Celebrity Memoirs: The Best, And The Best-Worst

Are you looking for some holiday reading? Me, I’m partial to a celebrity memoir. Good is great; but nutty works for me too.

I think celebrities come in two main flavours.  There are some variations on the theme, but in general you turn celebrity because you posses some magical combination of talent plus chutzpah, or shamelessness plus ambition. Either way, you also need a good dose of luck, and a certain shiny charisma.

For me, there are few pleasures as relaxing as settling down with a  good trashy memoir and a cup of tea. Ah, low brow bliss.

In this post I’ll share a selection of my favourite celebrity memoirs.

First, the good.

I’m nay sporty, but I really loved Andre Agassi’s book ‘Open’.  His ambitious, immigrant father Mike intensively, perhaps abusively, coached all four of his children in tennis in their Vegas backyard. It was  Andre, his youngest, who became the star. This story is anguished at times, triumphant at others, often funny and incredibly open. Mostly, it’s poignancy lies in how intensely Agassi hates the game of tennis.

Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a book this year. Arnie is larger than life, a macho, self-aggrandizing creation, and his memoir ‘Total Recall’ is quite the journey into the psychology of such a man. It explores Arnold’s journey from his simple Austrian childhood to movie star/politician/multi-millionaire, and it’s a fascinating read.  His life, from the earliest, reads like a coldly planned treasure-hunt for glory and riches. He’s massively successful in these ventures, and he is, without doubt, charming and smart and funny. He pokes fun at himself, to a point, and admits wrongdoing, to a point. This book is a study in intense ambition, in the single-minded pursuit of power and money.

My favourite memoir of the year though, was Julia Childs My Life In Paris. This gorgeous read captures Julia’ eccentric, unique wit so well, and the story of how she moved to Paris in 1948 with her diplomat husband Paul is romantic and charming. Paul and Julia married late in life, and  their passion for each other parallels  Julia’s growing passion for food,  as she studies at Le Cordon Bleu. Plus, it’s all set in 1950′s Paris. Oh, go on then.


Are you still  hungry for celebrity babble-ons?  Try anything by the glorious Carrie Fisher. Wishful Drinking’ is her most recent. Or, perhaps, the beautiful ‘What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love’ by Carole Radziwill, which explores her life after marrying into the Kennedy family.

If, however,  you’re looking to settle into some real fine trash, I can’t direct you past Kendra Wilkinson’s ‘Being Kendra: Cribs, Cocktails and Getting My Sexy Back’, where the ex-Playboy Mansion startlet examines ‘life after baby’. I wrote about this incisive and searing cultural examination of modern sexual mores on my old blog. Kendra is a grade-A, top-drawer, Christmas-cracker nut job. Her book is like accidental absurdism.

Here’s a sample:

Let me give you ‘Kendra in the shower’:

‘Usually, I’ll make toast or an egg sandwich and a coffee and a smoothie and bring it all into the shower with me. I kind of have it all scattered round like a buffet. Some things are on the bath ledge, some things on the sink counter, some stuff on the floor. I’ll put my coffee (in a covered to-go mug) on the soap dish and my sandwich right by my razor – close enough for me to grab but still not get wet. Maybe I’ll leave my smoothie on the sink and kind of peek out from the curtain and grab a few sips here and there. I’ll be shaving with one hand and have a coffee in the other, or have a loofah in one hand with soap suds trying to wash my body while I’m chowing down on an egg sandwich in the other hand…That’s something I do almost every time I shower in the morning, and I do it all so quickly and efficiently that it allows me so much more time each week to spend with my family.’ .

I am not just mocking Kendra. Well,  I am totally mocking Kendra, but I am also grateful to her for inventing the personal hygiene/breakfast combo, and putting it on the page for me to enjoy. No judgement. Yes, she eats egg sandwiches while she soaps her mammoth bosom. But I transcribed her detailed showering routine, and I published it on the Internet, so I am clearly the bigger idiot.

Do you have a favourite memoir to share? Let me know. I’ll add it to my list. Happy reading!

If you’re interested, another Bookshelf post: Adventurous Women.