Firstly, I prefer reading fiction to non fiction. Sometimes I find a real life 'character' to be interesting enough to research, but rarely do I read biographies. If I was going to, it'd probably be about the royals, especially those back in historical times. I have a fascination with Queen Eleanor, as my real name is Elanor, so there's some connection there I suppose. I did enjoy reading The Other Boleyn Girl though, which was historical fiction based on real life facts. Their lives were just so different to ours, I find them quite fascinating. I can't say I'd liked to have lived back then though!
Generally speaking, I don't need to read about the entirety of a character's life. Very few of us live lives that are interesting from woah to go, and the same goes for characters. Frankly, it'd be exhausting. It is much better to focus on the interesting bits and then leave the character to live their 'happily ever after'. I think the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind goes a little bit too far with sharing the entire lives of the characters. Poor Richard, we meet him as a boy and then live his entire life with him, as he dances from one disaster to another. Rarely does anything good or positive happen to him, it's doom, gloom and disaster all the time. Don't get me wrong, they're fabulous books, amazingly well written, but just so depressing. I think I read the first three or four books before giving up. I just...I need my 'happily ever after'.
Actually, we were talking to Jayden about depression last night (it was a good talk, took us about an hour and a half and I think we all felt like we got something good out of it) and I mentioned that I suspect one of the reasons I don't suffer from depression is because I 'self medicate' by only reading books with happy endings. Whether that's true or not, I don't know, but I refuse to read books that don't have happy endings, and I do wonder if that has some bearing on my emotional stability. It must, mustn't it? *shrugs*
One other thing I'll add is that I do like reading a series of connected books. The KGI series by Maya Banks and the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian are examples of series where they are connected but each book stands alone. Whether the book moves from sibling to sibling, or friend to friend, you get to know the character a little from an outside perspective in the previous book, then a close up perspective when they feature in their own book, and in the next book you get a glimpse of their happily ever after, kind of like an epilogue. So I do like that. It does suck having to wait for the next book in a series to be released though!