Books by Famous Celebrities

Book Pile

Mere Anarchy (2007) by Woody Allen

Mere Anarchy is Woody Allen’s collection of essays. It compiles a series of 18 stories composed of a cast of characters that only Allen could have conjured up. Published by Ebury Press on July 5, 2007, it also happens to be Allen’s first collection in 27 years since his three hilarious classics, Getting Even (1971), Without Feathers (1975), and Side Effects (1980).

Since Allen’s popularity is tied to how people view him, it’s important to consider how his public image has evolved and how that could impact the way people respond to his work. For half a century, Allen has been producing hilarious prose. And much like his films, his comedic writings have gone through several iterations of tone and subject matter, but he has maintained a literary style that has withstood the test of time.

Shopgirl (2000) by Steve Martin

Mirabelle Buttersfield is a lonely woman from Vermont who moved to Beverly Hills to work as a sales associate at Neiman Marcus. While being chased by the lethargic slacker Jeremy, she tries to develop a connection with the womanizing millionaire from Seattle, Ray Porter. Even though Porter doesn’t want a long-term commitment, Mirabelle still attempts to connect with him while the narrative explores their different motivations as the story progresses.

This novella by Steve Martin about a complicated love triangle involving a bored saleswoman, a successful businessman, and an aimless young guy has been adapted for the screen, written and produced by Martin himself, directed by Anand Tucker, and released in 2005, starring Claire Danes as Mirabelle and Jason Schwartzman as Jeremy, with Steve Martin playing the role of the wealthy businessman Ray Porter.

Palo Alto (2010) by James Franco

Palo Alto is a collection of interconnected short stories by the American actor, writer, and director James Franco about California teenagers who try out bad things and have trouble with their families. It offers glimpses of life in Palo Alto as experienced by a group of delinquent adolescents attempting to find their own voices and identities while exploring the world as they see it.

In 2014, the book was adapted into a low-budget film by Gia Copolla, who also directed, with Franco playing a character in one of the book’s stories. The soundtrack of the movie is exquisitely integrated with the action of the characters, contributing to the film’s mood of reflective melancholy and languor.

The Hottest State (1996) by Ethan Hawke

This short novel by Ethan Hawke is his first, and it follows the story of a young actor named William from Texas who moves to New York and has an unfortunate romance with a singer named Sarah. William is a few months away from his twenty-first birthday and set to act in his first movie when he meets Sarah at a pub aptly named the Bitter End.

The novel is semi-autobiographical, with Hawke representing the actor who grew up in Texas (the hottest state) before migrating to New York and Hollywood to find his calling (also the hottest state in one’s life, if ever there was one). Hawke wrote and directed the cinematic adaptation of the novel in 2006.

Greenlights (2020) by Matthew McConaughey

Greenlights is a captivating blend of autobiography and life guide, where Matthew McConaughey artfully expounds his philosophy of seizing the opportunities that life presents. He elucidates on the art of recognizing and even fabricating those moments when life gives you the green light and you effortlessly sail towards triumph as you pursue your fate.

Some have dubbed it a memoir, although McConaughey prefers the term “approach book” to characterize it. McConaughey said he looked through his journals and diaries to be ready for writing because he has been doing it since he was a youngster. Hence, it is an approach book that compiles McConaughey’s musings from 35 years of journaling and even more years of collecting bumper stickers. He did not have a co-author on Greenlights, although his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, provided some inspiration.

Memorable Quotes

I am greatly relieved that the universe is finally explainable. I was beginning to think it was me. As it turns out, physics, like a grating relative, has all the answers. The big bang, black holes, and the primordial soup turn up every Tuesday in the Science section of the Times, and as a result my grasp of general relativity and quantum mechanics now equal Einstein’s—Einstein Moomjy, that is, the rug seller.

Page 127, Strung Out, Mere Anarchy by Woody Allen

When you work in the glove department at Neiman’s, you are selling things that nobody buys anymore.

Opening sentence, Shopgirl by Steve Martin

I was warm and drunk. Inside, I felt things flow through me and I thought about cartoon rabbits and about William Faulkner and how he drank all the time. I thought that someday I would be him.

Page 152, Tar Baby, Palo Alto by James Franco

The Hottest State

Fort Worth is the hottest state I know
My dad lives there
My grandma too
Most every grandparent
except a few.
I like it there
Boy is it hot.

Page 180, The Hottest State by Ethan Hawke

It was a time when I not only cruised through more greenlights because I had eliminated more red and yellow ones, but a time when I created more greenlights to travel through. A time when past reds and yellows finally turned green, as old hardships revealed themselves as good fortune, a time when the greenlights beamed brighter because I gave them more power to shine. I did what I needed, I lived to learn. I thrived.

Page 287, Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Further Reading

When Celebrities Write Novels by Book Marks, Literary Hub

Friday essay: why literary celebrity is a double-edged sword by Siobhan Lyons, The Conversation

Let’s Get Lit-erary: The celebrity venture into literature by Joanne Biju, The Daily Campus

Candid Portraits or Ghostwritten Fluff: The History of the Celebrity Book by Jeffrey Davies, Book Riot

Books By Celebrities: Why Do They Suck? by Sonali Jain, Book Written

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