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While you wait for The Woman In me

Britney Spears has been a household name since she was a child. However, most of us don’t really know much about her life beyond the headlines. In her memoir The Woman in Me Spears tells the story of her life from her perspective. Full disclosure, I don’t listen to much of her music. We were born in the same year and her hits have been part of the soundtrack of my life since high school.

Recently, I cheered for her as she brought her family to court to speak her truth and take back control of her life. Honestly, I thought I would be content to hear about this book from others and read some excerpts. However, I heard so many good reviews from other readers that I decided to check it out.

Connecting with Britney

I was surprised by how hard Spears's story hit me, right from the first chapter. She started out as a little girl in Louisiana who loved to be outside and loved to sing. Spears was talented in music and dance. From a young age she took classes several times a week to improve. She grew up with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty at home. Early on she learned performing for others brought her positive attention. Spears remembers wanting people to look at her, and love her, and also wanting to hide away and be alone. She has continued to struggle with those opposing wishes throughout her life.  

Britney Spears the pop star is a character in a 24/7 performance. However, Britney Spears the daughter, sister, friend and mother is a real person who has been through the wringer. I really related to passages where she described the joy and exhaustion of young motherhood, or the gut-wrenching pain of being betrayed by people she trusted. There were times I felt like I was having a good cry with a friend who just needed to let it out. Verdict: if you enjoy personal stories of triumph over challenges, you’ll find plenty to admire in The Woman in Me

Celebrity memoirs are incredibly popular right now, so you have a lot to choose from if you want to read more true stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Here are some top picks recommended by our staff and community of readers over and over again.  

Going There by Katie Couric

going thereIn this memoir, the iconic media star discusses her professional and personal life. Couric discusses losing her husband at a young age, her historic turn as anchor of the CBS Evening News and experiences dealing with gender inequality. For more than 40 years Couric has been an iconic presence in the media world. In her brutally honest memoir, she reveals how she has balanced her professional and personal challenges. At work she was a media personality with intellectual curiosity and a desire to be taken seriously.  She had a lot to deal with including an eating disorder, sexism, the perils of celebrity and rebuilding her life with two young daughters after her husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer. Couric writes about the culture at CBS that was rife with gender inequality and predatory behavior. She also talks about the downfall of Matt Lauer. Couric narrates the audiobook herself!

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy

im glad my mom diedJeanette McCurdy was a child actress in the late '90s into the 2000s. Her memoir, published in 2022, continued to be one of the most talked about celebrity memoirs this year. McCurdy was 6 years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother's dream was for her only daughter to become a star.

McCurdy would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what her mom called "calorie restriction," eating little and weighing herself five times a day. Her mom even showered her until McCurdy was 16. McCurdy shared everything with her mom – her diaries, email and all her income. In I'm Glad My Mom Died McCurdy recounts all this in unflinching detail. She also chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true.

When McCurdy was cast in a new Nickelodeon series iCarly, she was thrust into fame. Though her mom was ecstatic, McCurdy was riddled with anxiety, shame and self-loathing. These emotions manifested into eating disorders, addiction and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only got worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother died of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, McCurdy embarked on recovery and decided for the first time in her life what she really wants. McCurdy narrates the audiobook herself.

Spare by Prince Harry

sparePrince Harry's memoir begins with a reminder that "Spare" is actually what his family called him. Spare tells Prince Harry's story from his perspective. It's clear he's been waiting to speak his truth for a very long time. Prince Harry shares about life in the spotlight and what it's like to live by Royal rules. He also talks about his personal struggle to come to terms with the loss of his mother and to find a life of purpose and love. Prince Harry reads the audiobook himself, and his voice reminds me of English author Neil Gaiman, so I highly recommend listening if you can.


Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

talking as fast as I canIf you're looking for a lighter story, laugh a little with Lauren Graham. The star of the iconic early 2000s show Gilmore Girls shares essays about her childhood, experiences in Hollywood, and her time with Gilmore Girls. Graham reads the audiobook herself and she's hilarious.

Graham said, "This book contains some stories from my life: the awkward growing-up years, the confusing dating years, the fulfilling work years, and what it was like to be asked to play one of my favorite characters again. Also included: tales of living on a houseboat, meeting guys at awards shows, and that time I was asked to be a butt model. A hint: all three made me seasick."

Battle of Ink and Ice by Darrell Hartman

battle of ink and iceSensationalism in the media is nothing new. For a different take on media frenzy, read about the 60-year saga of frostbite and fake news that followed the race to the North Pole. Newspapers of the time stopped at nothing to get and sell the story. In the fall of 1909, a pair of bitter contests captured the world's attention. The American explorers Robert Peary and Frederick Cook both claimed to have discovered the North Pole. This sparked a vicious feud that was unprecedented in international scientific and geographic circles.

At the same time, the rivalry between two powerful New York City newspapers – the storied Herald and the ascendant Times – fanned the flames of the polar controversy. Each paper financially committed itself to an opposing explorer and fought desperately to defend him. The Herald was owned and edited by James Gordon Bennett, Jr. Bennett was an eccentric playboy whose nose for news was matched only by his appetite for debauchery and champagne. The Times was published by Adolph Ochs, son of Jewish immigrants. Ochs's had improbably rescued the paper from extinction and turned it into an emerging powerhouse. The battle between Cook and Peary would have enormous consequences for both newspapers and the future of corporate media.

Battle of Ink and Ice presents a frank portrayal of Arctic explorers – brave men who both inspired and divided the public. It also sketches a vivid portrait of the newspapers that funded, promoted, narrated and often distorted their exploits. The book includes an unjustly overlooked chapter in the origin story of the modern New York Times. By turns tragic and absurd, the book brims with contemporary relevance. It touches on themes of class, celebrity, the ever-quickening news cycle, and the benefits and pitfalls of an increasingly interconnected world.

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