The best novels about the glitter and insanity of Hollywood

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many novelists – all the way back to F. Scott Fitzgerald --  writing for film and television has been my day job. The pay is obscenely good, and it leaves you time to write what you really love – fiction. Most writers in Hollywood have a love/hate relationship with the movie business – described by some wit as “a crapshoot masquerading as a business masquerading as an art form.” And the books I am recommending express this mixture of scorn and reverence with humor and compassion. In my book The Deal I am clearly biting the hand that fed me over the years – but why not? As that old humorist Albert Camus said, “There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.”


I wrote...

The Deal: A Novel of Hollywood

By Peter Lefcourt,

Book cover of The Deal: A Novel of Hollywood

What is my book about?

Washed up film producer Charlie Berns has mailed in his updated obit and is about to suck his Mercedes tailpipe and fade to black when a miracle materializes: his nephew, a wannabe screenwriter from New Jersey, has scripted the life story of Queen Victoria's prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, which Charlie manages to turn into a hot property that reinstates him as a player. But as the deal heats up, a few conceptual changes morph the project into Lev Disraeli: Freedom Fighter, an action thriller with a black Jewish superstar, a Yugoslavian location, a mad Polish director, and even a real-life kidnapping. Is Charlie Berns being eaten alive by the system? Or is he giving the Hollywood hotshots a run for their money?

Peter Lefcourt's hilarious satire proves the old adage that in Hollywood you're never quite as dead as people give you credit for.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Get Shorty

Peter Lefcourt Why did I love this book?

Hollywood is full of bottom feeders and lowlifes, and nobody does these types of characters better than Elmore Leonard. His dialogue is spot on and his situations comically dark. A Florida loan shark chases a deadbeat customer all the way to Hollywood and winds up getting involved in a complex film deal that makes his life as a mobster seem tame by comparison.

By Elmore Leonard,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Get Shorty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thriller filled with Leonard's signatures - scathing wit, crackling dialogue, twisted plot, mad scams - and set in the drug sodden world of Hollywood.


Book cover of Artistic Differences

Peter Lefcourt Why did I love this book?

This poorly known novel by a television writer deserves more attention. It concerns a writer on a TV sitcom that is plagued by an impossible actress/star who makes everybody’s lives miserable by her egotistical behavior. The revenge that the writer, Jimmy Hoy, contrives for her is both funny and appropriate. There are laugh-out-loud moments in this book that will make you roar.

By Charlie Hauck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Artistic Differences as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the disarmingly charming and ruthlessly domineering Geneva Holloway lets her star temperament get out of hand, Jimmy Hoy, a writer for the "Geneva Holloway Show," joins with the show's other writers in plotting the perfect revenge


Book cover of The Day of the Locust

Peter Lefcourt Why did I love this book?

This is the classic Hollywood novel, written by a superb writer who knew the territory. Set in the thirties, it features the minor people who make movies – the extras and out-of-work actors who are nourished by the elusive dream of being discovered and living the life of fame and fortune. The ending is one of the great comic-apocalyptic scenes written about Hollywood or about anywhere else in America.

By Nathanael West,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Day of the Locust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Admired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Dashiell Hammett, and hailed as one of the "Best 100 English-language novels" by Time magazine, The Day of the Locust continues to influence American writers, artists, and culture. Bob Dylan wrote the classic song "Day of the Locusts" in homage and Matt Groening's Homer Simpson is named after one of its characters. No novel more perfectly captures the nuttier side of Hollywood. Here the lens is turned on its fringes - actors out of work, film extras with big dreams, and parents lining their children up for small roles. But it's the…


Book cover of The Player

Peter Lefcourt Why did I love this book?

Screenwriter/director Michael Tolkin writes of a world that he knows very well. His protagonist, a successful and ambitious film studio executive, makes promises he has no intention of keeping. When he does this to a writer who has pitched him a story and to whom he has promised to get back with some sort of answer and doesn’t, the writer threatens his life. Suspenseful, dark, and funny in its own troubling way.

By Michael Tolkin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Player as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Griffin Mill is senior vice president of production at a Hollywood studio. Obsessed with his career, dedicated to his success and riveted by paranoia, he is the ultimate player. But now he is in trouble. He has been getting postcards from a writer he rejected, who threatens to kill him.


Book cover of Blue Movie

Peter Lefcourt Why did I love this book?

Any book that starts with the line, “Who do you have to fuck to get off this movie,” has to be terrific, right? Terry Southern, the iconic writer of Candy, writes about a bunch of Hollywood characters who decide to make the perfect X-rated movie and sell it to a mainstream studio. The book is completely outrageous, in the same vein as Southern’s black humor film Dr. Strangelove.

By Terry Southern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blue Movie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a new introduction by Marianne Faithfull

“Terry Southern writes a mean, coolly deliberate, and murderous prose.” ―Norman Mailer

King B., an Oscar-winning director, is now determined to shoot the dirtiest and most expensive X-rated movie ever made. Displaced to Liechtenstein (which, in order to boost tourism, has negotiated the exclusive rights to show the film for ten years) and fueled by suspiciously rejuvenating vitamin B-12 injections, the set of The Faces of Love is fraught with monstrous egos and enormous libidos ― the kind of situation that could only come from the imagination of the irrepressible Terry Southern.


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Let Evening Come

By Yvonne Osborne,

Book cover of Let Evening Come

Yvonne Osborne Author Of Let Evening Come

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a family farm surrounded by larger vegetable and dairy operations that used migrant labor. From an early age, my siblings and I were acquainted with the children of these workers, children whom we shared a school desk with one day and were gone the next. On summer vacations, our parents hauled us around in a station wagon with a popup camper, which they parked in out-of-the-way hayfields and on mountainous plateaus, shunning, much to our chagrin, normal campgrounds, and swimming pools. Thus, I grew up exposed to different cultures and environments. My writing reflects my parents’ curiosity, love of books and travel, and devotion to the natural world. 

Yvonne's book list on immersive coming-of-age fiction with characters struggling to find themselves amidst the isolation and bigotry in Indigenous, rural, and minority communities

What is my book about?

After her mother is killed in a rare Northern Michigan tornado, Sadie Wixom is left with only her father and grandfather to guide her through young adulthood. Miles away in western Saskatchewan, Stefan Montegrand and his Indigenous family are displaced from their land by multinational energy companies. They are taken in temporarily by Sadie’s aunt, a human rights activist who heads a cultural exchange program.

Stefan promptly runs afoul of local authority, but Sadie, intrigued by him and captivated by his story, has grown sympathetic to his cause and complicit in his pushback against prejudiced accusations. Their mutual attraction is stymied when Stefan’s older brother, Joachim, who stayed behind, becomes embroiled in the resistance, and Stefan is compelled to return to Canada. Sadie, concerned for his safety, impulsively follows on a trajectory doomed by cultural misunderstanding and oncoming winter.

Let Evening Come

By Yvonne Osborne,

What is this book about?

After her mother is killed in a rare Northern Michigan tornado, Sadie Wixom is left with only her father and grandfather to guide her through the pitfalls of young adulthood.
Hundreds of miles away in western Saskatchewan, Stefan Montegrand and his Indigenous family are forced off their land by multinational energy companies and flawed treaties. They are taken in temporarily by Sadie's aunt, a human rights activist who heads a cultural exchange program.
Stefan, whose own father died in prison while on a hunger strike, promptly runs afoul of local authority, but Sadie, intrigued by him and captivated by his…


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Interested in Hollywood, the film industry, and insanity?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Hollywood, the film industry, and insanity.

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