When it comes to memoirs by contemporary female celebrities known for their comedic chops, it's often Amy Schumer (The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo), Tina Fey (Bossypants) or Amy Poehler (Yes Please) people think of first. And while I don't want to refute their accomplishments, there are two actresses that I admire that have also recently published their memoirs, although to slightly less fanfare, that I'd like to talk about today: Lauren Graham and Anna Kendrick.
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
I have adored Lauren Graham's outgoing and fun personality ever since the very first episode of Gilmore Girls back in 2000. While, of course, I do not know her on a personal level, in interviews and public appearances she always seemed very similar to Lorelei Gilmore; fast-talking, kind and very witty. Her memoir isn't the first time she dabbles into writing either. She wrote the novel Somewhere, Someday, Maybe in 2013 which I read at the time not clocking until about mid-way through it was written by the actress, and I thought it was a very sweet fictionalised retelling of her own foray into theatre. So I had high hopes for her memoir and I wasn't disappointed.
Lauren's sparkly personality shines from the pages, as she takes us through her personal life and career through essays on topics such as Gilmore Girls (including a recap for each season as she selflessly barricaded herself into her house to rewatch the whole show from start to finish), the tough position of women in Hollywood, her start in theatre, Parenthood, and much more. The stories are insightful but most of all feel incredibly personal through her fun and chatty writing style.
Lauren really is charming and funny, not to mention very open, making this an ace read until the very end. My favourite bits were any and all Gilmore Girls references (of course), the hilarious sequences about her time at Barn Theatre (SO funny), and Old Lady Jackson. My only minor niggle is that the book felt a bit short, but perhaps this is the case to allow plenty of material for a potential follow-up? I hope so, because I definitely want to read more from Lauren in the future!
Talking as Fast as I Can is published by Virago and retails for £16.99.
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Anna Kendrick is another actress I've been admiring from a distance for her witty and quirky personality. She first impressed me in Up in the Air in 2009, going from strength to strength with movies such as Pitch Perfect and Into the Woods. And when I found out she'd been in musicals on Broadway too? I was sold. Just look at the adorableness. Her memoir then, including essays from her life from a very young age onwards (she was just 12 when she landed a major Broadway role which earned her a Tony nomination), should be a stagey delight, right? Not quite.
While it was interesting to read how she coped (or not, at times) with the spotlight when she was so young, the overall book felt a bit disjointed, going back and forward between topics and timelines, and repetitive. Half of the stories revolved around her being little (literally and figuratively) and the other half about her not being cool or knowing what it means (and yet she ticks all the boxes of a teenager thinking they're cool; getting into clubs with a fake ID, doing drugs, and much more). Anna's book also didn't feel as authentic as Lauren Graham's Talking As Fast As I Can, I'm not sure whether the personality within the pages was her real one or rather the kooky one she comes across as in public appearances, but the two don't quite connect.
That isn't to say that the book wasn't insightful, because there were definitely stories that I found interesting, especially the parts where she talked about travelling to New York with her brother for auditions and her move to LA at the age of 17. It just didn't feel as personal as Lauren's book did and Anna instead came across as a bit whiny at times when she has so much going for her. A lot of it probably has to do with her age. She still so very young and her breakthrough has been quite recent so she's undoubtedly still trying to find her true self among the Hollywood glitz and glamour. Perhaps an updated or new memoir in 10-15 years time will feel more honest and engaging.
Scrappy Little Nobody is published by Simon and Schuster and retails for £16.99.