“There comes a time in every sitcom actress’s life when she is faced with the prospect of writing a book. When my number was up, I told myself that I would not blink. I would fulfill my duty as an upbeat actress under contract on a television series and serve my country the only way I knew how.”
And so begins the joy that is Ellie Kemper’s My Squirrel Days. Kemper’s first (but hopefully not last) collection of personal essays is an absolute treat, as upbeat and charming as Kemper herself.
Kemper, who has previously written for The Onion, The New York Times and GQ, pulls audiences in with her conversational tone and relatability as she navigates motherhood, bridesmaid duties and email etiquette. Celebrities—they really are just like us!
Taking readers through her childhood staging Christmas plays and attempting to commune with squirrels in suburban St. Louis, through online shopping while playing a receptionist on The Office to wearing hot pink pants and working with Tina Fey on Kimmy Schmidt, Kemper’s book is a sincere, hilarious glimpse inside the mind of one of Hollywood’s most endearing and down-to-earth stars.
With the release of My Squirrel Days, Kemper falls into the good company of riotous women who have lived through the awkward, the glorious and the downright icky, and lived to pen the tale.
Once you’re done with My Squirrel Days, here are some other titles worth the (re)read.
Tina Fey is the gold standard for comedy, so it only makes sense that her book is as well. Every page of Bossypants delivers multiple laughs, from her exploration of the ideal body (full Spanish lips, small Japanese feet and the arms of Michelle Obama), to her early years of improv to her godlike adoration of Lorne Michaels and how that infamous Sarah Palin impression got off the ground. Fey covers a lifetime of success and failure in her witty, self-deprecating tone, making Bossypants a must-read for comedy lovers, bibliophiles, women, men, children above the age of 13, and humans in general.
Most people gloss over the weird, terrible things that have happened in their life: Jenny Lawson puts it all out there on the page for readers to laugh at. And that’s okay, because she’s laughing too. Lawson’s tales—having her pet duck eaten by homeless people, dealing with crippling anxiety and growing up the child of an eccentric taxidermist—weave between reality and generously exaggerated, for a page-turner that is honest and over-the-top funny.
Before anyone else, there was Nora Ephron. Not only did she pen some of our favorite rom-coms, but her candid personal essays offer up a hilarious look at some of life’s not-so-hilarious moments. Ephron’s intimate, accessible voice makes readers feel as if they’re listening to a friend, rather than one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters, as she muses on the aging process.
Mindy Kaling has graced the world with not just one, but two, works of comedic brilliance, but Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? holds a special place in this writer’s heart. It’s where Kaling expounds on her days growing up the adorably nerdy child of immigrant parents, how an impersonation of Ben Affleck put her on the map and why a true best friend knows they don’t always have to call back. Between the essays, lists and black-and-white photos reminding us that chain-link belts were a thing in the early 2000s, Kaling’s first book is one that can be enjoyed time and time again.
Amy Poehler is that cool older sister we all wish we had, so Yes Please, which reads part memoir, part instructional manual for life, is a welcome source of both wit and wisdom. Whether she’s talking about her love for improv, being a bad sleeper or telling readers to stick up for themselves, the Saturday Night Live star’s book provides plenty of hilarious and inspirational one-liners.