17 books like Blonde

By Joyce Carol Oates,

Here are 17 books that Blonde fans have personally recommended if you like Blonde. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Marlene

Bárbara Mujica Author Of Miss del Río: A Novel of Dolores del Río, the First Major Latina Star in Hollywood

From my list on female stars who made a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Los Angeles, I was fascinated from an early age by Mexican cinema, but my interest in Dolores del Río really blossomed when I wrote the novel Frida. Del Río was part of Frida Kahlo’s entourage, but unlike her friend, del Río was elegant and refined. Highly intelligent, she was dissatisfied with the vapidity of Hollywood and longed to make a real contribution to society. At Georgetown University, I taught courses on Latin American culture, and the Mexican Revolution, which influenced painting, literature, and cinema, was central to the classwork. Thus, I was very familiar with Del Río and her historical context long before I began writing. 

Bárbara's book list on female stars who made a difference

Bárbara Mujica Why did Bárbara love this book?

A novel about Marlene Dietrich held a natural attraction for me, as Dietrich was one of Dolores del Río’s close friends in Hollywood. Gortner paints a vivid picture of decadence in pre-War Berlin, where Dietrich finds work in music halls. There, she meets Joseph von Sternberg, who casts her as the lead of The Blue Angel, the film that launches her career. As antisemitism grows in Germany, von Sternberg, who is Jewish, leaves for Hollywood, and Dietrich follows him. Paramount Pictures finds in her the answer to MGM’s sexy Swedish star, Greta Garbo, and casts her in one hit after the other. When Hitler approaches her to make propaganda films for the Nazis, Dietrich courageously rebuffs him, opting instead to become an American citizen and entertain Allied troops. 

By C.W. Gortner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A lush, dramatic biographical novel of one of the most glamorous and alluring legends of Hollywood's golden age, Marlene Dietrich-from the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the lush film studios of Hollywood, a sweeping story of passion, glamour, ambition, art, and war from the author of Mademoiselle Chanel. Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family's proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin's…


Book cover of The Only Woman in the Room

Lisa Ard Author Of Brighter Than Her Fears

From my list on historical fiction with a strong female lead.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a well-written historical fiction novel that immerses me in the time period and introduces a female character I can relate to. We may live in different times, but women in all eras feel love, attempt and fail, find strength, perform heroic deeds,  suffer mishaps, and experience life. Escaping into their stories makes me question what I would have done in their shoes as well as think about how my own story is still being written. As a historical fiction author, I seek to create those relationships between my characters and readers.

Lisa's book list on historical fiction with a strong female lead

Lisa Ard Why did Lisa love this book?

I finished this novel quickly as the story and writing are engaging.

I knew something of Hedy Lamarr’s wartime efforts and intelligence going in, but this story shed much more light on the woman and highlighted the difficulties she faced.

I recommend it for readers who enjoy historical fiction, WW2 stories, and novels about strong women.

By Marie Benedict,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Only Woman in the Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER

Bestselling author Marie Benedict reveals the story of a brilliant woman scientist only remembered for her beauty.

Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich's plans while at her husband's side and understood more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret more shocking…


Book cover of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Daniel Weizmann Author Of Cinnamon Girl

From my list on the dark side of show biz.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up blocks from Hollywood Boulevard in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and had something like a front-row seat to the greatest pop culture five-car pile-up in American history. At the Canteen on Hollywood and Vine, where my aunt would take me on summer weekdays for the “Extras for Extras Smorgasbord,” you’d rub shoulders with aging starlets, cowpokes, starry-eyed young hopefuls, and “leading men” in five-and-dime ascots who never had a leading role. Even Billy Barty, always of good cheer, would make the scene—he was so nice to me, and I had no idea he played my hero, Sigmund the Sea Monster!

Daniel's book list on the dark side of show biz

Daniel Weizmann Why did Daniel love this book?

Woody made fun of movie novelizations in Manhattan, but they have a special charm, especially when written by the director.* Tarantino’s gripping novel captures the changing of the guard in Hollywood ’69 as only a native son could, with special attention paid to Manson’s floppo music career.

The book also features some intense scenes that aren’t in the flick. For instance, in one chapter, Manson Family acolyte “Pussycat” creepy crawls into an elderly couple’s home at midnight and strips naked in their bedroom while they sleep and then…yeah, well, try not turning the pages, I dare ya. 

*(Another fine example is The Last Days of Disco, With Cocktails at Petrossian Afterward by Whit Stillman.)

By Quentin Tarantino,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE DELUXE HARDBACK EDITION FEATURING NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN PHOTOS, BONUS MATERIAL & AN EXCLUSIVE BOUNTY LAW SCRIPT BY QUENTIN TARANTINO

Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited first work of fiction - at once hilarious, delicious, and brutal - is the always surprising, sometimes shocking new novel based on his Academy Award-winning film.

The sunlit studio back lots and the dark watering holes of Hollywood are the setting for this audacious, hilarious, disturbing novel about life in the movie colony, circa 1969.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of washed-up actor Rick Dalton. Once Rick had his own television series, a famous western…


Book cover of Josephine Baker's Last Dance

Bárbara Mujica Author Of Miss del Río: A Novel of Dolores del Río, the First Major Latina Star in Hollywood

From my list on female stars who made a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Los Angeles, I was fascinated from an early age by Mexican cinema, but my interest in Dolores del Río really blossomed when I wrote the novel Frida. Del Río was part of Frida Kahlo’s entourage, but unlike her friend, del Río was elegant and refined. Highly intelligent, she was dissatisfied with the vapidity of Hollywood and longed to make a real contribution to society. At Georgetown University, I taught courses on Latin American culture, and the Mexican Revolution, which influenced painting, literature, and cinema, was central to the classwork. Thus, I was very familiar with Del Río and her historical context long before I began writing. 

Bárbara's book list on female stars who made a difference

Bárbara Mujica Why did Bárbara love this book?

As Hollywood’s first Latina star, Dolores del Río broke down barriers for Hispanic women, just as Josephine Baker opened doors for Black women. Baker arrived in Paris just when French artists were cultivating Primitivism, and French intellectuals were fascinated with Africa. Performing her Danse Sauvage in the Revue Nègre and then at the Follies Bergères, Baker became an instant sensation and fabulously wealthy. She owned homes, clubs, cars, and even an airplane. When World War II erupted, she became a spy for the Resistance. Later, when she returned to the U.S., she became a civil rights activist. Sherry Jones brings to life this extraordinary woman, who triumphed over poverty, prejudice, domestic violence, and even Nazi racial targeting.  

By Sherry Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Josephine Baker's Last Dance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker-actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world-in Josephine Baker's Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in…


Book cover of Finding Dorothy

Bárbara Mujica Author Of Miss del Río: A Novel of Dolores del Río, the First Major Latina Star in Hollywood

From my list on female stars who made a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Los Angeles, I was fascinated from an early age by Mexican cinema, but my interest in Dolores del Río really blossomed when I wrote the novel Frida. Del Río was part of Frida Kahlo’s entourage, but unlike her friend, del Río was elegant and refined. Highly intelligent, she was dissatisfied with the vapidity of Hollywood and longed to make a real contribution to society. At Georgetown University, I taught courses on Latin American culture, and the Mexican Revolution, which influenced painting, literature, and cinema, was central to the classwork. Thus, I was very familiar with Del Río and her historical context long before I began writing. 

Bárbara's book list on female stars who made a difference

Bárbara Mujica Why did Bárbara love this book?

I thoroughly enjoyed Elizabeth Letts’s behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Wizard of Oz, one of my favorite films. The story revolves around the efforts of Maud, the widow of Frank Baum, author of the original novel, to ensure that MGM remains true to Frank’s vision. At first, the choice of Judy Garland to play the lead seems totally wrong, as the girl is too old for the part. However, when Maud hears Judy rehearsing “Over the Rainbow,” she recognizes an authentic longing. Furthermore, Judy is receptive to Maud’s suggestions and wants to play the role right. Although Judy seems confident on set, Maud recognizes in her an unhappy, insecure girl who is struggling to cope with the death of her father and is dominated by her overbearing mother.   

By Elizabeth Letts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Behind the most famous movie ever made is a tale of love, magic and one incredible woman

Hollywood, 1938: As soon as she learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband's masterpiece, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, for the screen, Maud Gage Baum sets about trying to visit the set.
Nineteen years after Frank's passing, Maud is the only person who can help the producers stay true to the spirit of the book - because she's the only one left who knows its secrets...

But the moment she hears Judy Garland rehearsing the first notes of 'Over the Rainbow', Maud…


Book cover of The Atrocity Exhibition

Andrew Hook Author Of Candescent Blooms

From my list on fictional stories featuring real life people.

Why am I passionate about this?

The central themes in my own writing have always encompassed those of identity, the nature of reality, and variations on immortality. The lives of ‘celebrities’ touch upon all those themes, albeit through a distorted kaleidoscope where their own lives and the public’s perceptions of their lives intersect and are amplified and a third ‘character’ – that of the composite person, is then brought into existence. I find it fascinating how we can all be myriad people dependent upon who we interact with, and this is heightened when layered over the notion of ‘celebrity’ and fame by association. The books I've chosen act as mirrors to celebrity, but also work as great storytelling.

Andrew's book list on fictional stories featuring real life people

Andrew Hook Why did Andrew love this book?

The Atrocity Exhibition is an experimental novel that reads more like a collection of loosely-linked short stories split into a series of vignettes. Written in 1969 it alludes to many celebrities of the period, focusing in particular on those who met violent or tragic ends. So the (not literal) ghosts of J. F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Albert Camus are represented as springboards for themes that are mostly sexual, fetishistic, centred around art and celebrity and the personification of desire and status represented by the automobile. It’s not an easy read – and for some, it might be considered obscene – however, the cumulative effect is to shine an unrelenting arc light on the nature of celebrity and how it bleeds into the everyday lives of consumers, who feel they know their stars inside out but who probably don’t know them at all.

By J.G. Ballard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A prophetic and experimental masterpiece by J. G. Ballard, the acclaimed author of 'Crash' and 'Super-Cannes'. This edition includes explanatory notes from the author.

The irrational, all-pervading violence of the modern world is the subject of this extraordinary tour de force.

The central character's dreams are haunted by images of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, dead astronauts and car-crash victims as he traverses the screaming wastes of nervous breakdown. Seeking his sanity, he casts himself in a number of roles: H-bomber pilot, presidential assassin, crash victim, psychopath. Finally, through the black, perverse magic of violence he transcends his psychic…


Book cover of Leytonstone

Andrew Hook Author Of Candescent Blooms

From my list on fictional stories featuring real life people.

Why am I passionate about this?

The central themes in my own writing have always encompassed those of identity, the nature of reality, and variations on immortality. The lives of ‘celebrities’ touch upon all those themes, albeit through a distorted kaleidoscope where their own lives and the public’s perceptions of their lives intersect and are amplified and a third ‘character’ – that of the composite person, is then brought into existence. I find it fascinating how we can all be myriad people dependent upon who we interact with, and this is heightened when layered over the notion of ‘celebrity’ and fame by association. The books I've chosen act as mirrors to celebrity, but also work as great storytelling.

Andrew's book list on fictional stories featuring real life people

Andrew Hook Why did Andrew love this book?

This is a great novella based on a specific incident in the young Alfred Hitchcock's life which subsequently forms the backbone for his demeanor, interests, films, and philosophy. Fictionalised biography can come under criticism for not being accurate and it's true that some factual accuracy is put aside here but that's not to the detriment of story. Volk doesn't put a foot wrong in tone, characterisation, or prose. This is an engaging, compelling work that illuminates Hitchcock in the same way that Joyce Carol Oates' Blonde illuminates Monroe or John Connolly's He does the same for Stan Laurel. Thoroughly enjoyed it. This version is no longer available, but it forms part of The Dark Masters trilogy featuring similar characterisations of the actor Peter Cushing and writer Aleister Crowley which is also highly recommended.

By Stephen Volk,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of He

Andrew Hook Author Of Candescent Blooms

From my list on fictional stories featuring real life people.

Why am I passionate about this?

The central themes in my own writing have always encompassed those of identity, the nature of reality, and variations on immortality. The lives of ‘celebrities’ touch upon all those themes, albeit through a distorted kaleidoscope where their own lives and the public’s perceptions of their lives intersect and are amplified and a third ‘character’ – that of the composite person, is then brought into existence. I find it fascinating how we can all be myriad people dependent upon who we interact with, and this is heightened when layered over the notion of ‘celebrity’ and fame by association. The books I've chosen act as mirrors to celebrity, but also work as great storytelling.

Andrew's book list on fictional stories featuring real life people

Andrew Hook Why did Andrew love this book?

He is a fictionalized account of the comedian Stan Laurel's life. Being a massive fan of Laurel & Hardy, whose films remain irrepressibly funny to this day, and having read several factual books about Stan and his sidekick, it was a no-brainer to pick this up and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Whilst at times it feels like a ‘tick box’ situation regarding some of the events that an aficionado of Laurel would expect to be covered, at other times it provides an acute insight into the man behind the films. The similarity of the process on show here is so close to Blonde that a comparison is inevitable, and whilst he doesn’t provide the same emotional impact and is quite clinical in the telling, it nevertheless remains an important work in its own right and therefore is highly recommended.

By John Connolly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An extraordinary recreation of one of the most enduring and beloved partnerships in cinema history: Laurel & Hardy.

Winner of the 2017 Ryan Tubridy Show Listener's Choice Award at the Irish Book Awards.

John Connolly recreates the golden age of Hollywood for an intensely compassionate study of the tension between commercial demands and artistic integrity and the human frailties behind even the greatest of artists.

An extraordinary reimagining of the life of one of the greatest screen comedians the world has ever known: a man who knew both adoration and humiliation; who loved, and was loved in turn; who betrayed,…


Book cover of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Joy Lanzendorfer Author Of Right Back Where We Started From

From my list on ruthless social climbers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My novel, Right Back Where We Started From, is about greed. I wanted to see what it would look like if women in history pursued their goals with the same relentless intensity as the men who came to the California Gold Rush. I love reading about social climbing because ambition is so baked into the fabric of the United States, and is such a big part of our lives. The books on this list are unafraid to show you the ugly, unpleasant side of ambition—and the exciting, captivating side as well. 

Joy's book list on ruthless social climbers

Joy Lanzendorfer Why did Joy love this book?

This novel is hilarious. When I first read it, I was jealous that I hadn't written itwhich is a silly feeling to have about a book that came out in the 1920s, I admit. It's a diary written by a blonde showgirl named Lorelei Lee, who uses her feminine wiles to get wealth from the gentlemen callers who want to "educate" her. Loralei isn't very smartthe diary is riddled with misspellings and confused assumptionsbut she has a kind of innocence and practicality that keeps you rooting for her throughout. With her friend Dorothy, a brunette, she arranges it so that everything always works out in her favor, which usually includes lots and lots of diamond jewelry. 

By Anita Loos,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Intimate Diary of a Professional Lady (1925) is a novel by Anita Loos. Adapted from a series of stories written for Harper's Bazaar, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was an astounding success for Loos, who had mired for over a decade as a screenwriter in Hollywood and New York. An immediate bestseller, the novel earned praise from leading writers and critics of its time, and has been adapted several times for theater and film. Recognized as a defining text of the Jazz Age, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is an absolute classic dubbed "the great American novel" by Edith Wharton.…


Book cover of The Time of Our Time

Robert J. Begiebing Author Of Norman Mailer at 100: Conversations, Correlations, Confrontations

From my list on reading Norman Mailer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Professor of English Emeritus at Southern New Hampshire University and author of ten books, including fiction, criticism, memoir, and collected journalism. I was also an inaugural faculty member in the writing workshops at the Norman Mailer Center in Provincetown, MA. I first got into Mailer in the 1970s after reading The Naked and the Dead and Cannibals and ChristiansI ended up writing my doctoral dissertation on Mailer, which became my first book, Acts of Regeneration. My second book, Toward A New Synthesis, examined Mailer along with John Fowles and John Gardner as writers who adopted some of the techniques of post-modernism but kept their work firmly tethered to ethical issues.  

Robert's book list on reading Norman Mailer

Robert J. Begiebing Why did Robert love this book?

Published on the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Naked and the Dead, the book is an overview of Mailer’s entire writing career up to 1998, by way of introductions to and excepts from his decades of fiction and nonfiction. I make this recommendation as a risk because the book is a nearly 1300-page-long anthology. No one is going to sit down and read cover to cover, however, so I offer it as a way of seeing the sweep of a major author’s career; here you can dip in and out as you wish to see what’s up with a given work or topic at any point in Mailer’s publishing life, up to 1998. You can decide then what you want to read in the offered excerpt or in full, either from an included short work of magazine journalism or a short story, or from a whole…

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE TIME OF OUR TIME is a selection of Mailer's best work, chosen by Mailer himself, and ingeniously arranged as a literary retrospective. It is a masterly, boisterous portrait of our times, seen through the fiction and reportage of a great writer. Included are passages from THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, THE ARMIES OF THE NIGHT and THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG, as well as many of his other works and his best-known magazine pieces from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna. This giant omnibus is a testament to Mailer's enormous energies, his vast curiosity, and his amazing talent and amounts almost to a…


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