85 books like The Atrocity Exhibition

By J.G. Ballard,

Here are 85 books that The Atrocity Exhibition fans have personally recommended if you like The Atrocity Exhibition. 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 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 Blonde

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?

Blonde is a fictional biography of Marilyn Monroe. I tend not to read thick books – and this is over 600 pages – and I only had a passing interest in Monroe before beginning it, but the book was highly recommended so I gave it a go. I’m glad that I did. 

This is a colossus of a book – in size, in scope, in adaptation, in emotion. The mood is tragedy – tragedy on so many levels it hurts to think about them. Oates pitches the 'Monroe' character perfectly. And for me, the book's strength comes from the fact that I'm content with this as a piece of fiction. I don't need to know the 'truth' (however, so much truth can ever be known).

It's also a book that makes me angry. A book that pitches hope against fate, all men against one woman, fame against success. We want…

By Joyce Carol Oates,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The National Book Award finalist and national bestseller exploring the life and legend of Marilyn Monroe

Now a Netflix Film starring Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale and Julianne Nicholson

In one of her most ambitious works, Joyce Carol Oates boldly reimagines the inner, poetic, and spiritual life of Norma Jeane Baker—the child, the woman, the fated celebrity, and idolized blonde the world came to know as Marilyn Monroe. In a voice startlingly intimate and rich, Norma Jeane tells her own story of an emblematic American artist—intensely conflicted and driven—who had lost her way. A powerful portrait of Hollywood’s…


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 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…


Book cover of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

Tony Flood Author Of My Life with The Stars: Sizzling secrets spilled!

From my list on the secrets of showbiz and sports stars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love comedy, showbusiness, mystery and fantasy stories, and sport—and these varied interests have resulted in me writing in various genres as both a journalist and author. My books have all been thoroughly researched and that has helped my crime thrillers receive glowing endorsements from best-selling writer Peter James in the case of Triple Tease and national newspaper journalist Stuart Pink in the case of Stitch Up! - Killer or Victim? My other books have also received excellent endorsements and reviews—fantasy adventure Secret Potion and Laughs and Tears Galore Short Stories and Poems With Twists, written jointly with my wife Heather Flood, best known for her children's books.

Tony's book list on the secrets of showbiz and sports stars

Tony Flood Why did Tony love this book?

There have been many books written about Marilyn Monroe, and I have paid tribute to her in my own celebrity book but I feel that The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe best explains the complex life of the ultimate sex symbol. Author J. Randy Taraborrelli's biography reveals that Marilyn, whose grandmother and mother were both committed to mental asylums, lived with the fear of possible impending madness.

I was also interested in details of Marilyn's relationship with the Kennedys—Bobby, Jack, and Pat Lawford Kennedy. These could have played a big part in her death.

By J. Randy Taraborrelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author J. Randy Taraborrelli comes the definitive biography of the most enduring icon in popular American culture.

When Marilyn Monroe became famous in the 1950s, the world was told that her mother was either dead or simply not a part of her life. However, that was not true. In fact, her mentally ill mother was very much present in Marilyn's world and the complex family dynamic that unfolded behind the scenes is a story that has never before been told...until now. In this groundbreaking book, Taraborrelli draws complex and sympathetic portraits of the women so…


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 Moviola

Laini Giles Author Of The Forgotten Flapper

From my list on capturing the magic of old Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an old movie fan and a novelist who has been writing historical fiction about show business since 2010. As a stickler for detail, I use oodles of old Hollywood biographies and other research sources to learn everything I can about my subjects and weave as accurate a tale as I can. My Forgotten Actresses series is up to four books, with plenty more under construction. 

Laini's book list on capturing the magic of old Hollywood

Laini Giles Why did Laini love this book?

This is the oldest book on the list, from 1979, but it is such a worthwhile read.

Garson Kanin wrote Born Yesterday, and was married to Ruth Gordon, of Harold and Maude fame. His story of BJ Farber, a Forrest Gump type of character in early Hollywood, is chock full of juicy details. 

The dialog is wonderful and addresses the Scarlett O’Hara War, Gilbert and Garbo, and Marilyn Monroe (although I personally think Monroe has been covered to death at this point).

My favorite scene is the catfight between southern actresses Tallulah Bankhead and Miriam Hopkins during a dinner party scene as the search for Scarlett continues: “I declare your little brother is cute as paint.”

By Garson Kanin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage book


Book cover of Masters of Starlight: Photographers in Hollywood

Shawn Levy Author Of The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont

From my list on Hollywood glamour and sleaze.

Why am I passionate about this?

Shawn Levy is the author of 11 books of biography and pop culture history, including The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont, Paul Newman: A Life, Rat Pack Confidential, and Ready, Steady, Go! The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London. He was the longtime film critic of The Oregonian newspaper and KGW-TV in his beloved home city of Portland. He has written a history of the women pioneers of standup comedy which will be published by Doubleday in 2022 and at work on a podcast about the dark connections of politics and show business.

Shawn's book list on Hollywood glamour and sleaze

Shawn Levy Why did Shawn love this book?

We call them 'movies' as a nickname for 'moving pictures,' and the immense importance of the 'pictures' part of that phrase is underscored by this lavish and gorgeous book celebrating the work of Hollywood's classic glamour photographers. In brief lives and portfolios of the likes of George Hurrell, Peter Stackpole, Phil Stern, Sid Avery, and Ruth Orkin, we see hundreds of photos of such icons as Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, James Dean, Judy Garland, Marlon Brando, and Shirley MacLaine on the set and off, posed for sumptuous portraits or grabbing coffee and a smoke between takes, in iconic images and remarkable candids. David Fahey and Linda Rich, important photographers themselves, are ideal guides to this gallery, pointing out aspects of the photographers' technique and craft without losing sight of the remarkable subjects of these memorable shots.

By Linda Rich, David Fahey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Brings together the work of 44 Hollywood photographers.


Book cover of Breakfast at Tiffany's

Jerome Antil Author Of The Mysteries of Pompey Hollow

From my list on human resolve in the face of moments of despair.

Why am I passionate about this?

The seventh child of a seventh son of a seventh son. Mother spoke of my sleeping nights and alert days…felt I was curious, observant. She was convinced I’d be the writer in the family. Named me Jerome after the librarian St. Jerome and Mark after Mark Twain, her favorite author as a child. Mother read to us daily, during high school time, a chapter a night. My brother Fred mailed me a word a week to look up. My freshman year in college I earned money writing compositions. And so it began. I sat on the floor and listened to the world war from Pearl Harbor to D-Day and Hiroshima.

Jerome's book list on human resolve in the face of moments of despair

Jerome Antil Why did Jerome love this book?

I heard Marilyn Monroe in everything Holly Golightly said. I heard her witticisms. Turned out Truman Capote wrote it using Marilyn’s voice.

Holly, a hooker, her protagonist (apartment neighbor) was an in-the-closet gay man. Holly would climb the fire escape and crawl into his room and snuggle in bed with him as if they were lovers. She never denied she was a hooker – but never hid that she had standards and would expect fifty-dollar tips for washroom attendants.

This novella, as does Grapes and Old Man, demonstrates to me the stage play of life we choose to be in is in acts—we know our assets, limitations and to survive we follow them—in Grapes pickers followed a dream to orange groves—in Old Man—a fisher needed to prove he could get his luck back—and in Tiffany—if she could find playgrounds of the rich, she’d survive.

By Truman Capote,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Breakfast at Tiffany's as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A beautifully designed edition of Truman Capote's dazzling New York novel Breakfast at Tiffany's, which inspired the classic 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn

'What I've found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits...'

Meet Holly Golightly - a free spirited, lop-sided romantic girl about town. With her tousled blond hair and upturned nose, dark glasses and chic black dresses, Holly is…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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