25 Fascinating Biographies Every College Student Should Read

College is a tricky time: It’s a formative period that often shapes who you are and where you will go, but you don’t realize it until much later. Because of that, it can often help to study the lives and deeds of famous men and women to see where they came from and better understand how a person’s course is created by the world around them. Biographies let us understand people better, which in turn can help us figure out our own path. Here are 25 fascinating biographies that every college student should read and remember.

An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963: Robert Dallek enjoyed amazing access to personal documents to create this compelling, masterful biography of one of the most compelling American presidents of all time.

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream: Author Doris Kearns Goodwin has many political volumes to her name, but this one is a cut above. As a member of Johnson’s White House staff, she had a front-row seat for his contentious administration, and her access makes for a gripping biography of a man thrust into the spotlight of leadership.

Huey Long: Huey Long, aka “The Kingfish,” was a divisive figure in Southern politics in the early 20th century, and would later inspire the central character in Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. This biography by T. Harry Williams won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for its fascinating profile of a man whose death remains a source of debate.

Let it Blurt: The Life & Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic: Arguably one of the best rock critics of all time, and certainly one of the most impassioned, Lester Bangs wrote for Rolling Stone and Creem among other outlets before dying of a drug overdose at 33. Jim Derogatis’ biography is a fantastic portrait of the man whose voice helped define 1970s rock.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As told to Alex Haley (Roots), the autobiography of Malcolm X is a riveting look at the life and events of one of the biggest figures in the civil rights movement.

Truman: David McCullough has won the Pulitzer Prize twice, and the first time was for this sprawling, landmark biography of President Harry Truman.

John Adams: This fantastically detailed story of one of the nation’s founding fathers won author David McCullough his second Pulitzer and inspired an HBO miniseries.

The Kid Stays in the Picture: Robert Evans racked up credits like The Godfather and Rosemary’s Baby during his peak as a Hollywood producer, and his autobiography is packed with wild and engaging stories about what it was like to get movies made.

Peter the Great: His Life and World: This Pulitzer winner from Robert K. Massie takes college students and other readers through Russian history and the rule of one its most infamous rulers.

Gandhi, an Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth: Gandhi’s autobiography is one of the best resources available for students looking to learn more about the leader who pioneered civil disobedience in his quest for social justice.

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York: Author Robert Caro offers a searing look at the life and practices of Robert Moses, an urban planner whose contributions and tactics in the shaping of New York City made him one of the most controversial figures there who never held elected office. A vital read for anyone looking to understand Moses and, by extension, modern New York.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character): This autobiography, by turns comic and serious, relates stories from the life of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, whose work included the Manhattan Project.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a renowned theologian, but this biography highlights his formative years as well as his involvement in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America: Mary Harris Jones’ biography details her exploits as one of the most famous union organizers of all time, and her work inspired a magazine that was named after her.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey: Antonia Fraser writes about Marie Antoinette with a sharp eye, giving college students a fresh take on the elusive French ruler.

Personal History: Katharine Graham led The Washington Post for more than 20 years, and her autobiography talks of her time there during some of the nation’s most difficult periods, including the Watergate scandal. The book won the Pulitzer Prize.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Arguably the most important figure in the struggle for civil rights in 20th century America, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a large life cut short by an assassin. This volume captures his works and thoughts better than almost any other.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House: Newsweek editor Jon Meacham crafts a fantastic portrait of Andrew Jackson, a divisive but important president.

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt’s name is synonymous with capitalism and power, and this gripping biography shows how he got his start and played a role in everything from the Civil War to the transportation revolution.

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America: Douglas Brinkley writes about Teddy Roosevelt with flair, and this biography highlights his efforts to sustain the shrinking remnants of the American frontier.

Churchill: Paul Johnson’s biography is an indispensable account of the life of one the most important figures in global politics of the past 100 years.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: Stephen King’s memoir is a great read for college students for two reasons: It’s a well-told autobiography as well as a fantastic primer in what it takes to be a writer.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Jean-Dominique Bauby’s autobiography is a stirring testament to resilience: He was left almost completely paralyzed after a car accident and wrote this book by dictating its words one letter at a time by blinking his left eye.

Angela’s Ashes: Frank McCourt’s acclaimed autobiography creates a compelling portrait of his poverty-stricken childhood in Ireland.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: Dave Eggers burst onto the literary scene with this rule-breaking memoir about his parents’ death and his subsequent efforts to raise his younger brother. A beautiful, hilarious book.

(Source: Posted on Tuesday June 15, 2010 By Lauren Bailey. http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2010/06/15/25-fascinating-biographies-every-college-student-should-read/ )


‘Killing Jesus.’ To be released Sept. 24th

Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly has announced that Killing Jesus: A History will be his follow-up book to the NYT Bestsellers Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy.
A press release from his publisher Henry Holt stated that the book will
…tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth as a beloved and controversial young revolutionary brutally killed by Roman soldiers. O’Reilly will recount the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable, and the changes his life brought upon the world for the centuries to follow.

“Jesus Christ has not walked among us physically for more than two thousand years, yet his presence today is felt the world over and his spirit is worshipped by more than 2.2 billion people,” said O’Reilly. “His teachings, his legacy, his life as a flesh-and-blood man, and his death created the world in which we live.”
As with the other two books, Killing Jesus will be co-written by Martin Dugard. It will be published on Sept. 24 this year.

REVIEW: The Biggest and Toughest: The Short Story of David’s Big Faith

The Biggest and Toughest: The Short Story of David's Big FaithThe Biggest and Toughest: The Short Story of David’s Big Faith by Kelly Pulley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is courtesy of Netgalley for my un-biased review.

From a parents point of view I give this 3 out of 5 stars for knowing that bible stories are alive and well in today’s world of video games and violent tendencies.

As a boy I was always drawn to this story of war and a giant famously defeated by the heroic bravery of a little boy. Although the plot of this bible story didn’t change much it was refreshing nevertheless to see it among the selection of books available. Equally important my children immediately picked it and were excited to hear the story read allowed.

The illustrations were well drawn and in vivid colors that captured my children’s attention. Little David looked and reminded my son of the little boys in his class which gave him a unique perspective that he could relate too.

Teaching children lessons about life and God through illustrations for me will never get old!

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Weekend Read: Hello and greetings my Friends!

Well it is finally the weekend. What will you be reading? Let me know because I am always looking for something for the next weekend. What’s that? What am I reading? Well since you asked… I just started ‘There are reasons Noah packed no clothes.’ By Robert Jacoby. Has anyone else read it or have any thoughts?
Anyhow, I hope everyone stays safe and enjoys the getaway from reality!


Book Description
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
You need your eyes, don’t you?

So does Richard Issych. Two weeks ago he overdosed. Now he’s fighting for his life, finding threatening notes like that one on his nightstand.

“There are Reasons Noah Packed No Clothes” is the story of 19-year-old Richard Issych, who wakes to a harsh new reality inside an inpatient unit. Now Richard’s journey turns into one of revelations and struggling through his own reasons for being as he discovers new meanings for redemption, sacrifice, hope, love-and the will to live.

In the end, what are the reasons Noah packed no clothes? Richard can only imagine. But it has something to do with a size 3XL bowling shirt with the name “Noah” stitched over the pocket.

There are reasons . . . everyone uses his own dictionary.

There are reasons . . . some new heavens come from some new hells.

There are Reasons Noah Packed No Clothes

Top 10 Bizarre Books

Strange, quirky, surprising, disturbing – the following books may represent many of these traits, but they are all certainly bizarre and something quite out of the ordinary. Book lovers and enthusiasts of bizarre topics in general will find these selections both interesting and entertaining. If you’re looking for a conversation piece for your book table, these books really know how to call attention to themselves! As you would expect with books such as these, there are some rather witty reviews on Amazon.

How to Abandon Ship
Phil Richards and John J. Banigan

Apparently, getting off a sinking ship is more complicated than you’d think! First published in 1938, this novel little volume was written from the voice of experience since one of its authors was forced by the Nazis to abandon the Robin Moor before they torpedoed it in 1941. While the authors do discuss the necessity of departing one’s ship in an orderly fashion due to a variety of circumstances, they also explore concepts like buoyancy and open sea boatmanship. Just in case you thought jumping off was a matter of counting three and hoping for the best, give this informative survival guide a try if you have any plans to go sailing.

Gangsta Rap Coloring Book
Anthony “Aye Jay” Moreno

Many adults do enjoy coloring and this is certainly a selection better suited to a grown-up than a kid since it features a cover-size gun, well, right on the cover. Many of hip-hop’s most memorable and, indeed, colorful rappers are depicted by thick black illustrations that await the bold hand of an artist. Biggie dares you to color him pink. Thugs to some and musical superstars to many, these rappers will have you sharpening your kids’ Crayolas in no time (see bizarre book selection #3 for assistance). Since this book was published in 2004, copies are still widely available from venues like Amazon.com.

The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices
Brenda Love

This book might stifle conversations as much as it starts them depending on who you invite over. In general, this is not mother-in-law material, so hide it from the coffee table when she visits. With 700 entries that include everything from love potions to the most unusual sexual practices on earth, this book does contain and portray some highly unusual stuff that is not for the faint of heart. Anyone interested in the bizarre or, at least, highly unusual practices of humans will be both shocked and entertained to learn what floats some people’s boats when it comes to sexuality.

Urine Therapy!
P.P. Powers

Full Title: Urine Therapy! Confessions of a Mad Pee Drinker

One would expect this to be a joke book given the pseudonym of the author, but urine drinking for health benefits is a real concept and this isn’t the only book devoted to it – just the one with the best title, book jacket, and personal reflections. Published in 2007, this intriguing “self-improvement” book, as described by its own author, suggests that drinking one’s own urine over a period of time can cure chronic ailments. The author describes his own experiences drinking “midstream morning urine” and how the practice cured his depression, fatigue, dandruff, irritable bowel syndrome, bad skin and fibromyalgia (many readers will be wondering if he’s on Match.com). According to P.P., the fountain of youth may truly be inside each and every one of us.

Manifold Destiny
Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller

Full Title: Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!

It’s true that twenty-first century vehicles are far better insulated than twentieth century cars, making this a nearly-obsolete cookbook unless you have a vintage car – probably anything pre-1990. On the other hand, if your engine runs hot, this cookbook is still in print and filled with many great recipes that you can make right on your car engine. Ideal for traveling cooks who don’t mind cooking with fumes, this book covers one-of-kind cookery. One reviewer maintained that engines steam everything and always leave his vegetables al dente, but if you can discover the knack of this vehicular art, you’ll never have to pull into a greasy roadside diner again! You can crank open your hood and run your own!

Natural Bust Enlargement
Donald L. Wilson

Full Title: Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Mind Power: How to Use the Other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your Breast

Published by the Total Mind Power Institute in 1979, this book takes the “I think I can, I think I can” concept to a surprising new level. One must assume that there might be a few glitches contained in this highly unusual do-it-yourself book or the cosmetic surgery industry wouldn’t be booked quite so solid with breast enhancement appointments. As an odd publication, it does, however, have its place in lists of bizarre books. Kudos to the book’s cover, as well.

If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive
Chet Fleming

Published in 1988, this book also contains the author and inventor’s patent for a device that keeps the head of a mammal alive. A considerable portion of this book provides an explanation as to why this inventor, who is also a practicing attorney, devised a patent he says he does not intend to use. It’s unclear as to whether or not Fleming advocates the practice of keeping severed heads alive or simply wants to explore the possibilities that the marvels of science and technology may provide in the future.

How to Sharpen Pencils
David Rees

Full Title: How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants

If you’ve ever lamented that you stuck your pencil into a cheap twenty-five-cent plastic sharpener – those children’s gadgets that break more tips than they sharpen – this book is for you! Painstakingly crafted and nearly exhaustive in its coverage of an unusual subject, this author treats pencil sharpening seriously and, upon reading it, you’ll take it more seriously, too. Witty and informative, this highly irregular volume may seem bizarre unless you happen to be sitting there with a broken pencil and are unsure how to best sharpen it for use again.

C is for Chaffing
Mark Remy

A child’s alphabet book of running, this strange little book and its correspondingly disturbing cover is about the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly sides of running. The title, of course, simply dares the onlooker to open this book up and give it a whirl, but some of the subject matter, like vomiting after a race, is about as gross a topic as that covered in Walter the Farting Dog: Banned from the Beach by William Kotzwinkle, an honorable mention and runner up for this list of bizarre books.

Ernest Vincent Wright

Full Title: Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words without Using the Letter “E

It’s unclear what the author had against this most popular of vowels when he wrote this novel of constrained writing, but there is, indeed, no trace of this letter in the work. Considering all the English verbs that require the –ed ending, this is a remarkable, albeit bizarre, achievement. This self-published work is a highly collectible book in spite of its unusual treatment of a popular letter. Published in 1939, this odd novel is perfectly readable and contains a reasonable plot, proving that the letter “e” is not as e-ssential as one might have thought.

These highly bizarre books are certainly wonderful for book collectors of the weird or unusual in printed form, but they are incredibly interesting reads for anyone who needs a break from the ordinary. Share them with friends or leave them out during a party to enliven your conversations and provide some unusual subject matter for discussion.

Source: http://listverse.com/2012/07/25/top-10-bizarre-books/

REVIEW: ‘Finding Camlann.’ By Sean Pidgeon

Finding CamlannFinding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book from the publisher as a Goodreads first read for my un-biased review. Caution: At some point this review will contain spoilers. I rated it four stars because of the last twenty pages. Otherwise it was a nice read for three stars.

First off. Let it be known, I have always wanted to travel to England!

Author Sean Pidgeon’s style of writing is both poetic and captivating. I love the old world charm and his knack for describing the surroundings as mysterious, or antiquated. Almost as if Arthur’s bones walks the street or his mystery is real and attainable.

Reading about the networking of roads, landmarks, and towns of England made me want to pull out a map and see it for myself. I envisioned the many small paths and muddy little roads that are winding back and forth throughout the countryside. The sparse vehicles and trains moving at a snails pace without a care in the world. Giving the illusion that life in England is slower and that the infrastructure is still of a simpler time.

OKAY, stop the car! Ssscccrreeeccchhhh!!! Back to reality.

Spoiler alert: What a maddening conclusion to this book! I want to know what is in that tomb. Is it really Arthur, or some minor Welsh lord. Also: Is Hugh no more? Does Julia and Donald finally commit? Is Lucy’s hypothesis at Devil’s Barrow indirectly correct? I need answers…

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REVIEW: ‘The Poodle and the Pea.’ by Charlotte Guillain

The Poodle and the PeaThe Poodle and the Pea by Charlotte Guillain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this copy courtesy of Net Galley for my un-biased review.

Just as you would expect! An animal version of the Princess and the Pea. My four year old daughter really liked it. I also believe she paid more attention to this re-telling of the classic story versus the princess one. Which is saying a lot because she LOVES princess’!

Let’s face it folks there are a lot of great stories out there and the classics in most cases just don’t stack up in comparison to the newer ones. Puppies just give it that oddity to entice the kiddies to pay a little more attention. The vivid illustrations popped off of the page and really assisted in bringing the story to life. I would be curious to see what other stories could be re-invented and told in a unique and captivating way.

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