Jessica Simpson’s 2020 memoir Open Book is the gift that keeps giving. It has spawned multiple adaptations (a docuseries and a scripted series are on the way) and, at least anecdotally, remains in the ether as a towering example of its form. It’s a highly readable celebrity memoir with true insight on fame that isn’t saddled by its author’s ego—Simpson is as exacting when it comes to writing about her flaws and struggles as she is regarding the people that have made her life harder. “I feel more understood than ever,” she told Jezebel last year, in the wake of her bestseller’s success.
Well, there’s at least one person who isn’t receiving her transmission: her ex-husband Nick Lachey, with whom she appeared alongside on the career-defining MTV reality show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. In an interview on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM show, Lachey claimed that he’s left Open Book closed. When Cohen asked him if he read it, Lachey’s first reaction was, “Hahahaha,” just like that—more like he was reading the transcript of a text message than actually laughing.
“You’ll be shocked to hear that I have not, nor will I ever read it,” he said. Cohen asked if he’d been debriefed on the book’s contents, or even, say, five need-to-know highlights. “Well here’s the thing. I obviously knew the book was coming out, but I lived the book,” said Lachey. “You know what I mean? I know what the truth is so I don’t need to read it, or read someone’s version of it in a story that I know, that I lived it. No, I never read it.”
Well, that’s a shame because it’s a really good book. Part of what makes Simpson’s writing appear so credible is her even hand—she does not excoriate people (though she does read John Mayer pretty ruthlessly) but she seems to achieve clarity on what went wrong in certain situations. As her three-year marriage to Lachey wore on, Simpson writes, they settled into a certain pattern:
Cue the cycle. I would accuse him of having a wandering eye, and he would rip into me, making sure I knew I was the one causing the problems in our marriage. Everything was my fault. In a real way, I agreed. There was something Nick wanted from me that I no longer had, an emptiness I couldn’t fill, and neither could he.
A broader assessment of their dynamic goes:
We were not one of those couples that screamed at each other, let whatever fly out of our mouths, and then make mad, passionate love. No, we would yell at each other, and then he would go out of town and not answer his phone. Vegas or Miami with his boys. Or he would just stay out late to teach me a lesson.
Finally they arrived here:
We were in a place where we loved each other fine, but we just didn’t like each other. I could feel him trying to like me, but everything I did seemed to annoy him.
Stress on their relationship also included playing it out in front of cameras, as well as the size of her profile compared to his. They separated in November 2005. In advance of the May 2006 release of his solo album, What’s Left of Me, which was apparently about their relationship and its termination (in the video for the title track, Lachey’s future wife Vanessa Minnillo portrayed a Simpson-esque character), Lachey played Simpson the album during a private listening session at her house, according to one of the cringiest Open Book passages:
Nick brought his album to play for me, and I had to sit in my living room listening to his songs about me. He even sang along and would look at me for praise. Or glance at me when there was a particularly cruel line about me. I was numb, just blank. How do you react when you find out you have apparently hurt someone so deeply that they feel entitled to such actions? I felt manipulated into some revenge fantasy, but I had put myself in this situation.
How do you react in such a situation? Not wisely, dear readers. Simpson continues: “I didn’t know any other way to make it better, so I slept with him. I know. I wish you were there to stop me, too.”
If I did what Lachey is alleged to have done above, I wouldn’t want to relive any of it either. A huge yikes to all.