Biographies for Your Summer Reading List

What are you reading this summer and where?  Biographies make a great addition to summer reading lists.  While lounging around the beach or pool, you can go back in time and discover how others lived their lives.  From explorers, writers, and philosophers to even a volcano, we have a biography for your summer reading list or book club.  Check these out…

The Poison King:
The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy
Adrienne Mayor

A fascinating biography of the legendary king, rebel, and poisoner who defied the Roman Empire.

Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus:
A Ghost Story and a Biography
Clifton Crais & Pamela Scully

Displayed on European stages from 1810 to 1815 as the Hottentot Venus, Sara Baartman was one of the most famous women of her day, and also one of the least known.

The Bard:
Robert Burns, A Biography
Robert Crawford

This incisive biography startlingly demonstrates why the life and work of Scotland’s greatest poet still compel the attention of the world a quarter of a millennium after his birth.

Citizen of the World: A Biography
Alfonso Scirocco
Translated by Allan Cameron

The revolutionary, soldier, politician, and greatest figure in the fight for Italian unification, Garibaldi (1807-1882) brought off almost as many dramatic exploits in the Americas as he did in Europe, becoming an international freedom fighter, earning the title of the “hero of two worlds,” and making himself perhaps the most famous and beloved man of his century.

The Rebbe:
The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Samuel Heilman & Menachem Friedman

This is the story of one of the most compelling religious figures of the 20th century.

A Biography
Alwyn Scarth

This volcano has fascinated scientists, writers, and poets for two millennia.

History Man:
The Life of R. G. Collingwood
Fred Inglis

This is the first biography of the last and greatest British idealist philosopher, R. G. Collingwood (1889-1943), a man who both thought and lived at full pitch.

More biographies and books about biographies:

Worshipping Walt:
The Whitman Disciples
Michael Robertson

This is the surprising story of the people who saw Whitman as a divine prophet.

Margaret Mead:
The Making of an American Icon
Nancy C. Lutkehaus

Henry David Thoreau
Edited by J. Lyndon Shanley
With a new introduction by John Updike

Henry James Goes to Paris
Peter Brooks

Francis Bacon
Perez Zagorin

Charles Darwin:
Janet Browne

The Paris Letters of Thomas Eakins
Edited by William Innes Homer

The Calculus of Friendship:
What a Teacher and a Student Learned about Life while Corresponding about Math
Steven Strogatz

A Writer in His Time
Joseph Frank
With a new preface by the author
Edited by Mary Petrusewicz

Thomas Mann:
Life as a Work of Art. A Biography
Hermann Kurzke
Translated by Leslie Willson

Søren Kierkegaard:
A Biography
Joakim Garff
Translated by Bruce H. Kirmmse

Marcel Mauss:
A Biography
Marcel Fournier
Translated by Jane Marie Todd

Life on Air:
Memoirs of a Broadcaster
David Attenborough

Karl Pearson:
The Scientific Life in a Statistical Age
Theodore M. Porter

The Autobiography of a Seventeenth-Century Venetian Rabbi:
Leon Modena’s Life of Judah
Leone Modena
Edited by Mark R. Cohen

The Life of Isamu Noguchi:
Journey without Borders
Masayo Duus
Translated by Peter Duus

Charles Babbage:
Pioneer of the Computer
Anthony Hyman

James Lovelock:
In Search of Gaia
John Gribbin & Mary Gribbin

The Pythagorean Theorem:
A 4,000-Year History
Eli Maor

Allen Tate:
Orphan of the South
Thomas A. Underwood

Max Weber in America
Lawrence A. Scaff

Translate this Darkness:
The Life of Christiana Morgan, the Veiled Woman in Jung’s Circle
Claire Douglas

Politics of the Spirit, Volume 1
Peter Bien

A Life Remembered, Second Edition
Elizabeth Wilson

Vladimir Nabokov:
The Russian Years
Brian Boyd

On Whitman
C. K. Williams

Imagining Virginia Woolf:
An Experiment in Critical Biography
Maria DiBattista

Virginia Woolf’s Nose:
Essays on Biography
Hermione Lee

Apparitions of the Self:
The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary
Janet Gyatso


  1. Travis Williams says:

    Definitely check out the biography of Allen Tate. He lived quite an interesting life. A good read for any poetry fan