Biographies in audio book format provide us with an easy way to participate in what some of us would consider a guilty pleasure. A biography is the account of someone’s life story. It can be an autobiography that is written by the person who is the subject or it can be written by someone else. They can be authorized or unauthorized by the subject. Why is it a guilty pleasure? The most popular biography books are those written on actors, actresses, singers and musicians. It is a vicarious look into the lives of people that have fascinated us.
I know of people whose sole reading is reading biographies on famous people like Elvis Presley, Natalie Wood and Hilary Clinton. There is a comforting feeling when listening to biographies in audio book format, since it is like being told about an interesting family relative or ancestor but some people consider some biographical works to be borderline or straight tabloid works. I must confess that though I do not buy them I tend to flip through the tabloids in the checkout line of the supermarket.
Why this fascination with voyeurism? Now mind you I don’t mean the more tawdry sense of voyeurism but the other one that is defined by MSN Encarta as "the persistent observer of misery or scandal". The fascination with Elvis Presley after 30 years is a great example of that. He led a tragic life where we all felt that he had so much more left to give. We hope that in reading or listening to his story we will somehow make sense of his tragic death. The same is the case for Natalie Wood.
What biographies in audio book format provide us is the ability to listen to these stories while multi-tasking, like doing the laundry or commuting to work. Some of us find it hard to justify sitting down and reading these books but could live with ourselves if we were listening to them in the background.
Here are 4 biographies that we recommend and that I’ve listened to "in the background":
Enjoy! Let me know what you think.
P.S. Not all biographies have to be guilty pleasures, but the answer to that is for another post…