Nine great biographies to read in 2019


Whether reading more is one of your New Year’s resolutions or you’re already a bookworm, it’s the perfect time of year to craft a list of books to peruse in 2019.

Although many of us enjoy a fun novel from time to time, there’s nothing quite like non-fiction book to help us cultivate a greater appreciation for history, self-improvement, and the people around us. Biographies offer the perfect window into the lives and work of others – whether they’re famous, notorious, or not well-known.

Today’s blog post highlights nine biographies that are perfect additions to your reading list, no matter what career you’re pursuing.


For young professionals in business and economics

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight


Shoe Dog explores the story of the man behind one of the most profitable and well-known brands in the world.

YPs and college students with an interest in finance and economics will especially enjoy Knight’s story, which is anything but a boring business memoir. One reviewer even described it as a “virtual economics textbook.”

“Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world. But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last.”

Buy it on Amazon:


For young professionals in technology

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly


Now a well-known and critically-acclaimed movie, Hidden Figures recounts the inspiring true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA who helped make some of America’s greatest achievements in space possible. This is an inspiring read for young professions working in STEM and provides insight into some of the field’s early pioneers.

“Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.”

Buy it on Amazon:


For young professionals in healthcare

Sick: A Memoir by Porochista Khakpour


One of Time magazine’s Best Memoirs of 2018, Sick is not just a story about illness. It’s about misdiagnosis, addiction, love, and the nation’s medical system…and it’s a thought-provoking read for any young professional in healthcare.

“A story of survival, pain, and transformation, Sick candidly examines the colossal impact of illness on one woman’s life by not just highlighting the failures of a broken medical system but by also boldly challenging our concept of illness narratives.”

Buy it on Amazon:


For young professionals in writing

Just the Funny Parts:…and a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club by Nell Scovell


Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of popular TV shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Monk, The Simpsons, Monk, NCIS, and Charmed. Her experiences in the world of writing for TV and movies – at times funny, at others shocking – make for a witty and entertaining read (especially for aspiring writers).

Just the Funny Parts is a fast-paced account of a nerdy girl from New England who fought her way to the top of the highly-competitive, male-dominated entertainment field. The book delivers invaluable insights into the creative process and tricks for navigating a difficult workplace. It’s part memoir, part how-to, and part survival story.”

Buy it on Amazon:


For young professionals in politics

Lincoln’s Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power by Richard Striner


Despite what you may think when you hear the title, Lincoln’s Way isn’t just an ode to #16. Rather, this mixture of biography, historical context, and forward-thinking perspective addresses the oft-debated issue of government power (a topic that is sure to pique the interest of poly-sci students and YPs).

“In Lincoln’s Way, historian Richard Striner tells the story of America’s rise to global power and the presidential leaders who envisioned it and made it happen…In a forceful narrative blending intellectual history and presidential biography, Striner presents the legacy in full. An important challenge to conventional wisdom, Lincoln’s Way offers both an intriguing way of looking at the past and a much-needed lens through which to view the present. As a result, the book could change the way we think about the future.”

Buy it on Amazon:


For young professionals in entertainment

Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning by Leslie Odom Jr.


Music and theater fans (and honestly, anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last three years) are well aware of the impact that Hamilton has had on culture since it premiered. Leslie Odom Jr. played the original role of Aaron Burr in this musical phenomenon, a performance that earned him a Tony Award and propelled him performances at the White House, at the Super Bowl, and on stages across the country.

But before his success in Hamilton, Odom Jr. was already working hard as an actor and musician, appearing in television shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, Law and Order: SVU, and Gotham. His story will be especially inspiring to college students and young professionals seeking careers in the performing arts.

“With personal stories from his life, Odom asks the questions that will help you unlock your true potential and achieve your goals even when they seem impossible. What work did you put in today that will help you improve tomorrow? How do you surround yourself with people who will care about your dreams as much as you do? How do you know when to play it safe and when to risk it all for something bigger and better? These stories will inspire you, motivate you, and empower you for the greatness that lies ahead, whether you’re graduating from college, starting a new job, or just looking to live each day to the fullest.”

Buy it on Amazon:


For young professionals in people management

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing by Merve Emre


The Myers-Briggs personality profile is one of the most popular tests in the world. This book – ranked one of the best books of 2018 by Mental Floss, The Economist, The Spectator, and The New York Times – goes straight to its origins. Since Myers-Briggs is a well-known method of gauging communication styles and personality types, this makes a great read for anyone with an interest in human resources or management.

“First conceived in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of devoted homemakers, novelists, and amateur psychoanalysts, Myers-Briggs was designed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses. But it would take on a life entirely its own, reaching from the smoke-filled boardrooms of mid-century New York to Berkeley, California, where it was administered to some of the twentieth century’s greatest creative minds. It would travel across the world to London, Zurich, Cape Town, Melbourne, and Tokyo, until it could be found just as easily in elementary schools, nunneries, and wellness retreats as in shadowy political consultancies and on social networks.”

Buy it on Amazon:


For young professionals in sports

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


Athletes will find motivation in this riveting, suspenseful, and uplifting book. The Boys in the Boat describes the true story of an unlikely eight-oar row team that faced off against elite competitors at the 1936 Olympics.

“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 at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.”

Buy it on Amazon:


For young professionals in leadership

Becoming by Michelle Obama


Young professionals who dream of leading others will find the former first lady’s recently-published memoir especially stirring.

“In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

Buy it on Amazon:


What reading recommendations do you have? Tell us in the comments!

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