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10 Pop Culture Books and Hollywood Memoirs to Binge Read This Summer

From deeply personal accounts to gossip.

I’m a big reality show fiend. From Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Selling Sunset to Queer Eye and The Big Family Cooking Showdown, I watch it all. American pop culture has dominated much of my life, especially in the last two years, and sent me down various rabbit holes on the internet to catch up on the latest news (and gossip). From gripping fictional novels to memoirs with never heard before personal accounts, this is a wholesome list of deep dives into people and stories of Hollywood, music, and television. However, there’s so much more out there. As always, treat this as your first step on the journey to pop culture nirvana. 

1 OF 10

‘The Work Wife’

Alison B. Hart’s debut novel The Work Wife comes out in July and it seems worth the wait. Alison, who has been a personal assistant to a billionaire herself, creates Zanne, personal assistant to a Hollywood mogul. The 38-year-old protagonist is earning a six-figure salary to smoothen out the lives of a privileged family. Her eyes are on the job of the chief of staff, and it all depends on the fundraiser the Hollywood royalty is hosting. The story unfolds over the course of one day when an ex-wife and his former business partner show up unexpectedly. Now the ex-wife, the current wife, and the work wife discover a secret and it’s a game-changer for everyone. This work of fiction addresses the #MeToo movement and the exploitation of women by men in the entertainment industry.

2 OF 10

‘Funny You Should Ask’

This one is for romance lovers. Elissa Sussman’s first book for adults is a whirlwind romance. A young journalist, Chani, interviews the new James Bond, and her crush, and a decade later, they reunite for another interview. Funny You Should Ask alternates between past and present, so you see how their lives have progressed since their first meeting. A light, comforting book with a Hollywood arc that you can take on a holiday with you this summer.

3 OF 10

‘What You Don't Know About Charlie Outlaw’

Leah Stewart’s Charlie Outlaw is a Hollywood actor who escapes to a tropical island after his relationship blows up. Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend Josie, a 40-year-old actress, is struggling with the loss of fame. Charlie, unbeknown to Josie, has been kidnapped on the island. The suspense/thriller revolves around his absence and her will to stay present in the industry.

4 OF 10

‘Finding Me: A Memoir’

Academy award-winning actress Viola Davis is releasing a memoir and she’s giving insights into what made her. From her impoverished life in South Carolina and Rhode Island to her troubled high school years and scholarship at Juilliard, and the uber-successful show How To Get Away With Murder and award-winning The Help actress writes words to inspire others who may be feeling isolated or anguished. The actress told the Associated Press, “I believe that our stories, and the courage to share them, is the most powerful empathetic tool we have.”

5 OF 10

‘The Secrets of My Life’

The Kardashians and Jenners became a phenomenon in so many ways after their hit reality TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians started airing in 2007. After 20 seasons, the family may have moved on to other futures (and another reality show), but the legacy continues. 

Caitlyn Jenner, one of the most influential and famous transgender woman in the industry, lays it all bare in her book, The Secrets Of My Life. We have seen her on the show as Bruce Jenner, and now we can get to know Caitlyn from this book. She talks about growing up as Bruce Jenner and struggling with her identity, her Olympic wins, her marriages and her children, the fame she has seen in her life, and her transition to a woman.

6 OF 10

‘The Housewives: The Real Story Behind The Real Housewives’

Are you a fan of the Real Housewives franchise? You must already know that the stars of these series, from Orange County to New York, have written memoirs, self-help, or autobiographies to clear the air. Even the host Andy Cohen has dutifully published his diaries and shared his take on it all. 

Last year, another book hit the shelves, this one by Brian J. Moylan, the writer of Vulture’s Real Housewives recaps. In this book, he divulges production, casting, and filming secrets and gives inside scoop on how it actually goes down behind the scenes. Fans of the show will eat this right up. 

7 OF 10

‘She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement’

Pulitzer-winning journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey were part of an investigation that uncovered Harvey Weinstein’s crimes through decades. In this book, they reveal how it happened and what they had to overcome to publish this groundbreaking story. Those brave women who spoke up against Weinstein weren’t against just one man, but the system that threatened to ruin them. The findings from interviews with former employees, non-disclosure agreements, and survivor accounts are painstakingly recorded in this book. How did it go on for so many decades? The book tries to answer how powerful men prey on women and get away with it.

8 OF 10

‘Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life’

Another way to tickle your funny bone? Comedian Ali Wong’s collection of letters to her daughters. It’s not all wisdom on these pages, but lots of wit and entertainment and truth. She has peppered this book with revelations from her own life, her mother’s journey and her Vietnamese roots, her career as a comedian, and lots of intimate deals from her relationships that her daughters might shudder to read about. You’ll read gems in this book like this one: “I don’t care how funny or beloved someone is. Take his ass down if he fucks with you.” 

9 OF 10

‘Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life’

Queer Eye host and hairstylist Jonathan Van Ness is an inspiration. In his first book, Over The Top, the beloved television personality shared unseen pieces of his life: growing up queer in a small town, sexually assaulted as a four-year-old, his addiction to sex and drugs, his HIV diagnosis, and his newfound fame. The rawness of his words hit the heart like bullets. Go over to his Instagram account and you’ll see a ray of sunshine: dancing while having his morning coffee, or educating his followers on the newest laws and bills. 

JVN is a shining star and I’m fangirling because his new book, Love That Story, is releasing this April. This is an essay collection in which he talks about difficult subjects from his perspective, including LGBTQ+ people in his hometown, racism and white privilege, and living with HIV. He told People, “From my experiences as a hairdresser-turned-entertainer to the HIV social safety net, imposter syndrome, and dealing with TERFs, there’s nothing off-limits.”

10 OF 10

‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’

This wildly successful novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid is being turned into a Netflix special. The story introduces readers to an aging and reclusive Hollywood star, Evelyn Hugo, and the journalist Monique she decides to tell her story to. Evelyn is 79 and she has strayed away from the media for decades. Monique is a little-known journalist, and she doesn’t know why she has been picked to tell this tell-all. 

Evelyn’s life is glamorous, to be sure, with old Hollywood glitz, seven husbands, and forbidden romances, and it takes you through a time capsule. But how does Evelyn’s story intertwine with Monique’s? Guess you’ll have to read the book (or watch the Netflix special) to find out.

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