five favourites: memoirs + biographies

I’m a big book nerd and my absolute favourite genre is non-fiction, especially biographies and memoirs. Aren’t other people just so fascinating? I love the insight into people’s history and what makes them tick. Here’s five biographies I’ve read in the past 12 months that are worth mentioning:


A Woman of Independence: A Story of Love and the Birth of a New Nation – Kirsty Sword Gusmao

I’ve been intrigued with Kirsty Sword Gusmao ever since I travelled to Timor Leste in 2006. What a woman! Working as an undercover operative in the East Timorese independence movement, she fell in love with the movement’s jailed leader, Xanana Gusmao, through letters smuggled in and out of prison. The book covers the major moments in the independence movement weaved through an amazing and challenging love story. Highly recommended!


Unbowed – Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai is another amazing woman who fought to empower women, save the environment through her Green Belt Movement and restore democracy to Kenya. Unbowed shares the remarkable challenges she faced and the wins along the way and was a powerful insight into aspects of Kenyan society that I’ve known so little about.


Lazarus Rising: A Personal and Political Autobiography – John Howard

I wasn’t yet old enough to vote when Howard was in power. Whatever your politics or thoughts on him personally, I found this to be an in-depth and interesting look at various political events from our former Prime Minister’s point of view. I came away with the realisation that politics is a long-term game – it was eye-opening to hear stories of those still currently in power from 15, 20, 25 years ago. It gave me greater context to Australian politics which, to be truthful, I don’t engage with nearly enough.


The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage – Jodi Kantor

This book is a fascinating insight into America’s current President and First Lady. I especially enjoyed reading and learning more about Michelle Obama, her own impressive achievements and the way she has influenced Barack’s career over the years.


The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin

favourite author of mine makes numerous references to Mr Franklin in her book The Happiness Project so it felt only natural that I head straight to the source. At 300+ years old, this is one of the oldest books I’ve read and actually enjoyed.

Have you read a good memoir/biography lately? I’d love some new recommendations!


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