The Fresh Prince Has a Memoir (And It’s an Instant Best-Seller)
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Some people’s lives are so extraordinary it would feel remiss not to memorialize their stories on the page. When it has a real-life Hollywood ending, even better.
Some of the most captivating celebrity memoirs have been published in the last couple of years, with many making their way to the top of dozens of best-seller lists. The latest to join the ranks is Will Smith, whose new eponymously titled autobiography “Will,” became an instant best-seller upon its release on Nov. 9. In the candid memoir, the multi-hyphenate performer chronicles his epic transformation from an average kid in West Philadelphia to one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood.
Smith’s book follows Kal Penn’s best-selling memoir “You Can’t Be Serious,” released last week, in which the “Harold & Kumar” star reflects on his Hollywood journey, his unexpected tenure as a staffer in Obama’s White House, and most surprising, his eleven-year engagement to his partner Josh.
Smith and Penn are the latest in a long line of celebrities to take their stories to the page. Earlier this year, Billy Porter’s “ Unprotected ,” Stanley Tucci’s “Taste: My Life Through Food” and Dave Grohls “The Storyteller,” also became instant bestsellers following their respective releases.
Here are the most captivating, top-selling celebrity memoirs to read this year.
‘Will’ by Will Smith
Part autobiography, part self-help book, Will Smith’s first memoir is more than just a chronicling of his own inspiring journey from West Philadelphia to rap stardom to Hollywood fame. With the help of Mark Manson, the author of the multi-million-copy bestseller “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” Smith paints a candid portrait of his life in the public eye, along with the genuine wisdom and profound self-knowledge he’s learned on the way.
‘You Can’t Be Serious’ by Kal Penn
Kal Penn is famous for his starring role in the buddy stoner comedy “Harold & Kumar” and has also become a household name during his tenure as a staffer in Barack Obama’s White House. But it’s more personal details that make his brand new best-selling memoir so buzzy online. Most notably, he reveals his eleven-year engagement to his partner Josh and, in doing so, comes out publicly first the first time in the books’ pages. In addition to recounting in heartwarming detail his and Josh’s first dates, he also writes about growing up in suburban New Jersey, his journey to Hollywood and his relationship with politics.
‘Unprotected’ by Billy Porter
Before snagging a Tony and Grammy for his groundbreaking role in Broadway’s “Kinky Boots,” and an Emmy for his inimitable performance in Fox’s “Pose,” Billy Porter was just a young boy in Pittsburgh struggling to fit in. In his first-ever memoir “Unprotected,” already a #1 bestseller on Amazon, Porter unpacks his formative teenage years, during which he tapped into his craft, voice and creativity amidst deep trauma.
‘Taste: My Life Through Food’ by Stanley Tucci
The award-winning actor may be most well known for his roles on the screen but he’s also spent much of his life as an avid lover of food, a journey he chronicles in his debut memoir. The story, written with Tucci’s signature wit, includes anecdotes from his time growing up in Westchester, New York, shooting for foodie films such as “Julie & Julia” and “Big Night” and teaming up with his wife for their huge family meals. Plus, it includes one-of-a-kind recipes passed down to him from his Italian-American family.
‘The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music’ by Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl has lived through some of the most extraordinary experiences as one of the most famous rock-and-roll drummers in the world, and now he’s chronicled his story in his own words. This #1 best-selling memoir details Grohl’s most formative years as a musician, from going on tour with Scream at 18 to his time with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters.
‘Yearbook’ by Seth Rogen
From the beloved comedian known for his iconic roles on “Superbad” and “Freaks and Geeks” comes the New York Times Bestseller “Yearbook.” In the hilarious page-turner, Rogen recounts his wildest and funniest stories, from doing stand-up as a teenager to making awkward conversation with A-listers at star-studded Hollywood parties.
‘Broken Horses’ by Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile ’s insightful autobiography has been heralded as one of the best music memoirs ever written since it came out earlier this year. In “Broken Horses” the Grammy-winning musician tell the stories from her life that helped shape the raw music that continues to resonate with millions of fans around the word. She shares her experience of coming out as gay in her very small, religious town and finding salvation through the music of heroes that have become collaborators, like Elton John and Dolly Parton. In a Variety review, Chris Willman wrote, “The best-written, most engaging rock autobiography since her childhood hero, Elton John, published ‘Me.'”
‘Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood’ by Danny Trejo
Trejo’s remarkable story became an instant best-seller since hitting the shelves earlier this year. The captivating memoir tells the actor’s remarkable story of growing up in an abusive and drug-addicted home and landing in some of the country’s most notorious state prisons before going onto become a recognizable face in some of Hollywood’s biggest shows and movies.
‘Make it Nice’ by Dorinda Medley
Dorinda’s memeable one-liner came out of an episode of “Real Housewives of New York” when she invited the rest of the housewives for a visit at her storied Berkshires estate. When they made a mess of the weekend (as always), she yelled: “Make it nice!” It’s a motto she’s lived by her entire life, journeying through not-so-glitzy experiences before landing the glamorous reality show life we all know and love.
‘All In’ by Billie Jean King
In her first memoir, the tennis champion chronicles her experience as one of the best female athletes in the world, boasting six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, 20 Wimbledon championships and 39 grand slam titles. In her spirited account, she describes making her way to the top in the male-dominated sport and her watershed moment defeating Bobby Riggs as portrayed in the 2017 film “Battle of the Sexes.”
‘Unfinished’ by Priyanka Chopra Jonas
From her childhood in India, growing up as a teenager in the states and then moving back to her home country as a beauty pageant tar, Jonas’s rise to fame has been far from ordinary. In her best-selling memoir, the actress reflects on her challenges and triumphs as she doggedly pursued her calling, while sharing honest stories about her father’s death, her marriage with Nick Jonas and her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
‘Greenlights’ by Matthew McConaughey
A #1 New York Times Bestseller, McConaughey’s memoir and self-proclaimed “approach book” is filled with raucous stories and one-of-a-kind bits of wisdom from the actor’s less-than-average life. His approach to living life is captured in the book’s motto: catching greenlights, or learning how to deal with, and even thrive amidst life’s challenges. You might also enjoy the audiobook version, read aloud by the actor himself and his distinct Southern-style drawl.
‘Just As I Am’ by Cicely Tyson
Tyson died at 96 just months after her memoir was released at the beginning of the year. In the 400-page chronicle, co-written by Michelle Burford, the iconic actress recounts her very full life, from being brought up by immigrant parents in Harlem throughout the 1920s and ’30s, getting pregnant at 17 and eventually making her way to Hollywood as a model and actress. Weaved through all her stories is Tyson’s strength and resilience as she finds success against a backdrop of racism and sexism, serving to inspiring to countless Black creatives that came after her, and also one of the many reasons former President Barack Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
‘The Beauty of Living Twice’ by Sharon Stone
Stone gets brutally honest in this New York Times Bestseller as she opens up about her near-death experience after suffering a massive stroke and losing her career, family and fortune in the process. In the candid pages, she chronicles her efforts to rebuild her life and regain her health, while also taking readers back to a childhood of trauma before making her way in an industry filled with their own types of demons
‘Letters to America’ by Willie Nelson
Following his best-selling memoir “It’s a Long Story,” the beloved country musician and activist is back with “Letters to America” in which he writes patriotic and heartfelt letters to a younger generation, in addition to important figures in his life such as family members, his hero Gene Autry and his guitar “Trigger.”