10 Celebrity Writers With Great Books
Books by celebrities can be hit-or-miss. But there are some great celebrity authors out there. So, let’s take a look at a selection of the best books by famous people.
Kaling, who came to fame on The Office, first published a memoir in 2011; Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) made it onto the New York Times Best Seller list, detailing her time on the show and her life as the daughter of immigrants. She also has two follow-up books about her life: Why Not Me? and Nothing Like I Imagined (Except For Sometimes), the latter a collection of individual tales under the Amazon Original Stories banner.
Beloved tales from a beloved actor, Uncommon Type offers seventeen stories that are linked in theme by both a benign view of humanity and manual typewriters; Tom Hanks collects vintage typewriters. The short stories in his compilation range from the heartwarming, such as that of a wounded veteran who finds the American Dream, to the heart-pumping, like the tale of an escape from Communist Bulgaria with bounty hunters on the trail. While Hanks won't likely be hailed as a literary genius, he gets major points for having a big heart.
The Daily Show host chronicles his early life as a mixed-race child living under apartheid in his autobiography Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. The book was a number-one New York Times Best Seller and there's a film version in the works with Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o playing Noah's mother. The title Born a Crime is literal—Noah was born to a black mother and a white father in 1984, when interracial sex was illegal under South African law.
You might actually want to pour yourself a drink before you start reading Union's We're Going to Need More Wine. The collection of essays goes into some dark territory: racism, cheating, miscarriages, infertility, and sexual assault. But with healthy doses of humor, there's ultimately a sense of triumph as Gabrielle navigates life's harsh blows and emerges stronger for the struggles. She penned a follow-up memoir aptly titled You Got Anything Stronger?
We had to wait decades for it, but Demi Moore's memoir Inside Out delivers with an unvarnished look at addiction, childhood trauma, and life in the spotlight with a parade of famous folks, notably with her marriages to Ashton Kutcher and Bruce Willis. Plus, details on how she may have taken Jon Cryer's virginity while they were making a movie in the early 80s!
Unlike lots of books by celebrities that are memoirs or semi-autobiographical, ModelLand by Tyra Banks is a work of pure fiction. Dystopian sci-fi fiction for young adults to be exact, taking place on an alternative version of Earth where students attend an exclusive school to become models—or so they think. Reviews were mixed but sales were huge, propelling the book onto the New York Times Best Seller list. And the book spawned a theme park in Santa Monica, California.
Colfer may have achieved stardom playing Kurt Hummel on TV's Glee, but the actor is perhaps just as well-known these days for penning books for young adults. His Land of Stories series has six full-length books and several companion books that follow twins Connor and Alex Bailey on their magical adventures in fairy-tale worlds.
Yes Please made its debut at number-one on the New York Times Best Seller list and the audio version went on to win a Grammy. The memoir from actress and writer Amy Poehler is a mix of true tales and fictional stories designed to offer lessons about life, covering topics that range from parenthood to body image, full of inspirational quotes like, "Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.”
Jonathan Van Ness
He seems like one of the most self-assured members of the Queer Eye crew, but Jonathan Van Ness opens up about his struggles with confidence in his book Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love. The New York Times says, "There is plenty to laugh at in the ways Queer Eye’s grooming expert frames his story, but it’s the battles he’s waged against the darker corners of his soul to become the bright light we know today that provide the necessary context for this book to shine."
And one book that might be so bad, it's good. Sean Penn did a bizarre press tour claiming that he wasn't the author of a novel about an assassin who targets the elderly, rather that it was the work of his mysterious underworld associate Pappy Pariah. But Penn eventually admitted that he wrote Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff and embraced the avalanche of bad reviews, such as The Guardian calling it "repellent and stupid on so many levels." Still, the book has its ardent fans—novelist Salman Rushdie praised it as "great fun to read"—and Penn got a deal to write the sequel, Bob Honey Sings Jimmy Crack Corn.
So, maybe when you’re browsing for your next book you won’t just skip past novels by celebrities and instead give one of the many celebrity authors a read.Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.