I Talk To Dead People

I Talk To Dead People

Why You Should Read Biographies (and 5 to Add to Your Reading List)

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” I Talk To Dead People

Walt Disney

We all know that reading is good for us. It expands our horizons, allows us to explore new worlds, and teaches us about different cultures.

But what about biographies? Why should we read them?

You need experience to succeed. If you don’t have firsthand knowledge, the next best thing to do is to learn from the experience of others. That’s why I enjoy reading biographies.

Here are a few reasons you should read biographies

Biographies help us understand how successful people deal with crises and solve complex problems.

We’re invited into their lives, allowing us to watch them as they struggle with challenges and make important choices.

They’ve left their instructions, the map of their lives, showing how they got where they are today so that you don’t have to go through the same experiences and experiments they went through to learn what lessons they learned.

It lets you see their path and choose which tracks you want to follow and which to avoid. It is a far better road map than any self-help book can offer.

They allow you to benefit from the experience of others.

Even though the practical knowledge learned in school – solving complex math problems, writing an essay, or perhaps even coding a computer – is essential for a career, you need some other crucial lessons.

Learning about the life stories of successful people can help you develop essential life skills, such things as:

  • How to be more effective in your job or career.
  • How to make better decisions and choices.
  • How to become a leader in any field.
  • How to build self-confidence.
  • How to deal with failure 

They help you discover who the biographees really are.

You get to hear about other people’s experiences.

You gain knowledge about the art and life-force of others, and thus you learn to be empathetic towards them and respect their stories no matter how big or small they may be.

You develop this personal connection with the biographees who more often than not become your mentors and role models, which widen your range of thought and make you learn about real-world miracles.

This is proven because, when you’re lost, you often find yourselves in other people’s stories, so we’re supposed to listen, read and observe.

They allow you to talk to dead people.

Many of my heroes and mentors are dead.

But with biographies, I can still have a conversation with them.

It’s interesting to note that many biographies are written after death. They may have been successful in their life, but they were not perfect. We can learn from their mistakes and apply that knowledge to our own lives.

It’s instructive to know how others, both famous and not so famous, handled the crises in their lives, found their life mates, raised their families, and pursued their exciting careers, whether it be as a merchant, writer, artist, poet, politician, soldier, actor, attorney, inventor, scientist, engineer, physician, nurse, teacher, or any other career you can think of.

I have been reading about the lives of many people who lived before me, and I am amazed at what they accomplished with such little resources that we take for granted today.

They were born into poverty, had no money, no education, no health care, no social security, no unemployment benefits, no retirement plan, no free college tuition, no child support, no paid vacations, no daycare centers, no maternity leave, no sick days, no paid holidays, no paid vacations, etc.

Yet, still, they managed to accomplish remarkable feats.

If you look closely enough, you will find that every person has something unique to teach us.

Biography teaches us to appreciate each individual’s value and contribution to society.

It also helps us understand how we can achieve greatness if we work hard and use our talents.

The most exciting part about reading biographies is that we often get to know people better than our friends or family members ever could.

Reading biographies helps us learn from others’ failures.

You will be enlightened through studying how others made their way on the stage of life, and you will learn from their mistakes.

We’re often too quick to judge people, especially celebrities or public figures. But when we read biographies, we get a more well-rounded view of the person. We see them as they are – human. And that makes us more forgiving and understanding.

When we explore others’ failures through their biography, we can develop a more objective perspective of our own.

We can also find comfort and hope in knowing that we are not alone in our struggles.

They broaden our knowledge about general culture.

Biographies contain specific universal cultural themes like death, love, sex, relationships, marriage, divorce, children, parenting, aging, illness, success, failure, politics, religion, war, peace, justice, crime, punishment, greed, envy, jealousy, revenge, courage, cowardice, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, hate, forgiveness, hope, despair, ambition, humility, pride, shame, guilt, fear, anger, joy, sadness, happiness, grief, loneliness, compassion, empathy, sympathy, generosity, selfishness, self-sacrifice, modesty, vanity, etc.

These are common threads woven throughout human history and experience.

We discover that these themes appear in every country and culture worldwide. And by learning more about these universal themes, we will gain a greater appreciation for cultural diversity.

Where To Find Great Biographies

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of biographies on the shelves of your local library, and more are available through interlibrary loan (ILL).

If you’re looking for something challenging to find, check out used booksellers to locate the biography you want to read. You can often buy used books at a discount on Amazon.

You could also visit the biography section of Barnes & Noble bookstores to see what new biographical books are being published. Don’t forget audiobooks, including those from storiesofgreatlifes.com.

5 Great Biographies To Add To Your Reading List

1. Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby

When most people think of Michael Jordan, they think of the beautiful shots, his body totally in sync with the ball, hitting nothing but net. He is responsible for incredible moments so ingrained in basketball history that they have their names: The Shrug, The Shot, The Flu Game. But for all his greatness, there’s also a dark side to Jordan: a ruthless competitor, a gambler. There’s never been a biography that balanced these personas until now.

Drawing on personal relationships with Jordan’s coaches; countless interviews with friends, teammates, family members, and Jordan himself; and a career in the trenches covering Jordan in college and the pros, Roland Lazenby provides the first truly definitive study of Jordan: the player, the icon, and the man.

2. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

The #1 New York Times–bestselling story about the American Olympic rowing triumph in Nazi Germany—from Facing the Mountain.

Soon to be a major motion picture directed by George Clooney

For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world in 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit meant.

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite units of the East Coast and Great Britain. Yet, they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler.

The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a natural place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s quest.

3. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar

Also, an Award-winning Academy film starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly—directed by Ron Howard.

The powerful, dramatic biography of math genius John Nash overcame severe mental illness and schizophrenia to win the Nobel Prize.

“How could you, a mathematician, believe that extraterrestrials were sending you messages?” the visitor from Harvard asked the West Virginian with the movie-star looks and Olympian manner. “Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way my mathematical ideas did,” came the answer. “So I took them seriously.”

Thus begins the true story of John Nash, the mathematical genius who was a legend by age thirty when he slipped into madness, and who—thanks to the selflessness of a beautiful woman and the loyalty of the mathematics community—emerged after decades of ghostlike existence to win a Nobel Prize for triggering the game theory revolution.

The inspiration for an Academy Award-winning movie, Sylvia Nasar’s now-classic biography, is a drama about the mystery of the human mind, triumph over adversity, and the healing power of love.

4. Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert

Distilled from years of meticulous research and documentation, filled with material unavailable when the earliest books of the official biography’s eight volumes went to press, Churchill is a brilliant marriage of the hard facts of the public life and the intimate details of the private man.

The result is a vital portrait of one of the most remarkable men of any age, as well as a revealing depiction of a man of extraordinary courage and imagination.

5. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance Elon

New York Times and International Bestseller 

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Audible, and Amazon

More than 2 million copies sold.

In the spirit of Steve Jobs and Moneyball, Elon Musk is both an illuminating and authorized look at the extraordinary life of one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting, unpredictable, and ambitious entrepreneurs–a real-life Tony Stark–and a fascinating exploration of the renewal of American invention and its new “makers.”

Elon Musk spotlights the technology and vision of Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, who sold one of his Internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. 

Ashlee Vance captures the entire spectacle and arc of the genius’s life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition?

He argues that Musk–one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history–is a contemporary, visionary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. 

More than any other entrepreneur today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction fantasy.

Thorough and insightful, Elon Musk brings to life a technology industry that is rapidly and dramatically changing by examining the life of one of its most powerful and influential titans.

Takeaways

Whether your goal is to be an entrepreneur or live a more fulfilling life, reading about the successes and failures of others can be a valuable experience.

Remember, reading biographies will help you to:

  • Understand how successful people deal with crises and solve complex problems
  • Benefit from the experience of others
  • Help you discover who they really are
  • Help you learn from others’ failures
  • Broaden your knowledge about general culture

And…

Allow you to talk to dead people 🙂

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