Even to those of us who don’t dream of stardom, Hollywood has a fascinating appeal. It’s incredibly tempting to take a look behind the scenes at how the bulk of our entertainment is produced. There are many, many books dedicated to just that, offering both fictional tales of Tinseltown and true stories in the form of memoirs and sensational tell-alls. If you’re looking to escape to the west without leaving your couch, check out these books about Hollywood:
1. The Love of the Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald spent the last years of his life living in California and trying to work as a screenwriter—he died in Hollywood at just 44 years old. His last novel, though unfinished, was edited and published by a friend after his death as The Last Tycoon. Another later version debuted as The Love of the Last Tycoon. The story follows film producer Monroe Stahr as he rises to fame and clashes with rival producer Pat Brady. Stahr and Brady are based on real-life Hollywood bigwigs Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer, and The Last Tycoon explores the conflicts that bubble below the surface of the town.
2. MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot by Steven Bingen, Stephen X. Sylvester, and Michael Troyan
Most likely, at least one of your favorite old movies was made by MGM during Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” This book takes readers on a tour of the MGM lot, recounting the history of the studio that gave us Ben-Hur, Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, and Gone with the Wind, to name just a few. It’s full of rare photos and juicy tidbits that will excite any movie fan.
3. The Player by Michael Tolkin
With a slightly more current representation of Hollywood, Michael Tolkin’s novel The Player follows studio executive Griffin Mill, one of the most powerful people in the movie business, as he deals with a death threat from a writer he rejected. Mill represents the dark, ambitious side of Hollywood, and you’ll have trouble putting this book down as he loses his grip on his success and safety.
4. The Kid Stays In The Picture by Robert Evans
There are countless Hollywood memoirs out there, but famed film producer Robert Evans’ autobiography remains one of the most memorable and popular. Evans was heavily involved with some of the most famous American movies ever made, including The Godfather, Chinatown, and Rosemary’s Baby, and this book is full of sometimes-unbelievable stories about making them.
5. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
The Day of the Locust, published in 1939, presents a bleak but fascinating examination of how the American Dream is even less achievable in Hollywood than in the rest of the country. Protagonist Tod Hackett, Yale graduate and Hollywood hopeful, gets a job with a movie studio and encounters characters that embody nearly every movie industry stereotype. This book will make you rethink the idea of Hollywood glamour.
6. Love, Lucy by Lucille Ball
There’s nothing like a good story of a star’s rise to fame, and Lucille Ball‘s memoir, written at the peak of her success, offers just that. She shares details about her personal and professional life, with plenty of behind-the-scenes and backstage stories to keep I Love Lucy fans enthralled. Love, Lucy is an intimate look at the career of one of America’s most memorable female stars.
7. Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton Oswalt
If you’re the biggest movie buff among your friends, Patton Oswalt’s book will speak to you on a spiritual level. In the 1990s when he first moved to L.A., Oswalt went through a period of obsessively watching movies, from classic films to new releases, at the New Beverly Cinema. Silver Screen Fiend chronicles his movie-going experiences and how they influenced his own career. It’s a fascinating look at a fervent love of entertainment from an entertainer.
These titles will make you feel like you’re right there in the California sun, chasing stardom yourself… but dealing with less traffic.
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