Jennette McCurdy was thrown into show business at the age of eight, pressured not only to fulfill her mother’s dream, but to financially support a family of six. In 2007 she landed the breakthrough role of tough-talking, butter-swinging Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon sitcom iCarly, and reprised the character in its spin-off series Sam & Cat. After starring in the Netflix series Between and briefly pursuing a country music career, she quit professional acting to focus on writing and directing in 2017.

With a pilot and four short films under her belt, McCurdy’s post-Nick career has specialized in character-driven pieces that explore family dysfunction, child stardom, and disillusionment in a darkly funny, offbeat way. In 2020, her tragicomedy one-woman show “I’m Glad My Mom Died” had sold-out runs in Los Angeles and New York City, and she launched the “Empty Inside” podcast, an interview series that takes guests on deep dives of tough topics.

This year, McCurdy expanded her show into the heartbreaking and hilarious memoir I’m Glad My Mom DiedAn instant bestseller and overnight sensation, the book details her struggles with childhood trauma, manipulation, an eating disorder addiction, and all the harrowing realities that come with early fame. Centering the complicated, co-dependent relationship she had with her narcissistic mother, its publication has brought solace to daughters of abusive moms everywhere, and provided a much-needed critique of the pedestal we automatically place motherhood on.

In the “stuff” section of her site, McCurdy collects the books, music, and movies she’s been enjoying lately. Much like her work, her literary picks explore themes of intimacy, addiction, feminism, family, and self-acceptance. From Carrie Fisher to Cormac McCarther, find her favorite books below.

Jennette McCurdy’s Reading List

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

Encouragement Can Be Fatal by Mike DiCenzo

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeannette Winterson

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

Postcards From The Edge by Carrie Fisher

The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright (also rec’d by Ann Patchett & Kim Gordon)

The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr (also rec’d by Amy Tan)

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Ham On Rye by Charles Bukowski (also rec’d by Drew Barrymore & Kurt Cobain)

A Feminine Ending by Sarah Treem

Good Old Neon by David Foster Wallace

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (also rec’d by Ellen DeGeneres, Florence Welch & Sarah Jessica Parker)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (also rec’d by Bruce Springsteen, Michael J. Fox & Nick Cave)

Red Speedo 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 (also rec’d by Elizabeth GilbertGlennon DoyleLaurie AndersonMarianne Faithfull & Matt Haig)

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn

(via Jennette McCurdy)