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Prince Harry's book Spare on his life as a member of the royal family has become a best-seller. Photo / AP
Every year, more and more public figures decide it’s time they released a tell-all memoir and join the Celebrity Book Club.
From actors to musicians, former child stars, and even members of the royal family – in 2022, it seemed like everyone was putting their thoughts on paper and sending them off to a publisher.
From Prince Harry’s shocking revelations about Prince William and the broken dog bowl to Friends star Matthew Perry’s admission he was on drugs while filming the show’s iconic final episode, what they wrote made headlines.
Celebrities are already all over our screens and in news stories, we hear them on the radio and see them in magazines – but you can’t deny there’s something about reading about them in their own words that keeps us all hyped for the next book launch.
The owner of Wanaka-based online bookstore Bookety Book Books, Mandy Myles, gave the Herald some insight into this last month amid the hype surrounding Prince Harry’s Spare.
“Celebrity lives are fascinating and we love the unbridled insights we seem to only get through these memoirs,” she said.
So if these tell-all tomes haven’t made it on to your bookshelf yet, here are our top five celebrity-authored books that made an impact last year – and are probably still hot brunch chat topics in 2023.
A post shared by Tom Felton (@t22felton)
Coming in at number 5 on our list, we have Tom Felton’s book Beyond the Wand. The Harry Potter star became a household name after playing villainous teenage wizard Draco Malfoy in the film franchise.
But as he came to terms with that fame and set out for Hollywood to look for more roles, Felton’s life began to unravel and he found himself battling alcoholism. In one of a series of personal essays, he reveals he once escaped from a rehab facility less than 24 hours after checking in.
He eventually went back to rehab, writing it was “one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make”.
“But the very fact that I was able to admit to myself that I needed some help – and I was going to do something about it – was an important moment.”
Elsewhere, Felton reminisces on the magical experience that was filming Harry Potter, as well as the lasting friendships he still has with his co-stars today, making this an essential read for fans of the beloved movies.
As a teenager, Friends star Matthew Perry prayed for fame.
But in his 2022 book Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, he reveals that fame worsened his problems with addiction and substance abuse, leading him into several near-death experiences.
In his memoir, Perry recalls his Friends co-stars confronting him about his drug and alcohol use. While filming the iconic final episode of the show, he was unable to shed a tear, describing himself as feeling “numb”.
“We had made 237 episodes, including this last one, called, appropriately enough, ‘The Last One.’ Jennifer Aniston was sobbing — after a while, I was amazed she had any water left in her entire body. Even Matt LeBlanc was crying,” he continued.
“But I felt nothing. I couldn’t tell if that was because of the opioid buprenorphine I was taking, or if I was just generally dead inside.”
Perry also opens up about his crush on co-star Aniston and gives an insight into what it was really like filming the iconic show. If after all this time you’re still missing Friends, this is the read for you.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to our very own Rugby World Cup champion Ruby Tui.
The Black Ferns Sevens player was inspired to write her memoir when she realised just how few books there are about female sports players in New Zealand, particularly when it comes to our national sport.
In the book, Tui is unflinchingly honest about her unstable childhood and experiences with alcohol and drug abuse. She also details her path to becoming a Black Fern and Olympic medallist, from gruelling training to working multiple jobs to fundraise so she could play in international Sevens tournaments.
The book is a testament to her determination – and just weeks after its release last September, it sold out in several major bookstores, with publishers Allen & Unwin ordering a reprint to meet the huge demand. And with Tui and the Black Ferns taking home the win in the Rugby World Cup last year, the timing couldn’t have been better.
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The title of Jennette McCurdy’s book is a shocking one – but between the covers is a harrowing account of her experiences of the dark side of child stardom.
McCurdy began acting at the age of 6 and rose to fame on iCarly, which ran on Nickelodeon from 2007 to 2013. But in the book, she reveals it was her abusive mother who was determined for her to find fame and controlled every aspect of her life, from what she ate to who she saw – and that showrunners at the network behaved inappropriately towards her and forced alcohol on her.
In the book, she claims that Nickelodeon offered her US$300,000 to stay silent about what happened to her during her time with the network. But as soon as it was published, it became a New York Times bestseller.
McCurdy writes, “The second the child star tries to outgrow and break free from their image, they become bait for the media, highly publicised as rebellious, troubled, and tortured, when all they’re trying to do is grow.
“That’s what happens when you’re a child star. Child stardom is a trap. A dead end.”
It’s not an easy read, but it is an important one – and despite the heavy subject material, McCurdy manages to inject moments of humour along the way.
Yes, I know you’re probably sick of hearing about Prince Harry’s “bombshell book” – so am I. But it’s impossible to leave Spare off this list as it’s still making headlines.
Granted, it didn’t come out until January 10 – but given that its release was delayed due to the drama surrounding the Sussexes’ Netflix series, it counts for 2022. Just a week after its release, Spare had sold 3.2 million copies worldwide, making it likely to rank among the bestselling memoirs of all time.
Written by famed ghostwriter J.R. Moehringer, the book gives us an insight into Harry’s experience of growing up in the royal institution and his search for his own identity.
One moment you’re reading a gritty account of his time in the army and in Afghanistan, then you’re plunged into what reads like a romance novel as he gushes over his first dates with Meghan Markle. And who could forget his shocking claims about how he was treated by his brother, Prince William, his father – now King Charles – and his stepmother Camilla?
Overall, it’s a portrait of a man who’s still processing the traumatic death of his beloved mum – and whatever your opinion of Harry himself, it will make you stop and think about how the public and the media treats members of the royal family.
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