The following list was compiled in response to a question about good biographies for summer reading. Additions? Subtractions? Other thoughts?
Let’s hear ’em!
C.S. Lewis – A Life by Alister McGrath. This is one of my all-time favorite biographies, not just my favorite Lewis biography. Mcgrath gets you into Lewis’ life, thought, and work really well in a way that is both honest and generous.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. This man is fascinating and very much worth knowing well. I think Metaxas has been rightly accused of making Bonhoeffer out to be an evangelical more than he really was but even so it is a great read.
Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Ronald Bainton. This is the standard work on Luther and it holds up super well. Luther’s life and context were fascinating.
Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas. You can tell Metaxas is good, right? More socially conscious people should know and emulate Wilberforce. This is deeply encouraging to those who want to see change without bloodshed.
Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosario Champagne Butterfield. Technically an autobiography, I’m finishing this up right now and couldn’t recommend it any higher. Deeply encouraging about the power of the gospel and the depth of repentance involved in walking with the Lord.
The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter – I find the Inklings fascinating and this is the standard work. He’s a great writer and this book is like getting bios of Tolkien, Lewis, and Charles Williams all together.
Calvin by Bruce Gordon – Calvin is a bit of a boogeyman in some corners and this book humanizes him well. Helps you appreciate his thought, impact, and helpfulness regardless of whatever degree you embrace or reject the system that bears his name.
Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend by James Robertson – If you like the civil war this is a must-read. If not it is still well worth it. Stonewall is presented here as the sort of man you can learn from. He’s (obviously) quite wrong on slavery but there is still much good to be gleaned from him.
Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore – I’ve not gotten to this one yet but it comes highly recommended and I’m looking forward to reading it.
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill (Series) – William Manchester – if you’re filling like doing a deep dive here is a 3-volume set that, like the Spurgeon volume, I haven’t gotten around to reading but it sure seems like I need to soon.
The Beatles: The Biography – This is one of my all-time favorite biographies. You get the Beatles in all their glory and all their warts. It is massive but I couldn’t put it down.