Writing under her full name, Nicole Polizzi, Snooki has published as many novels ("A Shore Thing" and "Gorilla Beach") as she's reportedly read ("Dear John" and "Twilight"), one more than the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Unlike Harper Lee, Snooki did not win a Pulitzer Prize, though I think I did hear that she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for breaking up a bar fight between two roid-raged "gorillas" during season three of her show.
Snooki — like Nicole Ritchie, Pamela Anderson, the Kardashian sisters, Hilary Duff, Sharon Osbourne, Tyra Banks and a whole bunch of other famous people — is a "celebrity novelist," meaning their names are on the covers, but they didn't actually write the words inside.
Often the specific identities of the true authors are kept secret, but we know Snooki's books were ghostwritten by Valerie Frankel, a highly thought of "chick-lit" novelist, which explains why "A Shore Thing" (at least the opening 20 pages) snaps along more than satisfactorily. I can't imagine someone laying claim to the Kardashians' "Dollhouse," which is apparently a roman à clef, as it features sisters Kamille, Kassidy and Kyle Romero, one of whom becomes "headline-making famous." Whether this is via a sex tape, I don't know, because I can't bring myself to even crack it open.
There is a difference between "celebrity novelists," when the books are merely products extending their brands, and "celebrities who write novels," some of whom are as good as anyone out there — which is sort of annoying to admit, actually.
Ethan Hawke has written two literary novels, "The Hottest State" and "Ash Wednesday." "The Hottest State" is a coming-of-age novel that might not have gotten out of the author's desk drawer if he hadn't been famous, but "Ash Wednesday," a book I started reading out of schadenfreude, turns out to be a more than credible effort.
Carrie Fisher will always be Princess Leia to a certain generation, and most readers will be more familiar with her best-selling memoir, "Wishful Drinking," but her novel, "Postcards from the Edge," a thinly fictionalized tale of a movie star dealing with a drug and alcohol addiction, is terrifically funny and poignant.
Another very fine novel written by a celebrity is "The Gun Seller" by Hugh Laurie. Published before Laurie became famous in America as Dr. House, "The Gun Seller" is the story of a retired army tough guy who gets wrapped up in an international arms conspiracy. It's like a Jack Reacher novel with much better jokes.
The current champion of celebrities who write novels, at least in my estimation, is Steve Martin. He's published several books, including the novels "The Pleasure of My Company," "Shopgirl" and "An Object of Beauty" — and each of them shows, for lack of a better phrase, a real writer at work.
You shouldn't open them looking for laughs, though. Snooki snaps off more one-liners in the opening five pages of "A Shore Thing" than Martin has in his entire oeuvre. My favorite is "An Object of Beauty," set in the Manhattan art scene, with striving gallery girl Lacey Yeager at its center, though the novel is told Gatsby-style by an insider/outsider, Lacey's journalist friend Daniel Franks. Lacey is hard to love, but you can't wait to find out what happens to her.
I was pleased enough in reading the novel that I forgave Mr. Martin for showing the rest of us up with his movie-starring, classic-stand-up-creating, banjo-playing, novel-writing ways.
Biblioracle John Warner is the author of "Funny Man." Follow him on Twitter @Biblioracle.
The Biblioracle offers his recommendations
1. "Stupid Children" by Lenore Zion
2. "My Only Wife" by Jac Jemc
3. "Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir" by Beth Ditto
4. "Writer, M.D.: The Best Contemporary Fiction and Nonfiction by Doctors" edited by Leah Kaminsky
5. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn