The Top 30 Must-Read Celebrity Memoirs

From Britney Spears to Barbra Streisand and everyone in between.

BY JOAN SUMMERS

The last few years in celebrity memoir releases has felt, at times, genuinely monumental. Memorable reads from our favorite stars are a staple of the publishing world, and there’s something to be said for Elliot Page, Viola Davis, and Michelle Obama releasing memoirs back to back, not to mention Will Smith, Dolly Parton, and Paris Hilton, among so many others. 2023 still has its biggest release to look forward to in October, with Britney Spears’s eagerly anticipated memoir The Woman in Me, a book with so much buzz and intrigue, it feels like it could change the celebrity landscape forever upon arrival. With Barbra Streisand’s own memoir following hot on Spears’s heels in November, there are almost too many options as summer beach-read season winds down. Fall fast approaches, and there’s never been a better time to curl up with some of the best celebrity memoirs in recent memory.

Pageboy: A Memoir

Elliot Page’s memoir takes every societal narrative about the actor, built over a storied career, and flips them entirely. Filled with poignant reflections on identity, sex, fame, and family, Pageboy was an instant New York Times no. 1 bestseller—and for good reason.

The Woman in Me

There’s no doubt that The Woman in Me is going to fundamentally alter the narrative on Britney Spears’s tumultuous career. After decades of everyone but herself controlling her life and legacy, one of our generation’s greatest performers is going to speak, for the very first time since her almost 14-year conservatorship ended, entirely in her own words. I might have to sleep outside the bookstore before its release—waiting for a package in the mail just won’t cut it for this memoir.

Love, Pamela: A Memoir of Prose, Poetry, and Truth

Like Britney’s, Pamela Anderson’s life story has been recounted (incorrectly) by everyone but the famed actor and former Playboy Playmate herself. In the engrossing Love, Pamela, she tracks the arc of her career from the football game where she was discovered, and explores what it was like to lose control of her life and public image seemingly overnight.

Spare

Prince Harry’s hotly anticipated tell-all was the book to read when the year started, especially since he and wife Duchess Meghan had decided to step away from royal duties in early 2020. While Spare didn’t quite dig into the dirty details of the rumored rift between the prince and the rest of the royal family, it did detail his courtship with Meghan, past girlfriends, and the lingering trauma following the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

Paris: The Memoir

Paris Hilton has steadily redefined her image over the past few years, and her New York Times best-selling memoir, Paris, cemented this steady rebrand. Not only does she attempt to set the record straight on her various tabloid misadventures, Hilton also explores her struggles with ADHD, abortion, and the “troubled teen” industry at places like Provo Canyon and CEDU. Like her 2020 YouTube documentary This Is Paris, her memoir offers a new perspective on oft-repeated gossip.

Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You: A Memoir

Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You is as incisive as Lucinda Williams’s songwriting, full of stories about her childhood in the Deep South and her struggles to find recognition in a music industry not made for women who tell the truth as brazenly as she does. A child of working-class parents, Williams gives longtime fans and readers a glimpse into the events that shaped her songwriting prowess and storied discography.

Chita: A Memoir

Chita Rivera is about as iconic as it gets among the Broadway elite. Born Dolores Conchita Figuero del Rivero, the performer’s memoir offers a riveting backstage look into her experiences with Stephen Sondheim, Bob Fosse, Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr., and so many other stars who had the immense good fortune to work with her over her decades-long career.

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Worthy

Jada Pinkett Smith’s memoir, Worthy, details the behind-the-scenes turmoil of a woman who, by all accounts, had the perfect Hollywood power marriage. In it, she opens up about her relationship with Tupac Shakur, career, family life, and the now infamous slap heard round the world. Her stories also come with meditations and prompts written by Pinkett Smith, and this book is sure to be an instant bestseller.

Call Me Anne

Anne Heche’s memoir was published posthumously, as her manuscript was almost finished when the actor died from injuries sustained in a car crash in August 2022. In this sequel to her first book, Call Me Crazy, Heche shares never-before-heard details about her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, and many other moments from a life cut far too short.

I’m Glad My Mom Died

The rumors about Jennette McCurdy’s experiences at Nickelodeon have swirled about the former child star for a decade. At long last, McCurdy opened up about her experiences as one of the most well-known faces of tween television, with brutally honest stories about her on-set life, relationship with an abusive and troubled mother, and the long journey she’s been on to self-acceptance and healing. To call I’m Glad My Mom Died an “important” or “necessary” read would be underselling it. If you haven’t yet, drop what you’re doing and pick it up immediately.

Finding Me: An Oprah’s Book Club Pick

It’s hard to find words to express just how monumental Viola Davis’s career has been—and continues to be. In her long-awaited memoir, the legendary actor details her early life in Rhode Island and origins as a working actor in New York City, going on to eventually become one of the most influential Hollywood figures of all time. As she writes in the foreword: “My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.”

Making a Scene

After a meteoric rise in the wake of Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians, Constance Wu was beset by critics and an internet that seemed primed to turn on her at the drop of a hat. Afterward, she retreated from the public eye, only to reemerge with a stunning clarity, ready to set the record straight with Making a Scene. Vulnerable and captivating, her memoir is full of insightful commentary and cutting reflections on her career and the warnings of people early on in her life, who warned her: “Good girls don’t make scenes.”

Down the Drain

Another eagerly anticipated memoir—from the visual tastemaker behind some of the pandemic era’s most memorable fashion moments—Julia Fox’s Down the Drain is set to drop October 10. In it, she writes about her life with the authenticity that has become her brand, and has made her the most meme-able online figure of the last few years. Per the book’s official synopsis, she discusses her childhood, “a heroin habit that led to New Orleans trap houses,” a jail stint, and whirlwind relationship with Kanye West.

Hello, Molly! A Memoir

There are few women who possess the comedy prowess and captivating aura of Molly Shannon, whose memoir Hello, Molly! is frank in its observations and profoundly healing for those who’ve experienced grief. Beginning with the car crash that stole her mom, baby sister, and cousin when she was four, Shannon details how the experience changed her perspective on the world forever, and shaped the innate comedic talents that would go on to cement her as one of the funniest women ever to grace our television screens.

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Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics

What better way for Dolly Parton to write her memoir than with music? Part songbook, part guided journey through the real-life experiences that shaped her iconic songwriting abilities, Songteller is about as Dolly as it gets. Complete with never-before-seen photos, this is a must-read for anyone who’s ever sung “Jolene” or “9 to 5” at karaoke.

Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir

Raw doesn’t quite begin to capture the lengths Colton Haynes goes to in his memoir, Miss Memory Lane. Underpinned by his sobriety journey after he nearly died from seizures and organ damage, Haynes explores his sexual development in small-town Kansas, his early brushes with fame as a teenage model, and the stress of keeping everything together for the cameras when you’re falling apart on the inside.

My Name Is Barbra

What can’t Barbra Streisand do? Not only does she boast 46 Grammy nominations and is an EGOT winner, she is also arguably one of the greatest singers to ever live. All that and more will be the focus of her upcoming memoir, My Name Is Barbra, which will chronicle her life as a child in Brooklyn to her breakout role in Funny Girl, which blossomed into one of the most legendary careers on record in Hollywood. My Name Is Barbra was released on November 7, just in time for the holidays.

I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir

It’s almost unbelievable how many interesting stories Harvey Fierstein has to tell, but isn’t that expected of one of Broadway’s most influential figures? Funny, frank, and illuminating, I Was Better Last Night tells it all: the sex, the parties, the interior worlds of Andy Warhol and the many artists Fierstein has gotten entangled with, life during the AIDS crisis, and so much more.

Miss Major Speaks: Conversations With a Black Trans Revolutionary

There are few trans luminaries as influential or widely known as Miss Major, who for the first time ever shares the captivating stories of her precious and wild life. A former sex worker and veteran of the Stonewall riots, she recounts her journey from the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital and Attica Prison to the formation of the Griffin-Gracy Educational and Historical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, also known as the House of GG.

Coivos Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up

Very few people would go quite the distance Selma Blair does in the emotionally raw Mean Baby, which offers an honest account of her troubled childhood, early encounters with alcohol, and her brutally complicated relationship with her mother. Writing after her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Blair chronicles her public battle with the disease in a memoir that is equal parts triumphant and devastating.

Love Me As I Am

While her villainous castmates on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills might have thrown it in the trash to hurt her feelings, there are few people as instantly readable (and likable) as Garcelle Beauvais is in Love Me As I Am. Detailing her struggles with a “disease to please” and the stereotypes applied to her by Hollywood and the culture more broadly, Beauvais is more charming and relatable than Bravo—or any reality show, for that matter—deserves.

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times

Michelle Obama’s first book, 2018’s Becoming, was a smash success, and all eyes were on her eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Light We Carry. A no. 1 New York Times bestseller upon its release in November 2022, her second memoir offers advice and guidance for life’s various challenges.

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Unprotected: A Memoir

In Unprotected, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony winner Billy Porter opens up about his ascent to fame, starting with his life as a young gay kid in Pittsburgh. From his experience with conversion therapy amid a violent home life to his award-winning breakthrough role in Kinky Boots, this memoir from one of today’s most influential stars is a must-read.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir

In this memoir from one of television’s most memorable stars, Matthew Perry writes: “Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.” Throughout the instant no. 1 New York Times bestseller, Perry opens up about a private life beset by addiction, pain, and a quest for fame and recognition. Most of all, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing is a poignant reflection on sobriety, and holds absolutely nothing back.

Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood

Favorite Hollywood uncle and onscreen villain Danny Trejo shares his startling life story in his memoir, Trejo. From heroin addiction to his incarceration in San Quentin Prison, the actor chronicles how his experiences with crime and rehabilitation inspired his legendary Hollywood career. Beyond that, Trejo reflects on the ways the lessons he learned have influenced his relationship with his children.

Will

While Will Smith’s memoir does not detail the now-infamous slap seen across America and the public-image rehabilitation that followed, it does offer incisive insights into the psyche and motivations of one of the most recognizable men in the world. From West Philadelphia to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith’s memoir lays bare the pressures fame has put on himself, his family, and the effects of those pressures on the world around him.

Open Book

Nobody was quite ready for the secrets Jessica Simpson would tell in her brutally honest memoir, Open Book—least of all the tabloid press that had hounded her for nearly 20 years. In a series of never-before-told stories, Simpson details her struggle with sobriety after a string of troubling media appearances, most famously on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. From a preacher’s daughter to early reality television superstar, Open Book shows how Simpson is just that: a totally open book. (Before anyone asks: Yes, she even talks about the chicken-or-fish debate.)

Taste: My Life Through Food

The internet’s favorite boyfriend Stanley Tucci would, of course, write one of the more charming memoirs of recent memory. Part culinary journey, part exploration of his relationship to food, Taste sees Tucci recounting the good times and bad through recipes and food excursions, even chronicling the making of films like Big Night and Julie & Julia.

Me

The iconic story of Elton John could only be told by the singular man himself. Brilliant, witty, and full of John’s signature flair, Me is the story of Reginald Dwight from the London suburbs. With a dream of taking over the pop charts, the man who became Sir Elton would go on to conquer the music world and change it forever.

Just As I Am: A Memoir

Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Cicely Tyson is a singular figure and one of the most heralded trailblazers in the century since the birth of film itself. It’s better to let the actor explain this one in her own words: “I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by his hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.”

This article first appeared on harpersbazaar.com