Books written by the stars

PHOTOS SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

“Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography”
by Neil Patrick Harris

Only Neil Patrick Harris would think of writing an autobiography as a choose-your-own-adventure book, and only he could actually pull it off.
In “Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography,” the reader takes on the role of Harris, and is responsible for the outcome of Harris’ life. Whether he hosts the Emmys or perishes in quicksand in front of Joss Whedon’s house is entirely up to the reader.

The story begins with Harris’ birth, and escalates from there. Along with several funny and heartwarming anecdotes from his life, “Choose Your Own Autobiography” includes lots of little surprises like recipes and snippets from Harris’ Twitter feed. It covers everything from his very first stage role in a middle school production of “The Wizard of Oz” to his first time hosting the Emmys in short, sweet and easy-to-read chapters that allow readers to put down or pick up the book at their leisure.

The autobiography reads like a love letter to life, and between his career and personal life, Harris clearly has a lot to love. The lack of any sort of chronological order can be a bit confusing at times and possibly frustrating for someone looking for a straight forward A-to-B-style story, but Harris keeps the writing almost consistently light and engaging, so jumping from fatherhood to the Doogie Howser days is not as jarring as it might sound.

The book includes many different paths and each reread unveils new hidden surprises – a bit shocking, considering the book doesn’t reach the 300-page mark.

“Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography” is a twisted and hilarious adventure into the life of either one of the greatest showmen of our time or the most incompetent sandwich maker at Schlotzsky’s.
— Commentary by Courtney Combs

“Not That Kind of Girl” by Lena Dunham

All larger issues aside, Lena Dunham – writer and actress of “Girls” on HBO – is known for being unapologetic. Her humor is centered on being brutally honest about her thoughts and feelings. When she made her television debut — naked no less — she started chugging away at what many felt was a revolution for body positivity.

But there is always a catch. “Not That Kind of Girl,” Dunham’s first memoir, boasting the tagline, “A young woman tells you what she’s ‘learned,’” is more or less “Girls” with a spotlight on Dunham’s life.

It’s clever, relatable and shocking to read, for more than one reason. Dunham’s memoir recalls moments of inappropriate intimacy between Dunham and her younger sister, who have a close relationship. However, the section cannot be ignored and can easily make a reader uncomfortable, something Dunham is all too
familiar with.

While there are pertinent lessons and bits of advice, as is expected in any memoir or personal writing, it should be taken with a grain of salt.
— Commentary by Katie Lamont

“Yes Please”
by Amy Poehler

Right from the get-go, Amy Poehler’s new novel, “Yes Please,” reads like a diary. Such writing is to be expected from a memoir, but only to an extent. “Yes Please” is a scrapbook, for lack of a better term, of the stories of Amy Poehler, comedy queen of “Parks and Recreation” and “SNL.” These stories are mostly self-depreciating and occasionally a little pretentious.

Poehler is funny, but her comedy, which she notes in the book, is usually best by the seat of her pants. She discusses how easy it is to write scripts, and that is clear, as the writing appears more like she is trying to reach a word count.

That said, this is Poehler. She is known for wit and comedy that teases, rather than the in-your-face approach. She thrives on the idea and not just the punch line. “Yes Please” is all that, as well as a collection of photos of Poehler that are gems within themselves.

If you’re a fan, you probably already bought the book. If you’re not, “Yes Please” is an easy read, but like all memoirs, you have to be interested to get anywhere.
— Commentary by Katie Lamont

 

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