The battle of the celebrity memoirs

As Christmas approaches, it's time to pit the year's celebrity autobiographies against each other. So who will win: Clare Balding or Cheryl Cole, David Walliams or Rod Stewart?

Celebrity autobiographies

Lives and times: whose biography is the least toe-curling? Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

What awful times these are. George Osborne cannot meet his fiscal targets, money is too tight to mention, and this Christmas will apparently be further blighted by a shortage of parsnips and brussels sprouts. The festive season, then, is turning out to be somewhat less than festive – though one element of the modern winter ritual may yet cheer us all up, as usual.
Some say that books will soon go the same way as CDs. But visit your local WH Smith (or, rather, the local independent bookshop that does so much to protect cultural plurality and all that), and you will once again see a great mountain of print and paper, devoted to the intimate details of famous lives, described by the famous themselves. In other words, one heartwarming part of British culture remains unchanged – and with the exception of 1,227 QI Facts to Blow Your Socks Off and the must-have Chronicles of Downton Abbey, the summit of the current bestseller charts is dominated by celebrity autobiography.
For the third and possibly last time, I volunteered to read eight such books in their entirety and pitch them against each other in the manner of a sporting tournament, so as to decide which one you might reach for if you have one of those friends or relatives who you have to buy for, but don't actually like. So, we begin with two books that have so far sold around 40,000 and 150,000 respectively …
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