memoirs that won’t send you to sleep

by Rebecca Varcoe

memoirs 1

Memoirs fell in to two categories for me growing up. The first was various copies of Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, carried around by young men who felt very clever for knowing about the brains behind the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ profound lyrics. The second was autobiographies by assorted cricket and/or football players that you can find on the shelves of dads and grandpas Australia-over.

If tales of sporting greatness in the ’70s aren’t your cup of tea, then perhaps you’d like to give these life stories a go.

Bonkers, Jennifer Saunders

Some know her as Edina Monsoon from Ab Fab, some know her from her days performing with Dawn French as one half of French and Saunders. Her three daughters know her as something different, and her husband, ex-Young Ones star Adrian Edmondson, knows her as something else altogether. Which is the weird and cool part of reading the memoir of a public figure – you get a glimpse into the very private part of them that’s kind of really none of your business. As funny as you’d expect, and touching and interesting and fun, Bonkers is a great place to start your memoir collection.

Small Acts of Disappearance, Fiona Wright

Shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize, Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of essays on hunger that work to examine Wright’s battle with anorexia. It’s heavy stuff, but it’s important stuff, and Wright’s personal style (which I’ve read her describe as sitting somewhere between her poetry and training in journalism) makes for a pretty incredible read.

Bossypants, Tina Fey

It was a given this had to be on the list, right? If you have already read Fey’s memoir, read it again. If you haven’t, where have you been? In her memoir, the queen of comedy bestows upon us some great advice, anecdotes from her time working on 30 Rock, and just general insight into her life that makes you want to be her best mate even more than you already did.

The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography, Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry has had a life and career that would strike envy into the hearts of most writers and performers – so it makes sense that The Fry Chronicles is just one of three memoirs that the legend has penned. This one looks at his college years and the start of his career. Think rainy afternoons writing sketches with Hugh Laurie, while living on campus at Oxford. Dreamy.

Woman of Substances, Jenny Valentish

Just to keep you flipping back and forth between light and heavy, throw Jenny Valentish’s Woman of Substances into the mix for an in-depth look at addiction. Valentish uses her own experiences with addiction to look at her life, as well as insights from neuroscientists, researchers and other addicts. A great and necessary read from an Aussie writer.

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life, Steve Martin

Steve Martin is one of my favourite dudes and this is one of my favourite books. Did you know Steve Martin is one of the most successful stand-up comedians of all time? I mainly knew him from his turn in one of my favourite childhood movies The Three Amigos, but Born Standing Up taught me all about his life pre-big and small screen fame. Read it for tales of working at Disneyland, trying really hard and failing at comedy, dealing with anxiety, and finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

From addiction to comedy and back again, these babies have got to make for better reading than the grandpa’s dusty copy of Ricky Ponting’s autobiography, don’t they?

Pretty pic by Ben Wildeboer.

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