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Cher Books

Considering her longevity, not many books have been written about Cher and she has yet to have written a meaty autobiography. Here are the books that are available to date. Stars denote my rating.

Biographies

Cher *
by George Carpozi
Berkley Publishing Corp, 1975

 

Superstar of the Seventies...Cher!
by Vicki Pellegrino
Ballantine Books, 1975

The Cher biographies of the mid 70s have some excellent coverage of the minutia surrounding her divorce from Sonny. Carpozi's book is the best with this detailed coverage, digging into the actual court documents. On the other hand, these biographies focus heavily on the tabloid aspects of her life and pass over the work. Novice Cher fans might read these and wonder if she'd ever recorded a catalogue of albums or if she simply had a string of hit singles and a TV show instead.

CHER!
by Mark Bego
Pocket Books, 1986

A very light 80s biography, published circa Mask. Too thin to adequately research her early career and published a little too early in that it just misses her phenomenal comeback of 1987. Bego compensates for this fact by publishing another biography of her in 2001 after her Believe tour.

Cher ***
by J. Randy Taraborrelli
St. Martin's Press, First Edition 1986
Reissue edition 1992

Simply the best Cher biography. Well researched. Interviews important players, like Snuff Garrett. Covers the movies, the music, the love life — all with equal balance. This biography was first published in 1987 and only covered Cher's life up to Mask. Thankfully, Taraborrelli published an update, with added chapters up to Mermaids. This is a fascinating read every time I pick it up.

Totally Uninhibited; The Life and Wild Times of Cher
by Lawrence J. Quirk
William Morrow, 1991

This biography earns the distinction of worst biography, in my mind. Quirk tries to shake things up by ordering the book by subject rather than by linear timeline. Biographies depend upon their timeline. Because when people do something is almost as important as what they do. It goes a long way to explain why they do what they do. Usually, they are a product of their time, or time forces their hand. So either you should get an orderly timeline of a biography or else a collection of essays reflecting on someone's life and work. This book is neither. It's basically a biographer who is unsympathetic and uninterested in his subject and trying to re-energize his project by shaking up the organization. It's hard to read, discombobulated, full of negativity, and it focuses entirely too much on her tabloid life.

Cher: If You Believe **
by Mark Bego
Cooper Square Press, 2001

Bego gives proper reverence to Cher in this rewrite of his earlier 80s biography. This is an improved version, with good Bego commentary on her music, which sometimes gets under-represented in her biographies. Probably the second best Cher biography. Lacks some of the broad context and detailed research of Taraborrelli's biography.

Cher: All I Really Want to Do *
by Daryl Easlea & Eddi Fiegel
Backbeat Books, 2013

Text version of You Haven't Seen the Last of Me. Places Cher's actions, music and film in context with other artists and events of the time and their thoughtful, well-written critical evaluation of Cher's work. Cheaper than the big photo book but without the amazing photos.

Cher: Strong Enough ***
by Josiah Howard
Plexus Publishing, 2013

Biography concentrating on the years around when Cher was working on Cher for CBS in 1975. Detailed history of the show and Cher's life surrounding the show. Not a general biograpy. A detailed study.

 

Books By or Almost By Cher

Cher Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan for Health, Fitness, and Beauty *
by Cher & Robert Haas
Bantam Books, 1991

This book was promoted simply as Cher's fitness book, her answer to every other celeb bible of health — from Christie Brinkley to Raquel Welch. Blame Jane Fonda. She started it. This book tries to do something different in being a total fitness plan — not just makeup or exercise. Robert Hass and Cher talk about exercise and eating low fat foods. It's slim on beauty tips. Interestingly enough, there's quite a bit of Cher autobiography in here. There are lots of anecdotes from Cher on many things unrelated to fitness and beauty. Be warned, a large chunk of the back of the book is a section of bland, low fat recipes.

The First Time *
by Cher
Pocket Books, 1998

It's very interesting and human. Which is all it has to be. It's full of untold anecdotes. That's its strength and its weakness. It's all anecdotes. Funny and touching as they may be, they offer no full understanding of her life. Which was most likely never her goal in the first place. Sometimes has the stale smell of contract fulfillment. But if you take the Zen approach and accept it for what it is — it's a good thing.

 

Books By Peripherals

And The Beat Goes On
by Sonny Bono
Pocket Star; 1991

Let's face it, this biography puts Cher in a very unpretty light, painting her as a stone-cold mother, ungratefully immature and ravenously ambitious. That said, if you can adequately consider the Sonny-bitterness factor and tune out some of his anti-Cher slights, you get some interesting insight into his view of the whole Sonny & Cher phenomenon. The problem is you have to be very careful with this biography because even Sonny gets some of the facts wrong.

Cooking for Cher
by Andy Ennis
Fireside, 1997

If you're a fan, it seems you must own celebrity recipes. I don't have an inherent interest in what Cher eats, other than hearing her wax poetic on Jack In The Box tacos year after year. But I bought the book anyway because I am a blind completist. And boy am I glad because sometimes you can be surprised. Just when you're thinking a boring book of recipes is coming to you via mail order, along comes some personal anecdotes. Talk about food can often lead to revealing storytelling. Not a large mass of revealing storytelling, but food for thought.

Family Outing
by Chastity Bono & Billie Fitzpatrick
Back Bay Books, 1999

Chastity's first book telling the story of universal difficulties of coming out. The majority of the book is the personal stories of non-Cher children coming out. Chastity did do her due diligence telling her own story coming out with Cher and this is the aspect of the book that the press was most interested in. Which is sad because the project had a larger purpose that possibly was glossed over and upstaged by Cher. What's new? Chastity also loosely talks about her childhood biography and growing up as the daughter of Sonny & Cher. It's definitely an important perspective on the saga.

The End of Innocence: A Memoir
by Chastity Bono & Michele Kort
Alyson Publications, 2003

Like Chastity's first book, this is not a biography and yet it does cover Chastity's biography from her outing through her lover Joan's death. A moving story in its own right — it humanizes Chastity, which is to say she breaks out as a person from under the shadow of Cher — which she does by showing her personal vulnerabilities. As it relates to Cher (and doesn't it all relate to Cher in the end?) — the book talks about Cher's circle of long-term, non-celebrity friends from way back when. And Chastity's girlfriend Joan was one of them. Gives Cher a non-celebrity dimension that was almost shockingly unseen before.

Transition **
by Chaz Bono & Billie Fitzpatrick
Dutton, 2011

This is the most comprehensive of Chaz's memoirs and probably the best one that deals with his childhood struggles and relationship with Cher as it chronicles his journey from early self-awareness to eventually deciding to transgender from a woman to a man. It picks up where the last memoir leaves off and tells the story of drug abuse, recovery and his relationship with then-fiancée Jennifer Elia.

 

Photo Biographies

Cher: a Visual Documentary **
by Mick St Michael
Omnibus Press, 1993

This picture-book biography has a nice visual timeline that hits upon Cher major highlights with only a few errors. Great large, colorful photographs. And not your run-o-the mill middle-of-the-book photographs. Worth the price for that fact alone. Flimsy binding. After a few readings, the pages start coming out.

Cher: In Her Own Words *
by Nigel Goodall
Omnibus Press, 1993

Another twist on the Cher biography — a story told through Cher quotes. Lots of interesting quotes and some good photos sprinkled all the way through.

Cher Scrapbook **
by Mary Anne Anne Cassata
Citadel Trade, 2002

A must for fans. Not a biography at all, but a true scrapbook of aspects of Cher from the fans point of view. Great layout, organization and photos. Some minor factual errors but nothing that should deter you from enjoying it.

You Haven't Seen the Last of Me**
by Daryl Easlea & Eddi Fiegel
Sterling, 2011

A few big factual errors but mostly this book, sold only by Barnes and Noble, is a joy to behold -- from the stylish layout and the larger-than-life pics to the generous biographical content. What is best about this volumne is how its authors, Easlea and Fiegel, place Cher's actions, music and film in context with other artists and events of the time and their thoughtful, well-written critical evaluation of Cher's work.

Female Force: Cher
by Mark Shapiro
Bluewater Productions, 2012

Comic book biography about Cher. A few mistakes and drawings out of biographical order. Liberties taken with drawings, such as the cover piece.

 

Children's Books
Most of these provide only surface information and yet most of them get even the basic facts wrong. Don't come here for any insights. You'll find a regurgitation of what everybody already thinks about Cher. Standard Cher over-simplifications and misconceptions. Some of the errors can be galling. But the books are not intended for the rabid fan in the end. They were created to coax kids into reading, and to prepare our country's youth for inane celebrity articles they will someday be reading on the treadmill in US and People Magazine.

Cher: Simply Cher
by Linda Jacobs Altman
EMC/Paradigm Publishing, 1975

That said, this is one of my favorites simply because it was the first Cher biography I ever read when I was about eight or nine years old, found right there on the shelves of my hometown library. It was the first bit of Cher history I ever digested. Ahh—if only we knew then what a Cher-history nut I would become.

Singing Sweetly: Cher, Roberta Flack, Olivia Newton John
by George Zanderbergen
Crestwood House, 1976

For some reason this book shows up on many lists of books to read about rock women of influence. Cher must share this thin volume with Olivia and Roberta, so the over-simplifications are extra over-simplified.

Sonny and Cher
by Thomas Braun
Children's Press, 1978

Besides Sonny's memoir, this is the only book written about Sonny and Cher. Why, oh why did nobody ever write about Sonny & Cher? This book is cheaply made and the pictures are awful and it isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Cher
by Michael Morgan
Turman Pub Co, 1988

Forgettable even as children's books go.

 

Cher: Singer and Actress (Reaching Your Goal)
by Rita Petrucelli
The Rourke Book Company, 1989

Part of a series that tries to encourage children with positive role models. And when something's part of a series, the individual parts of that series usually suffer from lack of attention. As expected, this one lacks personality. It's hard to rob the Cher story of personality. It's an amazing thing in its badness really.

Cher (Women of Achievement)
Cheryl Napsha & Connie Berman
Chelsea House Publishers, 2003

See above.

 

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