Celebrity Bios: Hot or Not?

Hello, my name is Natalie and I read celebrity biographies.  (Hello, Natalie!)

A genre that often reads like fiction is the celebrity bio/autobiography.  Some readers eschew this genre because they aren’t interested in celebrities.  Others avoid it because the writing can be appallingly bad.  Still others know that buying these books hurts real writers because the publishers pay obscene sums of money for the celebrity tell-alls, leaving virtually no budget for the rest of the authors.  All of those reasons are valid yet I still find myself reading these books.  

I’ve read more than a few celebrity bios over the last year or so–14 readily come to mind.  A few were really good and rest were abysmal.  I’m not a celebrity watcher–we don’t even have television at my house–yet the list below is damning evidence proving my mini-addiction to the genre.  I’ve blazed through books about:

  • Sidney Poirtier
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Rosie O’Donnell
  • Martha Stewart
  • Tori Spelling 
  • Michael Hutchence (of the Aussie band INXS)
  • John Steinbeck
  • William Shatner
  • Eric Clapton
  • Patty Boyd
  • Paula Deen
  • Harper Lee
  • Madonna
  • Maureen McCormick (Marsha Brady)

Has your opinion of me plummeted?  My only defense (aside from the insanity plea!) is that this genre is my guilty pleasure!  I don’t read tabloid or celebrity magazines but can’t quite keep my paws off of these.  

When I go to the library to borrow these books, it’s like I’m renting a dirty movie or something.  I put them in the middle of a huge pile of literary masterpieces, hoping to hide the shame that is the tell-all bio!  I’m not sure why I even read these books when most are a monumental waste of my time and aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.  Curiosity, maybe? 

So, is it only me or do you read this genre too?  Did you also remove the dust jacket while reading sTORI Telling by Tori Spelling, or was that just me? 

39 Comments

  • At 2009.06.07 09:16, Nicole said:

    I haven’t read that many books about celebrities. Does Obama count? In that case, maybe a few. I did have a mondo biography of John Lennon at one point, but I never made it through reading it and not sure if I still have it.

    • At 2009.06.07 09:24, Positively Present said:

      haha, love the opening line to this post. i do not read celebrity bios mostly because i don’t read bios in general. however, i do want to check out michael j. fox’s new book since it related to positivity. let me know if you read it!

      • At 2009.06.07 09:25, Positively Present said:

        opps, i meant to say “let me know how you liked it” … was the michael j. fox book worth the read?

        ps – love that you’re being open about what you read. i love reading and i think reading ANYTHING (even if it’s, like, the horoscope in the paper) is awesomeness.

        • At 2009.06.07 10:20, Molly said:

          I must admit that I am a closet admirer of these books. I have so many other unread books on my shelves that I have yet to give into the temptation to read these, but I am absolutely fascinated with how the “other half” lives.

          • At 2009.06.07 10:38, Hayden Tompkins said:

            I’m not one to talk. My guilty pleasure is Harlequin Romance! I think the biography of Madonna would probably be FASCINATING.

            • At 2009.06.07 10:52, Ti said:

              Once in awhile I will pick up a celeb bio. I did read sTori Telling and I did remove the dust jacket! I like her show (Tori and Dean) so reading the book was a natural thing to do. I will probably read MommyWood too but I’m not running out to get it.

              For my guilty pleasure I sometimes pick up thrillers which is normally not my thing at all but I need the distraction sometimes.

              • At 2009.06.07 12:06, vivienne said:

                I did read Tori Spelling and no I didn’t take off the dust jacket. I made a point of telling everyone I read it, because I thought it was fab. I am looking forward to reading her next book Mommywood and I am not ashamed to admit it!
                There I am exposed!

                • At 2009.06.07 13:11, zhisou said:

                  I’ll read a celeb bio (celebio?) if I like the celeb – I read books on Miles Davis (autobio I think) and John Lennon (The Lives of …), can’t think of anyone else I’d call a celeb – more political figures (Mandela, Clinton, Obama etc.)

                  • At 2009.06.07 14:15, Literate Housewife said:

                    I’m not a huge celebrity bio reader, but Melissa Gilbert’s memoir had me curious and tempted at Barnes & Noble Friday night. Great topic today!!!! I probably would remove the cover jacket if I was reading something by Tori Spelling – then again, it might make a good conversation piece. You never know when or how you might meet a new friend.

                    • […] bargain book buy for me someday.  Speaking of celebrity memoirs, Nat @ Book, Line, and Sinker has a fun post up about that today.  Check it […]

                      • At 2009.06.07 14:55, mari said:

                        The only one I have ever read is The Duchovny Files! This would have been back in the 90’s. It was a 21st birthday gift from my college roommates who knew about my obsession with all things X-Files especially Mulder. 🙂

                        • At 2009.06.07 15:45, Belle said:

                          I love celebrity autobiographies! I’m like you – we don’t have television at our house (although we do like watching an entire series on DVD as a family sometimes). I don’t know half the names of the major celebrities, but if they were to write a memoir, I’d probably add it to my list 🙂 I just got Julie Andrews’ Home in audio. And I was actually eyeing Candy Spelling’s latest …!

                          • At 2009.06.07 16:08, debbie said:

                            I haven’t read any but that certainly does not make my opinion of you plummet! We all need our relatively mindless pleasures. Good for you:)

                            • At 2009.06.07 18:27, J.C. Montgomery said:

                              I’m not that big on celebrity bio’s, but there are a couple on that list that I would read if I came across them by chance.

                              And no, I don’t think any less of you. Unless of course you don’t move Harper Lee to another part of your list. How in the world could you put her name right next to Madonna’s? >.<

                              Now don't go and make me reach through the interwebs and smack you one. Put her up there with Steinbeck where she belongs. 😉

                              • At 2009.06.07 18:35, bermudaonion said:

                                My mom loves celebrity bios, too. The only one I’ve read on your list is Clapton and I didn’t think too much of it.

                                • At 2009.06.07 19:25, SuziQoregon said:

                                  I rarely read celebrity bios – but I did listen to the audio version of The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown 😉

                                  My guilty pleasure is Clive Cussler – the Dirk Pitt series, and the Kurt Austin series. Just fun!

                                  • At 2009.06.07 20:22, Care said:

                                    I’ve got a bio on Gregory Peck! Does that count? Otherwise, I love bios but I usually only read abt people already dead.

                                    • At 2009.06.07 22:56, Kerri said:

                                      I’ve picked up the Tori Spelling book and made myself put it back down twice now. I know the third time I pick it up I will read it!!

                                      • At 2009.06.07 22:46, bybee said:

                                        I have a memoir by Mary Tyler Moore that’s been waiting to be read for about a year. And I picked up Anderson Cooper’s book when I was last at home.

                                        I’m with Care: I’d rather read bios about people already dead. Love that definitive ending of the story.

                                        • At 2009.06.08 10:55, Becky Workman said:

                                          I’ve never jumped into this genre, but I’m dying to read both Michael J. Fox’s book and also the new one about Bret Michaels (lead singer for Poison!)

                                          I’ll let you know what I think!

                                          • At 2009.06.08 11:44, Christa said:

                                            I’m just wondering which ones you thought were worth reading? Is the Michael J. Fox one any good because I love him!

                                            • At 2009.06.08 13:29, Megan said:

                                              Admittedly, I don’t read much non-fiction… I’m not quite sure why, and I am trying to change that! But there is totally no shame in reading celebrity bios — I’ve devoured a few myself! For a variety of reasons, I’m really a celebrity gossip fiend… and I devour anything I can get my hands on regarding the likes of guys like John Mayer and James McAvoy! 🙂 If they had bios, you can bet I’d be tearing through them!

                                              • At 2009.06.08 14:00, Devourer of Books said:

                                                Does a bio of Steinbeck really count as a celebrity bio? It seems to me that stuff about writers isn’t in the same category as stuff about tv/movie personalities and musicians.

                                                • At 2009.06.08 14:54, Rebecca said:

                                                  I love reading memoirs and biographies, though I haven’t read many on celebrities. My mom has Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox, which I plan to read, and I want to read Sidney Poirtier. I have read Rosie O’Donnell’s Find Me (not that great, to me) and Enchanted, which is about Audrey Hepburn (very good).

                                                  • At 2009.06.08 15:30, Karen said:

                                                    I do read these bio’s every now and then but only if I am really interested in the person they are about – and if they are NOT written by the celebrity themselves!!

                                                    • At 2009.06.08 21:06, Ruth @ Bookish Ruth said:

                                                      My mom LOVES celebrity biographies. She doesn’t read that much, but give her a biography of one of her favorite stars and she’s as much of a bookworm as I am. I need to pick up the new Paul Newman bio for her.

                                                      • At 2009.06.09 11:26, Kerri @ Bookends said:

                                                        Natalie – I’m so glad you enjoyed the End of the Alphabet for your Summer Reading Challenge. Pheww. Now the pressure is off me 😉

                                                        • At 2009.06.09 11:24, Jenners said:

                                                          You are just so funny! I just love your blog!

                                                          Anyway, I can honestly say that I haven’t read any celebrity biographies/autobiographies… BUT I do have a subscription to USWeekly that is my guilty pleasure. I love how you try to hide them like it is shameful! Whatever floats your boat!

                                                          I just don’t see why you read them if they are pretty bad though!

                                                          • At 2009.06.09 15:03, Biblibio said:

                                                            I think it’s rather strange to compare a biography on William Shatner to biographies about Steinbeck, who is as we all know an incredibly established writer. And not a celebrity by any means. Famous, yes. But in no way a celebrity.

                                                            • At 2009.06.09 21:53, Lisa said:

                                                              I don’t usually read them but I love that you hide celebrity books like they were porn!

                                                              • At 2009.06.10 20:09, thedailydish said:

                                                                I love nonfiction, but not these! Sorry Curl!

                                                                • At 2009.06.14 15:36, Marie said:

                                                                  I’ve been known to read them now and then. I read Dog the Bounty Hunter’s autobiography last year, and I’m looking forward to Kathy Griffin’s!

                                                                  • At 2009.06.15 13:22, chartroose said:

                                                                    I don’t read celebrity biographies, but only because I have a million other books in my TBR pile. I have David Cassidy’s sitting here. Do you want it?

                                                                    I’m sure he’s a total narcissist, but he he had a rep as a stud, too. I know that his brothers called him donk because of his, ummm, size. I even heard that he had sex with a groupie THROUGH a chain link fence. Ouch!

                                                                    If you’d like it, e-mail and I’ll send it your way.

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