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What makes a good autobiography


What’s the difference between a memoir and an autobiography?  Is an autobiography the life story and achievements of someone who has become famous or a celebrity, and a memoir more an account of an interesting period/area of life offered by anyone, even if we haven’t heard of them before?  Or is it more about the style of writing that makes it more one than the other? Is one more a chronology of events and the other more ‘literary’ in its use of techniques and writing styles?  Either way, there was quite a selection of titles recommended in our BookBubble Chat on the subject last night.

In our conversation about what makes a good one, whatever you decide to call them, we wanted a book that felt honest. We needed to see the good and the bad, the mistakes and the triumphs rather than a carefully curated projection of an individual’s life story. And they also needed to have something to say that was interesting in a broader context, whether it was about education offering a route to a different life, the demands of elite sport, the pressures of being a front-line medical worker, the impact of finding fame at a very young age, overcoming life-changing injuries and so on. Here are a few that were recommended by our BookBubblees. Do you have a recommendation for us?

Paula, My Story so Far, Paula Radcliffe
A Better Me, Gary Barlow
Steve Redgrave – A Golden Age, Steve Redgrave
Dear Fatty, Dawn French
Lifting the Covers, Alan Mills
True Blue, Daniel Topolski and Patrick Robinson
My Family and Other Animals, Clare Balding
Admissions and Do No Harm, Henry Walsh
Breaking & Mending, Joanna Cannon
Educated, Tara Westover
Unorthodox, Deborah Feldman
The Salt Path, Raynor Winn
The Little Big Things, Henry Fraser