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The Best and Worst of Celebrity Memoirs


In the last decade, there has been an explosion of celebrities writing memoirs and autobiographies. Within this celebrity genre, comedians and comedic actors and actresses are some of the most published. This is probably due to their ability to entertain and make people laugh. I, like many others, have been drawn to these memoirs and have reviewed quite a few here on Bound2Books. There have been some amazing memoirs that I have truly loved and laughed with like Tina Fey’s Bossypants. However, not all the memoirs have been that great. And as always I want to save you, dear reader, from reading bad books.

So here we go! The 3 best and 3 worst celebrity memoirs…

THE BEST

This Will Only Hurt A Little – Busy Philipps

Book cover of Busy Philipps’ memoir, This Will Only Hurt A Little

Above all else, Busy Philipps is a storyteller. Her strengths are her honesty and humour and reading her memoir makes you feel closer to her. In a world of celebrity worship, it is easy to assume that celebrities never have problems, or if they have problems that they are trivial. Furthermore, celebrity worship also objectifies people, making it feel like the fans are entitled to all aspects of a celebrity’s life. Memoirs teeter on this line between sharing too much and not enough and I feel like Philipps does an amazing job of sharing her humanity and struggles with the grace of a well-seasoned writer.

You are not going to be disappointed with this memoir.

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures – Ed. America Ferrera

Book cover of American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures

American Like Me is a collection of mixed-race celebrity authors writing about their experiences growing up in the U.S. It shows the diversity in America and also highlights many forgotten stories. As it stands in 2019, diversity and representation in different media is slowly increasing. Invisible stories, voices, and peoples are slowly getting a platform, yet the representation does not match the amount of diversity in society. Ferrera’s essay collection adds to these voices in a beautiful and eloquent way. It touches on the lives of various famous athletes, comedians, and T.V. and film stars from all walks of life. What I enjoy about this essay collection is that you can read it in short bursts and each essay is a stand-alone story.

The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish

Book cover of Tiffany Haddish’s The Last Black Unicorn

This book is spit-your-coffee-out-of-your-mouth funny. Tiffany Haddish is a great comedian and she will make you laugh through all the highs and lows of life. Her honesty and ability to laugh at herself are amazing qualities. Yet, her memoir and comedic style is anything but superficial. One minute she has you laughing about her horrible date choices, and the next minute she is addressing the real and complicated nature of domestic violence. Haddish is truly a unicorn in comedy and I cannot wait to see where she is going to go next.

THE WORST

My Squirrel Days – Ellie Kemper

Book cover of Ellie Kemper’s memoir My Squirrel Days

I love the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. My husband and I have seen the series multiple times. When we feel like watching something but don’t know what, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is our go-to. So when Ellie Kemper (the actress who plays Kimmy) came out with her memoir last year, I was so excited about it. I loved her style of comedy on the T.V. series and thought that this would show in her memoir. It pains me to say this, but I was wrong. Kemper’s memoir jumps all over the place and doesn’t really say anything for 240 pages. The ‘squirrel days’ I assume refers to a childhood story she tells about befriending a squirrel, but honestly, I couldn’t care about that story or any other story she told. It felt forced and flat. Some actors should stick to their day jobs.

Also, she doesn’t wash her hands after she goes to the toilet…

Literally anything by James Franco

I am not even going to put a picture of any of James Franco’s works, nonfiction or otherwise, for fear that you might accidentally buy them… that is how bad they are. Honestly, this guy has studied literature at a graduate level and writes absolute garbage. Like actual flaming hot turds. His poetry hurts to read it. It is an insult to anyone who has ever made a rhyming couplet. Can someone please make a zombie film where dead writers come back to life to hunt Franco down for his crimes against fiction? His success (if you can call it that) as a writer shows that it is far more important to have connections than actual talent.

*insert throw-up emoji here.

Born A Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah

Book cover of Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood

Trevor Noah’s memoir is here not because it is a bad memoir. In fact, Noah has a very good way with words and the telling of his childhood in South Africa shows an insight into race relations and Apartheid up-close and personal. What I cannot let slip is his previous ‘jokes’ about indigenous Australian women and his inability to apologise for these comments. If you want more about this please check out this article from ABC. Nor can I get on board with his other ‘jokes‘ about domestic violence, Jewish people, or women in general. For the most part, Noah is often seen as a Bastian of racial understanding. He calls out a lot of bad and downright racist behaviour in the media. Yet when questioned about his own bad choices he cannot seem to own up to what he has done. I would strongly suggest Noah read Karamo Brown’s memoir on how to own up to your past mistakes like a boss. From what I have seen Noah regrets the jokes not because they are extremely harmful, disrespectful, racist, and appalling, but because he got caught. And until he wants to own up to this, I cannot recommend his works.

There you have it! The best and worst celebrity memoirs. What would you add to the list? As always, share the reading love.

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