Are you ready to unleash your writing superpowers? That’s the theme of this November’s NaNoWriMo, the annual writing challenge that requires participants to write a novel in the span of 30 days.
Think you couldn’t write a book in 30 years, let alone 30 days?
Well, if these decidedly non-author celebrities can write fiction, why can’t you?
I probably should include a disclaimer that most of these books have received a range of both positive and negative reviews. However, I feel like part of the appeal of a novel written by someone who is better known for acting or singing or playing sports or hosting reality television is sheer morbid curiosity. Can this person who you would never think of as a writer actually write? That judgment I leave up to you, gentle reader.
If you love mysteries:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Mycroft Holmes (2016)*
I must confess, I have never been a basketball fan, so when I think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, my mind immediately goes to his hilarious “Listen, kid” moment in Airplane and not, you know, his legendary basketball career. Granted, Airplane probably occupies a lot more of my brain on a daily basis than is strictly normal, but that’s a story for another day.
Come to find out, Abdul-Jabbar is also a fellow Sherlock Holmes enthusiast. (He obviously has good taste.) So, when he wrote his debut novel last year, he focused it on providing a backstory for Holmes’s brother Mycroft. Personally, I’ve always been a big Mycroft fan. Sherlock always said that Mycroft was smarter but lazier, and he always has great appearances in the original stories. In his book, Abdul-Jabbar spins an action-packed mystery about young Mycroft as a secretary for the War Office, investigating a series of bizarre murders in Trinidad in 1870.
*Ebook also available on Libby.
If you like Westerns:
Willie Nelson’s A Tale Out of Luck (2008)
The critical response to Willie Nelson’s debut Western was not overwhelming, with many noting that the book was fairly predictable, though loaded with great atmosphere. What more could you want, though, if you’re a fan of both Willie Nelson and Westerns? His story’s plot encompasses a dead cattle rustler full of arrows, a falsely accused retired Texas ranger, and a young man bent on avenging his long-dead father.
If you prefer romance:
Chris Harrison’s The Perfect Letter (2015)
Does your reading taste run less toward mayhem and more toward happily-ever-after? You might prefer Bachelor host Chris Harrison’s debut romance (though in all fairness there’s a fair amount of mayhem and not happily-ever-after on that show.) Leigh is a successful New York City book editor, but she has spent nearly 10 years avoiding her home state of Texas. When she finally returns for a writing conference, she hopes to keep her time there limited, mainly because she is avoiding Jake, her first love and the main reason she has avoided returning home. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. . . .
If short story collections are a favorite:
Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type (2017)**
Earlier this year, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks tried his hand at short story collections and received a fair amount of critical acclaim for it. Unified by the theme of typewriters, his stories range from the life of a bowler to backyard rocket building to motel renovation to the 1939 World’s Fair. Overall, the tone is heartwarming and charming. And since there are 17 stories and they are all so different from each other, if you don’t like one, you can quickly move on to the next one.
**Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.
If you enjoy satire:
Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty (2010)***
Steve Martin has experienced a bit of a latter-day renaissance, what with his forays into novel writing and bluegrass banjo playing. He’s come a long way from The Jerk. In An Object of Beauty, he combines his interest in art collecting with his flair for comedy in his story of Lacey, an ambitious, ruthless art dealer who claws her way way to the top of her profession, through a combination of crime, seduction, and manipulation.
***Audiobook also available on Libby.
Hugh Laurie’s The Gun Seller (1998)****
Hugh Laurie may be Dr. House to a lot of Americans, but long before he was sneeringly dishing out prescriptions and medical diagnoses, he was a British comedy star. Laurie brings his humor to the espionage thriller genre in this novel. Thomas Lang is an out-of-work former British soldier. He won’t stoop to murder-for-hire, though, so when he is hired to kill a wealthy American businessman, he warns his target instead. Unfortunately for Lang, his kind gesture backfires on him when he realizes that the man he warned is the one who paid for the hit. Complications (and shenanigans) ensue.
****Ebook also available on Libby.
David Duchovny’s Holy Cow (2015)
Quite possibly the oddest book on this list, Holy Cow was written by X-Files star David Duchovny. His foray into fiction is perhaps not as unusual as it is for other celebrities profiled here. He has a degree in English from Princeton and an unfinished doctoral degree in the subject from Yale and won prizes for his creative writing in college. In fact, though I am not an X-Files fan, I have watched a fair amount of the show, and I’d say that the episodes written by Duchovny tend to be some of the better ones in the series’ run.
The idea of David Duchovny writing a book may not be strange, in and of itself, but this book is very strange. As in, people either love it or they absolutely hate it. It’s about Elsie, a happy-go-lucky cow; Tom, a flightless but technologically savvy turkey; and Jerry, a pig who converts to Judaism. They don human disguises and make for the nearest airport after they realize they must flee their farm to avoid being eaten. I imagine your reaction to that last sentence pretty much dictates whether or not you’d be interested in this book.
Whose your favorite celebrity turned author? Have you ever actually read a novel written by a celebrity? Which of these books would you be most likely to try? Tell us in the comments!
As always, follow this link to our online library catalog for more information about any of these items.
2 thoughts on “Oddly-Specific Genres: If They Can Write A Book, So Can You!”
Ok, well, I pretty much have to read a book about farm animals escapees if it is written by the X-Files guy. Even if it is terrible.
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I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! I never got the chance to read it, but I always thought the idea sounded delightfully bonkers!