Celebrity biographies are usually my least-favorite of all. In most cases, either the subjects brag about how fame fell into their laps, or lament about how fame ruined them (although ironically, they have books published about their woes, guaranteed to bring extra fame and fortune). I'm usually sorely disappointed with most biographies and memoirs I read.
That said, I've compiled a small list of the best biographies and memoirs I've read in recent years. In addition to being extremely interesting and intriguing, the books are touching, thought-provoking, and inspiring.
1) How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson (2004)
How to Make Love Like a Porn Star is "Queen of Porn" Jenna Jameson's personal account about how and why she entered the adult pornography industry. Her story is immensely arousing (in more ways than one) and completely engrossing.
Most may assume this book is nothing but trashy, but Jameson herself is anything but. Jameson's professionalism and knack for being entrepreneurial has resulted in her phenomenal success, and her personal account of her experiences as an actress is blunt, honest, and answers all the questions you ever could have had about the porn industry. As a bonus, the book does include some naked and sexual pics that are quite saucy. All in all an amazing autobiography, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star is not a memoir you're likely to forget anytime soon.
2) Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust: A Mother-Daughter Journey to Reclaim the Past by Fern Schumer Chapman (2001)
Motherland sits at a brief 190 pages, and tells the beautiful and touching personal story of Edith Westerfeld, a woman who escaped from the Holocaust in 1937 and was sent to live with distant American relatives.
The writer of this memoir is Edith's daughter Fern, a journalist who relates what she witnesses and experiences when she accompanies her mother back to Germany years after the war to help her overcome her past.
Motherland is fascinating partly due to Fern's expertise as a journalist, and is written in a way that will give you a different perspective on just how deeply people are affected by war years later.
3) That's Not All Folks! My Life in the Golden Age of Cartoons and Radio by Mel Blanc (1988)
Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Merrie Melodies/Looney Tunes cartoon family have always been shrouded by magic and mystery. How did those cartoons ever come to be, and who was the mastermind behind them?
Mel Blanc's memoir provides a detailed look into the life of the genius who created the infamous cartoon voices we've all grown to love. You may not have known, but Mel Blanc achieved his success through hard, persistent work during the most difficult times in our nation's history.
One of the most charming aspects of That's Not All Folks are the pictures in the book of Mel Blanc himself. In every single photograph, Blanc can be seen happy and smiling having achieved his dream and spending time doing what he loved best. Now that's success!
4) Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir: Living with the Legacy of Judy Garland by Lorna Luft (1999)
Me and My Shadows is an inside look at Judy Garland's alcohol and drug addictions as told by her daughter, Lorna Luft. The memoir provides an intimate look into Garland's life, and explains how her fame as a child actress ended up haunting her for the remainder of her life and career.
Although Me and My Shadows has its fair share of melodrama, the book without a doubt reveals the darker side of Hollywood life.
As a bonus, Luft's account of her experiences with dating Burt Reynolds is downright entertaining. Definitely worth the read, especially if you're a fan of Judy Garland.
5) Roasting in Hell's Kitchen: Temper Tantrums, F Words, and the Pursuit of Perfection by Gordon Ramsey (2006)
Roasting in Hell's Kitchen is definitely one of the biggest surprises I've ever come across in the biography genre - mainly because the real Chef Gordon Ramsey is completely different from the ruthless, crazy, short-tempered persona portrayed on television.
Roasting in Hell's Kitchen is an intimate, in-depth look at how Ramsey legitimately rose to the top through hard work, diligence, and dedication. Ramsey's story is utterly motivating, and you might just find yourself being inspired to quit your current day job so you can pursue your life's true passion!
What are your favorite biographies and memoirs? Have you read any that you can't forget? Share your thoughts and comments with us below!