Celebrity Memoirs Can Be Hit-Or-Miss, But These 11 Are Definitely Hits

by Charlotte Ahlin

The celebrity memoir has gotten a bit of a bad reputation. I mean, look, I'm not saying that every Instagram influencer and Real Housewife is secretly a stunning memoirist, or that we should all give up novels to exclusively read cookbooks written by game show hosts. But I am a longtime fan of the well-written showbiz memoir. These books chronicle our favorite actors, comedians, and writers on their journey from life as a nobody to life as a star (or just life as a consistently employed member of the entertainment industry, which is equally impressive). So here are a few excellent memoirs that'll inspire you, too, to follow your dreams.

Even if you're not in show business yourself, you can find moments of connection in these stories of trials, tribulations, and triumph against all odds (admittedly, I don't personally know anyone who's not pursuing a career in show business, but I do understand that it's theoretically possible). These memoirs will take you behind the scenes on some of your favorite shows and movies, and remind you that just about every big name started out as a scrappy kid trying to break into the industry. Check them out for laughs, drama, and a genuine does of inspiration:

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

Mindy Kaling manages to be entirely hilarious and delightful while also candidly discussing her biggest fears, insecurities, and awkward dating mishaps. She's like your best friend who also happens to be a massively successful actress and comedy writer. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is a must-read if you need a comically brilliant pick-me-up, or if you, too, want to write great television one day.

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'I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff' by Abbi Jacobson

You might know Abbi Jacobson from her joyfully weird show Broad City, or from her drawings, or from her webseries way back in the day. Even if you don't know her work at all, I Might Regret This is a lovely, funny look at her life and career thus far. As Jacobson road trips across the country, she muses on breakups, writing with one's best friend, and the life-long ramifications of wearing your shirts tucked in.

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'I'm the One That I Want' by Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho's memoir is funny, of course, because she's one of the greatest American comedians of all time. But it's also insightful and fiercely honest: Cho discusses her rocky path to success, and her efforts to break free of a cycle of self-sabotage, internalized shame, and addiction. This is not a light and breezy celebrity memoir to live vicariously through, but a poignant story of one woman's journey to discover her own self-worth.

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'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)' by Felicia Day

Queen of the geeks Felicia Day has graced us all with this lovely memoir about finding belonging and artistic success on the internet (mostly). Day is honest about her struggles with anxiety and putting far too much pressure on herself (I'm sure most creative people can relate), but she's also happy to cheerfully embrace her own weirdness—and inspire her fans to do the same.

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'Where Am I Now?' by Mara Wilson

Look, shocking as it may be, not everyone dreams of extreme Hollywood fame. Mara Wilson's memoir is the refreshing story of a famous child star who grew up to be fairly well-adjusted and happily not-super-famous. Where Am I Now? is a witty, well-crafted reminder that sometimes following your dreams can mean turning away from traditional success and focusing on what makes you truly happy.

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'The Last Black Unicorn' by Tiffany Haddish

Comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish reflects on growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of L.A., her stint as school mascot and Bar Mitzvah hype woman, her dedicated quest to find a boyfriend, and her absolute love for making people laugh. The Last Black Unicorn is a hilarious and observant collection of personal essays, filled with truly jaw-dropping twists and turns on Haddish's road to breakout stardom.

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'Wishful Drinking' by Carrie Fisher

The late Carrie Fisher is almost as well-known for her wild and moving memoirs as she is for her role in Star Wars (well almost). In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher gets very real about growing up in a family of Hollywood stars, struggling with her body image and mental health, raising a child as a single mother, and, of course, making her mark as one of the most recognizable characters in all of movie history.

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'The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide' by Jenna Fischer

Of course, every now and then you might want some actual, actionable advice on how to kick-start your own showbiz career. That's when you turn to Jenna Fischer: The Office star's memoir includes some clever, painfully real tips on how to make it as an actor, with plenty of anecdotes from Fischer's own career of ups and downs as well.

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'This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare' by Gabourey Sidibe

With humor and irreverence, Gabourey Sidibe opens up about her unusual childhood (with her subway singer mother and her polygamous father), her struggles with depression, and her eventual rise to stardom. Sidibe is both a wildly talented actress and a smart, incisive writer, and her memoir is a great read for people with big dreams of any kind.

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'Year of Yes' by Shonda Rhimes

"Just say yes!" may sound like cliched advice—but if we can't trust Shonda Rhimes, then who in this world can we trust? Year of Yes isn't exactly like these other memoirs, in that Rhimes was already doing pretty dang well as a beloved TV creator before she decided to start saying "yes!" all the time. But it's still an excellent example of the power of positive thinking and sometimes getting out of the house, even for the most introverted of creative types.

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'Scrappy Little Nobody' by Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick grew up feeling small and weird and never-quite-right. But she managed to pivot all those pent up insecurities into an incredibly successful career on stage and screen, and a quirky, hysterical memoir that'll make you want to embrace your own scrappy side.

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