Ios Books of the Year 2012: Celebrities

Confessions of the shy and retiring type

If the various actors and television personalities who gave evidence to the Leveson inquiry are to be believed, every celebrity in this country, tired of the exposure of their personal lives, is sighing "I vant to be alone" in Garboesque tones. But booksellers' shelves, groaning under the weight of this year's crop of celebrity biography, would suggest otherwise.

Those who have opened their hearts to their caring public, in return for a decent cheque from their publishers, range from Danny Baker, who looks back on a career in the spotlight, to Jessie J who looks forward to one. Will Young, the winner of the first series of Pop Idol in 2002, has marked the decade with Funny Peculiar (Sphere, £18.99), a memoir of his stumble through fame, depression, and daytime TV appearances in self-deprecating style, the only disappointment being that he didn't land any punches on Simon Cowell, with whom he had a famously tricky relationship.

Jessie J, by contrast, had barely emerged onto the music scene before her life story was committed to paper. Thankfully, J, who performed at the 2012 Olympics' closing ceremony, doesn't aim too high. Rather than a full, learned memoir, Nice to Meet You (Simon & Schuster, £18.99) is more of a scrapbook of diary entries and photographs and notes on songs, all underpinned by her being wowed by sudden fame.

For those craving some deeper musical history, Danny Baker's Going to Sea in a Sieve (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, £18.99) charts the radio presenter's journey from being a record nerd as a kid to the punk revolution, when he joined the staff of the NME, but irritatingly stops in 1982, just before his radio career took off. That's saved for the sequel.

Following the success of Caitlin Moran's How To Be a Woman, Miranda Hart wheels out her own dilemmas in Is It Just Me? (Hodder and Stoughton, £20). The comedian, perplexed by the demands made of the female of the species, of diets and weddings and hat-wearing, peppers this memoir-cum-self-help book with her typical jolly-hockeysticks humour.

In Camp David (Penguin, £20), David Walliams, formerly admired for Little Britain, now lounging in a judge's chair on Britain's Got Talent, demands the reader's attention. It lurches from revelations about his depression to revelations about his sexual adventures with British Airways stewardesses to further revelations about his working relationship with his Little Britain co-star Matt Lucas, all of which confirm that Walliams certainly has the ego to be a star.

Far more entertaining is the third volume of Paul O'Grady's memoirs, Still Standing (Bantam Press, £20), in which the Birkenhead wit tells not only of his life but that of his creation, Lily Savage, who bestrode comedy stages and eventually television screens from the 1980s onwards. O'Grady has such an eye for a story and for dialogue that even those who aren't interested in the finer details of geisha wigs can't fail to be engaged.

While on the subject of sexual identity, an honourable mention must also go to Rupert Everett, inset right, who follows up his best-selling 2006 memoir Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins with further indiscreet tales of the ridiculous world of Hollywood celebrity, in Vanished Years (Little, Brown, £20). Among his many fine observations is one that unlocks the key to Simon Schama. He is "one of those peculiar fey straights," notes Everett, "a male lesbian, more dangerous even than the lesbian herself".

There's no question of James Bond's sexuality, and Roger Moore turns out a magnificent testosterone-filled book, Bond on Bond (Michael O'Mara, £25), in which Aston Martins, underwater cars and gadgets, as well as his own career, are pored over in loving, obsessive detail.

While Bond dropped in to the Olympics, it was Clare Balding who talked us through them. The sports presenter has marked a new peak in her career with the release of a bittersweet memoir of her childhood, entitled My Animals and other Families (Penguin, £20). Recalling growing up as a quick-tempered, overweight and horse-obsessed teenager who never became the jockey her father, a champion trainer, might have liked, Balding's story is in part a humorous look at sporting failure. It's also about working out what is memorable, and memoir-able, about every life.

Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices