8 Celebrity Memoirs That Are Actually Worth Reading
Celebs: They're definitely not just like us
They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but oftentimes, the same applies to reading about them.
The celebrity memoir is a tricky genre, with many ending up a touch too name-checky or ghostwritten. A number, though, are exceptional, like these eight that are totally worth adding to your Kindle.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Martin’s retelling of the very beginning of his comedy career is unsurprisingly great--he is a real-life author, after all. His writing is funny as hell (especially talking about his early jobs as a cowboy and magician at Disneyland), but he can also be serious, like when discussing his strained relationship with his father.
Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim
Calling all musical theater buffs. Sondheim’s 2009 book is an absolute must for anyone who memorized the Company soundtrack before they took the SATs. Read on for a delightful firsthand account of the writer’s lyrical technique, and about his relationships and collaborations with some of theater’s greats. (Hi, Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins.)
My Story by Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was more than a sex symbol--that much is clear from her short but impactful memoir about a childhood spent in and out of foster homes and her marriage to Joe DiMaggio. Whether she's describing sleeping pills or being unphotogenic (what?), one thing’s for sure: This gal’s no bimbo.
Life By Keith Richards
This Rolling Stones guitarist tells it like it is--even if what it is isn’t especially pretty. From the band’s early days to his longtime struggles with drug addiction, Richards writes with an intense frankness that’s refreshing and immersive. Bonus points for remarkably entertaining passages about his relationship with Mick. (Richards calls him a snob, among other, less repeatable names).
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Smith’s 2010 memoir goes deep into her intense relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the late '60s and '70s, and her lyrical prose was impressive enough to win a National Book Award. So yes, this is certainly a “celebrity memoir” that’s well worth reading.
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis
Yep, another rock-and-roll memoir. This time it’s Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Kiedis, whose raw depiction of his own drug addiction is at some points shocking (apparently he started at age 11!) and at others deeply sympathetic. Heads up, though: Kiedis comes across as kind of a jerk (but doesn't seem to realize it). The sooner you accept that fact, the more you'll get out of his story.
Pryor Convictions by Richard Pryor
Alternately tragic and hilarious, Pryor’s 1997 memoir dives into the dark behind-the-scenes stuff that he hid with his outrageous comedy. From a difficult childhood with an alcoholic mother and abusive father to his struggles with drugs and women (he was married six times), Pryor admits that it took being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for him to finally get his act together.
Then Again by Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton is awesome, and her 2011 memoir only confirms that. Choosing to focus on her relationships rather than her illustrious acting career, Keaton’s book reads like a love letter to her mother, her two children and the men she was romantically involved with (especially her longtime friend and collaborator Woody Allen). She’s incredibly honest about her insecurities and regrets, which is refreshing for a woman who seems to have it all.