Every year, countless celebrities from the TV and film worlds publish books about their lives and careers. Unfortunately, most of them belong in the remainder bin, but there are always a few worthy gems among the dross. These three books—two about movies and one about TV—stand out for their thoughtfulness, creativity, and depth.

In the early 2000s, many so-called experts (and even uninformed amateurs like me) predicted a swift end to the reality TV phenomenon. Cut to nearly a quarter-century later, and reality programming is still going strong. Though I’ve never been a fan, outside of the occasional cooking show, I do enjoy reading criticism of the genre, and few TV critics are as simultaneously astute and entertaining as Emily Nussbaum, author of Cue the Sun! The Invention of Reality TV (Random House, June 25). In her follow-up to her excellent 2019 book, I Like To Watch—which our starred review called a collection of “sharp, insightful writing that firmly positions Nussbaum as one of the leading TV critics of our time”—the New Yorker critic offers a “comprehensive history of a TV genre that shows no signs of disappearing.” From The Real World to The Bachelor to Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire?, the author focuses her “critical, compassionate, practiced eye” on a topic that never fails to generate discussion, effectively “drawing connections among pop-culture trends and painting big personalities with a broad stroke.”

Big, vibrant personalities abound in the Dunne family, captured memorably by actor, producer, and director Griffin Dunne in The Friday Afternoon Club: A Family Memoir (Penguin Press, June 11), in which the author “retraces [his] history, offering colorful snippets of life in an intriguing, privileged milieu,” according to our starred review. Dunne frames the narrative with an account of the murder of his sister, Dominique, and the birth of his daughter, Hannah, and he explores the progress of his career and the ins and outs of his unique family life, describing his relationships with everyone from John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion to Carrie Fisher, one of his primary confidantes. Despite the many bright lights that populate these pages, darkness is never far away. As our reviewer notes, “the tragedy of Dominique’s murder looms throughout,” and the author delivers “a poignant love letter and evidence that through it all, genuine love is the backbone that keeps a family strong.”

This month brings us another career retrospective from a Hollywood veteran, director Susan Seidelman. In Desperately Seeking Something: A Memoir About Movies, Mothers, and Material Girls (St. Martin’s, June 18), she offers what our critic called “a revealing peek” into her life and career. Unlike many celebrity memoirists, Seidelman opens with “an appealing vulnerability,” writing, “‘In one of my bored and narcissistic check-ins I found the following question posted under my Wikipedia page: Whatever happened to Susan Seidelman?’” She answers that question and more, shedding valuable light on the punk drama Smithereens, which made her “the first American independent filmmaker to compete at the Cannes Film Festival,” as well as her career-long work as “an advocate for groups of underrepresented people.” Film buffs will eat it up.

Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction editor.