Booking Through Thursday

It’s being a while since I last joined in with the wonderful Booking Through Thursday weekly meme but when last weeks musing popped I just couldn’t resist getting involved. If you read any of the comments stemming from my last post, Reading Through June, you’ll notice that me and another fellow blogger have been touching on this weeks topic a little already. Today’s question is all about biographies;

There are so many crappy biographies … would you rather read a poorly-written biography of a fascinating life, OR an exquisitely well-written, wonderful read of one of a not-so-interesting life?

I found it quite interesting that the question started saying ‘There are so many crappy biographies’ it does just seem to be the general consensus does it not, that there are a lot of rubbish biographies out there. But boy do they get read! If your particularly interested in a certain person or celebrity than a biography can be an easy indulgence into their life, or perhaps you just prefer more fictional writing…but here I digress.

The question is would you rather read something not so well written but fascinating in context, or something written well with a subject matter not quite so engrossing. So where do I find myself? Strangely in the first camp. Strange because when selecting a novel the style and execution of the writing is usually just as important to me as the actual story being told. I like strong, poetic prose, powerful imagery; these things help the story flow elegantly for me, they give beauty to the book.

Yet when reading a biography it’s all about the story and not about the style. But why? Well firstly I hardly ever bother with biographies, they for me, are like crime fiction and chic lit; guilty pleasures. Most of the time I will knock them for their poor writing but every now and then I just can’t resist a simply fascinating story.

I’d only seek out a biography on this whim unless the particular person fascinated me, and again I would find myself expecting a tantalising story, not a beautifully written novel.

The last biography I read was My Booky Wook by Russel Brand. I’ll admit I like a little celeb gossip from time to time (don’t worry I wont be hanging up my novel reviews to gorge on Now magazine anytime soon) and so the idea of reading about a star as notorious as Russel Brand appealed. Did I care if the story was wrote well? No. Did I want to get to the nitty-gritty truth about Brand? Yes. And so case in point; biographies are for me about content not quality.

That said Brand is clearly a very intelligent man and I even remember some very lovely musing and analogies that he used in the book which were a pleasant surprise. Has anyone read this book? Did you like it? Did it change your opinion of him?

I also read and loved Scar Tissue by Antony kiedis. Again the idea of reading about such a troubled star as Kiedis held so much appeal that all I could think of was finding everything out about him, the style of writing was the last thing on my mind.

So in summary yes I very much want an interesting story from a biography, quality isn’t so high up on my list. It’s not like me to prioritize that way but biographies are just different for me.

What about everyone else? What do you seek in a biography? I’d love to hear your thoughts and remember to leave your thoughts at Booking Through Thursday, or better still join in the fun on your own blog, be sure to put the link on their site too.

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2 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday

  1. I think the problem with the culture of “celeb biographies” these days is 24 hour news/media and societies graving for knowledge and insight no matter how small into the lives of their favourite celeb. The vast majority of these biographies are just an extension of an interview they gave in heat magazine the week before.

    Whereas once people read biographies with a thirst for knowledge or a first hand account of key moments in our history, biographies/autobiographies where heavily factual and gave us a fascinating insight into the past. I always seem to have a biography/autobiography on the go I am currently reading Nelson Mandela’s – a truly fantastic book but not for the quality of the writing or style of writing but simply for the story, his life story he has to tell.

    I am on the verge of stereotyping here but the “celeb biographies” that always seem to be in abundance at around Christmas time don’t have a story to tell, there unique selling point is their name, their celebrity status and the fact that they are the celebrity of the moment not their life story. A crap story and horrifically written!

    I too have read Scar Tissue by Anthony Kedis and was blown away with his honesty over his struggle with his own personal demons. It was a mesmerising read not because of his celebrity credentials but by his story and struggle as a reader I truly felt for him and was rooting him on throughout the book, prying he would overcome his struggles.

    I believe there are some truly remarkable stories to be told by celebrities but unfortunately it’s just a case of sifting through the delights that Katie Price, Kerry Katona and the Meerkat from the compare the market advert have to offer us to find one.

    • I have read Russell Brands “booky wook” too and really enjoyed it.. I think its more about the life that the people lead rather then the “brand” of celebrity..and I would agree with Lou that its better to have an interesting book than a perfectly written book.

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