1. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
This 1845 autobiography by former slave Frederick Douglass is widely considered to be one of the best autobiographies ever written. It is a graphic retelling of Douglass’ childhood and the torturous abuse he suffered at the hands of numerous slave-owners, as well as his traumatic escape to freedom, after which he became a respected orator and prominent abolitionist.
2. The Year of Magical Thinking
In 2003, Joan Didion’s daughter Quintana was hospitalized with a severe case of pneumonia that turned into septic shock. Days later, while Quintana was comatose in the hospital, her husband of nearly 40 years died suddenly of a heart attack while at the dinner table. This stunning memoir, which won the 2005 National Book Award for Nonfiction, recounts Didion’s attempts to reconcile her grief in the year following her husband’s death, while caring for her seriously ill daughter at the same time.
Here’s how your brain and body benefit when you crack open a book.
3. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Considered by some as one of the best autobiographies ever published, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin details the Founding Father’s early life and unique adulthood. One of the autobiography’s most notable sections details Franklin’s attempts to achieve “moral perfection” through the achievement of 13 virtues, including temperance, silence, and order. Although it was written more than 200 years ago, Franklin’s suggestions for bettering one’s life remain as current—and as essential to humankind as ever.
Science has figured out why you love the smell of old books.