes once wrote that his work was “a kind of pursuit… writing about the pursuit of that fleeting figure, in such a way as to bring them alive in the present.”

At the risk of sounding cliché, the best biographies do exactly this: bring their subjects to life. A great biography isn’t just a laundry list of events that happened to someone. Rather, it should weave a narrative and tell a story in almost the same way a novel does. In this way, biography differs from the rest of nonfiction .

All the biographies on this list are just as captivating as excellent novels , if not more so. With that, please enjoy the 30 best biographies of all time — some historical, some recent, but all remarkable, life-giving tributes to their subjects.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great biographies out there, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized biography recommendation  😉

Which biography should you read next?

Discover the perfect biography for you. Takes 30 seconds!

1. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar

This biography of esteemed mathematician John Nash was both a finalist for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize and the basis for the award-winning film of the same name. Nasar thoroughly explores Nash’s prestigious career, from his beginnings at MIT to his work at the RAND Corporation — as well the internal battle he waged against schizophrenia, a disorder that nearly derailed his life.

2. Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film The Imitation Game - Updated Edition by Andrew Hodges

Hodges’ 1983 biography of Alan Turing sheds light on the inner workings of this brilliant mathematician, cryptologist, and computer pioneer. Indeed, despite the title ( a nod to his work during WWII ), a great deal of the “enigmatic” Turing is laid out in this book. It covers his heroic code-breaking efforts during the war, his computer designs and contributions to mathematical biology in the years following, and of course, the vicious persecution that befell him in the 1950s — when homosexual acts were still a crime punishable by English law.

3. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton is not only the inspiration for a hit Broadway musical, but also a work of creative genius itself. This massive undertaking of over 800 pages details every knowable moment of the youngest Founding Father’s life: from his role in the Revolutionary War and early American government to his sordid (and ultimately career-destroying) affair with Maria Reynolds. He may never have been president, but he was a fascinating and unique figure in American history — plus it’s fun to get the truth behind the songs.

Prefer to read about fascinating First Ladies rather than almost-presidents? Check out this awesome list of books about First Ladies over on The Archive.

4. Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston

A prolific essayist, short story writer, and novelist, Hurston turned her hand to biographical writing in 1927 with this incredible work, kept under lock and key until it was published 2018. It’s based on Hurston’s interviews with the last remaining survivor of the Middle Passage slave trade, a man named Cudjo Lewis. Rendered in searing detail and Lewis’ highly affecting African-American vernacular, this biography of the “last black cargo” will transport you back in time to an era that, chillingly, is not nearly as far away from us as it feels.

5. Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert

Though many a biography of him has been attempted, Gilbert’s is the final authority on Winston Churchill — considered by many to be Britain’s greatest prime minister ever. A dexterous balance of in-depth research and intimately drawn details makes this biography a perfect tribute to the mercurial man who led Britain through World War II.

Just what those circumstances are occupies much of Bodanis's book, which pays homage to Einstein and, just as important, to predecessors such as Maxwell, Faraday, and Lavoisier, who are not as well known as Einstein today. Balancing writerly energy and scholarly weight, Bodanis offers a primer in modern physics and cosmology, explaining that the universe today is an expression of mass that will, in some vastly distant future, one day slide back to the energy side of the equation, replacing the \'dominion of matter\' with \'a great stillness\'--a vision that is at once lovely and profoundly frightening.

Without sliding into easy psychobiography, Bodanis explores other circumstances as well; namely, Einstein's background and character, which combined with a sterling intelligence to afford him an idiosyncratic view of the way things work--a view that would change the world. --Gregory McNamee

6. E=mc²: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis

This “biography of the world’s most famous equation” is a one-of-a-kind take on the genre: rather than being the story of Einstein, it really does follow the history of the equation itself. From the origins and development of its individual elements (energy, mass, and light) to their ramifications in the twentieth century, Bodanis turns what could be an extremely dry subject into engaging fare for readers of all stripes.

7. Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

When Enrique was only five years old, his mother left Honduras for the United States, promising a quick return. Eleven years later, Enrique finally decided to take matters into his own hands in order to see her again: he would traverse Central and South America via railway, risking his life atop the “train of death” and at the hands of the immigration authorities, to reunite with his mother. This tale of Enrique’s perilous journey is not for the faint of heart, but it is an account of incredible devotion and sharp commentary on the pain of separation among immigrant families.

8. Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera

Herrera’s 1983 biography of renowned painter Frida Kahlo, one of the most recognizable names in modern art, has since become the definitive account on her life. And while Kahlo no doubt endured a great deal of suffering (a horrific accident when she was eighteen, a husband who had constant affairs), the focal point of the book is not her pain. Instead, it’s her artistic brilliance and immense resolve to leave her mark on the world — a mark that will not soon be forgotten, in part thanks to Herrera’s dedicated work.

9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Perhaps the most impressive biographical feat of the twenty-first century, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is about a woman whose cells completely changed the trajectory of modern medicine. Rebecca Skloot skillfully commemorates the previously unknown life of a poor black woman whose cancer cells were taken, without her knowledge, for medical testing — and without whom we wouldn’t have many of the critical cures we depend upon today.

10. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Christopher McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp, hitchhiked to Alaska and disappeared into the Denali wilderness in April 1992. Five months later, McCandless was found emaciated and deceased in his shelter — but of what cause? Krakauer’s biography of McCandless retraces his steps back to the beginning of the trek, attempting to suss out what the young man was looking for on his journey, and whether he fully understood what dangers lay before him.

11. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families by James Agee

"Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.” From this line derives the central issue of Agee and Evans’ work: who truly deserves our praise and recognition? According to this 1941 biography, it’s the barely-surviving sharecropper families who were severely impacted by the American “Dust Bowl” — hundreds of people entrenched in poverty, whose humanity Evans and Agee desperately implore their audience to see in their book.

12. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

Another mysterious explorer takes center stage in this gripping 2009 biography. Grann tells the story of Percy Fawcett, the archaeologist who vanished in the Amazon along with his son in 1925, supposedly in search of an ancient lost city. Parallel to this narrative, Grann describes his own travels in the Amazon 80 years later: discovering firsthand what threats Fawcett may have encountered, and coming to realize what the “Lost City of Z” really was.

13. Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang

Though many of us will be familiar with the name Mao Zedong, this prodigious biography sheds unprecedented light upon the power-hungry “Red Emperor.” Chang and Halliday begin with the shocking statistic that Mao was responsible for 70 million deaths during peacetime — more than any other twentieth-century world leader. From there, they unravel Mao’s complex ideologies, motivations, and missions, breaking down his long-propagated “hero” persona and thrusting forth a new, grislier image of one of China’s biggest revolutionaries.

14. Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson by Andrew Wilson

Titled after one of her most evocative poems, this shimmering bio of Sylvia Plath takes an unusual approach. Instead of focusing on her years of depression and tempestuous marriage to poet Ted Hughes, it chronicles her life before she ever came to Cambridge. Wilson closely examines her early family and relationships, feelings and experiences, with information taken from her meticulous diaries — setting a strong precedent for other Plath biographers to follow.

15. The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes

What if you had twenty-four different people living inside you, and you never knew which one was going to come out? Such was the life of Billy Milligan, the subject of this haunting biography by the author of Flowers for Algernon . Keyes recounts, in a refreshingly straightforward style, the events of Billy’s life and how his psyche came to be “split”... as well as how, with Keyes’ help, he attempted to put the fragments of himself back together.

16. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder

This gorgeously constructed biography follows Paul Farmer, a doctor who’s worked for decades to eradicate infectious diseases around the globe, particularly in underprivileged areas. Though Farmer’s humanitarian accomplishments are extraordinary in and of themselves, the true charm of this book comes from Kidder’s personal relationship with him — and the sense of fulfillment the reader sustains from reading about someone genuinely heroic, written by someone else who truly understands and admires what they do.

17. Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts

Here’s another bio that will reshape your views of a famed historical tyrant, though this time in a surprisingly favorable light. Decorated scholar Andrew Roberts delves into the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, from his near-flawless military instincts to his complex and confusing relationship with his wife. But Roberts’ attitude toward his subject is what really makes this work shine: rather than ridiculing him ( as it would undoubtedly be easy to do ), he approaches the “petty tyrant” with a healthy amount of deference.

18. The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson IV by Robert A. Caro

Lyndon Johnson might not seem as intriguing or scandalous as figures like Kennedy, Nixon, or W. Bush. But in this expertly woven biography, Robert Caro lays out the long, winding road of his political career, and it’s full of twists you wouldn’t expect. Johnson himself was a surprisingly cunning figure, gradually maneuvering his way closer and closer to power. Finally, in 1963, he got his greatest wish — but at what cost? Fans of Adam McKay’s Vice , this is the book for you.

19. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

Anyone who grew up reading Little House on the Prairie will surely be fascinated by this tell-all biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Caroline Fraser draws upon never-before-published historical resources to create a lush study of the author’s life — not in the gently narrated manner of the Little House series, but in raw and startling truths about her upbringing, marriage, and volatile relationship with her daughter (and alleged ghostwriter) Rose Wilder Lane.

20. Prince: A Private View by Afshin Shahidi

Compiled just after the superstar’s untimely death in 2016, this intimate snapshot of Prince’s life is actually a largely visual work — Shahidi served as his private photographer from the early 2000s until his passing. And whatever they say about pictures being worth a thousand words, Shahidi’s are worth more still: Prince’s incredible vibrance, contagious excitement, and altogether singular personality come through in every shot.

21. Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss

Could there be a more fitting title for a book about the husband-wife team who discovered radioactivity? What you may not know is that these nuclear pioneers also had a fascinating personal history. Marie Sklodowska met Pierre Curie when she came to work in his lab in 1891, and just a few years later they were married. Their passion for each other bled into their passion for their work, and vice-versa — and in almost no time at all, they were on their way to their first of their Nobel Prizes.

22. Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

She may not have been assassinated or killed in a mysterious plane crash, but Rosemary Kennedy’s fate is in many ways the worst of “the Kennedy Curse.” As if a botched lobotomy that left her almost completely incapacitated weren’t enough, her parents then hid her away from society, almost never to be seen again. Yet in this new biography, penned by devoted Kennedy scholar Kate Larson, the full truth of Rosemary’s post-lobotomy life is at last revealed.

23. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford

This appropriately lyrical biography of brilliant Jazz Age poet and renowned feminist, Edna St. Vincent Millay, is indeed a perfect balance of savage and beautiful. While Millay’s poetic work was delicate and subtle, the woman herself was feisty and unpredictable, harboring unusual and occasionally destructive habits that Milford fervently explores.

24. Shelley: The Pursuit by Richard Holmes

Holmes’ famous philosophy of “biography as pursuit” is thoroughly proven here in his first full-length biographical work. Shelley: The Pursuit details an almost feverish tracking of Percy Shelley as a dark and cutting figure in the Romantic period — reforming many previous historical conceptions about him through Holmes’ compelling and resolute writing.

25. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

Another Gothic figure has been made newly known through this work, detailing the life of prolific horror and mystery writer Shirley Jackson. Author Ruth Franklin digs deep into the existence of the reclusive and mysterious Jackson, drawing penetrating comparisons between the true events of her life and the dark nature of her fiction.

26. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

Fans of Into the Wild and The Lost City of Z will find their next adventure fix in this 2017 book about Christopher Knight, a man who lived by himself in the Maine woods for almost thirty years. The tale of this so-called “last true hermit” will captivate readers who have always fantasized about escaping society, with vivid descriptions of Knight’s rural setup, his carefully calculated moves and how he managed to survive the deadly cold of the Maine winters.

27. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The man, the myth, the legend: Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, is properly immortalized in Isaacson’s masterful biography. It divulges the details of Jobs’ little-known childhood and tracks his fateful path from garage engineer to leader of one of the largest tech companies in the world — not to mention his formative role in other legendary companies like Pixar, and indeed within the Silicon Valley ecosystem as a whole.

28. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Olympic runner Louis Zamperini was just twenty-six when his US Army bomber crashed and burned in the Pacific, leaving him and two other men afloat on a raft for forty-seven days — only to be captured by the Japanese Navy and tortured as a POW for the next two and a half years. In this gripping biography, Laura Hillenbrand tracks Zamperini’s story from beginning to end… including how he embraced Christian evangelism as a means of recovery, and even came to forgive his tormentors in his later years.

29. Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) by Stacy Schiff

Everyone knows of Vladimir Nabokov — but what about his wife, Vera, whom he called “the best-humored woman I have ever known”? According to Schiff, she was a genius in her own right, supporting Vladimir not only as his partner, but also as his all-around editor and translator. And she kept up that trademark humor throughout it all, inspiring her husband’s work and injecting some of her own creative flair into it along the way.

30. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt

William Shakespeare is a notoriously slippery historical figure — no one really knows when he was born, what he looked like, or how many plays he wrote. But that didn’t stop Stephen Greenblatt, who in 2004 turned out this magnificently detailed biography of the Bard: a series of imaginative reenactments of his writing process, and insights on how the social and political ideals of the time would have influenced him. Indeed, no one exists in a vacuum, not even Shakespeare — hence the conscious depiction of him in this book as a “will in the world,” rather than an isolated writer shut up in his own musty study.

If you're looking for more inspiring nonfiction, check out this list of 30 engaging self-help books , or this list of the last century's best memoirs !

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The best autobiographies and memoirs of 2021.

Best biographies and memoirs of 2021

Brian Cox is punchy, David Harewood candid and Miriam Margolyes raucously indiscreet

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

In a bonanza year for memoirs, Ruth Coker Burks got us off to a strong start with All the Young Men (Trapeze), a clear-eyed and poignant account of her years spent looking after Aids patients in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the 1980s. While visiting a friend in hospital, Burks witnessed a group of nurses drawing straws over who should enter a room labelled “Biohazard”, the ward for men with “that gay disease”. And so she took it upon herself to sit with the dying and bury them when their families wouldn’t. Later, as the scale of fear and prejudice became apparent, she helped patients with food, transport, social security and housing, often at enormous personal cost. Her book, written with Kevin Carr O’Leary, finds light in the darkness as it reveals the love and camaraderie of a hidden community fighting for its life.

Sadness and joy also go hand-in-hand in What It Feels Like for a Girl (Penguin), an exuberant account of Paris Lees’s tearaway teenage years in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, where “the streets are paved wi’ dog shit”. Her gender nonconformity is just one aspect of an adolescence that also features bullying, violence, prostitution, robbery and a spell in a young offenders’ institute. Yet despite the many traumas, Lees finds joy and kinship in the underground club scene and a group of drag queens who cocoon her in love and laughter.

Miriam Margolyes’s This Much Is True (John Murray) traces her path from cherished child of an Oxford GP to Bafta-winning actor to chat-show sofa staple, in a raucously indiscreet memoir replete with fruity tales of sexual experimentation, tricky co-stars and Olympic-level farting. And Bob Mortimer’s winningly heartfelt And Away… (Gallery) reveals the brilliant highs and terrible lows of his childhood as the “irritating runt” of four brothers, his initial career as a solicitor and subsequent reinvention as a celebrated comic alongside his partner in crime, Vic Reeves.

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

Themes of identity and belonging underpin Beautiful Country (Viking), Qian Julie Wang’s elegantly affecting account of her move from China to New York where she lived undocumented and under threat of deportation, and Nadia Owusu’s powerful Aftershocks (Sceptre), in which the author recalls a peripatetic childhood as the daughter of a volatile Armenian-American mother and a Ghanaian father, a United Nations official who died when she was 13. Both books tell remarkable stories of displacement, heartache and resilience.

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows (Bodley Head) is another tale of extraordinary resilience, as the artist Ai Weiwei vividly reflects on his own life and that of his father, who was a poet. Both men fell foul of the Chinese authorities: Ai’s father, Ai Qing, was exiled to a place nicknamed “Little Siberia”, where he lived with his young son in a dug-out pit with a roof made from mud and branches, while Ai himself was imprisoned in 2011 for 11 weeks on spurious tax charges. Lea Ypi’s Free: Coming of Age at the End of History (Penguin) is a beautifully written account of life under a crumbling Stalinist system in Albania and the shock and chaos of what came next. In telling her story and examining the political systems in which she was raised, the author and LSE professor asks tough questions about the nature of freedom.

In Maybe I Don’t Belong Here (Bluebird), the actor David Harewood lays bare his struggles with racial injustice and mental illness, and shows how these things are connected. Harewood’s childhood was punctuated by racist abuse; later, as he tried to get his career off the ground, he was bullied by colleagues and critics. At 23, he had a psychotic breakdown during which it took six police officers to restrain him, and was dispatched to a psychiatric ward where, he learns from his hospital records, he was described as a “large black man” and administered drugs at four times the recommended dose. His recollections of his unravelling, treatment and recovery are acutely drawn.

Both/And: A Life in Many World Huma Abedin

Huma Abedin’s electrifying memoir Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds (Simon & Schuster) grapples with her multiple identities as a woman with Indian parents, who was born in Michigan and raised in Saudi Arabia. It is also a brave and unflinching account of her job as aide to Hillary Clinton and her years as the wife of Anthony Weiner , the congressman at the centre of a sexting scandal that landed him in prison, prompted an investigation by child services and ultimately derailed Clinton’s presidential campaign. Of the night Abedin learned her work emails had been discovered on her husband’s laptop, which would lead to the FBI reopening its investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information, she recalls: “I wrote one line in my notebook. ‘I do not know how I am going to survive this. Help me God.’”

The actor Brian Cox lost his father to pancreatic cancer when he was eight years old, his mother battled with mental illness and his childhood was one of almost Dickensian poverty. But you won’t find self-pity in his meandering but amusingly irreverent memoir, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat (Quercus). Instead, we get a whistlestop tour of his working life, during which he takes entertaining pot-shots at Johnny Depp (“overrated”), Steven Seagal (“ludicrous”) and Edward Norton (“a pain in the arse”).

Frances Wilson Burning Man- The Ascent of DH Lawrence

Finally, two terrific biographies. Frances Wilson’s smart and scholarly Burning Man: The Ascent of DH Lawrence (Bloomsbury) paints a vivid picture of a brilliant writer who was “censored and worshipped” in his lifetime, and remained furious at the world and at those not sufficiently cognisant of his genius.

And Paula Byrne’s The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym (William Collins), about the British postwar novelist whom Philip Larkin compared to Jane Austen, is a touching and revealing portrait of a flawed romantic and a free spirit.

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The Best Reviewed Memoirs and Biographies of 2022

Featuring buster keaton, jean rhys, bernardine evaristo, kate beaton, and more.

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We’ve come to the end of another bountiful literary year, and for all of us review rabbits here at Book Marks, that can mean only one thing: basic math, and lots of it.

Yes, using reviews drawn from more than 150 publications, over the next two weeks we’ll be calculating and revealing the most critically-acclaimed books of 2022, in the categories of (deep breath): Fiction ; Nonfiction ; Memoir and Biography; Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror; Short Story Collections; Essay Collections; Poetry; Mystery and Crime; Graphic Literature ; and Literature in Translation .

Today’s installment: Memoir and Biography .

Brought to you by Book Marks , Lit Hub’s “Rotten Tomatoes for books.”

1. We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O’Toole (Liveright) 17 Rave • 4 Positive • 1 Mixed • 1 Pan

“One of the many triumphs of Fintan O’Toole’s We Don’t Know Ourselves is that he manages to find a form that accommodates the spectacular changes that have occurred in Ireland over the past six decades, which happens to be his life span … it is not a memoir, nor is it an absolute history, nor is it entirely a personal reflection or a crepuscular credo. It is, in fact, all of these things helixed together: his life, his country, his thoughts, his misgivings, his anger, his pride, his doubt, all of them belonging, eventually, to us … O’Toole, an agile cultural commentator, considers himself to be a representative of the blank slate on which the experiment of change was undertaken, but it’s a tribute to him that he maintains his humility, his sharpness and his enlightened distrust …

O’Toole writes brilliantly and compellingly of the dark times, but he is graceful enough to know that there is humor and light in the cracks. There is a touch of Eduardo Galeano in the way he can settle on a telling phrase … But the real accomplishment of this book is that it achieves a conscious form of history-telling, a personal hybrid that feels distinctly honest and humble at the same time. O’Toole has not invented the form, but he comes close to perfecting it. He embraces the contradictions and the confusion. In the process, he weaves the flag rather than waving it.”

–Colum McCann ( The New York Times Book Review )

2. Thin Places: A Natural History of Healing and Home by Kerri Ní Dochartaigh (Milkweed)

12 Rave • 7 Positive • 2 Mixed

“Assured and affecting … A powerful and bracing memoir … This is a book that will make you see the world differently: it asks you to reconsider the animals and insects we often view as pests – the rat, for example, and the moth. It asks you to look at the sea and the sky and the trees anew; to wonder, when you are somewhere beautiful, whether you might be in a thin place, and what your responsibilities are to your location.It asks you to show compassion for people you think are difficult, to cultivate empathy, to try to understand the trauma that made them the way they are.”

–Lynn Enright ( The Irish Times )

3. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)

14 Rave • 4 Positive

“It could hardly be more different in tone from [Beaton’s] popular larky strip Hark! A Vagrant … Yes, it’s funny at moments; Beaton’s low-key wryness is present and correct, and her drawings of people are as charming and as expressive as ever. But its mood overall is deeply melancholic. Her story, which runs to more than 400 pages, encompasses not only such thorny matters as social class and environmental destruction; it may be the best book I have ever read about sexual harassment …

There are some gorgeous drawings in Ducks of the snow and the starry sky at night. But the human terrain, in her hands, is never only black and white … And it’s this that gives her story not only its richness and depth, but also its astonishing grace. Life is complex, she tell us, quietly, and we are all in it together; each one of us is only trying to survive. What a difficult, gorgeous and abidingly humane book. It really does deserve to win all the prizes.”

–Rachel Cooke ( The Guardian )

4. Stay True by Hua Hsu (Doubleday)

14 Rave • 3 Positive

“… quietly wrenching … To say that this book is about grief or coming-of-age doesn’t quite do it justice; nor is it mainly about being Asian American, even though there are glimmers of that too. Hsu captures the past by conveying both its mood and specificity … This is a memoir that gathers power through accretion—all those moments and gestures that constitute experience, the bits and pieces that coalesce into a life … Hsu is a subtle writer, not a showy one; the joy of Stay True sneaks up on you, and the wry jokes are threaded seamlessly throughout.”

–Jennifer Szalai ( The New York Times )

5.  Manifesto: On Never Giving Up by Bernardine Evaristo (Grove)

13 Rave • 4 Positive

“Part coming-of-age story and part how-to manual, the book is, above all, one of the most down-to-earth and least self-aggrandizing works of self-reflection you could hope to read. Evaristo’s guilelessness is refreshing, even unsettling … With ribald humour and admirable candour, Evaristo takes us on a tour of her sexual history … Characterized by the resilience of its author, it is replete with stories about the communities and connections Evaristo has cultivated over forty years … Invigoratingly disruptive as an artist, Evaristo is a bridge-builder as a human being.”

–Emily Bernard ( The Times Literary Supplement )

1. Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

14 Rave • 4 Positive • 1 Mixed

“Rundell is right that Donne…must never be forgotten, and she is the ideal person to evangelise him for our age. She shares his linguistic dexterity, his pleasure in what TS Eliot called ‘felt thought’, his ability to bestow physicality on the abstract … It’s a biography filled with gaps and Rundell brings a zest for imaginative speculation to these. We know so little about Donne’s wife, but Rundell brings her alive as never before … Rundell confronts the difficult issue of Donne’s misogyny head-on … This is a determinedly deft book, and I would have liked it to billow a little more, making room for more extensive readings of the poems and larger arguments about the Renaissance. But if there is an overarching argument, then it’s about Donne as an ‘infinity merchant’ … To read Donne is to grapple with a vision of the eternal that is startlingly reinvented in the here and now, and Rundell captures this vision alive in all its power, eloquence and strangeness”

–Laura Feigel ( The Guardian )

2. The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan Freedland (Harper)

12 Rave • 3 Positive

“Compelling … We know about Auschwitz. We know what happened there. But Freedland, with his strong, clear prose and vivid details, makes us feel it, and the first half of this book is not an easy read. The chillingly efficient mass murder of thousands of people is harrowing enough, but Freedland tells us stories of individual evils as well that are almost harder to take … His matter-of-fact tone makes it bearable for us to continue to read … The Escape Artist is riveting history, eloquently written and scrupulously researched. Rosenberg’s brilliance, courage and fortitude are nothing short of amazing.”

–Laurie Hertzel ( The Star Tribune )

3. I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys by Miranda Seymour (W. W. Norton & Company)

11 Rave • 4 Positive • 1 Pan

“…illuminating and meticulously researched … paints a deft portrait of a flawed, complex, yet endlessly fascinating woman who, though repeatedly bowed, refused to be broken … Following dismal reviews of her fourth novel, Rhys drifted into obscurity. Ms. Seymour’s book could have lost momentum here. Instead, it compellingly charts turbulent, drink-fueled years of wild moods and reckless acts before building to a cathartic climax with Rhys’s rescue, renewed lease on life and late-career triumph … is at its most powerful when Ms. Seymour, clear-eyed but also with empathy, elaborates on Rhys’s woes …

Ms. Seymour is less convincing with her bold claim that Rhys was ‘perhaps the finest English woman novelist of the twentieth century.’ However, she does expertly demonstrate that Rhys led a challenging yet remarkable life and that her slim but substantial novels about beleaguered women were ahead of their time … This insightful biography brilliantly shows how her many battles were lost and won.”

–Malcolm Forbes ( The Wall Street Journal )

4. The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon’s Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I by Lindsey Fitzharris (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

9 Rave • 5 Positive • 1 Mixed

“Grisly yet inspiring … Fitzharris depicts her hero as irrepressibly dedicated and unfailingly likable. The suspense of her narrative comes not from any interpersonal drama but from the formidable challenges posed by the physical world … The Facemaker is mostly a story of medical progress and extraordinary achievement, but as Gillies himself well knew—grappling daily with the unbearable suffering that people willingly inflicted on one another—failure was never far behind.”

5. Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life by James Curtis (Knopf)

8 Rave • 6 Positive • 1 Mixed

“Keaton fans have often complained that nearly all biographies of him suffer from a questionable slant or a cursory treatment of key events. With Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life —at more than 800 pages dense with research and facts—Mr. Curtis rectifies that situation, and how. He digs deep into Keaton’s process and shows how something like the brilliant two-reeler Cops went from a storyline conceived from necessity—construction on the movie lot encouraged shooting outdoors—to a masterpiece … This will doubtless be the primary reference on Keaton’s life for a long time to come … the worse Keaton’s life gets, the more engrossing Mr. Curtis’s book becomes.”

–Farran Smith Nehme ( The Wall Street Journal )

Our System:

RAVE = 5 points • POSITIVE = 3 points • MIXED = 1 point • PAN = -5 points

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50 Must-Read Biographies

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Rebecca Hussey

Rebecca holds a PhD in English and is a professor at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. She teaches courses in composition, literature, and the arts. When she’s not reading or grading papers, she’s hanging out with her husband and son and/or riding her bike and/or buying books. She can't get enough of reading and writing about books, so she writes the bookish newsletter "Reading Indie," focusing on small press books and translations. Newsletter: Reading Indie Twitter: @ofbooksandbikes

View All posts by Rebecca Hussey

The best biographies give us a satisfying glimpse into a great person’s life, while also teaching us about the context in which that person lived. Through biography, we can also learn history, psychology, sociology, politics, philosophy, and more. Reading a great biography is both fun and educational. What’s not to love?

Below I’ve listed 50 of the best biographies out there. You will find a mix of subjects, including important figures in literature, science, politics, history, art, and more. I’ve tried to keep this list focused on biography only, so there is little in the way of memoir or autobiography. In a couple cases, authors have written about their family members, but for the most part, these are books where the focus is on the biographical subject, not the author.

50 must-read biographies. book lists | biographies | must-read biographies | books about other people | great biographies | nonfiction reads

The first handful are group biographies, and after that, I’ve arranged them alphabetically by subject. Book descriptions come from Goodreads.

Take a look and let me know about your favorite biography in the comments!

All We Know: Three Lives by Lisa Cohen

“In  All We Know , Lisa Cohen describes their [Esther Murphy, Mercedes de Acosta, and Madge Garland’s] glamorous choices, complicated failures, and controversial personal lives with lyricism and empathy. At once a series of intimate portraits and a startling investigation into style, celebrity, sexuality, and the genre of biography itself,  All We Know  explores a hidden history of modernism and pays tribute to three compelling lives.”

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

“Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program. Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers,’ calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women.”

The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie

“In the mid-twentieth century four American Catholics came to believe that the best way to explore the questions of religious faith was to write about them – in works that readers of all kinds could admire.  The Life You Save May Be Your Own  is their story – a vivid and enthralling account of great writers and their power over us.”

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

“As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.”

The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser

“In a sweeping narrative, Fraser traces the cultural, familial and political roots of each of Henry’s queens, pushes aside the stereotypes that have long defined them, and illuminates the complex character of each.”

John Adams by David McCullough

“In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot — ‘the colossus of independence,’ as Thomas Jefferson called him.”

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming

“Emotionally riveting and eye-opening,  A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea  is the incredible story of a young woman, an international crisis, and the triumph of the human spirit. Melissa Fleming shares the harrowing journey of Doaa Al Zamel, a young Syrian refugee in search of a better life.”

At Her Majesty’s Request: An African Princess in Victorian England by Walter Dean Myers

“One terrifying night in 1848, a young African princess’s village is raided by warriors. The invaders kill her mother and father, the King and Queen, and take her captive. Two years later, a British naval captain rescues her and takes her to England where she is presented to Queen Victoria, and becomes a loved and respected member of the royal court.”

John Brown by W.E.B. Du Bois

“ John Brown is W. E. B. Du Bois’s groundbreaking political biography that paved the way for his transition from academia to a lifelong career in social activism. This biography is unlike Du Bois’s earlier work; it is intended as a work of consciousness-raising on the politics of race.”

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen L. Carter

“[Eunice Hunton Carter] was black and a woman and a prosecutor, a graduate of Smith College and the granddaughter of slaves, as dazzlingly unlikely a combination as one could imagine in New York of the 1930s ― and without the strategy she devised, Lucky Luciano, the most powerful Mafia boss in history, would never have been convicted.”

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

“An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members.”

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

“Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnet, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.”

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

“Einstein was a rebel and nonconformist from boyhood days, and these character traits drove both his life and his science. In this narrative, Walter Isaacson explains how his mind worked and the mysteries of the universe that he discovered.”

Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother by Sonia Nazario

“In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.”

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

“After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve ‘the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century’: What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett & his quest for the Lost City of Z?”

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

“Amanda Foreman draws on a wealth of fresh research and writes colorfully and penetratingly about the fascinating Georgiana, whose struggle against her own weaknesses, whose great beauty and flamboyance, and whose determination to play a part in the affairs of the world make her a vibrant, astonishingly contemporary figure.”

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik Ping Zhu

“Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame she was just trying to make the world a little better and a little freer. But along the way, the feminist pioneer’s searing dissents and steely strength have inspired millions. [This book], created by the young lawyer who began the Internet sensation and an award-winning journalist, takes you behind the myth for an intimate, irreverent look at the justice’s life and work.”

Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Valerie Boyd

“A woman of enormous talent and remarkable drive, Zora Neale Hurston published seven books, many short stories, and several articles and plays over a career that spanned more than thirty years. Today, nearly every black woman writer of significance—including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker—acknowledges Hurston as a literary foremother.”

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

“ Shirley Jackson  reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the literary genius behind such classics as ‘The Lottery’ and  The Haunting of Hill House .”

The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro

“This is the story of the rise to national power of a desperately poor young man from the Texas Hill Country. The Path to Power reveals in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy, and ambition that set LBJ apart.”

The Life of Samuel Johnson   by James Boswell

“Poet, lexicographer, critic, moralist and Great Cham, Dr. Johnson had in his friend Boswell the ideal biographer. Notoriously and self-confessedly intemperate, Boswell shared with Johnson a huge appetite for life and threw equal energy into recording its every aspect in minute but telling detail.”

Barbara Jordan: American Hero by Mary Beth Rogers

“Barbara Jordan was the first African American to serve in the Texas Senate since Reconstruction, the first black woman elected to Congress from the South, and the first to deliver the keynote address at a national party convention. Yet Jordan herself remained a mystery.”

Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera

“This engrossing biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution; a devastating accident at age eighteen that left her crippled and unable to bear children.”

Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical by Sherie M. Randolph

“Often photographed in a cowboy hat with her middle finger held defiantly in the air, Florynce ‘Flo’ Kennedy (1916–2000) left a vibrant legacy as a leader of the Black Power and feminist movements. In the first biography of Kennedy, Sherie M. Randolph traces the life and political influence of this strikingly bold and controversial radical activist.”

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

“In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food.”

The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma by Peter Popham

“Peter Popham … draws upon previously untapped testimony and fresh revelations to tell the story of a woman whose bravery and determination have captivated people around the globe. Celebrated today as one of the world’s greatest exponents of non-violent political defiance since Mahatma Gandhi, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize only four years after her first experience of politics.”

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”   by Zora Neale Hurston

“In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history.”

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

“Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine.”

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

“Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.”

The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart

“A tiny, fastidiously dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to mentor a generation of young artists including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence and call them the New Negro — the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness.”

Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux

“Drawing from the private archives of the poet’s estate and numerous interviews, Alexis De Veaux demystifies Lorde’s iconic status, charting her conservative childhood in Harlem; her early marriage to a white, gay man with whom she had two children; her emergence as an outspoken black feminist lesbian; and her canonization as a seminal poet of American literature.”

Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary by Juan Williams

“Thurgood Marshall stands today as the great architect of American race relations, having expanded the foundation of individual rights for all Americans. His victory in the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the landmark Supreme Court case outlawing school segregation, would have him a historic figure even if he had not gone on to become the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court.”

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

“In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.”

The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts

“ The Mayor of Castro Street  is Shilts’s acclaimed story of Harvey Milk, the man whose personal life, public career, and tragic assassination mirrored the dramatic and unprecedented emergence of the gay community in America during the 1970s.”

Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford

“The most famous poet of the Jazz Age, Millay captivated the nation: She smoked in public, took many lovers (men and women, single and married), flouted convention sensationally, and became the embodiment of the New Woman.”

How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at An Answer by Sarah Bakewell

This book is “a vivid portrait of Montaigne, showing how his ideas gave birth to our modern sense of our inner selves, from Shakespeare’s plays to the dilemmas we face today.”

The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes by Janet Malcolm

“From the moment it was first published in The New Yorker, this brilliant work of literary criticism aroused great attention. Janet Malcolm brings her shrewd intelligence to bear on the legend of Sylvia Plath and the wildly productive industry of Plath biographies.”

Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley   by Peter Guralnick

“Based on hundreds of interviews and nearly a decade of research, [this book] traces the evolution not just of the man but of the music and of the culture he left utterly transformed, creating a completely fresh portrait of Elvis and his world.

Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale

“Kate Summerscale brilliantly recreates the Victorian world, chronicling in exquisite and compelling detail the life of Isabella Robinson, wherein the longings of a frustrated wife collided with a society clinging to rigid ideas about sanity, the boundaries of privacy, the institution of marriage, and female sexuality.”

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt

“A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained?”

The Invisible Woman: The Story of Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan by Claire Tomalin

“When Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan met in 1857, she was 18: a professional actress performing in his production of  The Frozen Deep . He was 45: a literary legend, a national treasure, married with ten children. This meeting sparked a love affair that lasted over a decade, destroying Dickens’s marriage and ending with Nelly’s near-disappearance from the public record.”

Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter

“Slowly, but surely, Sojourner climbed from beneath the weight of slavery, secured respect for herself, and utilized the distinction of her race to become not only a symbol for black women, but for the feminist movement as a whole.”

The Black Rose by Tananarive Due

“Born to former slaves on a Louisiana plantation in 1867, Madam C.J. Walker rose from poverty and indignity to become America’s first black female millionaire, the head of a hugely successful beauty company, and a leading philanthropist in African American causes.”

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

“With a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life, [Chernow] carries the reader through Washington’s troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian Wars, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention and his magnificent performance as America’s first president.”

Ida: A Sword Among Lions by Paula J. Giddings

“ Ida: A Sword Among Lions  is a sweeping narrative about a country and a crusader embroiled in the struggle against lynching: a practice that imperiled not only the lives of black men and women, but also a nation based on law and riven by race.”

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

“But the true saga of [Wilder’s] life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser—the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series—masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography.”

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

“Although mother and daughter, these two brilliant women never knew one another – Wollstonecraft died of an infection in 1797 at the age of thirty-eight, a week after giving birth. Nevertheless their lives were so closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies so eerily similar, it seems impossible to consider one without the other.”

Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee

“Subscribing to Virginia Woolf’s own belief in the fluidity and elusiveness of identity, Lee comes at her subject from a multitude of perspectives, producing a richly layered portrait of the writer and the woman that leaves all of her complexities and contradictions intact.”

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

“Of the great figures in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins’ bullets at age thirty-nine.”

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

“On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.”

Want to read more about great biographies? Check out this post on presidential biographies , this list of biographies and memoirs about remarkable women , and this list of 100 must-read musician biographies and memoirs .

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Jaspreet Singh: 25 Books Aspiring Millionaires Must Read

P ersonal finance expert Jaspreet Singh has read hundreds of books about money throughout his career. After thousands of hours spent reading these books, he shared in a YouTube video the top 25 books he thinks everyone should read if they want to build their wealth .

In making this list, Singh said he included five books that talk about building your personal wealth, five books on personal development, five books about how to earn more money, five books on how to scale your own small business and Singh’s five favorite biographies. Read these 25 books if you want to achieve financial success .

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5 Books About Building Your Personal Wealth

These first five books are all about personal wealth, from first steps to generating passive income.

‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki

Singh said this book was the first time he ever got exposure to money, personal investing, wealth, passive income and real estate investing.

“If you don’t know how to start building wealth, you have to start with this book, because the way that Robert Kiyosaki explains it is so easy for anybody to understand.”

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‘Total Money Makeover’ by Dave Ramsey

Singh said Kiyosaki and Ramsey are the two people that started his financial education journey.

“Dave Ramsey has some great methods on how you can start paying down your debt and how you can start building your wealth with what he calls baby steps,” said Singh. “He lays it down for you step by step with exact things that you need to do right now — that way, you can build your wealth.”

‘The Creature from Jekyll Island’ by G. Edward Griffin

In this book, readers will learn about the Federal Reserve Bank, what your money is and how the Fed operates and what it does. Not only does this help you understand the theory behind money and the economic system, but it also explains why you need to invest to build your wealth.

‘Investing in Real Estate’ by Gary W. Eldred

This book breaks down everything you need to know to get started as a real estate investor.

Some key topics include what it means to invest in real estate, different types of real estate investing and how to get started as a real estate investor.

‘One Up On Wall Street’ by Peter Lynch

‘One Up On Wall Street’ teaches readers how to invest their money in the stock market.

This book covers topics like how to find a good company to invest in, the numbers you should be looking at when you read financial statements and how to analyze a company to ensure you’re investing with a good company instead of a bad company.

5 Books on Personal Development

Working on your personal development is an important part of building up your finances. These five books will help with your mindset and communication.

‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie

Everybody on Singh’s team has read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Not only does this book go over how to make friends, but it helps you succeed in communicating with just about anybody.

“It talks about how you can get somebody to do things for you — not in a manipulative way, but really understanding people’s intentions and learning how to speak and communicate in a very effective manner.”

‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey

“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” teaches readers how to be more efficient and effective in their time using seven different habits.

“The one step that I remember really stuck with me was to start with the end in mind,” said Singh. “If you want to achieve this goal, are you doing the things that are going to help you actually achieve that?”

‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’ by John Gray

This book focuses on relationships, and Singh recommends it because the book talks about how men and women have different languages and what it takes to have a good relationship together.

‘Never Finished’ by David Goggins

Singh praised Goggins’ writing and said if you’re feeling stuck, reading this book is guaranteed to light a fire under you.

“The kinds of crazy things he has gone through… it will really inspire you and make you want to think bigger and really stop making excuses for yourself.”

‘The 48 Laws of Power’ by Robert Greene

Singh recommends “The 48 Laws of Power” as a book worth reading, especially if you want to be in the business space or succeed in the corporate world.

Key topics covered by the book include how you succeed with the way that you do things, understanding how to speak with people and the types of things you should say and should not say.

5 Books About How To Earn More Money

The more you can increase your income, the faster you can become a millionaire. Singh’s next five book recommendations offer advice on making more money.

‘That Will Never Work’ by Marc Randolph

“That Will Never Work” tells the story of streaming giant Netflix and how its founders were repeatedly told their idea would never work.

In this book, the founders talk about their failures and how they built Netflix from nothing because they wanted to solve a simple problem: the late fees that you had to pay when you rented movies from rental chains like Blockbuster.

‘Billion Dollar Brand Club’ by Lawrence Ingrassia

As a marketer, Singh said he loved “Billion Dollar Brand Club.” This book talks about companies like Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club and how they disrupted their industries and did something nobody thought was possible.

Many of these companies started out with few financial resources but were able to get the word out without spending a ton of money and shake up the industry — while making a lot of money doing it.

‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight

“Shoe Dog” is about Knight’s journey in building a million-dollar shoe company: Nike.

“It’s a very inspirational story, because you see how [Knight] really took Nike from nothing into a massive company.”

‘Sam Walton: Made In America’ by Sam Walton

Written by business magnate Sam Walton, this memoir chronicles how Walton built global retailer Walmart.

What makes this memoir so inspiring to read, Singh said, is you hear the story of how Walton built small convenience stores and wanted to make them better. He became so laser focused on providing a better service and value to his customers that he was able to open more stores, increase the customer value in each store and continue to grow this brand into building Walmart into what it is today.

‘The Airbnb Story’ by Leigh Gallagher

Singh said this book is interesting because you get to hear about how Airbnb’s three founders had the idea to rent out their apartment, because they were tired of staying at hotels. They wanted to make something fun, where people could feel more connected.

“You see how these guys leverage the power of the internet to start from nothing and build this massive corporation, and you hear the journey of how they did it.”

5 Books on How To Scale Your Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, these next five books can help you learn to bring your business to the next level.

‘Built to Sell’ by John Warrillow

Every entrepreneur needs to read “Built to Sell,” which talks about how you build a real business. This refers to building a business where you can take yourself out of the business to sell it. Singh said this book talks about how you can shift from this side hustle that you’re running to a real business that can run without your being involved.

‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim

“Blue Ocean Strategy” focuses on how you can find a blue ocean of opportunity.

“What this book talks about is how you can stop competing with other companies,” said Singh. “We have no competitors. We can do something completely different and create what the book calls a blue ocean. It will build a whole new world of opportunity that didn’t exist before.”

‘Delivering Happiness’ by Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos, talks in this book about how he helped build Zappos into a billion-dollar company. In the process, Hsieh highlights how they were able to formulate and create a company culture that changed how the business worked.

Singh recalled that the moment he started reading this book was when his own company was creating its core values and defining its own company culture. He recommends anyone who has a business read this book.

‘Purple Cow’ by Seth Godin

The premise of ‘Purple Cow’ is: If you were to see a field of cows while driving, and you saw one purple cow, which cow would you remember? Obviously, the purple cow, because it sticks out.

This book talks about how you can create a purple cow mentality in your business. How can you make what you do stand out, so people remember what you do instead of all the other vanilla competition?

‘Jack: Straight from the Gut’ by Jack Welch

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, writes in his memoir about the journey he went on to become the CEO and lead and manage GE to become a massive powerhouse. Some key topics he covers include how he managed employees, why he fired employees, how he built difficult systems that allowed GE to excel and how he created a culture of winning, not losing.

If you’re a manager or leading a business, Singh recommends reading this book to understand how you can build a winning business.

5 Favorite Biographies

Singh’s top five biographies offer a look into the lives of successful people.

‘Call Me Ted’ by Ted Turner

Written by CNN founder Ted Turner, “Call Me Ted” details how he went from putting up billboard signs to building CNN.

Singh said this book is hilarious and super crazy at once. “This guy is one of those guys that you feel like you have to shake his hand. When you hear his story and the things that he went through, he holds nothing back.”

‘Elon Musk’ by Ashlee Vance

If you want to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the mind of billionaire Elon Musk, Singh recommends reading this book.

“It’s really inspirational, because you see the different way that he thinks, the things that he does and the way that he built his company. You start to see that he does think very differently, and [it] will make you want to think even bigger.”

‘Onward’ by Howard Schultz

What if you don’t know what you want to do in life, how you can make money or if you’re passionate about anything at all? Read “Onward” for a bit of inspiration.

Those who read this book will not only be impressed by how Schultz built Starbucks, but Singh said they will appreciate the art behind the coffee chain and have a better understanding of why Starbucks does the things that it does.

‘Steve Jobs’ by Walter Isaacson

Clocking in at 656 pages, “Steve Jobs” is a long book but is highly recommended by Singh.

This book walks readers through the life of Steve Jobs from an early age into adulthood, as he was able to use thinking differently to take Apple to new heights.

‘Finding My Virginity’ by Richard Branson

Singh said he’s always liked how Richard Branson does things on his own terms, exactly the way that he wants. “If you want to learn more about how you can actually be different, read this book.”

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Rue21 files for bankruptcy, will close all stores

Rue21 had roughly $194.4m in debt.

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Troubled retailer Rue21 – once a mall staple – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and plans to shutter all its stores and sell all its intellectual property. 

This marks the third time the company has filed for bankruptcy as it struggles to continue operating. 

According to court documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware, the company plans to close its stores and implement "going out of business" sales.

RADIO GIANT AUDACY FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY AS ADVERTISING PLUMMETS

The company has about 540 stores in the U.S., according to its website. 

Reuters reported the company tried to sell its business, but it didn't secure a buyer that was willing to pay more than what the company would earn by liquidating its inventory. 

Rue 21

A shopper walks past a closed Rue 21 store in the re-opened Anderson Mall in Anderson, South Carolina, on Friday, April 24, 2020.  ( Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The company has racked up roughly $194.4 million in debt. 

The teen clothing retailer first filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003, followed by a second time in 2017, Reuters reported. During its second filing, the company closed 400 stores, allowing it to cut $700 million of its debt, according to the outlet. 

ELECTRIC SCOOTER RENTAL COMPANY BIRD FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

Rue21 isn't alone. In fact, the U.S. saw a significant rise in corporate bankruptcies last year. 

Debtwire's latest Restructuring Insights report found bankruptcy filings jumped 58% in 2023, climbing from 179 in 2022 to 282. 

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"The 58% spike in bankruptcies in 2023 signaled a major shift in lenders' attitudes, unwilling to prolong support for struggling companies," said Catherine Corey, Debtwire's global head of restructuring data. 

"A convergence of challenges, including the post-pandemic withdrawal of government support, inflation, rising interest rates, supply chain disruptions, global unrest, and stricter lending requirements, created a perfect storm."

FOX Business' Breck Dumas contributed to this report. 

top business biographies to read

'Winner take most': Here's what Wall Street is expecting from Amazon's Q1 earnings report

  • Amazon is set to report its earnings for the first quarter after the closing bell on Tuesday.
  • Investors have their eye on the company's AI initiatives and profit metrics.
  • The company could be a "top pick" in the eCommerce space, Goldman Sachs said.

Insider Today

Amazon will report earnings on Tuesday after the closing bell and Wall Street has its eye on a few key details heading into the call. 

The company has seen a strong performance so far in 2024, with shares up 20%. Investors are generally feeling bullish on mega-cap tech stocks, with Amazon among the companies at the forefront of the artificial intelligence arms race. 

The company is developing custom generative AI chips, which could be a huge catalyst for its stock in the coming years, Needham strategists said in a recent note.

"This is a unique strategic position, and since digital markets have 'winner take most' economics, we are optimistic that AMZN will be one of the 2-3 winners from GenAI," the note said.

Investors are also watching for strength in key areas of the company, including Amazon Web Services and advertising revenue. Those areas could be challenged as consumer spending slows. 

Here's what Wall Street expects to see from Amazon's upcoming earnings report:

Bank of America: Top stock drivers in play

BofA expects healthy growth from the online retailer over the last quarter. The bank pointed to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's letter to shareholders, which suggested positive progress in retail margins, AWS, and ad revenue — all "top stock drivers" for the company, analysts said in a note. 

"We expect a 1Q beat, and while 2Q set up has some unusual q/q hurdles, we expect positive 1Q metrics and call commentary to be constructive & consistent with the recent Shareholder Letter ... Given expanding retail margins (robust ad growth with a likely 1Q Prime boost), and expected AWS acceleration, we think the stock is still set up for multiple expansion in 2024," analysts wrote last week.

BofA analysts reiterated their "Buy" rating and $204 price target for the stock, implying a 13% upside from its current levels.

Wells Fargo: Healthy trends for the first quarter

Amazon looks to be on a good trajectory, especially when considering that change to its fee structure for its Fulfillment by Amazon program could drive up to $1.2 billion in incremental operating income compared to the previous quarter, Wells Fargo analysts estimated.

Retail sales are expected to contribute $725 million in incremental operating income for the quarter, while Amazon Web Services is expected to contribute $350 million.

"Believe revenue recognized from enterprise cloud migrations still relatively tepid in 1Q but commitments in place for 2H acceleration. View '24 to be a year of cyclical recovery, while Enterprise AI likely more of a focus in '25/'26," the bank said in a note. 

Analysts raised their price target for Amazon stock to $217,  implying a 20% upside.

Goldman Sachs: Top eCommerce pick into first quarter

Goldman Sachs said it was "cautious" on eCommerce stocks, due to an array of headwinds building in the sector. But Amazon is its "top pick" for the first quarter, thanks to resilient retail demand and expected growth in AWS and ad revenue, analysts said in a note.

"Our industry work and the third-party data sources we surveyed point to online consumer spending remaining resilient in Q1'24. But we see a wide dispersion of results between companies," the analysts wrote. 

The firm maintained its "Buy" rating and $220 price target, implying a 22% upside from the stock's current levels.

Needham: Top 2-3 "winners" of the AI race

Amazon is expected to outperform across multiple profit metrics, Needham analysts predicted, adding that Amazon will be among the top winners of the AI race that's captivated Wall Street. 

"We believe that cost cutting, as well as Cloud and Advertising rev growth ... will result in overdelivery of FCF and ROICs, which should lead to a valuation multiple expansion," analysts added. 

However, the bank noted that Amazon's business still faces risks, including weak consumer demand and rising competition. 

The firm maintained its "buy" rating and $205 price target for Amazon stock, implying a 14% upside from current levels.

top business biographies to read

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  • Best storage
  • Best for taller students
  • Best budget
  • Best sporty
  • Best expandable
  • Best for outdoors

The 14 best college backpacks, tested and reviewed

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As any college student knows, your backpack is the most important accessory you'll wear all year. We tested the best college backpacks for their ability to carry a day's worth class essentials neatly and comfortably. Naturally, we also looked for the best-looking ergonomic designs — our favorite bags look sleek and polished, even when filled to their brim.

Our top pick for the best college backpack is the The North Face Recon Backpack . Men's style editor Amir Ismael especially liked its ultra-supportive straps, chest and back clips that distribute weight evenly, as well as its defined pockets for your laptop, books, water bottle, and phone. For something a little more fashionable yet still as functional, I love the popular Dagne Dover Dakota for the plush straps, luxe look, and neat removable compartments.

Our top picks for the best college backpacks

Best overall: The North Face Recon Backpack - See at Amazon

Most comfortable: Patagonia Refugio Backpack 28L - See at Patagonia

Best for travel: JanSport Main Campus FX - See at JanSport

Most stylish: Dagne Dover The Dakota - See at Dagne Dover

Best convertible:  Lo & Sons Edgemont - See at Lo & Sons

Best minimalist: Vera Bradley Campus Backpack - See at Amazon

Most spacious: L.L. Bean Comfort Carry Pack - See at L.L. Bean

Best gym bag: Lululemon Everyday Backpack 2.0 - See at Amazon

Best storage: Carhartt Medium Pack + 3 Can Insulated Cooler - See at Amazon

Best for taller students:  Herschel Little America Backpack - See at Amazon

Best budget: Carhartt 25L Classic Laptop Backpack - See at Amazon

Best sporty:  The North Face Borealis Backpack - See at Amazon

Best expandable: Fjällräven Kånken Laptop 15" - See at Amazon

Best for outdoors: Eddie Bauer Adventurer Backpack 2.0 - See at Eddie Bauer

Best overall: The North Face Recon Backpack

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When searching for the best college backpacks, we look for durability, functionality, and style. Undoubtedly, The North Face Recon Backpack is the perfect combination of everything you need.

It features a medium-size main compartment with a laptop sleeve, a front mesh pocket filled with practical separations for all of your smaller devices and writing utensils, and two water bottle pockets on the sides. One of the best features of this backpack is the chest and back clips meant to alleviate back pain when carrying heavier loads, and the shoulder straps are well padded as well for optimal support. We also include the Recon in our guide to the best backpacks for students , as it makes a great confidence-boosting gift for pupils heading off to a new school. In terms of style, its minimal design and array of colorways make this a versatile choice for those who use a backpack for work or when traveling in addition to on campus.

Most comfortable: Patagonia Refugio Backpack 28L

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Patagonia is one of our favorite B-corp retail companies and we appreciate it's eco-conscious approach to outdoor gear. What we love most about its Refugio backpack is how plush the padding feels on the shoulders and its sternum strap that balances heavy cargo, preventing extra pressure on the spine.

The Refugio's recycled nylon structure makes a great candidate for the best college backpacks because of its high-quality feel, protective laptop and tablet sleeve, and side pockets. It also has a small outer pocket that's in the perfect spot for quickly grabbing something like a sweater or snacks.

Best for travel: JanSport Main Campus FX

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Out of the best college backpacks, JanSport's Main Campus FX is a top rated travel backpack . It's perfect for a student who's carrying a 15-inch laptop with a heavy load of books and random accessories like headphones, a water bottle, beauty products, and assorted writing utensils. The padded straps make carrying its weight a bit breezier. Its dedicated laptop pocket is nicely padded, and there are two other full-size compartments, making room for anything and everything. It also has a keychain in the front pocket to keep your dorm or apartment keys handy. JanSport's Right Pack is also a helpful but downgraded option that's probably best for the techie who has gone paperless.

The Main Campus FX is great for students when they're in school and even after they graduate. Not only is it built perfectly for carrying books and laptops, but it's also versatile, making it easy to use for everything from classes to road trips to the gym.

Most stylish: Dagne Dover The Dakota

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If you like a minimalistic design with ample space and clever compartments, this neoprene bag will be your saving grace. The Dakota comes in three sizes, all of which are water-resistant, shock-absorbent, and complete with sleek straps. Inside, there are pockets galore, so no space is wasted. The laptop compartment in the large version fits a 16-inch laptop, which is bigger than the average college device. The main compartment holds up to 20 liters and has a mesh tablet pocket, five medium-sized pockets, and a convenient detachable pouch. Two exterior pockets can carry your water bottle and a stash of snacks. 

We can confidently say this luxury backpack fits everything you'd ever need: a laptop, tablet, textbooks, water bottle, notebook, snacks, and a spare pair of shoes. On the outside, it looks chic and simple, but inside, it gives you all the power to be your most organized self. It even has a nearly-invisible slip pocket by the handle where you can keep small items like a snack or headphones. 

One of our favorite features is the luggage handle sleeve that allows you to slide the backpack onto any carry-on you're wheeling around. Read more in our full Dagne Dover Dakota backpack review .

Best convertible: Lo & Sons Edgemont

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Sometimes a tote is more convenient to access your belongings at a moment's notice, but the one-shoulder design is bound to cause more discomfort than two straps. Instead of deciding between the two, the Edgemont combines them into one convertible bag. "The backpack straps have clips that attach to loops at the bottom of the backpack (which hide away into their own pockets when not in use). If you want to use the bag as a tote, just un-clip the straps and fold them into the back compartment. They bulge a tiny bit, but I barely noticed them, and neither will anyone else. 

When using the bag as a backpack, the top straps act like any standard backpack top handle. In tote mode, they're the main straps you can carry in your hand or over your shoulder. They're very sturdy and also comfortable to hold." — Connie Chen, former senior reporter

Best minimalist: Vera Bradley Campus Backpack

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For the college student with a maturing style and an appreciation for a spacious bag, this may be a great stylistic and functional choice. It has a gently padded 15-inch laptop compartment along with two side pockets for a water bottle. It has a sizable 25-liter main compartment containing two mesh slip pockets and outer pockets to store smaller items. It zips smoothly, has comfortable straps ergonomically designed for women, and a luggage handle on the back.

This is one of the best college backpacks that combines utility with a minimalistic look. The small brand tag is monochromatic and located on the side, so it blends in with the rest of the backpack. Once you open its pockets, you get a pop of paisley pattern and personality.

Most spacious: L.L. Bean Comfort Carry Pack

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This backpack is all about functionality, protecting your laptop, and basic storage. The Comfort Carry Pack has a spacious 30-liter capacity, but not an extravagance of pockets. There's a main compartment with a laptop pocket as well as a second compartment with an organizer for pencils. Made with a chest belt, hip belt, and padded straps, this is a great choice for going between school and other activities. The bungee cords on the front are also a perfect place to store one last bulky item, like a jacket or sweatshirt.

Best gym bag: Lululemon Everyday Backpack 2.0

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Lululemon's lightweight Everyday Backpack does exactly what a college backpack needs to do without too many frills. The wider-set bag has a 23-liter capacity and a padded laptop pocket that fits a 16-inch device. It's made with a water-repellent fabric, two side pockets for water bottles, inner mesh pockets, and a small outer pocket. It has a luggage sleeve and the minimalistic logo doesn't scream "I love Lululemon." While not made of the thickest material, the popular fitness brand's Everyday Backpack is designed with exactly what a college student needs. The sleek shape and neutral colorways also mean it can go with lots of different looks, making this one of the best college backpacks for toting around anything from gym clothes to textbooks. 

Best storage: Carhartt Medium Pack + 3 Can Insulated Cooler

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The Carhartt Medium Pack, bundled with the three-can insulated cooler, might be one of the best college backpacks for hauling books and lunch. The backpack is made from Cordura, an incredibly durable ripstop material that's also been treated to be water-repellent. The outside of the bag features a mesh pocket for a water bottle, a Hook-n-Haul system for adding extra items like the insulated cooler, and air-mesh shoulder padding. The inside of the bag has plenty of practical storage compartments. From the 15-inch laptop sleeve to the fleece-lined eyewear compartment, you can keep all of your belongings organized and easily accessible. 

"My favorite feature is the attached cooler. It can fit up to three 12-ounce cans, but it's also the perfect spot to keep snacks or a lunch for days when you have a packed schedule of classes. And when you're not on campus, it's perfect for hiking, trips to the beach, or anywhere else you'd want to enjoy a cold drink while on the go. It's also easily removable if you prefer to carry the backpack without it." — Amir Ismael, style editor

Best for taller students: Herschel Little America Backpack

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The Herschel Little America backpack is a classic carryall with a deceiving name. With its spacious 25 liters and nicely padded laptop compartment, the pack is made to help you carry everything you need for school while sporting a timeless style. The main compartment is like a huge pit where you can fit a lot of things: books, snacks, tech, and more. It also has two small side pockets on the inside. Little America is easily expandable and easily collapsible. The single outer pocket is perfect for storing quick things you may need throughout your day.

The backside is thoroughly padded for comfortable carrying. Though, personally, we think this backpack works best on taller people since it's 19.25 inches long. On an average-height woman, the bag is a bit overwhelming on a shorter back.

Best budget: Carhartt 25L Classic Laptop Backpack

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We've tested the now-retired Carhartt Classic Work Pack, but thankfully, the 25 L Classic Laptop Backpack is an excellent upgrade. It's water-repellent, durable, and accommodates a medium-size cargo load. Thanks to its front zippered pocket with keyring clip and separated mesh slots for your phone, notebooks, or pens, you won't lose any of your smaller items at the bottom of the bag. It has a dedicated 15-inch laptop sleeve at the back of the main compartment, and this new model even comes with side pockets of water bottle storage. 

If you're a brand loyalist, this is one of the best college backpacks for you because it comes in the classic brown colorway that the Michigan-made workwear brand is recognized for. 

Best sporty: The North Face Borealis Backpack

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The North Face is known for making durable and high-quality gear and the Borealis Backpack, one of the brand's most classic styles, is no different.

The 28-liter size fits just about everything you need for class and then some. It has the standard features: a nicely padded laptop pocket, a spacious main compartment, side pockets for water bottles, a small fleece-lined outer pocket, and a bigger outer pocket with pockets and places for pens. It's built with a chest and hip belt, making it useful for hikes too.

There's also a small but thoughtful feature to appreciate: U-pull zippers that make unzipping any of its pockets 10 times easier. The Borealis Backpack may not have a bunch of hidden compartments in the niftiest spaces, but it does what it needs to with quality materials made to last a long while. And for the same price, the Women's Borealis is specifically designed to fit a slighter build.

Best expandable: Fjällräven Kånken Laptop 15"

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I see this backpack all the time on my college campus, and here's why: The compact rectangular design can be expanded, making it especially versatile. The sleek look makes this a functional piece as well as a nice addition to almost any outfit. It has three pockets: a laptop pocket, main compartment, and outer pouch. The laptop pocket is well padded and the zipper is tucked away in the back. The straps are nice and soft, though oriented differently than the typical backpack, and it has two side pouches that can be used to store a water bottle and possibly even an umbrella. Read more about its upgraded version in our full Fjällräven Tree Kånken review . 

Best for outdoors: Eddie Bauer Adventurer Backpack 2.0

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We tested Eddie Bauer's previous Adventurer backpack, but their 2.0 version is even better. It stands out as one of the best college backpacks because of its versatility and durability. They aren't kidding when they say this backpack is for adventures — it has a hydration-compatible compartment and two water bottle pockets for your next hike to campus. As for its functionality, this backpack has a unique side access 17" laptop pocket and small fleece-lined front pockets for your smaller items. This water-repellent bag is built to battle with you all through college and after.

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You can purchase logo and accolade licensing to this story here . Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected] .

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    Best for travel: JanSport Main Campus FX - See at JanSport. Most stylish: Dagne Dover The Dakota - See at Dagne Dover. Best convertible: Lo & Sons Edgemont - See at Lo & Sons. Best minimalist ...