The childhood of an heir to the world’s most-talked-about throne, a headline-dominating conservatorship and the public gender transition of a young actor are among the bestselling memoirs of 2023 so far, in a year with dozens of high-profile book releases that as of Tuesday includes the long-anticipated memoir of Barbra Streisand.
My Name Is Barbra released Tuesday, November 7, but has been a bestseller since it first became available for presale in February.
Described as “chatty and candid” by the New York Times, the memoir is a hefty 992 pages and details the life of the mega star from her Brooklyn childhood to obtaining coveted EGOT status (she’s a rare performer who can count Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards among her accolades).
In excerpts published by People, Streisand uses the book to delve into her high-profile relationships with names like Marlon Brando and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the pressure she felt to change her appearance early in her career and her extensive life on Broadway.
Streisand’s release joins a field of 2023 releases that includes two of the fastest-selling memoirs of all time and books by fellow icons Patrick Stewart, Chita Rivera and Henry Winkler.
Here are the print sales of celebrity memoirs so far this year, according to Circana Bookscan, which tracks point-of-sale data for print copies of books through direct reporting of independent bookstores and major retailers.
Book Sales Through October 2023
- Spare by Prince Harry (1.19 million print copies sold)—The bombshell memoir of the “spare” heir, now fifth in line to the British throne, included revelations about the prince’s childhood, drug use, military service and family life (January 10).
- The Woman In Me by Britney Spears (417,947 print copies sold)—With more than 1 million copies sold across all formats, The Woman In Me has become one of the fastest-selling nonfiction books of all time since it released and details the popstar’s famous dating life, public mental breakdown and harrowing conservatorship (October 24).
- Pageboy: a Memoir by Elliot Page (67,038 print copies sold)—One of the world’s most famous trans people documents his coming out journey in the public eye in a “brutally honest” read (June 6).
- Love, Pamela: a Memoir of Prose, Poetry, and Truth by Pamela Anderson (58,464 print copies sold)—Through original poetry and first-hand accounts, the infamous Playboy Playmate talks about life as a sex symbol, her relationship with the paparazzi and what happens when stars lose control of their image (January 31).
- Paris: the Memoir by Paris Hilton (46,637 print copies sold)—A teenage party girl evolves in a memoir that divulges the truth behind her abusive stay at a facility for troubled teens, struggles with mental health and life as heiress to a $40 billion hotel chain (March 14).
- Thicker Than Water: a Memoir by Kerry Washington (34,671 print copies sold)—Hailed as “raw, vulnerable and honest” by Michelle Obama, the Scandal star opens up about an intense family secret that led her on a journey of self-discovery (September 26).
- Making It So: a Memoir by Patrick Stewart (31,871 print copies sold)—A living legend talks about his early life in England and paying his dues before hitting it big as an actor whose extensive career has spanned continents, formats and uber-successful franchises (October 3).
- Worthy by Jada Pinkett Smith (29,300 print copies sold)—Teased with a bombshell revelation about her marriage, Pinkett Smith’s book gets honest about her childhood, public persona and proximity to scandal (October 4).
- Out of the Corner: a Memoir by Jennifer Grey (28,019 print copies sold)—From her Dirty Dancing performance seen ’round the world to the series of plastic surgeries that ruined her career and public image, “Baby” is back in this “forthcoming” personal examination (May 3).
- Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You: a Memoir by Lucinda Williams (20,115 print copies sold)— The childhood trauma, personal pain and years of rejection behind Williams’ enduring musical legacy is laid bare in the Grammy winner’s bestselling memoir (April 25).
- Honey, Baby, Mine: a Mother and Daughter Talk Life, Death, Love (And Banana Pudding) by Laura Dern and Diane Ladd (18,226 print copies sold)—A mother-daughter team of acclaimed actress come together to talk love, sex, marriage and legacy in a collection of personal conversations that paints an intimate portrait of their lives (April 25).
- If You Would Have Told Me: a Memoir by John Stamos (17,560 print copies sold)—From teen idol to household name, Stamos’ journey to stardom was peppered with experiences of sexual violence, substance abuse and personal turbulence detailed in his revealing book (October 24).
- Tell Me Everything: a Memoir by Minka Kelly (17,291 print copies sold)— Born to a drug-addicted single mother, Kelly tells a story of neglect, abuse and troubled teen years before roles in Friday Night Lights and Titans skyrocketed her to fame and brought her first chance at stability (May 2).
- The Half of It: a Memoir by Madison Beer (16,185 print copies sold)— Now 24 years old, singer-songwriter Beer was discovered at just 12 and consequently became one of the first arists to have her entire life documented online, a unique experience she explains alongside stories of sexual assault, rejection and mental health struggles (April 25).
- Down the Drain by Julia Fox (10,680 print copies sold)—Hailed “one of her generation’s most authentic storytellers” by TIME, Fox details her journey from precocious child in italy to inspiring a role in Uncut Gems and messily dating Kanye West following his high-profile divorce (October 10).
- The Next Chapter: Making Peace With Hard Memories, Finding Hope All Around Me, and Clearing Space For Good Things to Come by Jana Kramer (6,374 print copies sold)—Country music star Jana Kramer sets the record straight after detailing her husband’s extensive infidelity, sudden divorce and turning loneliness into inner peace. (October 24).
- Talk of Champions: Stories of the People Who Made Me: a Memoir by Kenny Smith (6,115 print copies sold)—Former basketball player and superstar commentator Smith breaks down his championship runs with the Houston Rockets and an off-the-court career that led him to Emmy wins and national fame (May 9).
- Chita: a Memoir by Chita Rivera (5,249 print copies sold)—A Broadway star, three-time Tony Award-winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient gives a behind-the-curtain look at life as a Puerto Rican stage actress who blazed a path to success on her own terms (April 25).
- Call Me Anne by Anne Heche (1,419 print copies sold)—Published posthumously, actress Heche’s relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, experience with Harvey Weinstein and childhood of sexual abuse are interwoven with poems and writings found after her death (January 24).
What To Watch For
Sales numbers are not yet available for the two most recent mega-star releases from Henry Winkler and Barbra Streisand. Being Henry: The Fonz . . . and Beyond, which was released October 31, tells the story of Winkler’s early life and the pressures of being typecast when a role takes on a life of its own.
This year and last saw a rush of successful celebrity memoirs from names like Viola Davis, Matthew Perry and Jennette McCurdy, among dozens of others. The sudden influx of autobiographies can be partially credited to downtime in the Covid-19 pandemic, one expert told CNN, and also attributed to the big paydays that come with them. Prince Harry is speculated to have earned a $20 million advance for his book, according to CNN, and multiple outlets reported that Britney Spears likely earned between $12.5 million and $15 million for The Woman in Me. Deadline reported that Elliot Page was paid more than $3 million to write Pageboy.