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Bono of U2 poses for a portrait in December 1984, Los Angeles. Photo: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

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Take Their Word for It: 14 Starry Memoirs for the Celeb-Obsessed

From silver screen and music icons to beloved TV actors and legendary space travellers, these autobiographies are the talk of the town. / BY Nathalie Atkinson / November 3rd, 2022


As we turn the page on fall, we highlight 14 shiny new autobiographies from luminaries like Paul Newman, Geena Davis, Bono, Matthew Perry, Steve Martin and Captain Kirk, also known as 91-year-old Canadian actor William Shatner.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Number One is WalkingSteve Martin

Those who can’t get enough droll and urbane quips from Charles Haden-Savage, the retired TV star played by Steve Martin on the hit series Only Murders in the Building, will love his new memoir, Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions (Nov. 15). The title refers to how actors are listed on the call sheet in order of importance, numbers that the crew use as shorthand on their walkie-talkies. It’s our hint that this is more of a riff than a straight-up memoir like Martin’s 2007 autobiography, Born Standing Up. His anecdotes and observations from a colourful career – including filming Roxanne in Nelson, B.C. – are illustrated, graphic-novel style, by cartoonist and New Yorker cover artist Harry Bliss.


2Madly, DeeplyAlan Rickman

The Gen-X romantic classic Truly, Madly, Deeply lends its name to this posthumous memoir from its star, Alan Rickman, but the esteemed British actor’s appeal cuts across generations, and genres — from his breakout role as villain Hans Gruber in the 1988 film Die Hard to Severus Snape, the complicated Hogwarts professor in the Harry Potter movies that made Rickman a household name. Since the early ’90s, he kept handwritten journals he intended to publish; at the time of his death from pancreatic cancer in 2016, they totalled 27 volumes. Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman (Oct. 18) condenses his thoughts on friendship, politics and acting into a single volume that editor Alan Taylor promises will be “anecdotal, indiscreet, witty, gossipy and utterly candid,” and includes a foreword by his close friend Emma Thompson.


3The Extraordinary Life of Paul NewmanPaul Newman

The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir (Oct 18). Like the acclaimed recent docuseries, The Last Movie Stars, about Newman and wife Joanne Woodward, it’s based on transcripts of recordings Newman began making more than 30 years ago with a close friend, in preparation for a memoir project he abandoned before his death, in 2008, at the age of 83. Personal territory like the blue-eyed icon’s troubled relationship with his parents, his failed first marriage and the overdose death of his son Scott are covered with frankness, as are the inner workings of his storybook marriage to Woodward (now 92, and living with Alzheimer’s). Edited with the help of the couple’s three daughters, the book also includes previously unreleased family photos.


4Waxing OnRalph Macchio

 In Waxing On (Oct. 18), Ralph Macchio, 60, considers how his 1984 martial-arts movie, The Karate Kid, resonated in pop culture and catapulted the young working-class actor from Long Island, N.Y., to global fame. Karate Kid was one of the first modern franchises: the crane-kick move made by his underdog character Daniel LaRusso was a meme decades before there were memes. Macchio stars in Netflix’s enormously popular continuation series, Cobra Kai, which picks up the story and characters where they are now, and explores the evergreen themes of bullying and mentorship – with much of its original (and now middle-aged) cast. With just enough nostalgia, Macchio’s full-circle perspective on his long-time relationships to the other actors (such as the late Pat Morita, who played on-screen mentor Mr. Miyagi), the franchise and its fandom is refreshingly unpretentious and enthusiastic.


5All Road HomeBryan Trottier

As a lifelong New York Islanders fan, Macchio will want to pick up All Roads Home: A Life On and Off the Ice (Oct. 25), Bryan Trottier’s moving account — written with noted sports journalist Stephen Brunt — of his life in hockey. Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, the son of an Irish Canadian mother and Cree Chippewa Métis father, the seven-time Stanley Cup champion, 66, is Canada’s most decorated Indigenous athlete. He has stories and lessons to share about the challenges, triumphs, famous teammates, coaches and unseen influences (like his high school guidance counsellor) of his storied career.


6Dying Of PolitenessGeena Davis

Through her Institute on Gender in the Media, which examines onscreen representation, outspoken Oscar-winning actor and activist Geena Davis, 66, had been campaigning for gender parity in Hollywood long before the #MeToo movement. But as Davis describes in Dying of Politeness (Oct. 11), hers was a gradual “journey to badassery.” While the Best Supporting Actress tells stories of The Accidental Tourist (and ex-husband Jeff Goldblum), she also chronicles how acting and, in particular, playing strong female characters in movies like Thelma & Louise and A League of Their Own helped shape her character and, now, her life’s work. 


7The Mother of All DegrassiLinda Schuyler

Teaching junior high at a diverse downtown Toronto school provided Linda Schuyler, 74, both the opportunity and fodder to co-create Degrassi, the teen drama that is one of Canada’s most successful and cherished television franchises, spanning five series across four decades (and counting). In The Mother of All Degrassi (Nov. 15), Schuyler talks about surviving a near-fatal car crash, growing up in small-town Ontario, and the making, and various iterations, of the series that counts Drake as an alumnus, all while pushing the inclusive Degrassi message: “You are not alone.”


8Like A Rolling StoneJann S. Wenner

In 1967, San Francisco college dropout Jann Wenner borrowed US$7,500 and bought a few second-hand typewriters to launch Rolling Stone magazine – and pioneered journalism that took rock ’n’ roll music seriously. Jet-set excess and regrets flavour Like a Rolling Stone (Sept. 13), in which Wenner, now 75, reflects on the freewheeling days of the counterculture generation. He’s open about leaving his wife of more than 25 years for a man, his front-row seat at the birth of modern celebrity culture and, in the wake of the financial fallout from the botched reporting of an unproven gang rape at the University of Virginia, regrets around his 2017 sale of the magazine.


9Me and PaulWillie Nelson with David Ritz

“There’s something about my friendship with Paul that reminds me of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn,” Willie Nelson, 89, recently told Rolling Stone. Nelson was talking about one of his signature tunes, which is now the name of a heartfelt memoir. Like his 1985 song, Me and Paul (Sept. 20) is a tribute to the maverick country musician’s enduring friendship with drummer Paul English, who died in 2020. The two began playing together in 1955 and spent decades on the road touring, and the book promises to expand on the misadventures alluded to in the song’s lyrics.


10SurrenderBono

“When I started to write this book, I was hoping to draw in detail what I’d previously only sketched in songs,” U2 frontman Bono, 62, writes of his forthcoming autobiography, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story (Nov. 1). Each of the chapters is named after a U2 song, and systematically explores the inspiration behind many of the group’s indelible tunes, intermingling their origin with the life story of the man who fronted the band formed more than 45 years ago. The Irish singer-songwriter – born Paul Hewson – has led an eventful life, not only as a rock star but as a philanthropist and activist for HIV/AIDS and global anti-poverty, so it tops out at nearly 600 pages.


11My PinupHilton Als

In contrast, Pulitzer Prize-winning theatre critic Hilton Als needs only a few dozen pages to pierce the heart. With My Pinup (Nov. 1), the New Yorker writer deftly transforms a paean to Prince into a lyrical, shape-shifting memoir about his sexuality and desire as a queer Black man. It’s a prism that refracts facets of Prince’s identity and his profound cultural impact.


12No Bootstraps When You're BarefootWes Hall

As one of the celebrity entrepreneurs on the CBC reality show, Dragons’ Den, Wes Hall, 52, is a famous face and business leader. But before his arduous climb up the corporate ladder to the boardrooms of Bay Street and onto prime-time TV, his journey began in a plantation worker’s shack in Jamaica, where his grandmother Julia raised him. No Bootstraps When You’re Barefoot (Oct. 4) recounts how he overcame many disadvantages: being born into poverty, escaping childhood abuse and abandonment, overcoming obstacles faced by newcomers to Canada – then the ones in business – as a Black man. “My aim in describing how I navigated a system created to limit Black achievement isn’t to draw a map for those coming up after me,” the founder of the BlackNorth Initiative (which provides a Racial Equity playbook to help companies increase Black representation) writes in this bracing business autobiography. “It’s to prove that no one should ever have to make the same journey.”


13Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible ThingMatthew Perry

During last year’s HBO Max Friends reunion special, Canadian American actor Matthew Perry revealed the intense anxiety and performance pressures he felt making the series. Now the star of the hit ’90s comedy ensemble goes deeper in Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing (Nov. 1). Billed as an unflinching memoir (“the highs were high, the lows were low”), Perry takes readers behind the scenes of the beloved sitcom, opens up about his long-time struggle with addictions to painkillers and alcohol — and may even revisit his childhood growing up in Ottawa and attending school alongside Justin Trudeau.


14Boldly GoWilliam Shatner

“I get a tingle down my spine when I’m presented with an opportunity to learn something new,” Canadian actor William Shatner writes about his long-time philosophy of saying yes to new possibilities in Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder (Oct. 4). The personal essays reveal a man still engaged and curious about the world at 91, and cover topics from the nature of happiness to his impending mortality. The Montreal-born legend may have won Emmys for Boston Legal, but he’s forever James T. Kirk from the original Star Trek. Science fiction became reality last fall when the planet’s most famous space captain completed a 10-minute voyage on a private Blue Origin capsule to become the oldest person to travel to space. So while there’s a self-deprecating reappraisal of his music (including his much-derided 1968 debut album, The Transformed Man), he also contends with the overwhelming feeling of grief — known as the Overview Effect — that confronted him at the edge of space. You’ll want to splurge on the audiobook: Shatner narrates it himself, with his customary thespian flair.


THE SCROLL

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