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Ghostwritten books of the past, and a poll: Who's being ghosted now?

October 27, 2009 |  2:43 pm
Conradandstern

In a twist on Halloween, the online bookseller Abebooks has collected its top 10 ghostwritten books. The best story -- although perhaps the worst-written -- is of actress Hedy Lamarr. Although she was listed as the sole author of her memoir, "Ecstasy and Me," she found it so riddled with lies -- penned by ghostwriter Leo Guild -- that she sued the publisher. Whoops.

Some very literary writers worked as ghostwriters: Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis, Larry McMurtry and H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote a book for Harry Houdini.

These days, there are plenty of celebrities putting out books. Some of those books share credit with the writer who does the sentence-lifting -- like Neil Strauss, who co-wrote memoirs by Marilyn Manson, Jenna Jameson and Dave Navarro. His name appears on the covers of their books.

But not all high-profile people who publish books name a coauthor. Do you think they're sitting down at the laptop, day after day? Or is it possible any of these authors has a ghost -- ephemeral, invisible -- typing away, behind the scenes? Cast your vote for the book you think is most likely to have been ghostwritten.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: left, Lauren Conrad; credit, Kristian Dowling / Getty Images. Right: Howard Stern, credit: Getty Images

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