#egoreads in October

September 30, 2011

Chatsworth, home of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

When I was growing up my library was my mother’s collection of books, many of them biographies. As a result, I read a lot of books about the lives of authors, musicians and personalities. I was enthralled with the lives of Dorothy Parker, Jim Morrison, Andy Warhol and was so attached to Truman Capote after reading Gerald Clarke’s biography that I called him ‘my Truman’.

While I actually think that all reading makes us more empathetic and aware of people, biographies, because they are about people who are, or at least were, real give us a greater understanding of the world as we spend time in another person’s shoes. Reading about the life of our favourite author can give us a fresh perspective on their work and make their books more powerful, heighten the experience of entering their imagined worlds when we know something of their reality. If you enjoyed the world of a novel a great next step can be a biography of someone who has experienced something similar. For example, if you love Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, Liza Dalby’s book, Geisha, is a fascinating look at the real life of a geisha.

A biography is our chance to know authors, at least a little, after they are gone or to seek understanding for a life we struggle to comprehend (Chopper Read!). Experience the kind of life you dream about (that’s me with Chatsworth) or ones that make you very grateful for your own life. Laughter, tears, triumph, loss, it’s all there in people’s lives.

So, get a dose of reality through the pages of others’ stories. Many libraries have a dedicated biography section and there are many more suggestions here! My favourites? Apart from Capote, Mary S Lovell’s The Mitford Girls and The Churchills, The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War by David Lebedoff and  CS Lewis: A biography by A.N. Wilson.

Please tweet about your biographical reads using #egoreads.

Amy

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