For anyone who regularly reads and doesn’t find him or herself drawn towards fiction or fantasy, biographies are a great choice of book. When thinking of a new book to try, the idea of reading a biography isn’t necessarily the first one that comes to mind, however this is certainly not to say that it should not be considered as a viable option. In fact, it is quite the contrary as biographies appeal to a wide range of people and for a variety of different reasons. In 2009 David Wright stated in an issue of Booklist that he can only think of two good reasons for reading a biography, saying that it is a good way to learn history and to “get the dirt”. While both of these reasons may be true this article will provide a little more depth and reasons for why biographies are appealing.
Probably the most obvious reason that someone will decide to read a biography is because they have an interest in that particular person and what they have done and seen. Or it may be that they know some of what they have done but wish to gain insight into their reasons why. Because biographies are not limited by a genre they appeal to people from all different backgrounds and of all interests - it just depends on whose biography it is. So whether you want to learn about drug smuggler Howard Marks or actor Tommy Lee Jones, a biography is the way to go.
Biographies provide a great amount of insight and information into a person’s true character, experiences and motivations. They might allow the reader to firstly discover fascinating people, or rediscover and reassess, so whether you know a lot or a little about the person you’re reading about there’s no doubt that their biography will help to add perspective, and possibly even provide inspiration, depending on the subject.
For anyone who’s interested in history a biography is a great choice of book as it combines both the subjective views and experiences of the person at hand but also many facts and sources from around the period, allowing for an informed opinion. Remember: “If we cannot remember the past then we are forever condemned to repeat it”, as George Santayana said. Similarly a great amount of information can be found relating to foreign countries and cultures in addition to time periods, learning through another individual’s experiences can be a truly enlightening experience.