The best books for fans of Old Hollywood

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved stories, whether on the page or on the screen, and after reading Gone with the Wind I immediately watched the movie, feeling the pull of Old Hollywood drawing me in. My grandfather was a big movie fan, and I spent many an afternoon watching old movies with him – Hobson’s Choice was a favourite. As I got older, Gaslight, Ocean’s Eleven, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane… they all had me gripped. Factor in my self-confessed obsession with celebrity gossip and that was me done for – Old Hollywood is rife with scandal and gossip!

I wrote...

The Mysterious Double Death of Honey Black

By Lisa Hall,

Book cover of The Mysterious Double Death of Honey Black

What is my book about?

It's 2019 and Lily Jones is living her dream in LA. Sort of. It hasn’t quite turned out as planned and instead of working as a movie producer, she's cleaning at the prestigious Beverly Hills Hotel. At least she gets to work in the renowned Paul Williams suite, site of the brutal murder of Honey Black 70 years ago.

It's 1949 and Honey Black is about to hit the big time. She may have started out as a country girl from Hicksville but now she's a star. After an accidental bump to the head, Lily finds herself in Hollywood, 1949. She’s rubbing shoulders with the great and good of Tinseltown. Including Honey Black... Horrified, Lily realises that the actress has only two weeks left to live before she'll be murdered.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Gone With the Wind

Lisa Hall Why did I love this book?

I picked this book up in a second-hand bookstore for 50p when I was a teenager, and this was the story that really ignited my love of old movies.

Although some might say that the ideals in the story are dated (and they are, there’s no argument from me there!) this novel is rich in history and is so well-written that it makes it easy to visualise life in the South. While Scarlett O’Hara can be perceived as a bit of a spoilt brat, to me she is the epitome of a strong female character – even when things don’t go as she’s planned.

By Margaret Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Gone With the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of the tempestuous romance between Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara is set amid the drama of the Civil War.

Book cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Lisa Hall Why did I love this book?

The story of a faded starlet, recounting her tales of Hollywood (including her seven husbands) to a journalist, this novel is crammed full of the gossip and scandal so deliciously acquainted with the Old Hollywood scene.

I have to confess, part of the attraction of old movies and Old Hollywood movie stars for me is the amount of scandalous stories attached to them all, and this novel immerses the readers perfectly into the Hollywood of the 50s through to the 80s.   

By Taylor Jenkins Reid,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"If you're looking for a book to take on holiday this summer, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has got all the glitz and glamour to make it a perfect beach read." -Bustle

From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & the Six-an entrancing and "wildly addictive journey of a reclusive Hollywood starlet" (PopSugar) as she reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready…

Book cover of This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories

Lisa Hall Why did I love this book?

I stumbled across this beautiful non-fiction hardback while I was searching for books that would immerse me fully into Honey Black’s world, when I first started writing my novel.

This is an excellent book recounting the scandals of Old Hollywood – Clark Gable and Errol Flynn included – complete with an impressive amount of authentic photographs that bring every story to bright, technicolour life. A lot of the scandals referred to in my novel were discovered through reading this book!

By Carla Valderrama,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked This Was Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this one-of-a-kind Hollywood history, the creator of Instagram's celebrated @ThisWasHollywood reveals the forgotten past of the film world in a dazzling visual package modeled on the classic fan magazines of yesteryear.

From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.

The shocking fate of the world's first movie star. Clark Gable's secret love child. The film that nearly ended Paul Newman's career. A former child star who, at ninety-three, reveals her #metoo story for the…

Book cover of The Garden on Sunset

Lisa Hall Why did I love this book?

Martin Turnbull is somewhat of an expert on Old Hollywood and I found his incredible website in my research for Honey Black.

His website is full of original photos of LA throughout the decades and these were invaluable for me when I was writing certain scenes. I then discovered he had written a series of books based in Hollywood, following three friends who come together to navigate their way through the movie business, starting with The Garden of Allah set in the late 1920s. It’s a fascinating look at the seedier side of Old Hollywood. 

By Martin Turnbull,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Garden on Sunset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have you ever wanted to climb into a time machine and visit Hollywood during its heyday?

Right before talking pictures slug Tinsel Town in the jaw, a luminous silent screen star converts her private estate into the Garden of Allah Hotel. The lush grounds soon become a haven for Hollywood hopefuls to meet, drink, and revel through the night. George Cukor is in the pool, Tallulah Bankhead is at the bar, and Scott Fitzgerald is sneaking off to a bungalow with Sheilah Graham while Madame Alla Nazimova keeps watch behind her lace curtains.

But the real story of the Garden…

Book cover of Bring on the Empty Horses

Lisa Hall Why did I love this book?

As soon as I told my agent I wanted to write this book she told me I had to read David Niven’s autobiography, The Moon’s a Balloon, and she was absolutely right.

This book is the follow-up to the first (brilliant) autobiography, and this one spends less time on David’s personal life, and is more a recounting of Hollywood stories, as he lived them. Fascinating, shocking, and an absolute must for lovers of Old Hollywood!  

By David Niven,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bring on the Empty Horses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is Niven at his best. He and Errol Flynn were filming The Charge of the Light Brigade for a director, Michael Curtiz, 'whose Hungarian-orientated English was a joy to us all'. High on the rostrum he decided the moment had come to order the arrival on the scene of a hundred riderless chargers. "Okay," he yelled into a megaphone, "Bring on the empty horses!" '

BRING ON THE EMPTY HORSES is the second part of David Niven's internationally bestselling autobiography, following the superbly entertaining THE MOON'S A BALLOON. Both books were highly acclaimed by the critics and remain as…

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Book cover of Dulcinea

Ana Veciana-Suarez Author Of Dulcinea

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with 16th-century and 17th-century Europe after reading Don Quixote many years ago. Since then, every novel or nonfiction book about that era has felt both ancient and contemporary. I’m always struck by how much our environment has changed—transportation, communication, housing, government—but also how little we as people have changed when it comes to ambition, love, grief, and greed. I doubled down my reading on that time period when I researched my novel, Dulcinea. Many people read in the eras of the Renaissance, World War II, or ancient Greece, so I’m hoping to introduce them to the Baroque Age. 

Ana's book list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age

What is my book about?

Dolça Llull Prat, a wealthy Barcelona woman, is only 15 when she falls in love with an impoverished poet-solder. Theirs is a forbidden relationship, one that overcomes many obstacles until the fledgling writer renders her as the lowly Dulcinea in his bestseller.

By doing so, he unwittingly exposes his muse to gossip. But when Dolça receives his deathbed note asking to see her, she races across Spain with the intention of unburdening herself of an old secret.

On the journey, she encounters bandits, the Inquisition, illness, and the choices she's made. At its heart, Dulcinea is about how we betray the people we love, what happens when we succumb to convention, and why we squander the few chances we get to change our lives.

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