Roundup: Memoirs and Other Books by Boston Celebrities
In addition to being No-Shave November, this month is also National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo, a.k.a. at least one of your friends on social media is posting progress reports on how their memoir is going—as if you care! And as if memoirs qualify as novels, which by definition are fictitious…but I digress.
With so many navel-gazers self-publishing their life stories these days, it’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish the cream from the rest of the crop. A relatively safe bet for first-person reads: the celebrity memoir. No, they’re not groundbreaking literature, but a funny anecdote here and a biting quip there are all that’s necessary to pull us out of our fall weather funk.
That said, here are some celebrity memoirs and other books by famous folks to help get you through the season.
Also known as the “Thanks for the good times, NBC” collection.
Amy Poehler, Yes Please
The Burlington native’s new book is full of fun stories ranging from her early days in Boston to what’s next after Parks and Rec. Fans of SNL will love reading about the time Jon Hamm made her pregnancy all about him, and don’t skip the part where she turns into a total Masshole at the Toronto airport, yelling at a guy that he’s not better than her. (It’s true—he’s not!)
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Her second book, Why Not Me?, won’t be out for quite a while, so until then, revisit Kaling’s first book. With stories ranging from her childhood to The Office days, this was a milestone in her path to becoming one of today’s top celeb role models for women and girls. Goodbye, Kelly Kapoor, meet the real Kaling, a whip-smart chick from Cambridge with something to say.
PLUS: Complete your trifecta with a copy of B.J. Novak’s One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, Tina Fey’s Bossypants, or the recently updated history of Saturday Night Live, Live from New York.
Comics and Comedians
Just think: Someday Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien will publish their tell-all memoirs. Leno first, then O’Brien, and then Leno with a second edition, ’cause you know.
Denis Leary, Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid
Actor and comic Denis Leary is one proud Masshole. In 2009 he penned a book about how much we all suck, which is insulting, self-deprecating, and full of truth. Chapter titles in Why We Suck include “Nuns, Tits, Booze and My Mom,” “Matt Dillon Is a Giant Fag,” and “The Pope Is a Pimp.” In 2010, he followed it up with Suck on This Year: LYFAO @ 140 Characters or Less.
Mike Birbiglia, Sleepwalk with Me: And Other Painfully True Stories
Birbiglia’s memories of growing up in the area include attending an all-boys Catholic school, where the kids were from “Shrooz-bray, Wuh-stah, Suh-ehn, Ocks-fuhd, Mil-fuhd, and Le-min-stuh.”
Rob Delaney, Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.
Delaney is known to many as the funny guy on Twitter whose profile pic was of him in a green Speedo. In his memoir, Delaney gives his personal stories about depression, alcoholism, and other darker topics a comedic twist. Be warned: while Birbiglia writes about sleepwalking, Delaney’s book includes stories about bed-wetting.
Read these for a dose of inspiration and soul.
Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help
Sharing the same title as her lauded TED talk, The Art of Asking expands on the idea of accepting help from others. Palmer’s candor shines through in this memoir, which includes plenty of stories from her days busking in Harvard Square as a living statue, “The Eight-Foot Bride.” Out 11/11.
Donna Summer, Ordinary Girl: The Journey
This year, Donna Summer’s memory lived on in the form of several different community efforts to commemorate the late diva, whether it be through a mural, a memorial, or a roller disco at City Hall Plaza. Get to know the Queen of Disco—born in Boston on New Year’s Eve—in her own words in Ordinary Girl, a memoir she wrote in 2003.
Musicians: Boy Bands
In which Aerosmith band members write about sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.
Joe Perry, Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith
Perry gives up the dirt in Rocks, his new memoir that offers us an inside look at the early days of Aerosmith. The legendary guitarist candidly revisits the good times and the bad. He recounts times when he and other bandmates—cough, Steven Tyler—weren’t on the best of terms, albums he wasn’t that proud of, and much more. Read an excerpt.
Joey Kramer, Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top
Of all three Aerosmith memoirs, Kramer’s is perhaps the darkest. The drummer looks back at his life, including struggles with depression, addiction, and ultimately, a nervous breakdown during the height of a successful comeback run.
Steven Tyler, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ’n’ Roll Memoir
Don’t want to miss a thing? Don’t skip Tyler’s own memoir from 2011, which really is peak “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.” Throughout the book, the lead singer famous for “that voice!” and “that hair!” reflects on a very serious medical affliction: L.S.D., or “Lead Singer Disease,” which, yeah, he totally has.
New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters, an authorized biography by Nikki Van Noy
Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith, an oral history by Aerosmith and Stephen Davis
And if you like The Pixies, check out The Good Inn: A Novel by Black Francis and Josh Frank.
— Bonus —
Audiobook lovers, did you know actor and Boston native John Slattery narrates audiobooks? If you want the super-suave Roger Sterling from Mad Men in your ear, consider visiting SimplyAudiobooks.com to download Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, or Chuck Hogan’s The Killing Moon.