Celebrity memoirs are a wonderful way to escape reality and pretend to be great friends with someone you admire. Check out one of these memoirs to fulfill the 2021 Reading Challenge prompt: read a memoir by someone you’d like to meet.

A memoir is a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge.

PS: Want to get into audiobooks but not sure where to start? Memoirs are a great choice, often narrated by the author!

The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek

Since debuting as the host of Jeopardy! in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something like a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. The book combines illuminating personal anecdotes with Trebek’s thoughts on a range of topics, including marriage, parenthood, education, success, spirituality, and philanthropy. The book uses a novel structure inspired by Jeopardy!, with each chapter title in the form of a question, and features dozens of never-before-seen photos that candidly capture Trebek over the years.

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A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office. Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and beyond.

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About Your Father and Other Celebrities I Have Known: Ruminations and Revelations from a Desperate Mother to Her Dirty Son by Peggy Rowe

As her son and Dirty Jobs host Mike rose to fame, Peggy was his biggest fan—who gave motherly advice and constructive criticism, of course. She baked cookies for Mike to take to Joan Rivers for a Christmas party hostess gift, and even wrote fan letters under faux names and mailed them from different cities to Mike’s producer. By the time Mike hits it big, Peggy and her husband John retire to face more adventures, with a lightning strike in their condo, an elderly friend who ate marijuana leaves, and entering into celebrity status by making Viva paper towel and Lee jeans commercials, plus so much more.

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This Is Your Time by Ruby Bridges

Written as a letter from civil rights activist and icon Ruby Bridges to the reader, This Is Your Time is both a recounting of Ruby’s experience as a child who had to be escorted to class by federal marshals when she was chosen to be one of the first black students to integrate into New Orleans’ all-white public school system and an appeal to generations to come to effect change. Ruby’s honest and impassioned words, imbued with love and grace, serve as a moving reminder that “what can inspire tomorrow often lies in our past.” It will electrify people of all ages as the struggle for liberty and justice for all continues and the powerful legacy of Ruby Bridges endures.

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Frontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage & Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere by Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman

From her beginnings as an early blogger, Ree Drummond has become a household name with a passionate following of devoted fans. In this down-to-earth and charming book, Ree shares real-life anecdotes about parenting from her own unique vantage point. While her busy life is constantly full of new surprises, what’s most important to her is family. Over the years she’s learned a few things about balancing motherhood with a million other things, and now she offers the wisdom of her experiences; the ups, the downs, the bumps in the road, the laughter and the tears; in stories brimming with relatable wit and humor.

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Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.

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Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood by Gary Paulsen

His name is synonymous with high-stakes wilderness survival stories. Now, author Gary Paulsen portrays a series of life-altering moments from his turbulent childhood as his own original survival story. If not for his summer escape from a shockingly neglectful Chicago upbringing to a North Woods homestead at age five, there never would have been a Hatchet. Without the encouragement of the librarian who handed him his first book at age thirteen, he may never have become a reader. And without his desperate teenage enlistment in the Army, he would not have discovered his true calling as a storyteller.

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Me by Elton John

In his only official autobiography, music icon Elton John writes about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the film Rocketman. His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade. In Me Elton also writes about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father.

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The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and set him free. But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. As Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next 27 years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, 54 of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

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Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

In her second memoir, Andrews discusses her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, including Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations.

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All book descriptions were borrowed from Goodreads.com.

Learn more about the 2021 Reading Challenge here.

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