Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride is a beloved classic of many, and it’s no surprise why. The movie has something for everyone, being packed with pirates, sword fights, castles, giants, princesses, true love, and about a hundred famous lines to quote.
But the road to becoming a classic isn’t easy and at times, it seemed like the movie may not get made at all. It’s that struggle that Cary Elwes, the actor in the lead role of Westley, covers in his memoir. He writes of the fight to get the script’s rights and get a director and actors to sign on, then covers the months of filming and swashbuckling practice, and even covers the years in which the film grew in popularity since its debut over 25 years ago. The book includes pieces of interviews with other members of the cast and crew, including Robin Wright (Buttercup), Mandy Patinkin (Inigo), Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), Billy Crystal (Miracle Max), and Rob Reiner (director), many of whom add their voices to Elwes’s in the audiobook adaptation.
As You Wish is a fantastic read full of fun anecdotes and movie magic which is sure to please any Princess Bride fan.
Neil Patrick Harris’s autobiography is not your regular autobiography—it’s a choose your own adventure book. Written in second person, the book mimics the format of the Choose Your Own Adventure series he grew up reading, where the reader is given choices and asked to turn to a specific page to follow that choice to its conclusion. These include pursuing a career as a teenaged doctor, learning magic, and meeting the man of your dreams—but be careful, some roads lead to death by quicksand!
In this unusual autobiography, Neil covers his childhood, how he first got started in theatre and television, and his time on Doogie Howser, and later, How I Met Your Mother. The chapters on his personal life “behind the scenes” and about his family are my favorite and you can really feel the love Neil feels for his husband and children. The print version gives you the full experience of the format, but the audiobook makes up for this by including recordings of speeches Neil has given, one as a thirteen year old, and one as an adult, receiving a Tony award. The format does make the audiobook tricky, but it was handled well, asking the reader not to turn to a page number, but to “keep listening” or “wait awhile.” Included in both are drink and food recipes, as well as instructions for magic tricks.
Choose Your Own Autobiography is a fun and fascinating detour from the usual memoir fare and it’s done in a way that only NPH could do.
This is a charming narrative of a family claiming a piece of a beautiful French island for themselves. Don Wallace‘s description of the natural beauty of Belle-Ile makes you want travel to this remote island and climb the cliffs to the beach.
Despite the fact that Don and his wife Mindy are just barely scraping by in New York City, they decide to buy a ruined house in a small village on Belle-Ile. Repairing it enough to make it inhabitable takes 8 years and multiple trips to the island. There are ancient village rules for building a sane and moral house that take some serious negotiating. Wallace relays the bonds they form with the village neighbors, his struggle with the French language and their love of surfing with a humorous touch that make The French House an enjoyable read.
Fans of Amy Poehler’s time on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation will be impatient to get their hands on this autobiography. Poehler has written a book that is part memoir and part self-help book. The memoir portions cover her childhood, her time in improv with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and Saturday Night Live, moving to her own show, her friends (Tina Fey and Seth Meyers, among others), her divorce, and her children. Poehler is unflinchingly honest and open in these chapters and I certainly learned a lot about her life.
The other parts of the book offer advice and talk about dealing with things like anxiety and self-doubt, especially when it comes to body image. These pages will resonate with readers and were perhaps my favorite part of Yes Please, though Poehler’s humor throughout makes this an enjoyable read no matter her topic.
For more memoirs of comedians, check out our Stand-Up Memoirs bibliography.
In her graphic memoir, Raina Telgemeier relates her long and painful journey towards a perfect smile. It all began when Raina was in sixth grade, tripped, and lost her two front teeth, injuring the bones above in the process. The years that followed were filled with surgeries, head gear, retainers, and a painful amount of braces as dentists attempted to ultimately move all of Raina’s teeth towards the middle of her mouth. While she deals with all this, Raina is also trying to fit in at school, make friends, and (if she’s lucky) find a boyfriend.
Smile is a hilarious tale of a dental tragedy that is told expertly through the graphic format and Telgemeier’s engaging art, which won her an Eisner award. While this book is aimed at younger readers, the humor within is sure to garner laughs from any age reader, and readers in their 20s and 30s especially will find a lot of nostalgia in the early 90s setting.
Jez, one of our Adult Services Associates, introduced me to this autobiography of U.S. Representative John Lewis written in a graphic novel format. I was skeptical that a graphic novel could adequately portray Congressman Lewis’ accomplishments as a young civil rights leader, but after reading several pages I found myself captivated by the narrative and accompanying illustrations. I learned that Lewis and other members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee used a comic book to educate civil rights workers about nonviolent resistance. It seemed fitting that Lewis would choose to write his autobiography as a graphic novel. My sole complaint is that March: Book One ends quite abruptly, and left this reader anxiously waiting for the next volume of Lewis’ autobiography.
I thoroughly enjoyed Rachel Bertsche’s quest to emulate a different celebrity each month (Jennifer Aniston’s workout regimen, Gwyneth Paltrow’s cooking, etc.) in order to improve her happiness, well-being, etc. In Jennifer, Gwyneth, & Me, the planning and execution of the journey is balanced with her personal struggle with infertility. The author’s engaging voice is humorous and relatable. She includes interesting perspectives on celebrity culture and how it has changed… whether you’re a regular People or have a love-hate relationship with the current obsession with celebrities, Bertsche’s voice will draw you in.
Upon turning 65, Billy Crystal, a comedian, actor, and director, wrote this entertaining, humorous, and sometimes poignant book. It alternates between quips about aging and reflections on his family life and career. In the audio version of Still Foolin’ ‘Em, the chapters on aging seem right out of his stand-up act complete with laugh track. I especially enjoyed the sections on the making of the movies When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers and learning about his friendship with Muhammad Ali. Reading about his early marriage years with Janice through being a grandpa gave me a different perspective on this funny man.
New author Allie Brosh is endlessly hilarious in her new graphic novel, Hyperbole and a Half. The book features many classics from her popular blog of the same title, but these are balanced by brand new content, available only in this new collection.
With her mix of prose commentary and MS Paint-like comics, Brosh tackles many topics and events in her life, ranging from raising her two dogs, her childhood, a goose attack, to her battle with depression. Brosh does an excellent job of tackling tough issues with humor, and will have the reader laughing through even her darkest moments.
Seriously…I’m Kidding is a great memoir covering topics that range from DeGeneres’s life as a talk show host, her life at home, and anything else that pops into her head. No topic is too mundane for Ellen DeGeneres, no doubt due to her humorous outlook on all aspects of life. The audiobook in particular is a great listen, as DeGeneres draws attention to and pokes fun at the format, using audiobooks to their full advantage in a way no other author does.