Special Report

20 of the Most Popular Autobiographies of All Time

Source: Courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

15. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
> Author: Benjamin Franklin
> Year published: 1791
> Wikipedia pageviews, Mar 29, 2019 – Mar 29, 2021: 141,957

As the title suggests, “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” recounts the life of one of America’s most famous founding fathers. The four-part memoir, recounting the major portions of Franklin’s life, is one of the most famous and influential autobiographies in English language history.

Franklin’s autobiography has been described as “probably the first ever self-help book,” as it gives readers advice on how to live virtuously. It has also been praised by Loyal Books as an inspiring portrait of a man “who attains learning and honest employment by dint of sheer hard work can even today be said to represent the American Dream.”

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

14. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
> Author: Jean-Dominique Bauby
> Year published: 1997
> Wikipedia pageviews, Mar 29, 2019 – Mar 29, 2021: 163,279

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” tells the remarkable true story of French magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby. After suffering a stroke, Bauby is afflicted with locked-in syndrome — he is fully conscious, but only able to move his left eyelid. Though the book offers a glimpse into Bauby’s incredible struggles, it also offers hope and strength considering that he had to dictate the entire story one letter at a time.

Goodreads describes the book as a “harrowing look inside the cruel prison of locked-in syndrome, but it is also a triumph of the human spirit.” The book became a movie by the same name in 2007, which was nominated for four Academy Awards.

Source: Courtesy of Amazon

12. Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog
> Author: John Grogan
> Year published: 2005
> Wikipedia pageviews, Mar 29, 2019 – Mar 29, 2021: 173,968

In “Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog,” John Grogan tells the story of his family’s 13 years spent with Marley, their yellow Labrador Retriever. The dog proved impossible to train, but sweet and supportive throughout the ups and downs of Grogan’s life with his wife and children.

The autobiography was adapted into a blockbuster film, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, that grossed over $250 million worldwide.

Source: Topical Press Agency / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

11. The Story of My Life
> Author: Helen Keller
> Year published: 1903
> Wikipedia pageviews, Mar 29, 2019 – Mar 29, 2021: 193,997

In “The Story of My Life,” Helen Keller tells the story of her early life and struggles from the time she lost her sight, hearing, and ability to speak after coming down with scarlet fever as a 19-month-old baby. Keller recounts how, with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, she went from being isolated and depressed to achieving her dreams, including eventually learning to speak.

According to Mark Twain, “Helen Keller is fellow to Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, Homer, Shakespeare, and the rest of the immortals. She will be as famous a thousand years from now as she is today.”

Source: Courtesy of Amazon

10. Autobiography of a Yogi
> Author: Paramahansa Yogananda
> Year published: 1955
> Wikipedia pageviews, Mar 29, 2019 – Mar 29, 2021: 273,427

“Autobiography of a Yogi” is an autobiography by Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian monk, yogi, and guru. More than 70 years after it was published, the book is still considered a modern spiritual classic.

The book takes the reader on Yogananda’s journey from his childhood in India to his search for a spiritual guru, training under a revered yoga master, and to his life in the U.S.