Why are public figures so often drawn inwards? After years in the spotlight, years spent performing (frequently in the stories of others), celebrities choose to narrate themselves into being. Too often this telling is meant to broaden their reach or enrich their persona. Other times, it is an honest attempt at making sense of a life lived. Here are our picks of “celebrity memoirs” that far surpass the expectations of the genre.

 by Valerie Silva



Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir

By: Carrie Brownstein


If you’ve come to know and love Carrie through her work on satirical sketch comedy show Portlandia, you’ll be taken a back by the self-deprecating, insecure voice that guides this book. Her memoir makes little mention of her famed show, and instead focuses on her relationship—as guitarist and singer of Sleater-Kinney—to the underground feminist punk-rock movement of the 90s.  Beginning with her birth and ending with the band’s hiatus in 2006, Brownstein’s self-portrait candidly communicates the elusive feeling of emptiness.


My Life on the Road

By: Gloria Steinem


My Life on the Road is the perfect response to anyone who still thinks feminism is outdated—trust me, there are some. Without being prescriptive, Steinem reminds future generations of tried and tested community building tools. Whether she’s rallying at a college campus or getting to know a taxi driver, Steinem shows that face-to-face engagement needn’t be obsolete. It is no coincidence that the journalist/activist’s memoir was the first selection of “Our Shared Shelf,” UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson’s feminist book club. My Life on the Road teaches young feminists how to empathize in an era Steinem considers to be increasingly impersonal.


The Princess Diarist

By: Carrie Fisher


Although best known for her recurring role as Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher has been a writer since before taking on the stage. She’s said of her writing, “I always wrote. I wrote from when I was 12. That was therapeutic for me in those days. […] So writing in a way saved me, kept me company.” One such place where she needed company was on the male-dominated set of the original Star Wars trilogy (Fisher was just 19 when she began working on the film). Her upcoming memoir, The Princess Diarist, set to release in October 2016, draws from journal entries Fisher kept at the time when she rose to stardom.


M Train

By: Patti Smith


Nearly in her seventies, rock and roll genius Patti Smith portrays a life of solitude through the lens of companionship. As with her acclaimed first memoir Just Kids, M Train is inspired by memories of past love. This time, her muse is late husband and best friend, musician Fred “Sonic” Smith. Smith heartbreakingly yearns for him throughout: “Midflight I began to weep. Just come back, I was thinking. You’ve been gone long enough. Just come back. I will stop traveling; I will wash your clothes.” Smith’s lyrical prose animates the ordinariness of her days, which are usually spent with another of her loves: a cup of black coffee.