I recently got to cover Lena Dunham’s recent talk at the Chicago Humanities Festival, where she read a few chapters from her new memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, chatted with the co-creator of Girls, Jenni Konner, and answered some audience questions. It was awesome (Read my piece on her best quotes from that talk here) and got me super-pumped to read her book. I definitely have a thing for celebrity memoirs (and memoirs in general, actually), so as I dive into Lena’s, I thought I’d share a few others that, in my opinion, are absolutely worth picking up (or downloading on your Kindle, of course).
Best Hilarious Memoir: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is definitely having a moment right now, what with her successful self-titled sitcom, The Mindy Project (if you haven’t watched yet, please do). Something about Mindy is just so awesome and relatable; she’s the epitome of that celebrity you really think you could be friends with if you could just figure out how to bump into her on the street. Her book, that was actually released the year before her show premiered, only reenforces that—there’s just something about her combination of self-deprecating humor, dry wit, and shameless honesty.
Quotable: “I say if you love something, set it in a small cage and pester and smother it with love until it either loves you back or dies.”
Best Not-Really-A-Celebrity Hilarious Memoir: Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar, by Kelly Oxford
Now, I’m not saying Kelly Oxford is an unknown. She has nearly 600K followers on Twitter, which was the platform where she first gained notoriety. And for good reason: She’s f—ing hilarious. She’s a screenwriter with a perfectly dry sense of humor, which comes through in her memoir (which was a New York Times Bestseller, BTW). The book is a compilation of absurd, relatable and amazing essays about her life, from childhood through adulthood, and every single one of them is worth reading. I also suggest following her on Twitter, where among other amazing posts, she often shares photos of her kick-ass cats.
Quotable: “I wasn’t old enough to realize that I could be my terrible self and have people love me for that.”
I asked my cat if he gets flashbacks... http://t.co/U4QG72d5ay—
kelly oxford (@kellyoxford) March 19, 2014
Best Stop-Feeling-Sorry-For-Yourself Memoir: Lucky Man: A Memoir, by Michael J. Fox
I read this memoir a couple years ago, and I still think about it, especially when I’m feeling sorry for myself. Michael J. Fox was an accomplished, successful actor long before his Parkinson’s diagnoses, and he didn’t let the disease slow him down. Before I read this book, I knew the surface-level details of his battle with the disease, and already respected him for continuing to work, and for campaigning for stem cell research. But, his memoir provided such an incredible, in-depth view into his life before, during and since his diagnoses, and it’s nothing if not insanely inspiring.
Quotable: “It is one of the great ironies of my life that only when it became virtually impossible for me to keep my body from moving would I find the peace, security, and spiritual strength to stand in one place. I couldn’t be still until I could—literally—no longer keep still.”
Best Tons-Of-Celebs-For-The-Price-Of-One Memoir: The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives, by Katie Couric
Though this is technically by Katie Couric, it’s actually a compilation of stories and insights from Katie’s many famous friends (ugh, jealous). It’s a huge variety of voices, from Maya Angelou to Ellen Degeneres and Michelle Kwan, with Katie’s own story sprinkled in. The contributors are all so different, but all with interesting and inspiring stories, so it’s pretty much impossible to get bored while reading this one.
Quotable: “Just pay attention. And, no matter what, don’t sleep with your boss.” – Chelsea Handler
Best Historically Relevant Memoir: What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love, by Carole Radziwill
I’ll admit it: I didn’t really know about Carole Radziwill until she became a cast member on The Real Housewives of New York City. I immediately took a liking to her: She is a writer, after all, and a witty, straight-talking, intelligent one, to boot. But that’s not all. Carole is an Emmy-award-winning journalist who traveled to all corners of the world for her work. She also withstood more tragedy in one year than any person should have to in a whole lifetime. Carole married Anthony Radziwill, the son of the Prince of Poland, and niece of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and became close friends with Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and John F. Kennedy. She lost her friends in the infamous plane crash (they were on their way to join her in Martha’s Vineyard), and then—less than a month later—lost her husband to cancer. Well before her reality TV debut, Carole penned What Remains, which offers an honest and personal glimpse into these relationships, experiences and the effects it all had on her.
Quotable: “Afterward I tried to find something to explain what had happened—was it cloudy, were the stars out? But the night was ordinary. It usually is, I think, when your life changes. Most people aren’t doing anything special when the carefully places pieces of their life break apart.”