The best novels about show business

Who am I?

I’m Andy Marx and I am definitely a child of Hollywood. My paternal grandfather was the comic icon, Groucho Marx, and my maternal grandfather was the legendary songwriter, Gus Kahn, who wrote such classic songs as “It Had To Be You,” “Makin’ Whoopee!” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” After working as a film publicist on a number of films including, Terminator and Red Dragon, I launched my journalism career writing about Hollywood for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, and Daily Variety. I also co-founded the satirical website, Hollywood & Swine, which poked fun of Hollywood, not a terribly hard thing to do. 


I wrote...

Royalties

By Andy Marx,

Book cover of Royalties

What is my book about?

Part family saga, part love story, Royalties traces the rise of two immigrant families, whose paths would romantically, and, sometimes, tragically cross throughout much of the 20th century. From the humble beginnings of Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley to the glamour and power of Hollywood at its zenith, this multi-generational tale weaves the indelible story of struggles, sacrifice, and love.

Inspired by stories I heard throughout my childhood, I wanted to celebrate the legacy of my two famous grandfathers - the iconic Groucho Marx and legendary songwriter Gus Kahn - in a rich and engrossing fictional saga of two families with a cast of characters whose fates rise and fall, and rise again. I feel that my intimate perspective brings a thrilling mix of romance, family tribulations, and personal triumphs.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Last Tycoon: The Authorized Text

Andy Marx Why did I love this book?

This is not only a great novel by a great writer, but its unvarnished look at Hollywood, makes it, to me, one of the best show business novels of all time. It’s a book that made me want to be a writer and I learned so much from it about the economy of words. The other aspect about it that appeals to me is the fact that the novel’s main character, studio chief Monroe Stahr, is based on the real-life MGM studio executive Irving Thalberg, who produced A Night at the Opera, which starred my grandfather, Groucho Marx, and my great-uncles, Harpo and Chico, and is not only considered by many to be the best Marx Brothers film, but also one of greatest comedies of all time. 

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Last Tycoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 before he finished this novel. This text purges the printers' errors and editorial interventions that have appeared in previous editions. The tragic centre of the book is film producer Monroe Stahr, who sees film as art, rather than a money-making device.


Book cover of Postcards from the Edge

Andy Marx Why did I love this book?

I love the fact that although this was a novel from the brilliant Carrie Fisher, much of it is autobiographical, which must’ve taken courage, as she reveals so much of her own life and sometimes painful upbringing by her parents Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, while, at the same time writing a devilishly funny book about Hollywood. The book became even more special for me when I, working as a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, got the chance to interview Fisher. When I mentioned I was thinking about writing an autobiographical novel about my own famous family, she was very encouraging and even gave me a few pointers.

By Carrie Fisher,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Postcards from the Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

** THE NEW YORK TIMES-BESTSELLING CULT CLASSIC NOVEL **
** In a new edition introduced by Stephen Fry **

'I don't think you can even call this a drug. This is just a response to the conditions we live in.'

Suzanne Vale, formerly acclaimed actress, is in rehab, feeling like 'something on the bottom of someone's shoe, and not even someone interesting'. Immersed in the sometimes harrowing, often hilarious goings-on of the drug hospital and wondering how she'll cope - and find work - back on the outside, she meets new patient Alex. Ambitious, good-looking in a Heathcliffish way and…


Book cover of Get Shorty

Andy Marx Why did I love this book?

Leonard has written so many great novels, but my favorite is Get Shorty, which combines everything I love – pulpy crime fiction, great characters, and show business. Take some gangsters trying to collect on an outstanding debt and set them down in Hollywood. What could go wrong? Everything! That’s why this book is so great on so many levels. And if you ever want to learn how to write really great dialogue, just pick any of Leonard’s novels. There is no better teacher. 

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 The Day of the Locust

Andy Marx Why did I love this book?

This is one of the first Hollywood novels I ever read and it has stayed with me ever since. This book is great because instead of focusing on superstars, it’s the story of the behind-the-scenes people working in Hollywood, who haven’t hit the big-time yet and are just trying to survive. What makes the book so remarkable is that West could’ve been writing about any industry but uses Hollywood as a metaphor for many of society’s ills that were rampant in the 1930s.

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 Tinseltown Tango

Andy Marx Why did I love this book?

This is the third book in the Trip Callaway Gig mystery series written by Phil Swann. While I’ve enjoyed all the Trip Callaway books, I especially like this one because it takes place in 1966 Hollywood. In this story, musician and undercover agent Trip Callaway takes us into the world of Los Angeles studio musicians, who played on all those memorable recordings and variety shows of the time. On top of spending some quality time in great, but sadly long gone, Hollywood hotspots like Shelly’s Manne Hole, The Palomino, and Martoni’s – places I went growing up in Los Angeles – Tinseltown Tango is also a ripping good yarn. If you enjoy a good murder mystery with a dash of music and no shortage of laughs, check out this book. You won’t be disappointed. 

By Phil Swann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lights, camera, Trip! Los Angeles, 1966. Hot off the heels of his last adventure in Mekong Delta Blues, Trip Callaway, the young, wise-cracking musician with dreams as big as The Golden State itself, takes a break from his steady gig on the Vegas Strip to do some easy undercover work in Hollywood for his secret agency benefactors. It’s Hollywood; how dangerous could it be? But as Trip quickly discovers, The Dream Factory can also be a nightmare. A ruthless gangster, a dubious district attorney, a cantankerous tango band, and a sexy singer from Argentina who elevates the word diva to…


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Bessie

By Linda Kass,

Book cover of Bessie

Linda Kass Author Of Bessie

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Bookstore owner Learner Reader Historical novelist Long distance cyclist

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In the bigoted milieu of 1945, six days after the official end of World War II, Bess Myerson, the daughter of poor Russian immigrants living in the Bronx, remarkably rises to become Miss America, the first —and to date only— Jewish woman to do so. At stake is a $5,000 scholarship for the winner.

An intimate fictional portrait of Bess Myerson’s early life, Bessie reveals the transformation of the nearly six-foot-tall, self-deprecating yet talented preteen into an exemplar of beauty, a peripheral quality in her world. It is the unfamiliar secular society of pageantry she must choose to escape her roots as she searches for love and acceptance, eager to make her mark on the world.

Bessie

By Linda Kass,

What is this book about?

Just days after the close of World War II, Bess Myerson, the college-educated daughter of poor Russian Jewish immigrants living in the Bronx, is competing in the Miss America pageant. At stake: a $5,000 scholarship. The tension and excitement in Atlantic City's Warner Theatre is palpable, especially for traumatized Jews rooting for one of their own. So begins Bessie.


Drawing on biographical and historical sources, Bessie reimagines the early life of Bess Myerson, who, in 1945 at age twenty-one, remarkably rises to become one of the most famous women in America. This intimate fictional portrait reveals the transformation of the…


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Interested in the film industry, Hollywood, and Los Angeles?

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

The Film Industry Explore 47 books about the film industry
Hollywood Explore 118 books about Hollywood
Los Angeles Explore 310 books about Los Angeles