Self-help and how-to books can be very useful motivators for readers looking to gain personal growth or acquire new skills. However, celebrity written books in these genres can be a mixed bag. While the book might benefit from having the name value of a famous face for brand recognition, not every celebrity seems fit to dish out advice. Here are 15 extremely unlikely celebrity how-to or self-help books.
Alec Baldwin, the notoriously prickly star of 30 Rock, would hardly be anyone’s celebrity choice for father of the year. In 2007 he was scandalized by a leaked, rage fueled cellphone message to his daughter, Ireland. Though the message made Baldwin infamous for calling his child a “rude little pig,” this didn’t stop him from writing A Promise To Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce. The inspirational memoir/self-help book is intended for anyone with children who are or have experienced a separation. Through Baldwin’s wit and intelligence, the book became an unlikely best seller, though it probably didn’t hurt sales that he discussed the “rude little pig” experience in depth within the book.
Everyone could benefit from a self-help health book. Especially if it has been written by rock’s most infamous recovering addict. Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy is Ozzy Osbourne’s spin-off from his London Sunday Times health-advice column. The premise of the book posits that 40 years of drug abuse and a zillion near death experiences have made Ozzy the ultimate health adviser. Or, to put it more succinctly, move over, Dr. Drew—the Ozzman Cometh!
Suzanne Somers has authored multiple self-help books on aging, nutrition, parenting, cancer, and cooking. Yes, the model/singer/talk show host/poet/actress/plastic surgery disaster victim is seemingly a prolific author and why not? This woman starred on Step By Step, after all. Listen, we don’t want to tell people how to live their life, but listening to the star of She’s The Sheriff on such issues as bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and alternative cancer therapy sounds like highly dubious pseudo-science. Sommers’ musings on health and cancer treatments are for her thigh master loyalists only.
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Kim Cattrall’s stint on Sex and the City may qualify her to write such sexual education books as Satisfaction: The Art of the Female and Kim Cattrall Sexual Intelligence. However, the actress seems like an unlikely choice to write a self-help book for teenage girls. According to the synopsis of Being A Girl, Cattrall “tackles real questions in an honest, intimate, and totally hip way.” As a bonus, the book features never before seen pics of Cattrall as a teenager. We assume the latter was meant to prove she hasn’t always specialized in playing middle aged women? FYI, a DVD copy of Big Trouble In Little China would work just as well.
Irony can always strike retroactively. See Jessica Simpson’s first foray into self-help, I Do: Achieving Your Dream Wedding for proof positive of the cruel incongruity between a book’s intention and real-life. After all, who wants to take wedding advice from a pop star famous for documenting her newlywed lifestyle on cable television only to end things in a messy (and well-publicized) divorce? To be fair, the book was published at the height of the Nick and Jessica phenomenon, but you know Simpson has to cringe every time she comes upon a copy in the clearance section of Half-Price Books. Well, if not Simpson herself, then the book’s (ghost?) co-writer, Katrina Z. Jones. Our heart goes out to you, Katrina.
Diamond Dallas Page
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Diamond Dallas Page was the three-time, three-time, three-time WCW World Champion. Not that anyone outside of pro wrestling fans even remembers the TNT’s old WCW promotion, but it helped earn him a role in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. What better reason do you need to buy a book about Yoga from the guy? D.D.P.’s Yoga For Regular Guys is not your grandfather’s Yoga—it’s extreme, anti-new age and filled to the brim with smart-A$$ humor. Admittedly, the book was co-written by athletic trainer Dr. Craig Aaron, so it is likely useful for men hesitant to get into Yoga. Good luck finding it for anything less the $50, though. Yoga For Regular Guys is currently out of print and is sure to pull a diamond cutter on your wallet if bought online.
If he isn’t considered the funniest man alive, he’s certainly a contender. Bill Murray’s deadpan style of humor has brought him blockbuster box office and indie accolades, but did you know he also applied it to a how-to book? Cinderella Story: My Life In Golf is a humorous hybrid of how-to and memoir that gives the game the Bill Murray treatment. Anyone looking for an intimate insight on Murray’s life, look elsewhere—the actor frames everything through the game, which frustrated many fans drawn in by the “memoir” aspect that was marketed. To paraphrase Caddyshack, readers won’t receive full consciousness on your deathbed from the book, but it may just improve their game. Murray loyalists got that going for them, which is nice.
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Elizabeth Berkely is a symbol for her generation—her performance as Jessie on Saved By The Bell won the hearts of a generation that had yet to lose its innocence to grunge rock and gansta rap. After playing the teen on a mostly forgotten 90s sitcom, doesn’t that qualify Berkley to write a self-help book for teenagers? Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About Love, Friends, Your Body… and Life in General sports the longest title since Fiona Apple’s record, but it’s diary style question and answer format may just have some useful tips for teenagers…until they hit up IMDB and realize they’re taking advice from the woman who starred in Showgirls. Think of it this way—should anyone without the foresight to turn down the terribly written role of a str1pper character named “Nomi” be giving anyone advice on anything? One shudders to think what their daughter would Ask Elizabeth after watching her career implode in that movie.
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Comedian Amy Sedaris is best known for her cult Comedy Central series Strangers With Candy, which introduced the world to Steven Colbert. Since the show ended Sedaris has made quite a splash with how-to books. Simple Times: Crafts For Poor People and I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence have been hailed by comedy and homemakers alike for being both funny and surprisingly useful. Sure, they’re drenched in kitsch and couldn’t be farther from what you might find in an issue of Simple Living, but few could anticipate Sedaris would meld comedy with practical craft guides so seamlessly.
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There will never be a film critic more polarizing or infamous than Roger Ebert. Whether you agree with his opinions or not, the skill behind his critical writing is absolutely peerless. That’s why it came as a bit of a shock to his fans when he published The Pot and How To Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker. Yes, Ebert has a how-to guide about rice cookery. Keep in mind it was written after a battle with cancer left him unable to eat conventional foods such as rice. Somehow, this makes the book all the more curious and intriguing, though the book’s lack of recipes has received a “Thumbs Down” from some foodies.
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File this one alongside Kim Cattrall’s teen guide. Felicity Huffman is great on Desperate Housewives and everything, but does that qualify her to be giving men advice on the lost art of boyfriend-ing? A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend suffers from being more directed at women than to actual men. The synopsis of the book even implores women to “leave it at their boyfriend’s place — accidentally on purpose,” which, while an excellent marketing hook, is hardly comforting for male readers. Perhaps if the book was written by Huffman’s husband, William H. Macy, this wouldn’t qualify as an “unlikely” entry. After all, that guy played an awesome husband in Fargo.
50 Cent recently published Formula 50, a nutrition and workout guidebook that’s not all that surprising given the rapper’s perpetually ripped figure. No, it is his how-to guide, The 50th Law, that raises question marks. Co-authored by Robert Greene, The 50th Law gives the success guide book a decidedly more urban tweaking. It features chapters with titles like “Intense Realism,” “Aggression”, and “Sublime,” all of which feature valuable life advice from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson himself. Though the book’s guide to fame and fortune is understandable given it’s co-author’s entrepreneurial achievements, The 50th Laws’ lofty presentation and schlocky pseudo-sociology can’t help but garner eye rolling response from non-50 fans.
Model, comedienne and television host Jenny McCarthy is clearly sharper than your average Playmate. With a list of books on such subjects as dating, marriage, religion and pregnancy, McCarthy’s bubbly personality has some depth to it. Yet it hasn’t absolved her of such labels as “exploitative” and “scary.” See Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Guide To Healing Autism as the controversial book that garnered these descriptions. Yes, the book presents McCarthy’s struggle to cure her son’s autism sympathetically. Yet it claims that childhood vaccines can cause autism, a highly dubious opinion that most medical professionals regard as wrongheaded and dangerous. To top it off, certain facets of the autism community have accused Louder Than Words of exploiting her son’s situation for profit. Whether you agree or disagree with these sentiments, few could anticipate Jenny McCarthy generating such a book.
Goldie Hawn co-wrote 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children–and Ourselves–the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happy Lives. Yes, the star of Overboard and Troop Beverly Hills authored a book on treating childhood depression through neurological, psychological, and behavioral approaches. The book’s content was generated in part from research by the Hawn foundation (yes, there is such a thing). With co-writers Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, MD, and Wendy Holden providing some much-needed legitimacy, 10 Mindful Minutes may hold the key to help families raise children as bubbly as Kate Hudson. Though the book has gotten some very positive responses, Hawn may want to consider including a chapter on “Wise Career Choices” given her daughter’s recent cinematic efforts. Not to rain on her parade, but Bride Wars has been linked to causing depression in adults and children (because it’s awful).
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If you would have asked anyone during the premiere of The Original Kings of Comedy if they would take relationship advice from Steve Harvey, the answer would likely yield a resounding “No, no, for the love of God, no.” I mean, did you see The Steve Harvey Show? It made Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper look downright insightful in comparison. How the secret society of masculine persons allowed Harvey’s book Act Like A Woman, Think Like A Man pass into publication, we’ll never know, but the book was successful enough to be the only literary effort on this list to be adapted into a movie. That isn’t necessarily a sign of quality for the relationship guide, but it does show Harvey is a savvy businessman. This writer has yet to see the movie, but can’t help wondering if it works in Harvey’s controversial assumption that women shouldn’t date atheist due to a lack of “moral barometer.” We’re pretty sure you could flip that advice and apply it to crazy comedians, too.