THE BEST AUTOBIOGRAPHIES

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If you’re starting to run low on lockdown activity ideas, we can guarantee you’re not alone. Feeling all jigsaw puzzled, banana breaded and even Netflix-ed out is perhaps inevitable after almost a year (!) of on and off lockdowns and social distancing.

Fortunately, curling up with a good book is one activity that never seems to get old. In a time where most of us are looking for distractions from the Coronacoaster of our current reality, a book has the ability to capture your imagination and transport you to a different world in a way that not even the steamiest Bridgerton scene can. And some of the best books out there are the first-hand life stories from pop stars, fashion designers, and political activists.

These are 22 of the best books by black authors that should make the top of your reading list

These are 22 of the best books by black authors that should make the top of your reading list
So we’ve rounded up an edit of the best autobiographies that range from classics to pop culture celebrity reads – and as varied as they are, they all deserve a thorough read, at least once in your life. With the ability to make you laugh and cry, inspire you and shock you, these memoir reads are just the lockdown distraction we all need.

So what made our list? Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl and Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom are both high up on our must-read list, for their honest and often heart wrenching descriptions of living through extreme discrimination and will stay with you long after you’ve finished. There are also books for beauty lovers like Jo Malones: My Story, Diane von Furstenerg’s fashion read and Lily Allen’s honest and funny take on fame.

Scroll down for our edit of the 19 best autobiographies to see you through the remainder of lockdown.

Best historical autobiography

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank, £4.99, Amazon
It may have been first published over sixty years ago but the Anne Frank’s diary is still as important to read today. Anne’s vivid descriptions of life living in hiding in Nazi-occupied Holland from 1942 to 1944 are an extraordinary piece of writing from someone so young and details her emotional transformation from childhood to adolescence and serves as a reminder of the horror of prejudice and persecution.

Best autobiography essays

Not that Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham, £5.50, Amazon
The creator of ‘Girls’, Lena Dunham’s autobiography is a collection of searingly honest and often hilarious essays. Describing herself as “not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a dietician” but a “girl with a keen interest in having it all,” Dunham’s book isn’t about having a perfect life but rather owning your own experiences.

Best beauty autobiography

Jo Malone: My Story, Jo Malone, £8.19, Amazon
Whether you’re a beauty fan or a budding entrepreneur, you’ll love Jo Malone’s story. From her beginnings as a dyslexic teenager who left school with no qualifications to becoming an international brand name before being diagnosed with cancer, her writing doesn’t hold back from the challenges this awe-inspiring woman has faced – and overcome.

Best fashion autobiography

The Woman I Wanted to Be, Diane von Furstenberg, £9.99, Amazon
Diane von Furstenberg started out in the fashion world with an idea of who she wanted to be; in her own words “the kind of woman who is independent and who doesn’t rely on a man to pay her bills.” With honesty and wisdom von Furstenerg, not only reflects on her extraordinary life building a global brand and becoming a major force in the fashion industry, but also what it means to be a woman.

Best classic autobiography

Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela, £8.11, Amazon
Perhaps one of the most important autobiographies you’ll ever read, A Long Walk to Freedom is equal parts emotive, compelling and uplifting. The story of a born leader who spent his life fighting to end Apartheid in South Africa, it is filled with hardship – including Mandela’s 27 years of imprisonment on Robben Island- resilience and ultimately triumph. What shines through in this must-read is not only the history lessons to be taken away, but perhaps more importantly a strong and generous spirit that everyone will admire – and should seek to emulate.

Best inspiring autobiography

I am Malala, Malala Yousafzai, £3.99, Amazon
Winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, this truly inspirational read is about a girl standing up for what she believes in – the right to be educated – at all costs. Shot point-blank on her way home from school in Taliban controlled Pakistan, no one expected Malala to survive. But she not only recovered but went on to use her voice and determination to inspire change. This remarkable story is filled with courage and conviction and is an absolute must-read.

Best written autobiography

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Dr Maya Angelou, £6.99, Amazon
In this first volume of her seven books of autobiography, one of the world’s most celebrated writers and activists, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south in the 1930s. Described as an ‘American classic’, Angelou’s story is a must-read no matter where you live or the colour of your skin – because although she writes about about being a Black American she is ‘always talking about what it’s like to be a human being.’

Best feminist autobiography

Becoming, Michelle Obama, £10.49, Amazon
This memoir by Former First Lady of the United States invites you into Michelle Obama’s world and the experiences that have shaped her. From her childhood in Chicago to creating arguably the most inclusive White House in history, this book chronicles her triumphs and her disappointments. Her writing is honest and witty and inspires women to defy expectations just as Obama has done in her lifetime.

Best reality star autobiography

Not the Type: Finding your place in the real world, Camilla Thurlow, £7.69, Amazon
Not your average Love Islander on constant holidays in Dubai, Camilla Thurlow has lived an extraordinary life. Before joining the cult reality show, Thurlow worked as a bomb disposal expert in places like Zimbabwe and Afghanistan and has since gone on to star in a reality documentary that combines these two sides of her life. Besides engaging on Thurlow’s reflection on life, landmines and Love Island, this is also a book about learning to confront one’s own anxieties in a world dominated by celebrity culture and social media.

Best celebrity autobiography

Storm in a C Cup, Caroline Flack, £6.99, Amazon
As the one-year anniversary of her death has just passed, Caroline Flack’s memoir has never been more poignant. In Storm in a C Cup she details her life – from growing up Norfolk to climbing the career ladder that ultimately led to her success – as well as the intrusive media attention that turned her dream career into a nightmare. Frank and entertaining and unflinchingly honest, Flack’s story of her too-short life is one that deserves to be read

Best business autobiography

GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso, £6.99, Amazon
Founder and Executive Chairman of Nasty Gal Sophia Amoruso shares her inspiring story in #GIRLBOSS, from high school dropout to heading up one of fastest-growing retailers in the world. Inspiring, motivating and empowering, Amoruso’s story is filled with brazen wake-up calls, cunning and frank observations, and behind-the-scenes stories. But perhaps most importantly, it’s proof that success doesn’t have a set formula.

Best must-read autobiography

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future, David Attenborough, £7.91, Amazon
Who hasn’t spent a lazy Sunday listening to David Attenborough’s famous voice narrating the beautiful imagery on Our Planet? Written at 94, this is his autobiography, witness statement, and vision for the future of the world. Ideal reading for anyone interested in the future of our planet (in other words, everyone), the story of this extraordinary man is not only absorbing but necessary reading.

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