Thursday, July 14, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Do you care if a biography is well-written?

I'm participating today in Booking Through Thursday, and the question is:

There are so many crappy biographies … would you rather read a poorly-written biography of a fascinating life, OR an exquisitely well-written, wonderful read of one of a not-so-interesting life?

I had to think about this for a minute. Biography (along with autobiography) is my second-favorite genre, after fiction.

I love to read about the lives of interesting people. Delving into how they were raised, what made them tick, how they rose to all just fascinates me.

To get to those fascinating facts, I will, and have, read biographies that are written in a mediocre fashion.

But if I had my druthers, I'd want the best of both worlds: to read about the story of a fascinating person, written well by a wonderful author.

The images you see are two such biographies, albeit of two men who were vastly different. Jim Elliot, the missionary who lost his life bringing the gospel to the primitive Auca Indians, was a man who was sure of his faith and his destination.

Branwell Bronte was a tormented soul who was unable to attain success or happiness in this world.

Both books are brilliantly and compellingly written--prime examples of biographies of people who might not be in the highest strata of celebrity, but whose stories are written by master wordsmiths--Shadow of the Almighty by Elliot's widow, Elisabeth Elliot; The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte, by acclaimed novelist Daphne DuMaurier.

When I think of "crappy biographies," I think of those "unauthorized" paperbacks about Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga that you see at the grocery store. No, I won't be reading those. :)


Michael said...

I think there has to be a bit of time to get perspective before a bio can be written. At least if it's someone who knows the person.

Kay Day said...

I love biographies and autobiographies, too. But I prefer well written. If it's not, I won't stick with it no matter how interesting the person may be.

I've been looking for good biographies for my son and they are hard to find. I'd like him to learn from people's lives, but the way so many are written is just boring!

I haven't read In the Shadow of the Almighty, but I have read Through Gates of Splendor. I also like A Chance to Die about Amy Carmichael.
Another good one is Bruchko by Bruce Olson.

Tribute Books Mama said...

Good answer

LibrarySnake said...

LOL, I won't be reading Lady Gaga's bio either.

Here's mine:

Gigi Ann said...

I prefer autobiography, and I especially like the ones I can listen to being read by the person the book is about. I recently listened to Julie Andrews read her memoir "Home" it was about 11 hours long. I don't think I would have ever sat down and read the book, but I loved listening to Julie read it. I am now listening to Betty White reading her book, "If You Ask Me (and of course you won't). I enjoy hearing them to actually reading them.

fiction-books said...

Hi Cindy,

Bigraphies/Autobiographies are not something that I read, or at least very rarely.

Celebrity of any kind really annoys me...What makes a celebrity? They are just people doing a job, albeit one where they are in the spotlight.

Reading about a celebrity has about as much interest for me as...
Certainly something that I don't need to read about.

A true celebrity is someone who just gets on with their lives, helping others along the way, who does not seek or often get recognition of their good deeds.

A Biographer of note, who writes about a figure of historical reference, may be an exception to the rule and may keep my interest long enough to finish the article.



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