Caitlin Moran's 7 favorite books about youth, music, and fame

The prolific author recommends works by Sue Townsend, Rupert Everett, and more

Caitlin Moran.
(Image credit: Mark Harrison)

In Caitlin Moran's new novel, How to Be Famous, the heroine of How to Build a Girl has become a 19-year-old rock journalist in London. Below, Moran — also the author of How to Be a Woman — names her favorite books about youth, music, and fame.

Music From Big Pink by John Niven (Continuum, $15).

A book as astonishing as it is beautiful — a smoky, textured piece of time travel that provides a fictionalized glimpse of the Band recording its first album. Every rock fan will be obsessed with it.

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The Moon's a Balloon (Penguin U.K., $13) and Bring On the Empty Horses (Hodder, $14) by David Niven.

Niven's memoirs are crammed with anecdotes about the great and the good being great and/or appalling: Errol Flynn battling alcoholism and finding God; Cary Grant taking LSD and swimming in Niven's pool for hours. The most gossipy, charming, and immersive books about Hollywood ever.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend (HarperTeen, $10).

No one has written about adolescence better than Townsend, a working-class single mother from Leicester whose debut became an instant classic. The story of a slightly maudlin, slightly pretentious boy racked with sexuality resembles James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, only incredibly funny and with less wanging on about God.

Complete Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (Bantam, $48).

In a world that still lacks realistic yet uplifting adolescent heroines, we will always have Anne Shirley. She gets her best friend drunk, cracks a slate over a hot boy's head, accidentally dyes her hair green, and falls off a shed roof. She's a deeply odd, deeply joyful girl who starts off alone in the world and gradually builds a happy life for herself.

Revolution in the Head by Ian MacDonald (Chicago Review, $19).

A simple idea — a book that describes and tells the story behind every Beatles song — becomes irresistible in the hands of a master. My go-to book for 20 years. I even read it whilst in labor.

Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett (Grand Central, $26).

The true heir to David Niven's sweat-and-glitter memoirs, Everett's endlessly funny, endlessly frank account of going from rent boy to Hollywood star effectively torpedoed his career for the next decade, as Hollywood decided it could not deal with this much ravishingly bitchy truth. His observations on co-stars Sharon Stone and Madonna will never be bettered.

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