The Unexpectedly Raw Catharsis
This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps
Up until a few years ago, Busy Philipps was best known for supporting roles in shows such as Dawson’s Creek and Cougar Town, with a side hustle as Michelle Williams’s BFF and standing red-carpet date. Instagram (and the actor’s wildly entertaining Stories) changed all that, and along with one million followers, Philipps now has a talk show and this memoir. If you follow her on social media, the frank, funny tone of this autobiography will feel familiar (and there’s enough juicy Hollywood insider intel to entertain even a non-fan). What may surprise, however, is just how serious this story gets in parts, and the vulnerability with which Philipps bares her life, writing with heartbreaking candour about sexual assault, her marriage’s rough patches and an abortion she had when she was teenager.
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The Light, Undemanding Page Flipper
My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper
This is not a tell-all. It’s not even a tell-all-that-much. What it is, however, is a loosely connected set of essays and recollections by an actress whose brand is “sunshine with a splash of acidity.” Kemper, currently starring in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, writes cleverly and adroitly about growing up in the Midwest (the book’s title is drawn from her childhood attempts to be the Jane Goodall of St. Louis’s squirrel community), getting her big break as Erin on The Office, not getting the part on Saturday Night Live. It’s a breezy read, but that’s not to say Kemper doesn’t touch on weightier topics. It’s just that when she does get into her struggles with anxiety, burnout and adjusting to motherhood it’s presented obliquely, passingly and always with a punchline.
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The Millennial Female Comedian Riffs On Stuff
I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson
If On The Road and Wild had a literary lovechild, you’d get Abbi Jacobson’s road-trip memoir. (There’s a section on staying at a Bed and Breakfast that has echoes of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, too.) Jacobson, best known for creating and starring in Broad City, embarked on this cross-country solo trip after the end of her first serious relationship, but this is less a travelogue than it is a framing device upon which she pins various musings, anecdotes, the odd drawing and plenty of navel-gazing. The tone is love-or-hate, but if stream-of-consciousness, listicle-heavy prose appeals, there’s plenty of food for thought on career, navigating the world as a woman, and how you’re never too old to have an identity crisis somewhere between Santa Fe, N.M, and Kanab, Utah.
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The Industry Icon Speaks
In Pieces by Sally Field
Sally Field is a two-time Oscar-winner, Hollywood icon … and an unexpectedly gorgeous writer. At 71, Field is publishing her memoir, and it’s an insightful treat for anyone fascinated by mid- to late-20th-century pop culture (from Gidget to The Flying Nun to Norma Rae and Steel Magnolias, Field was there). They’re also a lyrical, thoughtful delight for anyone interested in the endlessly fruitful seam of mother-daughter relationships, and the ways in which generational trauma echoes down the family line, even when you’re a multiple-award-winning movie star.
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The “Can’t Be Boxed In By A Chronological, Chaptered Narrative Structure”
Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz
The publisher describes this as an “experience,” and they’re not wrong, because this is no chronological musical memoir. Instead, it’s a scrapbook of sorts, compiled by the band’s two surviving members, as eclectic, unexpected and irreverent as they are. There are written remembrances, of course, chronicling 30 years of shared history as the biggest selling rap group of all time but there are also mixtapes, maps, sketches and even a cookbook portion … because they’re the Beastie Boys, so why not?
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