20 celebrity memoirs read by their authors

20 celebrity memoirs read by their authors

I’m a regular audiobook listener. When I have a good story in progress, I’ll find ways to walk extra miles, fold extra laundry, maybe even dust the baseboards.

In the audio format I love to listen to good stories. That means the vast majority of my own audiobooks are novels. But I do love a good memoir—because what is memoir but a story that really happened?

Over the past few years, some of my favorites have been celebrity memoirs. My hunch is this is because they always combine two things I love: behind-the-scenes tales and author narration.

A few weeks ago we shared a book list featuring 15 audiobooks read by your favorite celebrity narrators. That list was predominantly fiction, and we promised you another list of celebrity memoirs read by their authors. Today’s the day.

I’ve read and enjoyed thirteen of these author-narrated titles myself, and hope to make it to the remaining seven soon. I’d love to add to my list: feel free to share your favorite celebrity memoirs in comments.

20 celebrity memoirs read by their authors

Bossypants

Bossypants

Author:
This easy reading memoir is part comedy, part auto-biography. Fey covers a lot of ground here: from her Pennsylvania childhood to her awkward college years, her crappy job at the YMCA to the big leagues of SNL. Filled with funny and fascinating anecdotes, like what a photo shoot is really like, and how she finally nailed Sarah Palin’s precise lip color shade. Fast and fun. 5 hours 32 minutes. More info →
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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Author:
This one made me laugh out loud in places. The backstory about how Mindy developed her comedic talent was really interesting, especially in light of all the reading on deliberate practice reading I've done. 4 hours 37 minutes. More info →
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Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life

Author:
Interesting and entertaining memoir about Steve Martin's roots and the real story behind his "overnight" success, packed with surprising tidbits about the industry and Martin's personal life. Fun, fast, and very readable. A great show biz biography, especially as read by the author. I was extremely surprised by some of his longstanding personal connections. (Read it and you'll see what I mean!) 4 hours 2 minutes. More info →
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Yes Please

Yes Please

Author:
A juicy memoir with Amy Poehler's trademark sense of humor and frank insights. Read this if you’re a fan of Poehler's work on Saturday Night Live and Parks And Recreation or you need to be reminded you’re not alone in the world. The full cast narration includes Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart (who reads haikus), and even Amy's parents. 7 hours 31 minutes. More info →
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Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential

This wild ride of a memoir, packed with what Bourdain calls "twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine," has taken on a special significance since Bourdain's untimely passing. Fair warning: I've read this, and it's pretty intense. This is nothing like your typical foodie memoir. 8 hours 13 minutes. More info →
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Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Author:
This inspirational memoir's epigraph bears quotes from Maya Angelou and Christina from Grey's Anatomy, which gives you a good idea of what you'll find inside. Rhimes is the queen of Thursday night tv, creating and producing smash hits like Grey's and Scandal. This time she's telling her own story of how her sister issued her a six-word wake-up call—You never say yes to anything—and the year of YES that followed. 7 hours 4 minutes. More info →
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Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir

Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir

Author:
The woman has an impressive c.v.: cookbook author, supermodel, Top Chef judge, fashion columnist, wife of Salman Rushdie. In her memoir, she reveals parts of her life that haven't been tabloid news fodder, from her recent life in NYC back to her Indian roots and their enduring significance in her life. 12 hours 37 minutes. More info →
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Just Kids

Just Kids

Author:
Singer-songwriter Patti Smith delves into her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in New York in the sixties and seventies. It's an intimate portrait, both entertaining and wise. 9 hours 50 minutes. More info →
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Wishful Drinking

Wishful Drinking

Author:
Actress Carrie Fisher holds nothing back. From her Hollywood upbringing to landing the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars at age 19, she lifts the veil and shares a more painful reality than many guessed, including her experience of being diagnosed with bipolar and battling substance abuse. This is her life as she can best remember it. Only 3 hours 6 minutes. More info →
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Born to Run

Born to Run

I just finished this audiobook, which I picked up because I kept hearing from other not-rabid fans that this was a great example of a memoir done right. I was a little surprised at the heavy focus on a few personal relationships ... and then I did a little research, and discovered one stipulation of his ten million (!!!) advance was that he dish on the details. I admire his career, but I'm not a devoted fan, and that made the narrative a little slow in places. However, I would have read this just for his insights into music as art: how it's made, what makes it work, that indefinable thing all great musicians have—I could listen to those segments over and over again, and probably will. 18 hours 16 minutes More info →
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Stories I Only Tell My Friends

Stories I Only Tell My Friends

Author:
I listened to this on audio, at the urging of fellow readers who said it was surprisingly good. (I was inclined to believe them after hearing Lowe's fantastic interview on Off Camera with Sam Jones, one of my favorite podcasts.) I knew very little about Lowe's career; I had only seen St Elmo's Fire and The West Wing before reading this, (I didn't even realize that was him in Wayne's World!), and was constantly surprised by his unusual childhood, his early acting days, the scope of his current work, and how he seems to know everyone. My favorite stories were about JFK Jr and 9/11. This was so easy to listen to I blew through it in a few days. 9 hours 10 minutes. More info →
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Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)

Author:
I am a big Gilmore Girls and especially Parenthood fan. This is everything you could want from a celebrity memoir, especially if you love her work, and her reflections on love, life, and work are extremely engaging. (Psst—if you love Lauren Graham, definitely check out her novel Someday, Someday, Maybe). 4 hours 35 minutes. More info →
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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Author:
In this collection of coming-of-age essays about his South African childhood, The Daily Show star does a masterful job of alternating the deathly serious with the laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes even combining the two. His mischievous childhood and unconventional youth provide wonderful fodder for not-quite-polite but always entertaining stories. 8 hours 44 minutes. More info →
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This Is Just My Face

This Is Just My Face

Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe shares honestly about growing up in Bed-Stuy/Harlem with a polygamous father and subway-singing mother, dealing with depression and an eating disorder, and her path to acting. A witty, charming, and moving memoir. 6 hours 54 minutes. More info →
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Dream More

Dream More

Author:
When Kristen Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg from the By The Book podcast recommended this on episode 121 of What Should I Read Next, I couldn't download it fast enough. This book is an expanded commencement speech Dolly gave at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville about getting more out of life—work, relationships, all of it. There's nobody quite like Dolly Parton—good gracious, I had no idea just how much the woman has accomplished—and I LOVED hearing her tell stories about her life. I grinned like a fool the whole time I was listening. Short and sweet, at 1 hour 27 minutes. More info →
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In the Country We Love: My Family Divided

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided

Television actress Diane Guerrero was only 14 years old when her parents were deported from the United States. Guerrero was born in the US and therefore able to stay in the country but dependent on the generosity of family friends who enabled her to continue her education and eventually pursue an acting career. In light of the discussion on immigration reform, Guerrero’s memoir gives an important perspective. 9 hours 10 minutes. More info →
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Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You

Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You

Author:
Best known as Raj from The Big Bang Theory, Kunal Nayyar takes us behind the scenes of the hit television show and shares about his childhood in New Delhi, college in Portland, and his path to becoming an actor. A collection of underdog stories, this witty memoir has a whole lot of heart. 6 hours 43 minutes. More info →
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A Little Bit Wicked

A Little Bit Wicked

Kristin Chenoweth is known for many things: her starring role as Galinda in Wicked, her Tony Award for You're A Good Man, and any number of hit TV shows. But do you really know her? Chenoweth shares about her Oklahoma upbringing, her foray into beauty pageants, and the life-changing detour she took on her way to becoming an opera singer. 6 hours 52 minutes. More info →
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Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent

Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent

Author:
Calling all Broadway musical fans! Original cast member of the award-winning musical Rent, Anthony Rapp shares the many ways this experience changed his life. He details his theater experiences, his sexuality, and his mother's cancer making for a moving and memorable reading experience. 9 hours 28 minutes. More info →
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Troublemaker

Troublemaker

Author:
Actress Leah Remini pulls no punches in her searing account about her 30 years inside the Church of Scientology. In 2013 she publicly left the church, no longer able to hold back her questions and doubts, and she's since been declared an enemy of the church and cut off by friends and family who remain a part of it. Honest and unflinching, Remini discusses her painful path toward spiritual freedom. 7 hours 12 minutes. More info →
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What would you add to this list?

P.S. 15 terrific audiobooks you can listen to in 6-ish hours or less, 40 favorite audiobooks for kids, and 10 audiobooks to listen to while you clean, purge, and tidy. Or click here to visit the complete audiobooks archives.

P.P.S. I didn’t expect this recent episode of What Should I Read Next to focus so heavily on audiobooks, but it totally did. It’s Episode 173, Clocking in at the reading factory, and you can listen wherever you get your podcasts.

25 comments | Comment

25 comments

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  1. Lizabeth Snell says:

    I would add Sally Field’s memoir In Pieces
    also of course, Michelle Obama’s Becoming
    and A Full Life by Jimmy Carter
    and I’d go a lot more wild over Trevor Noah.. his reading of his story is my #1 pick of anyone ever reading their own story!!

  2. Laura says:

    It just occurred to me that I must like this genre because I’ve read more than half. Great list! I’d add “Not My Father’s Son” by Alan Cumming. Story is great and his accent make it a good listen.

  3. Whitney says:

    As You Wish by Cary Elwes! He’s the narrator, and sometimes other people chime in to read the parts of the story where they’re quoted.

  4. Jessica C says:

    Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch was a favorite of mine. I just love her voice.

    Incidentally, memoirs read by their authors is the only genre that I’ve been able to really listen to. I can also listen to books that I’ve already read and loved (like the Harry Potter series.) Anything else has me getting lost in my own thoughts (or concentrating on the road) and having to listen to the same parts over and over before my brain decides to cooperate. [Thus far, my audiobook listening has only taken place in the car. Perhaps, this will all change when I start listening on walks/while cleaning/etc.]

  5. Turia says:

    Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Autobiography is hilarious as an audiobook even if you have to listen to it in a linear fashion and can’t jump around like you could with the print version. You wouldn’t think it would work as an audiobook but he is just such a joy to listen to that it really does.

  6. Chrissie says:

    I loved Carly Simon’s, Boys In The Trees. And on the Audio she breaks out in song! Remarkable that she is not bitter. The people who have let her down are the people she should have been able to trust with her life.

  7. Susie Buzan says:

    Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” was so satisfying. I loved the Chicago of her youth, all so familiar to me. But the best part was that I was positive she was sitting right there by my side, telling her story to me alone.

  8. Carol Auger says:

    My favorite book this year (and it was read by the author) was Becoming, by Michelle Obama. What a funny, smart, beautiful woman, parent, mentor, HUMAN!
    Great listen!!!

  9. Sue says:

    My mother and I so enjoyed “The Olive Farm” by Carol Drinkwater. Carol played the original Helen in the “All Creatures Great and Small” series on PBS and so, has that lovely voice and accent. She bought an olive farm in the south of France with her new husband, and so it’s part memoir, part olive tutorial, part love story, and part “lets buy a place in France” story.

  10. Jaia says:

    I’m currently listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and like everyone else here, it’s wonderful to listen to.

    So Close to Being the Sh*t Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta is also a great listen. She’s smart, outspoken, hilarious, and down to earth in the most outlandish ways.

    It’s not really a memoir, but it includes a lot of personal stories so I’d like to offer The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, because, well, Neil Gaiman! He’s an incredibly talented writer and this collection of essays includes some of his best non-fiction work. Bonus: His voice.

  11. Barb says:

    I love Anne Lamott’s Travelling Mercies. It’s one of my favorite books in print. Her sort of drawly voice really adds something that made me love the book even more.

  12. Carol Darden says:

    I really enjoyed Carol Burnett “This Time Together”. I grew up watching her variety show and loved hearing all her stories.

  13. Maureen says:

    I highly recommend Along the Way by father/son duo, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, a dual autobiography told within the framework of their making the movie, The Way. A portrait of a father and son who have lived fascinating lives both jointly and separately and whose love and respect for one another is touching.

  14. Heather says:

    I absolutely must echo the recommendations for “Not My Father’s Son” by Alan Cumming. His lovely Scottish accent is just icing on the cake of a truly fascinating story.

  15. Brie says:

    I echo the recommendation for Carol Burnett’s book above, and I also loved Home by Julie Andrews. 🙂 I was surprised to realize I’d read at least a third of the books on your list!

  16. Shadist says:

    Gene Wilder’s Kiss Me Like a Stranger is a beautiful journey through the man’s life, I seriously recommend it.

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