I’ve read several leadership books this semester. Many of them highlight how important it is for leaders to read the biographies of other great leaders. Apparently, reading their stories can teach us a lot about ourselves, maybe we can learn from their mistakes, or see how God worked in their lives. I have not thought about reading biographies for this purpose before. I have read a few biographies, though not many, the most memorable being, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” I found it interesting but don’t think I will be adopting his leadership style. I also read “The Diary of Anne Frank” as a child, but can’t remember many details from it. I digress…
The authors of these leadership books continuously highlighted the importance of studying the lives of people like D.L. Moody, Bill Bright, Billy Graham, and the Wesley brothers. Of course, I have read various materials on several of these gentlemen, but not a biography.
On the other hand, I have read, “From the Hood to the Hill,” which chronicles the life of Rear Admiral (Retired), U.S. Navy, Barry C. Black. Rear Admiral Black was the first and only African American to ever serve as U.S. Chief of Chaplains and is the first person of color in our nation’s history to serve as Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. His story is definitely worth reading! I also recommend the book “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” (or you can rent the DVD by the same title). A devout Seventh Day Adventist, Dr. Carson went from the inner city of Detroit to become one of the world’s greatest neurosurgeons.
Considering these recommendations and pondering my scarce biography reading diet made me wonder, “How important it is really? Should we read biographies? In today’s publishing world, does reading memoirs serve the same purpose as reading biographies?
I have read a few memoirs, but again not many. Here’s what I have read:
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Women Who Raised Me by Actress, Victoria Rowell (chronicling her life growing up in the foster care system)
Angry Conversation With God by Actress, Susan Isaacs
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculée Ilibagiza
I plan to read the following memoirs over the next couple months:
The Girl in the Orange Dress by Margot Starbuck
Reluctant Pilgrim by Enuma Okoro
A Girl named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
The Good Daughter by Jasmin Darznik
So, what’s your take on reading biographies? Have you read any good ones? If so, please share. What about memoirs…do they serve the same purpose? What memoirs do you recommend reading and why?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011