Sure, you know Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone has three kids, two marriages, and a boatload of films and albums under her belt. But did you know she’s also inspired authors and even penned a few books of her own? Just in time for her Super Bowl XLVI performance in Indianapolis, here’s a roundup of Madge-centric books that might alter your opinion of the Material Girl’s oeuvre—and private life.
Reason #1: She’s not shy about sex. She puts it all out on the table… literally.
Evidence: “Sex” by Madonna
Madge’s literary debut caused quite a stir in the United States. Released in 1992 in conjunction with her “Erotica” album, the coffee table book included images depicting Madonna involved in sadomasochism, bondage, and simulations of various sex acts. Model Naomi Campbell, actress Isabella Rossellini, rapper Vanilla Ice, actor Udo Kier (who also makes an appearance in the video for the song “Erotic”) and other famous faces (and bodies) pop up in various titillating tableaux. Madonna herself narrates the book as “Mistress Dita.” The book, now an out-of-print collector’s item, came with a CD packaged in what looked like a condom wrapper, as well as a short comic.
Reason #2: She’s a great boss.
“Madonna Confessions” by Guy Oseary
Can you imagine being Madonna’s manager? She’s not exactly a Type B, laid-back personality. But Israeli-born entertainment dynamo Guy Oseary has survived—and thrived—as Madonna’s right-hand man for seven years, and for far longer as her business partner at Maverick Records and Maverick Films (the folks who brought you “Twilight.” You’re welcome.) In fact, the two have worked together for more than 20 years in one capacity or another. In “Madonna Confessions” Guy shows off his artistic skills as a photographer, capturing over 250 images of the whirling, prancing, fierce diva on her 2006 Confessions tour. For an up-close and personal view of Madonna by someone who knows her intimately, “Madonna Confessions” can’t be beat.
Reason #3: She’s got a big family, and just like yours, it isn’t perfect.
“Life With My Sister Madonna” by Christopher Ciccone and Wendy Leigh
While it’s always best to take memoirs from estranged family members with a grain of salt, the delicious revelations therein are generally unrivaled by any official autobiographies. Madonna’s brother, Christopher, art-directed her Blond Ambition tour and directed her The Girlie Show tour. He relates anecdotes about Madonna’s early life, including her relationship with their stepmother, Joan, and the antics of all eight Ciccone siblings (Marty, Melanie, Anthony, Paula, Jennifer, and Mario are the other offspring). Amateur genealogists may also enjoy learning such details as the fact that Madonna is descended from French Canadian settlers as well as Italian immigrants.
Reason #4: She’s still got a girly side.
“The English Roses” by Madonna with illustrations by Jeffrey Fulvimari
Madonna’s first book of Kabbalah-inspired moral stories for children, “The English Roses: Friends for Life!,” was translated into 32 languages and published simultaneously in 100 countries. Not bad for a first-time children’s author! The first entry in the series explores the relationships between Nicole, Amy, Binah, Grace, and Charlotte, five little English girls living in London. While the inspiration behind the book is spiritual, it doesn’t contain overt religious messages but rather communicates life lessons that may be seen as universal and even secular.
Reason #5: She always has something to teach us.
“Yakov and the Seven Thieves” by Madonna with illustrations by Gennady Spirin
In this Kabbalah-inspired book for children, we meet Yakov, a sweet shoemaker, and his wife, Olga. Their son, Mikhail, is sick, and they seek out assistance from a very wise old man who says that his prayers are powerful and pure enough to pass through the gates of heaven. Surprisingly enough, the titular seven thieves end up providing help rather than harm. The tale is set in 18th-century Ukraine, and award-winning illustrator Gennady Spirin creates a beautiful and evocative visual accompaniment to the fable. The moral of the story? Miracles can happen if you truly have faith. And of course, express yourself.