11 Points

11 Celebrity Autobiographies That Can Be Yours For One Penny
written by Sam Greenspan

I recently purchased Dustin "Screech" Diamond's autobiography/memoir, "Behind the Bell" for two reasons. One, I want to review it and pull choice excerpts from it for this site. And two... as much as I hate to admit it, I really want to read it.

When purchasing it, I was surprised to find that the new version cost $16.50 on Amazon and the used version was going for more than $11. I know the book is relatively new but... north of $11?

That surprisingly high used price point set me off on a search for more reasonably-priced celebrity autobiographies. And by reasonably priced I mean... one cent.

Here are 11 celebrity biographies that you can currently buy, used, for $0.01. (Not including shipping and handling. "Handling" being one of the world's biggest scams, right behind cab receipts on business trips.)

  1. "How I Lost 5 Pounds in 6 Years: An Autobiography" (Tom Arnold) - There are ample copies of both the hardcover and paperback versions available for one penny. According to the description, "Arnold examines his tumultuous childhood and adolescence in rural Iowa, his stand-up career, his stormy marriage to Roseanne, and his current happiness with his new wife and job."

    Here's a weird fact I learned when trying to find out if he'd divorced that new wife (he did, in 2008) -- in Tom's fourth marriage, which happened back in November, his best man was Dax Shepard. That seems like such a strange "we're both kinda famous, let's hang out" friendship.

  2. "David Beckham: My Side: The Autobiography" - Not only is this Beckham autobiography available for $0.01, you can also pick up his autobiography "Beckham: Both Feet on the Ground" for $0.01 and/or his autobiography "Beckham: My World" for $0.01. That's right -- David Beckham has written (or, at least, told stories to a ghost writer to produce) THREE autobiographies.

    Of course, while that volume of memoirs makes no sense to Americans, it probably makes total sense to the British. He's the most famous star of the biggest sport and he married the hottest member of one of their most famous bands. It would be like Peyton Manning marrying Anthony Kiedis.

  3. "Sammy Sosa: An Autobiography" - This book was published in 2000, a few years before the media would start reporting on steroids... and a few years and one month before everyone got sick of the media reporting on steroids.

    With this book, you don't have to spend $0.01 for a used copy -- there are also ample new copies available for a $0.01. Just grab it now... with this publicity, that price could really shoot up.

  4. "Shout It From the Housetops (The Autobiography of Pat Robertson)" - An excerpt from the second page of the book:
    "I had a proud Southern heritage -- honor grad from military prep school, Golden Gloves boxer, Phi Beta Kappa at Washington and Lee, Marine combat officer in Korea, law degree from Yale ... yet it all seemed empty. What was the matter with me? ... An inaudible voice seemed to be speaking in the deep recesses of my mind.

    God."
    It's got to be worth a penny to find out how the story builds from there. I expect huge plot twists and jaw-dropping moments. Like (and I apologize if this is a spoiler alert moment) it turns out that it wasn't God speaking to him, but was actually internal affairs setting him up the whole time.


  5. "Take It From Me: Life's a Struggle But You Can Win" (Erin Brockovich) - This autobiography was (it seems) rushed to market to capitalize on America's brief, brief, brief interest in Erin Brockovich's story. (At this point, with a decade of distance, how high would "Erin Brockovich" rank if you were listing the best Julia Roberts movies? 20th? "Erin Brockovich" makes "Mona Lisa's Smile" look like "Flatliners".)

    In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that, believe it or not, I did not read Erin Brockovich's autobiography. (Shocking, I know.) But we know how it goes: Single mother, no college degree, big boobs, won a David-versus-Goliath court battle -- a true underdog story of cleavage and the little guy.

    There. I just saved you a penny. Go out and buy 1/1,000th of something.

  6. "Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones" - Do you think he touches on his love affair with Starla? Bluth homes: Solid as a rock!

  7. "Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose" (Paris Hilton) - Making fun of Paris Hilton writing an autobiography isn't just going after low-hanging fruit -- it's going after fruit so low that you'd have to dig to get to it (and hope the people in China haven't already eaten it).

    So instead of going after her, I'm going to go after the 8.9 million people who bought copies of this book, made it a "New York Times" bestseller and justified her six-figure advance. People could've ignored it, but, instead, this tree fell in the forest and made an enormous crunch. Perhaps even contributing another penny to the cause is irresponsible.


  8. This will be mine. Oh yes, this will be mine.
    "Vanna Speaks" (Vanna White) - True story. Back when I was a kid, my mom and I would go to the library together all the time to get books. It's how my vocabulary got so well.

    Anyway, this Vanna autobiography came out in 1989. My family would watch "Wheel of Fortune" a lot (it came on before "Jeopardy" and, back then, we didn't have nor need cable) so, for some reason, I decided I wanted to read Vanna's autobiography.

    My mom outright forbid it. I didn't get it at the time; now, with (gulp) two full decades of retrospect I can ascertain she was concerned that Vanna would tell salacious stories where letters weren't the only things getting flipped over.

    Now, finally, I think I'm old enough to know those stories. So... yes... I just purchased "Vanna Speaks" for $0.01 on Amazon. Using, fittingly enough, a tiny, tiny portion of a gift certificate that my aforementioned mom gave me for Hanukkah. I will report back with the details once I've read it.

  9. "It Doesn't Take a Hero: The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf" - This is no way to treat the biography of America's last famous war general. Especially when Operation: Desert Shield t-shirts are selling for a minimum of 300 times that on eBay. And a CD single of "Voices That Care" will run you at least $3.84 on Amazon.

  10. "Memoirs of an Unfit Mother" (Anne Robinson) - Who's Anne Robinson?, you may (and should) be asking. I'll remind you: Anne Robinson was the host of brief early 2000s game show "The Weakest Link". She's the taut British disciplinarian who would say "You are the weakest link, goodbye!"

    Somehow that warranted a 336-page autobiography.

    Thank God (real God, not the guys from internal affairs posing as God) that, since then, the American publishing industry has woken up and stopped giving book deals to flash-in-the-pan, not-even-15-minutes-of-fame celebrities.

  11. "Dancing to the Music in My Head: Memoirs of the People's Idol" (Sanjaya Malakar) - Umm... never mind.

One final note -- if you've finished reading all three autobiographies of David Beckham and want to read his wife Victoria's "Learning to Fly: The Autobiography", you can... but the minimum price on it is TWO pennies.


This post was originally published on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 09:30:00 AM under the category Books.

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