My favorite biographies and memoirs of 2021

I read so many great biographies and memoirs this year that I decided to create a separate top ten list for this type of book. Four are memoirs of physicians and a bioethicist; one is the biography of a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry; and the rest document the lives of astronauts, sports legends, and a former Secretary of State. As with my annual list of favorite public health and health care books (coming soon!), this list is ordered alphabetically and includes a few that were published before 2021.


1. All In: An Autobiography, by Billie Jean King

2. The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger Disaster, by Kevin Cook

3. Canary in the Coal Mine, by William Cooke

4. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, by Walter Isaacson

5. Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, by Scott Kelly

6. I Came As A Shadow: An Autobiography, by John Thompson

7. In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids, by Travis Rieder

8. Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health, by Leana Wen

9. The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III, by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser

10. Pilgrimage: A Doctor’s Healing Journey, by Donna Chacko

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