ST. LOUIS — If you were a chubby kid, insecure, a bit nerdy — or, better yet, all three — chances are you now work in TV comedy.

Two of the most entertaining books of a year in which many people in television put their stories between hard covers came from Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) and Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor on “The Office”).

In “Bossypants,” Fey reveals that she grew up pale and awkward, with a perpetual bad haircut (for proof, there are pictures) and a scar on her face that was her only claim to fame. In a recurring dream, she was being chased through an airport by her gym teacher. She felt like herself only in a local theater program.

Kaling, who titles her book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns),” was pudgy (she still is, she insists) and dark-skinned. (“Like being Indian, being chubby feels like it is just part of my permanent deal.”) She didn’t learn to ride a bike until she was 12, and if handed a basketball, “I would instantly begin to cry.”

Fey admits following an uninterested boyfriend around for years in college. (Even she doesn’t seem positive how she wound up in a happy marriage, with two kids.) Kaling confesses that “hooking up confuses me” and recalls how she once abandoned her jacket to avoid an old boyfriend and his hot date.

The twist to both books isn’t a surprise: Our heroines triumphed. Fey fought sexism at “Saturday Night Live,” in the book’s most interesting chapters, and is a triple threat (star, writer, executive producer) on “30 Rock.” Kaling is both an actor and writer on “The Office.”

As Fey sums up: “Do your own thing and don’t care if they like it.”

Rob Lowe never felt insecure — he’s Rob Lowe, after all, and was a kid so handsome, he had to fight off job offers. But in “Stories I Only Tell My Friends,” he tells of losing himself to substance abuse, only to be rescued by his wife, Sheryl. Lowe also writes, finally, about his exit from “The West Wing,” giving his side of the complicated story.

Lowe’s confessions, like his title, are tame next to what “Saturday Night Live” veteran Darrell Hammond has to say in “God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F***ed.”

Also on the book circuit this year was Jane Lynch of “Glee,” who writes in “Happy Accidents” that she was born with “an extra helping of angst” and wished nothing more than to go unnoticed. As a girl, she knew she was attracted to other girls, what she calls her “big gay secret.” But her real coming out, her book convinces readers, was as a strong, confident woman.

Ellen DeGeneres promises insight into “life and love and other ‘L’ words” — even to let us know how she found happiness — in her third book, “Seriously … I’m Kidding.” But in the end, she’s mostly content to poke fun at herself in stream-of-consciousness style.

“Sometimes,” she says, “the greatest things are the most embarrassing.”

And then there’s Betty White, who at 89 is still focused on “now,” not “then.” In “If You Ask Me” (And of Course You Won’t),” White writes primarily about the past two decades of her life, about friendships and animals (her true love) and comedy. There’s a good chance you’ll come away thinking angst is overrated.

Here are other notable TV-related books of 2011:

“Roseanarchy: Dispatches From the Nut Farm,” by Roseanne Barr, Gallery, 304 pages, $26

“Jeannie Out of the Bottle,” by Barbara Eden, Crown Archetype, 288 pages, $25

“I’m Just Sayin’!: Three Deaths, Seven Husbands, and a Clone! My Life on ‘Guiding Light’ and Beyond,” by Kim Zimmer and Laura Morton, NAL, 320 pages, $26.95

“How I Got This Way,” by Regis Philbin, It Books, 336 pages, $25.99

“The Garner Files: A Memoir,” by James Garner, Simon & Schuster, 288 pages, $25.99

“My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business,” by Dick Van Dyke, Crown Archetype, 345 pages, $25

“Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions,” by Larry King, Weinstein, 248 pages, $25

“The Oprah Winfrey Show: Reflections on an American Legacy,” by Deborah Davis, Harry N. Abrams, 240 pages, $50

“From Yesterday to TODAY: Six Decades of America’s Favorite Morning Show,” by Stephen Battaglio, Running Press, 272 pages, $30

“I Love Lucy: A Celebration of All Things Lucy: Inside the World of Television’s First Great Sitcom,” by Elisabeth Edwards, Running Press, 255 pages, $30

“Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America,” by Leslie Knope, Hyperion paperback, 256 pages, $19.99

“The World of Downton Abbey,” by Jessica Fellowes, St. Martin’s Press, 298 pages, $29.95

“License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver,” by Rick Harrison and Tim McKeown, Hyperion, 272 pages, $23.99

“American Pickers Guide to Picking,” by Libby Callaway, Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and Danielle Colby, Hyperion, 224 pages, $24.99

“Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir,” by Steven Tyler, Ecco, 400 pages, $27.99

Actress/comedienne Tina Fey


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