Real Lives Revealed

A Guide to Reading Interests in Biography

by Rick Roche


The tale of a sickly boy who became president; the saga of a princess who captured hearts, but died a tragic death; the story of an orphan who became the world's most famous author. Biography is a window into other worlds and an inestimably valuable part of education.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Real Lives Revealed

June 2009

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 601
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Reference and Information Services and Tools/Readers' Advisory and Leisure Reading
  Reference and Information Services and Tools/Arts and Humanities Literature Reference Tools

Explore the readers' advisory possibilities of biography with this guide that covers some 600 titles.

Biographies span the extremes, ranging from meaty and meticulous renderings to flamboyant sketches; from fast-paced adventure and mind-bending reassessments to gentle, nostalgic reflections. For the lover of biography, the quest is not always just for a book about a specific person, but often for a character-driven story with particular genre elements, appeals, and themes.

This guide for those who work with readers not only maps the genre, but describes and organizes some 600 biographies into such categories as Adventurous Lives, Lives of Crime, Sporting Lives, and Group Biographies. For each title, a list of read-alikes is given, along with subjects, indication of awards, and more. Real Lives Revealed: A Guide to Reading Interests in Biography is an essential resource for reader's advisors, as well as a great tool for those evaluating, building, developing, or promoting their biography collections.


  • Lists subjects covered
  • Lists read-alikes
  • Lists awards received


  • Offers the first and only readers' advisory guide to biography
  • Is a superb tool for those evaluating, building, developing, or promoting their biography collections
  • Includes details on approximately 600 titles
  • Organizes titles by appeals and themes, covering a genre that offers something for every reader
Author Info

Rick Roche is a reference librarian at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library, Western Springs, IL. He also sponsors a blog, RickLibrarian, where he reviews books and films and carries on a conversation with fellow librarians. A new feature of this blog is "revoogle", which links users to reviews written by other librarians.



"An excellent addition to the Real Stories series as well as an outstanding contribution in the pool of readers' advisory resources. With more than 70 percent of the books published from 2000–2008, professionals will consider this a welcome publication. . . . Roche's expertise and first-hand experience are evident by the subject areas covered and his straightforward language. Librarians and readers alike have a credible source in this public librarian's well-organized and thorough resource that reveals 600 biographies to the modern reader. Real Lives Revealed is an absolute must for public libraries and for academic libraries that recognize the value of readers' advisory support for their patrons."ARBAonline

"This guide to approximately 600 biographical titles is designed for reader's advisors, librarians and book collectors who need a survey of genre themes, elements and critical opinions. Roche, a librarian at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Illinois, arranges these titles into sections such as war biographies, adventure biographies, true crime biographies
and celebrity biographies and offers a definition of each genre and its appeal before making specific recommendations. Appendices include titles that have won awards, top biographers, a survey of biography series and a chronological index."Reference & Research Book News

"Libraries Unlimited has added a new and very needed book to its Real Stories series for nonfiction readers' advisory. . . . an outstanding work that will be welcomed by anyone doing readers' advisory."Booklist

". . . an extremely useful resource for nonfiction readers' advisory. . . . Real Lives fills a need for a readers' advisory source for nonfiction biographies well, and is an invaluable resource for public librarians interested in building and promoting biographical collections."Public Libraries

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