If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that three years ago, I set myself the goal of reading at least on nonfiction book a month. And my love of nonfiction has only grown since then. Some of my favorite nonfiction books I’ve read in the past few years have actually been biographies. I’ve read about Catherine the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and both Alexander and Jeremiah Hamilton (unrelated, but equally awesome). In the process, I’ve learned about everything from renaissance art to physics to politics. And it has only made me want to learn more.
I picked out five biographies from the pile I already own that I am probably going to pick up next. If I’m being extra ambitious (and probably unrealistic), I’d say I want to read these all by the end of 2020. But really, they’re just the biographies that are on my shelves that I’m most likely to pick up soon(ish).
Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman. One of my long-term goals is to read more biographies about women. Because so many of the ones sitting on my shelves are about men. And while I’m definitely still interested in reading those, I think the ladies deserve equal attention on my TBR. and what better place to start than with a literary figure. Charlotte is my second favorite Brontë (after Anne). I love Jane Eyre, and would love to find out more about both the book and the author behind it.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. A female historical figure I really want to learn more about is the infamous Cleopatra. I’ve been fascinated by Egyptian history as long as I can remember (I think I even taught myself hieroglyphics when I was like ten), but I don’t think I’ve read any books about it as an adult. So it needs to happen. Bonus: it’s another biography of a female figure.
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton is the book that started the phenomenon. I read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Not only did I learn a lot about the infamous Hamilton himself, I also learned a lot about the Revolutionary War and how our government was founded. So I’m just as excited to read about Washington. Because from what I know about him, he was kind of an epic figure. (I also really want to read Chernow’s biography of Grant, because I’ve heard amazing things about that one.)
Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg. After reading Chernow’s Hamilton bio, I came away wanting to learn more about Aaron Burr. Because he’s such an interesting character. Which is probably why I now own not one but two biographies of him (the other is American Emperor by David O. Stewart, in case anyone was wondering). This one piques my interest just a little bit more because Nancy Isenberg also wrote White Trash (which, of course, I own and haven’t yet read), and I’m kind of curious about her perspective on Burr.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. Two of my absolute favorite biographies of the past couple years have been written by Walter Isaacson (about Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein). But this one has been on my shelves the longest. I really like Ben Franklin, and can’t wait to get to this one. I already have the audiobook, so I’m planning on making it one of my first nonfiction reads of next year. I do also really want to read his Steve Jobs biography, but since I already own this one, I’ll read Franklin first.
This post is just making me realize how much I need to start reading all the biographies that are already on my TBR. Because this isn’t even close to my current collection (about half of which is from my post-Hamilton American history binge). I also have (unread) biographies of everyone from James Madison to Napoleon to Rasputin. It’s becoming a problem.
If you have any biography recommendations, I’d love to hear them! Particularly if they’re biographies of amazing women, because I need more of those on my TBR.
Which historical figure are you most curious to read more about?