life·18 min read

theSkimm’s Guide to the Best-Ever Books by Celebrities

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Design: theSkimm | Photos: Crown Publishing Group, Simon & Schuster, Dey Street Books
Aug 31, 2022

This post was originally published in October 2020 and has been updated.

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Celebrities — sometimes they’re just like us and sometimes...they really aren’t. We compiled the best books written by your fave stars. They’re spilling the tea, getting confessional, and opening up in a way that might make you think differently.

“I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy

That moment when you’ve been seeing headlines about all the bombshells leveled in this book and are curious for more context. Relatable…except, warning, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. And things get pretty dark quickly. So proceed with caution. In her memoir, McCurdy (who, ICYMI, was on “Sam & Cat” with Ariana Grande and “iCarly”) bravely offers an unfiltered look at her disordered eating, mother’s abuse, experience as a child actor on Nickelodeon, and subsequent healing through therapy. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Yearbook” by Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen hive, assemble. His 2021 collection of LOL-filled essays cover everything you’d want from one of Hollywood’s funniest actors. He spills the tea on making it in the comedy world, his time at Jewish summer camp, some of his wild celebrity encounters, and more. You can feel his voice come through with each and every chapter. You’ll be smiling the entire time, promise. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Finding Me” by Viola Davis

Icon alert. Award-winning actress Viola Davis bares her soul in this breathtaking memoir. Reflecting on defining hardships and building her career, Davis takes readers through her difficult childhood, her experience with racism in Hollywood, and how she channeled her own healing via her work. Plus, she narrates the audiobook herself. So for anyone who prefers to listen to their reads, 10/10 would recommend scooping this up. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Talking As Fast As I Can” by Lauren Graham

“Gilmore Girls” fans, rise up. In a memoir that feels just as cozy as a cup of coffee from Luke’s Diner, Graham unpacks what it was like to be one of TV’s most-lovable moms and other funny stories from her life (including the time she tried to go vegan as a way to bond with Ellen DeGeneres). Once you finish reading, get ready to hit preorder on her newest book, “Have I Told You This Already?” which drops in November. Feel-good reading coming right up. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes” by Phoebe Robinson

That title? Beyond relatable. If you don’t know Robinson, you still probably know Robinson. She’s a stand-up comedian and producer, and the co-creator and co-star of the podcast-turned-TV series “2 Dope Queens.” In these ten essays, Robinson is insightful, intimate, frank, and just so refreshing as she covers everything from performative allyship and white guilt to the commodification of self-care and the chaos that was 2020. Grab a copy. Book club, anyone? (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling

If you loved Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” read this next. Kaling, who wrote and starred in “The Office,” published this essay collection back in 2011. There’s the funny parts (the time she was in a play about a fictional Ben Affleck) and the personal bits (growing up as the daughter of immigrants in Massachusetts, her experience on the hit NBC sitcom) Kaling mixes intimate moments with pop culture and reading it feels like a glimpse into her diary slash Twitter feed. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah

The TV host opens up about his childhood growing up half-white, half-Black, in South Africa under apartheid. He writes about the complications and tumult that came from walking around as “a light-skinned child” with his Black mother. It’s haunting and unforgettable. And you should read it now because it’s being turned into a film, with Lupita Nyong’o set to play his mom. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher

This 2016 release is the intimate final book from Carrie Fisher before her death. (She passed a month after it was published). The humorous memoir (her third after “Wishful Drinking” and “Shockaholic”) is made up of journal entries she kept while filming “Star Wars.” Paired with present-day commentary, she drops BTS secrets about her experiences on set including one about her short-lived affair with Harrison Ford. If you’ve ever kept a diary, you’ll understand what the vibes are. It’s funny, it’s dishy — and it also takes us inside the heart and mind of one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses. May her force be with us. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Love, Loss, and What We Ate” by Padma Lakshmi

Pack your knives and go get this book. Lakshmi’s 2016 memoir chronicles, yep, her loves, losses, and adventures with food. The book tells her story — everything from being a young girl traveling between India and America, to how she became a model, her battle with endometriosis, the paternity of her daughter, and more. As soon as you start reading, you’ll be hungry for more. Bon appétit. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Out of the Corner” by Jennifer Grey

No one puts Baby in a corner. Grey takes readers on a candid journey of her adventures in Hollywood. She finally addresses those plastic surgery rumors, and dishes on being deeply affected by industry expectations and her lack of chemistry with Patrick Swayze (tea). She keeps it real — and we love her for that. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” by Issa Rae

Issa Rae forever. If you’re sad about “Insecure” ending, you’re def going to want to pick this one up. In this personal essay collection based off her viral YouTube series, Rae (in her hilarious, self-deprecating voice) unpacks the embarrassing moments that made her who she is today. With incredible hot takes on everything from eating out alone to learning to accept herself, this read is a must if you’re looking for a relatable, feel-good book to dive into. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Dear Mr. You” by Mary-Louise Parker

Get your pens ready. Written in the form of letters to the men in her life, Parker reflects on her childhood, love life, and motherhood in this breathtaking epistolary memoir of sorts. The format lets her voice shine through and is one of the most digestible books on our shelves. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Billie Eilish” by Billie Eilish

Put your phone down and scroll through these pics from Billie Eilish instead. In this photo book, Eilish shares pics and commentary from her life onstage and off. She published never-before-seen snaps and gives her fans a real look at life on the road, her childhood, and some of her biggest career highs. It also makes for a great gift for any Gen Z friends in your life. Double tap. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Swimming Lessons” by Lili Reinhart

Time (and this book) will heal all. The “Riverdale” star’s debut poetry collection feels like a mashup of Insta-famous poets, Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav, plus a raw voice that’s all her own. The short collection might make you a bit emotional (grab your tissues), as she covers everything from heartbreak to mental health, and more. We’re not crying, you’re crying. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“The Meaning of Mariah Carey” by Mariah Carey, with Michaela Angela Davis

The Queen of Xmas chronicles her turbulent childhood, toxic marriage, relationship with Derek Jeter, and yes, of course, her ups and downs in the music industry. For anyone who wants the scoop on what happened with that New Year’s Eve performance or what she’s like as a mom, this one’s for you. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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"Inside Out" by Demi Moore

Moore’s 2019 memoir is divided into three parts: survival, success, and surrender — as she chronicles her rocky childhood, her battle with addiction and body image, and life in the public eye. As soon as you start reading, you’ll want Moore. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“We’re Going to Need More Wine” by Gabrielle Union

Live, laugh, love, Gabrielle Union. Her 2017 essay collection tackles her experience growing up in a predominantly white town, her struggles with infertility, supporting an ex that doesn’t deserve her, and so much more. Is there anything she can’t do? Our answer: no. PS: Union’s second book, “You Got Anything Stronger?” is even more vulnerable. It’s partially made up of essays she originally cut from this book that she wasn’t ready to share. Plus, she writes a letter to her iconic character from “Bring It On.” Check it out. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Managing Expectations” by Minnie Driver

If you’re looking to get back into reading, pick up this charming read from the “Good Will Hunting" actress. In ten digestible essays, she reflects on her bohemian childhood spent in England and Barbados, life as a single mom, her relationship with Matt Damon, and the lessons she learned after her mother’s death. Plus, she sprinkles in memories from her career and her down-to-earth approach to fame. You’ll love her even more than you already do in this intimate, warm read. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Open Book” by Jessica Simpson 

Skimm HQ is still not over this one. In her first memoir, Simpson gets real about her “Newlyweds” days (yes, the chicken v tuna debate too), her relationship with her body and fame, and how she launched her billion-dollar business (yes, that’s billion with a b). PS: if you’re an audiobook fan, we highly rec listening to this one. She narrates it herself, and it makes the stories feel all the more intimate. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Year of Yes” by, Shonda Rhimes

Shonda, of Shondaland fame, is the first woman to create three shows to hit 100+ episodes. But her 2015 book — about saying yes to everything that scared her — peels back the curtain to show a side of her you might not know. You’ll get insight into her crippling social anxiety, her difficult relationship with her weight, her real thoughts on Cristina Yang, and all the lessons she took away from her new outlook on life. It’s part memoir, part motivational pep talk and for fans of “Grey’s Anatomy," “Scandal,” it’s a must-read. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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"This Will Only Hurt a Little" by Busy Philipps

You guys. The "Dawson's Creek" alum and our favorite Instagram follow gets into everything from what it's like working as an actress, to her friendship with Michelle Williams, to dealing with postpartum anxiety, and more. Spoiler: she's not afraid to call people out along the way. Get busy. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More” by Janet Mock 

If you’re feeling the post-binge blues after finishing “Pose” — this book’s your chance to get to know one of the women behind it. Mock, one of the most prominent trans activists in the country, documents her life growing up as a multiracial, transgender, underprivileged young girl in America. She writes honestly about the abuse she suffered, her experience with sex work, and genital reconstruction surgery. It’s raw, real, and inspiring. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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"Dear Girls" by Ali Wong

When you’ve run out of stand-up specials to watch on Netflix, try reading for laughs instead. Wong’s first book — a collection of essays written to her daughters — covers everything from motherhood to making it in the comedy world. Warning: You'll laugh in public while reading. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“My Life So Far” by Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda’s 2005 release has everything you’d want from a celebrity memoir: Hollywood confessions, insight into her childhood, and some BTS moments that’ll have you glued to the page. She also gets candid about her entry into political activism and feminism, her longtime struggle with bulimia and body image, and more. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“We Were Dreamers” by Simu Liu

A superhero origin story? Sign us up. Liu is the star of Marvel’s first Asian superhero film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” He writes about his family’s immigration story from China to Canada, his journey to Hollywood after getting fired as an accountant, and his experience with cultural stereotyping. If you’re looking for a read that’ll have you feeling motivated and inspired, pick this one up. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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"Horror Stories" by Liz Phair

Liz Phair is the perfect place to start if you want some '90s back in your life. “Horror Stories” is told through 17 essays that shine a bright light on some of her biggest pain points. Think: her 32-hour labor, her extramarital affair, and her experiences with the #MeToo movement. It’s no shock the world fell in love with her songwriting, because the prose is as powerful as the stories themselves. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Mean Baby” by Selma Blair

Yep, that Selma Blair. Aka Elle Woods’ enemy-turned-BFF in “Legally Blonde.” Or Cecile in “Cruel Intentions.” Blair covers the origins behind her iconic name, how she got into acting, her struggles with alcohol, and her multiple sclerosis diagnosis. It reads like she’s talking to a friend, so it’ll be a great beachside (or couchside) companion. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Just Kids” by Patti Smith

The legendary musician published her National Book Award Winning-memoir in 2010, recapping her time in NYC during the ‘60s and ‘70s. It’s a window into the old days of the city when rock, sex, art, and politics were colliding. It jumps from Smith’s innocent start in NYC to her not-so-innocent nights at the Hotel Chelsea and beyond. For any fan of music, counter culture, and old NY this one’s a must-read. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Becoming” by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s memoir charts her life from her childhood in the South Side of Chicago, to going to Princeton, meeting Barack, and becoming the first Black First Lady of the US. Divided into three parts — Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More — the book is a mesmerizing story of pressure and power. She made history. And this book is here to take you along for the journey. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Me” by Elton John

The legendary singer covers his career and famous friendships with Freddie Mercury and John Lennon while touching on his struggles with addiction, and his collaboration with Bernie Taupin (his longtime songwriting partner). PS: This one’s also great on audio. John narrates his stories along with Taron Egerton, the actor who played him in the movie “Rocketman.” Rock on. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Unfinished” by Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Priyanka Chopra Jonas has a lot of titles: actress, dog mom, human mom, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and now, writer. In her 2021 memoir, she opens up about everything from growing up on military bases in India (her parents were army physicians) to trying her hand at pageantry, which then led to her robust Bollywood career. One of our fave things about reading celebrity memoirs? It feels like becoming besties with Hollywood’s biggest stars. And this one definitely gives off those vibes. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Hello, Molly” by Molly Shannon and Sean Wilsey

You know and love Molly Shannon as *the* Mary Katherine Gallagher on “SNL,” yet there’s so much more to her story. Aside from telling anecdotes about her days at 30 Rock, Shannon breaks down the life-changing car accident that changed her and her family’s life forever. It’s a resilient read that informs how tragedy and empathy can impact comedy — especially for Shannon and her characters. Add it to your TBR, ASAP. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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