Spilling the Celebri-tea: 22 Must-Read Celebrity Memoirs

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Flatiron Books, publisher of Pageboy by Elliot Page

The Oscar-nominated star shares his story in a groundbreaking and inspiring memoir about love, family, fame ― and stepping into who we truly are with strength, joy and connection.

Once upon a time, it was much harder to learn about your favorite celebrities. They didn’t have Instagram accounts, or podcasts, or newsletters you could sign up to receive. Way back when, you couldn’t even record their shows or movies. You had to move heaven and earth to watch them when they aired or catch them on a talk show. Even a celebrity memoir was an uncommon occurrence until the last few decades. Now, many of our beloved public figures have written a book or two about their lives. So many in fact, it’s hard to decide what to read. That’s why we have this list of 22 must-read celebrity memoirs!

From some of the biggest musicians and movies stars, to tales of struggle and hardship, to blinding fame, and a nepo baby or two, this list has it all! These 22 memoirs are heartfelt tales from the people who lived them. Even the most beloved, famous public figures have secrets, and they’ve decided to share them with the world, and you don’t even have to sell a kidney to Ticketmaster to read them. There’s some tea spilling, sure, but not too much. Because as they say in show biz, always leave them wanting more…or at least, save enough material for another book.

22 Must-Read Celebrity Memoirs

cover of Finding Me by Viola Davis; black and white photo of the author

Finding Me by Viola Davis

The award-winning Davis, who is now an EGOT after winning a Grammy for the audio version of this book, tells the tale of her success and hard work. Growing up in poverty in Rhode Island, Davis dreamed of acting, and made her way to New York, where she achieved her dreams.

cover of Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher; photo of Princess Leia with her head down on the bar, holding a martini glass

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

The daughter of famous parents, Fisher found fame in a role in what would be one of the most successful film franchises of all time. But her road to happiness was filled with speed bumps and pot holes, and here she tells of the highs and lows of stardom with great honesty and humor.

cover of Acid for the Children by Flea; photo of Flea as a young man smoking a joint

Acid for the Children by Flea

Even if you’re not a fan of Flea’s band, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, this is a fascinating story of an unusual, rebellious young man who made his way from Australia to the United States, and then to stadiums all over the world. (Plus a few acting jobs here and there.)

cover of Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox; black and white photo of the author

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox

This is the first of three books Fox has written about his life, his career, and his daily life with Parkinson’s disease. It’s told with his now-famous optimism and ability to find joy and positivity in the every day. Read this, then check out the excellent new documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.

Book cover of Ten Steps to Nanette- A Memoir Situation by Hannah Gadsby

Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby

Award-winning comedian Gadsby tells stories about their life that they first made famous in their stage act Nanette. Gadsby is known for their comedy, but in Nanette, they took their storytelling to a new level when they brilliantly captivated and moved audiences as they discussed the sexual assault and homophobia they experienced as a young person.

cover of Personal History by Katharine Graham; black and white photo of the author

Personal History by Katharine Graham

This is one of the most celebrity successful memoirs, even if it is not as well-known today. Graham’s father was a millionaire who bought the Washington Post at a time when the paper was floundering and made it a success. Graham gives a fascinating account of her life, as well as her time running the paper after her father, and how she passed it along in her family.

cover of In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero; photo of the author dressed in black and holding pink cotton candy

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero

When Guerrero was 14, her parents were deported to Colombia for being undocumented, and she was left alone in the United States. This is her story of loneliness and triumph, and how she went on to achieve her dreams of success, appearing in such hits as Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. She also works with families who find themselves in a similar immigration situation.

cover of Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn; white with black text; no image

Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn

This memoir was a HUGE deal when it came out. Hepburn was one of the biggest actresses of her day — and also one of the most secretive. She was an award-winning star of the silver screen, and also the lover of actor Spencer Tracy. Here Hepburn tells tales of her fame and her unending love for Tracy, as well as her thoughts on fame and aging.

cover of Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight; black with gold font and the red nike swoosh

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

The spotlight-shy founder of the shoe company Nike set tongues wagging (that’s a shoe pun) with this memoir about the company’s start. Well, not really wagging. It’s quite humble for such a huge business. And even after almost a decade, this memoir is so widely revered that it has a 4.47 average on Goodreads with over 258,000 ratings. You can also now see Knight portrayed by Ben Affleck in the new movie Air.

cover of The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jenifer Lewis; photo of the author in red against a purple background

The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jenifer Lewis

This is the first of two great memoirs from Lewis, the award-winning actress who has logged over 300 performances on stage and screen. Lewis is probably most recently well-known for her role in Blackish, but she honestly and joyously tells the story of her battles and triumphs before she made it to the top.

cover of I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette Mccurdy; photo of author in a pink dress holding a pink urn

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

And this is possibly the most talked about memoir of the last few years. McCurdy gives a frank recounting of her time growing up as a child star with a mother battling mental illness while working in an industry that still fails to protect its child workers. It’s horrifying and heartbreaking, but also an amazing feat of storytelling.

cover of Becoming by Michelle Obama; photo of the author in an off-the-shoulder white dress

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s first of two books (so far) is an inspirational and wonderful tale of her childhood and education, her life as a mother, her charity work and activism, and the time she spent as the First Lady in the White House.

cover of You Can’t Be Serious by Kal Penn; photo of the author in a baby blue tuxedo shirt with several hands coming in from the side fixing his hair, clothes, makeup, etc

You Can’t Be Serious by Kal Penn

And speaking of the White House, the hilarious Penn took some time out from his acting career to spend some time working for the Obama administration. He details his D.C. exploits, his adventures on the road to Hollywood, and how he met his husband.

cover of Unprotected: A Memoir by Billy Porter; headshot of the author in a b&w striped shirt, with the title in rainbow font

Unprotected: A Memoir by Billy Porter

Here is another fantastic memoir about escaping hardships to become a legendary star. Porter has a horrible childhood in Pittsburgh, where he was bullied and abused. He went on to be an award-winning star of stage and screen, surviving against the odds and the haters, and becoming one of our most beloved actors working today.

cover of It's Always Something by Gilda Radner; photo of the author

It’s Always Something by Gilda Radner

Radner was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, and was something of America’s sweetheart. In one of the first celebrity memoirs to do so, she let fans in to her personal life and discussed the ovarian cancer she was fighting at the time. Published just a few months before Radner died, she talks about her childhood, her career, her husband Gene Wilder, and the cancer-support group she worked with.

cover of Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes; light blue with gold text and small image of gold person jumping in the air at the top

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

And this is another memoir-slash-inspirational advice book. Rhimes, the brains behind such memorable media as How To Get Away with Murder, Bridgerton, and Grey’s Anatomy, talks about how she decided to spend one year saying yes to everything that came her way. And how saying yes changed her life for the better and taught her a lot about herself.

cover of Life by Keith Richards; black and white photo of the author, with one hand covering his face and wearing a skull ring

Life by Keith Richards

The guitarist and founding member for one of the most famous bands in the world, The Rolling Stones, gets personal in these pages. When you’re in one of the biggest bands in the world, you have a lot of stories to tell. You have seen some stuff. These are a few of his fascinating tales.

cover of This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe; photo of the author standing in a blue and yellow floral print dress and pink sneakers

This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

This memoir by Academy Award-nominated actress Sidibe is a joy to read. From her early job as a phone sex operator to her award-nominated role in Precious, Sidibe talks about facing and defeating an industry not made for people who look like her. She is a scream, but will also squeeze your heart.

cover of Just Kids by Patti Smith; black and white photo of Smith and Mapplethorpe

Just Kids by Patti Smith

This is Smith’s first memoir, about her time as a rebellious young woman who left for NYC with her then-boyfriend, the soon-to-be famous photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Her story of two young kids with big dreams and a lot of love struggling to make it in a city that used to have much more support for starving artists won the National Book Award for nonfiction.

cover of I, Tina: My Life Story by Tina Turner; full-color photo of the author wearing a sparkly silver dress and singing into a microphone

I, Tina: My Life Story by Tina Turner

And of course we must include something from the legendary Turner, who sadly just left us. This is her incredible tale of growing up in poverty as Anna Mae Bullock, finding success as a singer, her relationship with the abusive Ike Turner, and finally achieving a monumental solo career. (It is also the basis for the film What’s Love Got To Do with It?)

cover of Just as I Am by Cicely Tyson; black and white photo of the author with a shaved neck and a high-necked dress with a decorative jeweled collar

Just as I Am by Cicely Tyson

Tyson is a much-lauded, award-winning actress whose career spanned several decades. In Just As I Am, she recounts the highs and lows of stardom, and her belief in herself and her refusal to compromise, leaving behind an amazing body of work that has inspired future generations.

cover of Crying in H mart by Michelle Zauner; cover is red with noodles hanging from chopsticks to form a letter 'H'

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

And in another of the most popular memoirs of the last few years, Zauner, from the band Japanese Breakfast, talks about her life, starting with her relationship with her mother. This book originally started out as a popular essay, which is about, yes, crying in H Mart after the death of her mother. But she also discusses the food and travel they shared, her feelings of not belonging in either the U.S. or her family’s home in Seoul, and more. It’s a heartfelt punch to the feels.

For more celebrity memoirs, check out Tell Me More: Ten 2022 Celebrity Memoirs You Might Have Missed and 40+ Celebrity Books You Should Read This Year.