For most of Gen Z, Jennette McCurdy is a cultural icon. With a background in acting, singing, and podcasting, she has seemingly done it all. Now, she is a bestselling author. As a writer, her darkly humorous energy, candid voice, and ability to facilitate hard conversations have resonated with audiences. Between her newest book club announcement and a UBP exclusive, if you couldn’t get enough of her writing, we’ve got the ultimate Jennette McCurdy reading list rounded up!
At a young age, McCurdy was thrust into the entertainment industry in order to support her family and fulfill her mother’s projected dream. In 2007, she starred in the hit Nickelodeon comedy series iCarly where she quickly became a fan favorite as the butter sock-swinging best friend Sam Puckett. She later reprised her role in the spinoff series Sam and Cat. While McCurdy was busy filling childhoods with laughter and light, she was struggling behind the scenes. Between a toxic environment both on set and at home, it became apparent by the end of her second children’s show that her heart was not in it.
After her massive Nickelodeon success, she remained in the commercial spotlight starring in the Netflix drama series Between and continuing to pursue a country music career (which she absolutely rocked). She decided to officially step out of the mainstream in 2017 to dive into directing and writing full-time.
With impassioned candor, McCurdy has since produced phenomenal work serving as director, producer, writer, and actor in several indie short films. Through her dark humor and warm authenticity, she manages to tackle loaded subjects with a perspective that is wise beyond her years.
In 2020, she starred in her tragicomedy one-woman show “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” selling out runs in Los Angeles and New York City. The same year, she began hosting an interview-style podcast called “Empty Inside” where she invited guests to share personal experiences and discuss topics that many would deem hard to talk about.
Following the overwhelmingly positive response to her one-woman show, she released her debut novel, a memoir aptly titled I’m Glad My Mom Died. The hilarious yet heartwrenching book details her life growing up as a child actress with an abusive mother. In the writing, she explores understanding [and coping] with the effects of that trauma. McCurdy is an exceptional writer with a uniquely earnest tone that perfectly balances humor, intensity, and great storytelling.
The #1 New York Times Bestseller covers heavy subjects like eating disorders, family dysfunction, manipulation, the complicated relationship with her abusive, narcissistic mother, and more. Through her voice, McCurdy has become a brave conversation starter for children of abusive mothers around the world (and for anyone else with struggles similar to her own).
Expectedly, McCurdy is a huge reader. In fact, her true passion above all else has always been writing. She often shares her favorite books publicly both on social media and her website in a section titled “stuff I’ve been enjoying.” This month, she decided to create an interactive reading experience via Instagram. On May 7, she announced the commencement of a virtual book club in which she would choose one non-fiction and one fiction book each month for followers to read and discuss in her messages and comments. She encouraged participants to tag her in any posts regarding the book club, noting that she would “be looking out.”
The picks for the month of May are The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland and Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls. Check out her thoughts on the books below:
As I put together this reading list, I am reflecting on the wonderful experience I had attending one of the stops on her college tour to discuss and promote I’m Glad My Mom Died. As McCurdy spoke with our moderator, the room was absolutely enthralled by her funny comments and genuine interest in having a productive conversation that spanned beyond the specific contents of her book. In truth, what I expected to be a night full of chatter about the excitement of having “Sam Puckett” on our campus quickly proved to be the opposite. I found it emotional to glance around the room and see all my peers, eyes bright, taking in every bit of advice and discourse. The love and appreciation in the room was almost palpable. It hit me as I was observing that somewhere along the way, our crowd of gap-toothed, sugar-stuffed kids sat in front of the TV watching iCarly became well-educated, gracious adults hungry to learn from and have a real conversation with someone we had grown up alongside. I think there’s magic in that.
From discussing the book anecdotes to traversing the ups and downs of people-pleasing, identity work, and recovery, the show felt like witnessing a live therapy session. After 45 minutes, the floor opened for questions that we had all submitted weeks prior. Suddenly, my name and major were being announced, and I think I stopped breathing. After all, only five were chosen out of hundreds submitted. When I picked my heart up off the floor, I could finally hear my question being asked as the moderator read, “What is currently on your reading list?” She seemed excited to answer as any avid reader would be. After she asked the audience for any recommendations, she shared two books that she had recently loved. Find those titles and more below!
Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
Everyone Knows How Much I Love You by Kyle McCarthy
Love Worth Making: How To Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship by Stephen Snyder M.D.
Broken People by Sam Lanksy
Little Children by Tom Perrotta
What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo
Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors
I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays by Sloane Crosley
Just By Looking At Him by Ryan O’Connell
The Gilded Razor by Sam Lanksy
Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
Encouragement Can Be Fatal: Prose Poems by Mike DiCenzo
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff
Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher
Homesick For Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh
The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright
Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick
The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
Empty by Susan Burton
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
A Feminine Ending by Sarah Treem
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Good Old Neon by David Foster Wallace
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Red Speedo: A Play by Lucas Hnath
The Christians: A Play by Lucas Hnath
This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan
Don’t Bite the Hook by Pema Chödrön
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
Via Jennette McCurdy
Be sure to follow her on Instagram to join in on the book club picks for June, and look out for her debut fiction novel coming soon!