Dear Publishing Industry: Please Make These Memoirs Happen

Claire Handscombe


Claire Handscombe moved from Europe to DC in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but actually – let’s be honest – because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan, and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives. She also hosts the Brit Lit Podcast, a fortnightly show of news and views from British books and publishing. Blog: the Brit Lit Blog. Twitter: @BookishClaire

Dear Publishing Industry,

I hope you’re well. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me so far; I don’t want you to think me ungrateful. But would you like more of my dollars? I suspect that you would, so here’s an easy way to get some of them. I live in hope that some of the people who most intrigue me will write a memoir one day. You can make it happen! Dollars for you, joy for me. Everyone wins.

Malia and Sasha Obama

I am so, so curious about what it’s like to grow up in the White House, and there’s no-one I’d rather have tell me about it than the Obama daughters, since our years in DC have overlapped and I feel a kinship with them.

Bradley Whitford

Little-known fact outside the deepest recesses of the West Wing fandom: Bradley Whitford, as well as brilliantly playing Josh Lyman, also wrote a couple of episodes, one in Season Six and one in Season Seven. They happen coincidentally (or not) to be two of my favourite post-Sorkin episodes. He’s smart and well-read (that’s another post for another day) and a great writer. And who doesn’t want as much behind-the-scenes West Wing geekery as they can get?

Aaron Sorkin

Speaking of Sorkin, it’s a miracle I’ve got this far down the list without mentioning how desperately I want to read his memoir. I want to know everything about how he came to be such a great writer – and I’m so curious about the Sorkinisms, as to whether the themes that come up again and again are actually themes from his own life.

I asked other Book Riot contributors whose memoirs they would like to read, and there’s what they said:

Marina Oswald Porter

It astounds me that Marina Oswald Porter continued to live in the Dallas area after her first husband, Lee Harvey Oswald, assassinated JFK. The two met in the USSR when Oswald defected in 1961 then moved back to the US. After the assassination, she had Secret Service protection until she testified in front of the Warren Commission. She remarried and had another child in the mid 1960s. In 1989, she became a naturalized US citizen. I have so many questions about what it’s like to be so intimately connected to a tragedy that birthed conspiracy theories, early media circuses like the Warren Commission, and why on earth she stayed in the Dallas area. At age 75, she’s still alive so it’s possible that we will get something once she’s passed.

— Ashley Bowen-Murphy

Sir Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart’s career as a Shakespearean actor and playing the leader of not one, but two great science fiction teams would be enough to make me want to read his memoir. But his personal story is pretty fascinating, too. He grew up the working-class son of an alcoholic father and witnessed his mother being abused. That experience has made him a strong voice for women and  against domestic violence. Plus, if you follow him on Twitter, you can see that he seems like a lot of fun. I imagine his memoir being full of dishy stories about his acting career as well as some moving reflections on his life and how it continues to affect him today.

Teresa Preston

Amy Sherman-Palladino

She is a strong, kick-ass, swearing feminist who is unapologetic about who she is.  In a world where attending college is seen as the only way to fulfill one’s dreams, she managed to learn her craft, perfect it and share it with the world with a high school education.  Her creation of Gilmore girls has changed so many people.  In fact, the characters she created are a part of the reason I came to the realization I could have a child without giving up my identity.  And I named said child after one of her characters.   Through her work, she inspires people to learn more about history, pop culture, music and literature.  In regards to strong women writers in television, we had the privilege of getting Shonda’s story… now I want AS-P’s!

Toni Morrison

I don’t think I have to explain myself.  I know she finds her life story “boring”, but I’m selfish and want to know more about the life of The Mighty ToMo!

— Elizabeth Allen

My dog, Batman

Is this weird? Actually I don’t care if it’s weird, it’s the damn truth. I would love to know what’s going on in his weird little pumpkin brain. 

Rachel Weber

Your call, Publishing Industry. And I bet if you read the comments on here and on Facebook you’ll find some more great suggestions from Book Riot readers.

Yours in excited anticipation,