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10 Best Biographies in India 2021 (The Man Who Knew Infinity, Elon Musk, and more)

Why do people write biographies? What is it about reading about other people's lives that intrigues us so much? Inspiration comes in many ways, and looking at a fellow human being's life to see the hardships he or she faced before becoming successful is a great way to get inspired. There are so many people in the world who went the extra mile and suffered emotional pain but still made it big in life.


We all love to read an inspiring story because it gives us hope that we might have one of our own someday. It makes it easier for us to imagine success in whichever field we want. Be it a sportsperson, businessman, yogi, survivor, they all can push us to make that extra effort that we seem to be lacking at times. This article covers the best biographies in India to help you reach the goals you have set for yourself and also is reviewed by book blogger Suraj Kumar.

Last updated 07/14/2023
Suraj Kumar
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PhD Research Scholar (English Literature)
Suraj Kumar

A reader by passion and profession, Suraj is currently pursuing PhD from the Department of English & Cultural Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. He has been book blogging for more than 7 years. Suraj is associated with a few reputed publishing houses- Bloomsbury, Aleph Book Company, and Rupa Publications.

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Table of Contents

In Association With Book Blogger Suraj Kumar

In Association With Book Blogger Suraj Kumar

Suraj is a reader by passion and profession, and currently pursuing PhD from the Department of English & Cultural Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. He has been book blogging for more than 7 years. Suraj says, "All my life, I have drawn inspiration from others while trying my best to be inspiring for others, for I believe that is the only way to be a better version of ourselves." Check out Suraj's work on his Instagram account and website.

How to Choose a Biography in India - Buying Guide

Read our buying guide to know the things to look out for in a biography book. These little details will make you a smart buyer. The factors that account for in buying the right book for your life situation, mindset, and interest are all discussed in this buying guide.

1

Know the Difference Between a Biography and an Autobiography

Know the Difference Between a Biography and an Autobiography

A biography is a collection of stories and incidents from a person's life, in which the main aim is to share the person's experience with the world. People want to read the life story of successful people so as to learn from them. A biography is written about a successful person by some other person because he or she may feel their life story worth sharing.


On the other hand, an autobiography is a book written by the person himself as he or she has attained unimaginable success in their career or life. For example, Playing it My Way is an autobiography by the Master Blaster batsman of India, Sachin Tendulkar. This book has received rave reviews as everyone wanted to know Sachin's story of life.

Suraj Kumar
PhD Research Scholar (English Literature)Suraj Kumar

Autobiographies may be preferred over biographies, on the grounds of authenticity, as they are always a product of first-hand experience. But all autobiographies suffer from a congenital disability, that is, an autobiography can never be a complete account of a person's life. 


On the other hand, biographies can capture the entire life of its subject, from birth till death. Thus, a biography can provide a larger and more comprehensive picture of a person than an autobiography.

2

Recognise the Hero of the Story Beforehand

Recognise the Hero of the Story Beforehand

Many people read biographies of men and women whom they know about or follow. It is very rare that you read a book about a person you have no clue about. But, in today's time of reviews and trending topics, you may easily come across books about people you are not aware of.


 If you are an avid reader, you might even wish to read the book. However, we advise you to do a background check of the hero of the book. This little research will help you in knowing whether that person's story will interest you or not. 


It is easy to read a brief description of the books on websites like Goodreads and Whichbook. The ten best books mentioned by us also contain the necessary details of the biographee and his or her story. This will help you immensely in making your purchase decision.

Suraj Kumar
PhD Research Scholar (English Literature)Suraj Kumar

The primary reason behind reading someone's biography is that we admire that person's achievements and success and seek inspiration from them. As a rule, a biography has only one hero


But in every person's life, there are supporting characters, who are often the driving force behind that person's success. As a reader, it is important that we identify such supporting characters in our hero's life and then in our own lives, for success is never a solo journey.

3

Consider Your Area of Interest

Consider Your Area of Interest

We all must have heard the story of a king who got inspired to fight by observing the relentlessness of a spider. He saw that the spider tried to throw her web on the opposite wall but kept on failing. Despite so many failed attempts, she did not give up. This inspired the king to charge up his discouraged army and fight. 


The point over here is that no matter what profession you are from or what challenges you are facing, any tenacious person can motivate you. However, in today's time, the professions are very specific, and it is accessible to read about people from the area you are interested in. 


If you are interested in business and want to learn what the best people do, you should read The Snowball, Warren Buffet's biography. This will not just motivate you but also give you the necessary knowledge of the right things to do in life in order to be like that person.

Suraj Kumar
PhD Research Scholar (English Literature)Suraj Kumar

Sometimes it happens that despite your interest in the subject of the biography, you lose interest in reading the biography midway. Remember that it is the writer's task to keep the reader engaged and not the reader's duty to remain forcefully involved in a book. It is alright not to finish a book.


Many regular readers maintain a list of text that they DNF (did not complete). If you wish, you may return to the unfinished book sometime later.

4

Read According to What You are Going Through

Read According to What You are Going Through

You must have experienced that talking to a person who has faced similar challenges that you face right now relieves you more than anything else. It instills hope in you to overcome that obstacle in life. Empathy is much bigger than sympathy, and a book about a person who has had a similar life like yours but still made through can be the blessing you were hoping for.


You may read a little about the book's description online to find some details about the person. This would give you an effective idea about a person's life and hardships. It won't be hard to know whether you would relate to this person or not.

Suraj Kumar
PhD Research Scholar (English Literature)Suraj Kumar

Biography, as a genre, caters to the basic human tendency of taking an interest in other people's lives. In this sense, every biography has two primary purposes. The first is to highlight the individuality of a person through their achievements. 


The second, equally important, purpose is to emphasise the link between that individual and the larger humanity. In doing so, a biography showcases that the individual has risen from the masses only. Therefore each one of us can be successful and achieve what the other person has already achieved.

5

Take the Length of the Book Into Account

Take the Length of the Book Into Account

Your schedule might not allow you to read lengthy books. This is the reason you must consider the length of the book before reading it. If you buy a really long book and are usually struggling with time to read it, most likely you will get discouraged after a few days to finish reading it. If you usually remain busy, we recommend you to read a few pages of the book every night before going to bed.


If you have time on your hand and wish to delve into some comprehensive reading, you may go for lengthy books as well. In our list of the best biographies, we have mentioned the number of pages of every book in the specifications table. While making your purchase, keep your schedule as an important factor.

Suraj Kumar
PhD Research Scholar (English Literature)Suraj Kumar

The length of the book is indeed a decisive factor while buying a book. One important thing to remember is to go for hardbacks whenever buying any text longer than 350-400 pages. Paperbacks are not very sturdy, and it is also difficult to hold a thick paperback while reading. E-books also may be discouraged because the longer the book, the greater the screen time and the greater the strain on the eyes.

6

Gain Some Knowledge About the Author

Gain Some Knowledge About the Author

Biographies are written about successful people by other authors. This makes it essential for you to read about the background and other works of the biography writer. Along with basing his writings on facts, the writer must also be articulate. The intention behind writing most biographies is to motivate and inspire the reader.


A book should be able to establish a connection between the story and the reader. You can gain knowledge on the author's previous work by reading about them on Goodreads, LibraryThing, Reedsy Discovery, etc. These portals also allow you to become part of a community where you can find fellow readers and their reviews.

Suraj Kumar
PhD Research Scholar (English Literature)Suraj Kumar

Attempting to encapsulate someone's life in a book is a rather difficult task. Thus, a biographer has to be not just a writer but a social historian, a psychologist, and a philosopher, all at the same time. 


A writer who is or has been closely associated with their subject is undoubtedly in a better position to write a biography. But the close association with the issue can also lead to a bias in the biographer's account. Thus, the biographer must maintain a detached attitude towards the subject.

7

Learn the Basic Characteristics of a Good Biography

Learn the Basic Characteristics of a Good Biography

A good biography should discuss and describe the life of a real person. It should narrate the story in a way that captivates you. Biography, as a genre, is non-fiction, so the information provided in the book must be backed by facts from reliable sources. The incidents and dialogues must be taken from first-person accounts as much as possible.


It is also important to know the time the person lived in. Many behaviour and incidents can be understood only by knowing the era the person belonged to. So, the writer must also tell you exactly the life situations around the inspiring personality were. Finally, the author must not try and carve the inspirer's image as a mythological or superhero figure as you would have a hard time relating to the person then.

Suraj Kumar
PhD Research Scholar (English Literature)Suraj Kumar

"Character and exploits are for the biographical purposes inseparable," says Sir Sidney Lee, the famous 20th century English biographer. It is important to remember that a biography is not merely a collection of events in a person's life but also a work of art. 


Thus, good biography is the study of a person's achievements (and failures) and personality. It can leave a lasting impression on the reader's mind only when a perfect synthesis between the two has been achieved.

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10 Best Biographies in India

Whether you are a new reader or an experienced one, you will love all the books mentioned here. We have tried to enlist books about people from diverse backgrounds such as mathematicians, businessmen, entrpreneurs, scientists, artists, survivors, etc.
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1

Robert Kanigel

The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan

Robert Kanigel The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan 1枚目

Know How The Gifted Indian Mathematician Solves the Toughest of Problems

2

Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future

Ashlee Vance Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future 1枚目

The Entrepreneurial Genius - Learn From the Person Who Does the Unthinkable

3

M.S. Ashokan

Karmayogi: A Biography of E. Sreedharan

M.S. Ashokan Karmayogi: A Biography of E. Sreedharan 1枚目

The Inspiring Story of The Metro Man - Learn the Management Skills

4

Aseem Chhabra

Irrfan Khan: The Man, The Dreamer, The Star

Aseem Chhabra Irrfan Khan: The Man, The Dreamer, The Star 1枚目

The Actor With the Most Impressive Eyes Who's Known for His Intensity

5

Abhish B

BYJU's Miracle: From 8 Students to $8 Billion

Abhish B BYJU's Miracle: From 8 Students to $8 Billion 1枚目

A Life of a Passionate Teacher

6

Devendra Prabhudsai

A Biography of Rahul Gandhi

Devendra Prabhudsai A Biography of Rahul Gandhi 1枚目

Not Just Another Brick in the Wall

7

Shakti Sinha

Vajpayee: The Years that Changed India

Shakti Sinha Vajpayee: The Years that Changed India 1枚目

The Poet Prime Minister With an Uncommon Approach

8

Carine McCandless

The Wild Truth

Carine McCandless The Wild Truth 1枚目

Society is a Crazy Breed - All About Taking Brave Decisions

9

Swami Nikhilananda

Vivekananda: A Biography

Swami Nikhilananda Vivekananda: A Biography 1枚目

India's Cultural Ambassador to the West

10

Bishweshwar Nandi, Digivijay Singh, and Vimal Mohan

Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder

Bishweshwar Nandi, Digivijay Singh, and Vimal Mohan Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder 1枚目

Pride of the Nation - The First Woman Gymnast to Compete in an Olympics

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No.1

Robert KanigelThe Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan

The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹406.00
Reference price
₹406.00

Know How The Gifted Indian Mathematician Solves the Toughest of Problems

Srinivasa Ramanujan is arguably one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. Hailing from a small southern Indian village, Ramanujan was largely self-taught when it came to Mathematics. Yet, he could pen down mathematical theorems like a magician.


This book tells a tale of Ramanujan and G.H. Hardy, who saw Ramanujan's talents and brought him to Cambridge University. He made significant contributions to the field of Mathematics. He was eventually inducted into the Royal Society of London. This book is inspiring not only because it talks about the struggles of Ramanujan but also because it gives valuable insight into Hardy's ability to see the talent of the Indian mathematician.


If not for Hardy, Ramanujan would have been unknown to the world. Most interestingly, Ramanujan attributed all his mathematical knowledge to his devi, Mahalakshmi of Namakkal. He said that his pen bleeds the devi's ideas and that is how he solves all the complex math problems. This book is not just for Math lovers as Srinivasa's story is inspiring for all.

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No.2

Ashlee VanceElon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹546.00
Reference price
₹546.00

The Entrepreneurial Genius - Learn From the Person Who Does the Unthinkable

The founder of PayPal and the innovator behind Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity is known for his wits on Twitter as much as he is known for his entrepreneurial genius. This book by Ashlee Vance covers Musk's early life, along with his later entrepreneurial pursuits.


Elon Musk's crazy yet possible idea to take humans to Mars has been one of the cornerstones of innovation in the past few years. Additionally, his SpaceX rockets have successfully privatized space exploration, which was unthinkable even a decade ago. Other than that, his electric cars, built under the brand name Tesla, are the hottest cars in the world right now.


Musk gives a feeling of a traditional man with modern ideas. Vance, in his book, describes him as a combination of inventors and industrialists like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. This book is set to take you into a different realm of innovation and show you the power of tenacity.

No.3

M.S. AshokanKarmayogi: A Biography of E. Sreedharan

Karmayogi: A Biography of E. Sreedharan Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹191.00
Reference price
₹191.00

The Inspiring Story of The Metro Man - Learn the Management Skills

M.S. Ashokan has done a tremendous job in bringing us the life of the brain behind New Delhi's metro rail project. E. Sreedharan was able to complete the project within budget and on time, despite hundreds of obstacles and constraints. The Metro Man, as he is popularly known, has interestingly never worked more than the regular 8 hours per day.


His life is even more interesting to Indians as every common, middle-class Indian can relate to this man's early life. Prior to winning accolades and gaining worldwide popularity for his Delhi project, Sreedharan built the Kolkata Metro and the Konkan Railway. Recently, the 88-year old has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and might become the face of the party's Kerala cadre.


Ethical would be the best word to describe this gentleman, and this book does complete justice to his life's works. Karmayogi, meaning the one for whom the right action is kind of an ode to the almighty, is an appropriate title of the book.

No.4

Aseem ChhabraIrrfan Khan: The Man, The Dreamer, The Star

Irrfan Khan: The Man, The Dreamer, The Star Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹399.00
Reference price
₹399.00

The Actor With the Most Impressive Eyes Who's Known for His Intensity

2020 saw a lot of strange things, mainly due to the pandemic. However, it also saw some great Bollywood stars leaving for the heavenly abode. Sushant Singh Rajput, Rishi Kapoor, and Irrfan Khan are probably the biggest stars who left us during this year. Irrfan Khan was an extraordinary actor, whose eyes alone could do the acting.


He is known for his spectacular roles in movies like Haider, The Lunchbox, Paan Singh Tomar, and Hindi Medium. He has also been a part of some Hollywood films - The Amazing Spiderman, Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, Jurassic World, Inferno, among others. It's not just his profound cinematic experience but his unique style of acting that makes him a legend.


Aseem Chhabra, in this book, brings forward an intimate account of Irrfan's life, telling us the story of this unorthodox Indian icon. From his humble beginnings in Rajasthan to having his face on Hollywood posters, Irrfan came a long way through hard work and principles. This book reflects on the man behind the silver screen and is a great ode to Irrfan Khan's career.

No.5

Abhish BBYJU's Miracle: From 8 Students to $8 Billion

A Life of a Passionate Teacher

This book on Byju Raveendran is a story of a young mechanical engineer who started teaching part-time to fuel his passion. The part-time stint quickly made Byju a highly popular teacher. He used his skills to reach a wider range of students, and his company is now worth $8 billion.


This is a small book talking about Byju's life as a teacher, a father, a boss, and a husband. It details the small things that made him a huge success. His success can be measured by the fact that what he started as a part-time thing has now led his company to become the official shirt sponsor of the Indian cricket team.

No.6

Devendra PrabhudsaiA Biography of Rahul Gandhi

A Biography of Rahul Gandhi Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹216.00
Reference price
₹216.00

Not Just Another Brick in the Wall

India's most dependable batsman and probably the nicest boy on the team, Rahul Dravid has had a spectacular cricketing career. This biography by Devendra Prabhudesai has highlighted Dravid's dedication, discipline, and determination throughout his career. 


He talks about the incidents that contributed to making him one of the best batsmen of all time. This book narrates Dravid's achievements along with his trials and tribulations. He was named The Wall for his amazing ability to stay long on the pitch when the team required it the most. 


His slow playing style also brought him a lot of criticism, which he handled well and kept on delivering on the big platform. Often called a test cricket batsman, he proved his critics wrong by scoring over 10,000 runs in ODI cricket. He also played a few good seasons of T20 cricket in the IPL. All in all, he is an achiever who breaks the stereotype of nice guys finishing last.

No.7

Shakti SinhaVajpayee: The Years that Changed India

Vajpayee: The Years that Changed India Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹452.00
Reference price
₹452.00

The Poet Prime Minister With an Uncommon Approach

This book on former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by Shakti Sinha, his close associate, presents the paradoxes he faced in his political career. Vajpayee's role as the prime minister was a refreshing change for the nation. 


Testing nuclear tests at Pokhran, strengthening ties with America, and initiating the Golden Quadrilateral highway are some of his works that set off the era of a new India. He was a poet at heart, and this book brings us close to how he thought and worked daily. 


You will read about his early, humble days and how he elevated himself through the ranks. From not being able to make the government due to one seat to having a majority in both lower and upper houses currently, the BJP has a lot to owe to Vajpayee's tenacity.

No.8

Carine McCandlessThe Wild Truth

The Wild Truth Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹599.00
Reference price
₹599.00

Society is a Crazy Breed - All About Taking Brave Decisions

The Wild Truth is written by Christopher McCandless's sister. Chris, also known as Alexander Supertramp, left his comfortable life to live in the wild. His story also inspired the Oscar-nominated film, Into the Wild. Chris did not understand the norms of the society, giving his savings away to live in the wilderness of Alaska and starving to death in 1992.


Although his life ended tragically, many people take inspiration from the life of Chris, who romanticized life in his own way. His sister has given valuable insights into Chris's early life, giving us reasons behind his brave decisions in life. He shared a special bond with his sister, who has penned down a deeply personal memoir of his life.

No.9

Swami NikhilanandaVivekananda: A Biography

Vivekananda: A Biography Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹3,047.00
Reference price
₹3,047.00

India's Cultural Ambassador to the West

Swami Vivekananda's life was filled with deep spiritual insight, vast knowledge of western and eastern cultures, brilliant oratory, and broad human sympathy. He took India's culture to the highest stage of the world and won appreciation from one and all. This book by Swami Nikhilananda presents the details of Vivekananda's life, including 28 photographs of his.


Vivekananda's message of Vedanta - the non-duality of the Godhead - was acknowledged internationally. He had a very humble beginning, but he still managed to reach Chicago to represent India's culture and making the West aware of the magnanimity of our Samskriti.

No.10

Bishweshwar Nandi, Digivijay Singh, and Vimal MohanDipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder

Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder Image 1
Source:amazon.in
Reference price
₹279.00
Reference price
₹279.00

Pride of the Nation - The First Woman Gymnast to Compete in an Olympics

Dipa Karmakar's fourth-place finish at Rio Olympics 2016 gave hope to so many young athletes in India. She became the first woman gymnast from India to compete in an Olympics. Gymnastics, as a sport, is largely overlooked in India, but a feat like Dipa's has made people talk about it.


Her inspiring story, the hard work that went behind qualifying for the Olympics, and giving hope of an Olympics medal in the next Olympics to a nation of 1.3 billion people have been wonderfully assimilated in this book. She is a Khel Ratna Award winner as well, which is the highest sporting honour in India.

A New Perception From Every Book

Many talk about the benefits of reading but not many talks about the 'scientific benefits of reading.' Here, check out the information on:


  • When to read
  • How to read
  • The scientific benefits behind reading

Make Reading a Habit

Make Reading a Habit

Reading opens up your mind to so many new possibilities. It also gives you unmatched perspective on various things. If you are not a regular reader but want to start reading avidly, make sure you pick a genre first. We have a few articles from various genres here that can be a good start for you. Take help of our deep research into picking the best books for you, and make it a habit to read a little everyday.

Summary

Books have the power to uplift, inspire, and push you to break the shackles in your life. Every successful person emphasizes on the power of reading. Reading biographies, especially, make you feel like you are in control of your own destiny. There are people out there who have used chaos to become the best versions of themselves, so you can do it too.


Author: Rudraveer

Top 5 Biography

No. 1: Robert KanigelThe Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan

No. 2: Ashlee VanceElon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future

No. 3: M.S. AshokanKarmayogi: A Biography of E. Sreedharan

No. 4: Aseem ChhabraIrrfan Khan: The Man, The Dreamer, The Star

No. 5: Abhish BBYJU's Miracle: From 8 Students to $8 Billion

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