Reading list

9 must-read celebrity biographies not to be missed

From punk to Princess Leia, and from A (Alan Carr) to Z (Zayn), these are 2016’s best books by and about celebrities, musicians and entertainers.

1. The Princess Diarist 

By Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher – Princess Leia herself – reveals what happened on the set of Star Wars, the iconic film that kickstarted the modern, worldwide blockbuster franchise. Through excerpts from her handwritten journals from the time, she shows us everything in front of the camera, as well as the events that took place behind the scenes. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candour and introspection of a diary, while offering Carrie’s shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.


2. Not Dead Yet 

By Phil Collins

Omnipresent through the 80s and 90s, you may feel you know all there is to know about Phil Collins. But how did he feel when Peter Gabriel left Genesis? What was it like shuttling between London and Philadelphia on Concorde to play twice in the same day at Live Aid? And did he really dump his wife by fax?

As one of only three musicians to sell over 100 million records, both in a group and as a solo artist, Phil Collins has enjoyed huge success. But he has also seen extraordinary lows. This is his candid, witty, unvarnished and brutally honest take on the songs and shows, marriages and divorces, his alcoholism and the true stories behind the tabloid headlines.


3. Zayn

By Zayn Malik

‘This book is my diary of a period that I would like to share with you all. There are things I address in the book that are very personal to me, things that I have never told anyone, things I still find hard to talk about. It’s a part of a journey I’m still on’ - Zayn

After five years of phenomenal success with One Direction, Zayn Malik releases a collection of never-before-seen photos, notes, drawings and song lyrics, as well as his candid feelings on fame, success, music and life, as he launches his solo career. 


4. Set The Boy Free 

By Johnny Marr

From roaming the streets of Manchester to constantly pushing musical boundaries as one of Britain’s best loved guitarists, Johnny Marr tells his very own history of music in this stunning memoir.

When Marr met Morrissey, both a unique songwriting partnership and one of the most iconic bands of all time were formed. But within only four years, tensions within The Smiths led to his departure. However, this was just the beginning for Marr. From forming Electronic and The Healers to recording a raft of musical collaborations and launching his solo career, Johnny Marr finally tells us his own story.


5. Alanatomy 

By Alan Carr

If you loved Alan’s first memoir – Look Who It Is! – then this follow-up, Alanatomy, will take you further into the hilarious and bizarre world of the country’s favourite chatty man. As Alan turns forty and takes stock of his showbiz life over the last ten years, he reveals the story of his rise to fame: the joys, the traumas, the parties, the disappointments. Witty, fun, heart-warming, and bursting with Alan’s trademark honesty, this will entertain every time you pick it up.


6. Testimony

By Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson recounts the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. The adventure starts with his half-Jewish, half-Mohawk upbringing on the Six Nations Indian Reserve and on the gritty streets of Toronto. He reveals the wild, early years on the road with rockabilly legends Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks; the gripping trial-by-fire of ‘going electric’ with Bob Dylan on his 1966 world tour; the formation of the Band and history’s most famous farewell concert, brought to life in Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Waltz.


7. Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol 

By Steve Jones

On the 40th anniversary of the release of the Sex Pistols first record, ‘Anarchy in the UK’, and his infamous confrontation on Bill Grundy’s Today programme, Steve Jones, the Pistols’ founder member, tells his story for the first time.

Covering the Kings Road of the early 70s, through the years of the Sex Pistols, Punk and recording Never Mind the Bollocks, to his self-imposed exile in New York and Los Angeles battling with alcohol, heroin and sex addiction – caught in a cycle of rehab and relapse – Lonely Boy is the story of an unlikely guitar hero who, along with the Sex Pistols, changed history.

Take a punk's tour of London with Steve Jones


8. Spectacles 

By Sue Perkins

Still in mourning for the GBBO? Here’s the solution: get to know Sue Perkins as never before. Deftly written and belly-laugh-out-loud, Sue’s memoir will make you want to be her new best friend.

Described by Red magazine as, ‘like going for a long, slightly drunken lunch with your naughtiest friend’, Sue (undistracted by Mel) picks life apart in a refreshingly honest, warm and hilarious way. Also, she may answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’ and ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ Plus, she introduces us to a psychopathic nun. What more could you want? 


9. Fingers in the Sparkle Jar 

By Chris Packham

An introverted, unusual young boy, isolated by his obsessions and a loner at school, Springwatch and Autumnwatch’s Chris Packham only felt happy in the fields and woods around his suburban home. But when he stole a young kestrel from its nest, he formed a friendship that would change him forever. In his rich, lyrical and emotionally exposing memoir, Chris brings to life his childhood in the 70s, from his bedroom bursting with fox skulls and birds' eggs, to his feral adventures. But pervading his story is the search for freedom, meaning and acceptance in a world that didn’t understand him.


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