100 books like The Moon's a Balloon

By David Niven,

Here are 100 books that The Moon's a Balloon fans have personally recommended if you like The Moon's a Balloon. 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 Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

Jon Lewis Author Of Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture

From my list on 1960s Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been teaching and writing about post-WWII American film for over thirty years now, with a particular passion for (behind the scenes) Hollywood history. Road Trip to Nowhere follows up on a new sort of movie industry history I introduced in my 2017 book on 1950s Los Angeles, Hard-Boiled Hollywood. Both books focus on actors, writers, producers, and directors who don’t quite make it—aspirants and would-be players kicked to the side of the road, so to speak, and others who for reasons we may or may not understand just walked away from the modern American dream life of stardom and celebrity. 

Jon's book list on 1960s Hollywood

Jon Lewis Why did Jon love this book?

Harris focuses on Oscar night 1968 as four of the five films nominated for Best Picture evinced Hollywood’s reluctant affirmation of the American counterculture. These “pictures at a revolution,” as he terms them—Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and the Oscar winner In the Heat of the Nightsignaled a necessary industry re-think, away from bloated old-Hollywood blockbusters (like Dr. Dolittle, the fifth nominee) and towards something more politically savvy and more hip. Harris does well to chronicle the backstage/behind-the-scenes histories of all five of these films.

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Pictures at a Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Pictures at a Revolution is probably one of the best books I've ever read in my life.” —Quentin Tarantino

The New York Times bestseller that follows the making of five films at a pivotal time in Hollywood history

In the mid-1960s, westerns, war movies, and blockbuster musicals like Mary Poppins swept the box office. The Hollywood studio system was astonishingly lucrative for the few who dominated the business. That is, until the tastes of American moviegoers radically- and unexpectedly-changed. By the Oscar ceremonies of 1968, a cultural revolution had hit Hollywood with the force of a tsunami, and films like…


Book cover of The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood

Reid Mitenbuler Author Of Wild Minds: The Artists and Rivalries That Inspired the Golden Age of Animation

From my list on Hollywood history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Not only am I fascinated by old Hollywood history, I’m also interested in the creative processes that produce great art. Everyone approaches their craft a little differently, and it’s always illuminating to discover how different people do what they do. In my own work, I like to explore how creative people come to their Eureka! moments, and hope that I’ll be able to learn something from their experiences.

Reid's book list on Hollywood history

Reid Mitenbuler Why did Reid love this book?

Sam Wasson is simply a good writer, crafting tight narratives that help this book read like a novel. The best part of this book is its examination of the creative process: in order for Chinatown to get made the way it did, a million (maybe two million) things needed to align in just the right way. The movie easily could have failed, but Wasson shows how the contributions of its many collaborators saved it.

By Sam Wasson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Big Goodbye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sight & Sound's #1 Film Book of 2020

Chinatown is the Holy Grail of 1970s cinema. Its ending is the most notorious in American film and its closing line of dialogue the most haunting. Here for the first time is the incredible true story of its making. In Sam Wasson's telling, it becomes the defining story of its most colorful characters. Here is Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers, embarking on his great, doomed love affair with Anjelica Huston. Here is director Roman Polanski, both predator and prey, haunted by the savage murder of his wife, returning to…


Book cover of An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood

Elyce Helford Author Of What Price Hollywood?: Gender and Sex in the Films of George Cukor

From my list on classic Hollywood from a scholar and fan of film.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a film fan and scholar who has a joyful yet complex relationship with Hollywood. I have basked in the classics of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1930s-1950s) from my teen years on, including the musical delights of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the screwball comedies of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, the magnificent Universal monsters, and the deliciously dark creativity of film noir. Reading about the history of Hollywood has helped me enjoy this pastime even more, learning everything from economics and politics to method and form. The more I know, the richer grows my interest in both the past and present of that unique institution we call Hollywood.

Elyce's book list on classic Hollywood from a scholar and fan of film

Elyce Helford Why did Elyce love this book?

Gabler offers a detailed and persuasive history of Hollywood’s first producers, all immigrant Jewish Americans seeking to achieve the American dream.

This handful of men started in New York as peddlers or small business owners and then moved west to build their own film empires. No one saw motion pictures as more than a superficial pastime, but it seemed a good business opportunity. Unfortunately, Thomas Edison owned the rights and patents that kept Jewish entrepreneurs from accessing New York, so the immigrants went west.

MGM, Warner Brothers, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Universal: these were their kingdoms and are still the names we know today as the major Hollywood studios. Meet the remarkable (and sometimes horrible) men who built this world and learn about their lives and ambitions in Gabler’s engaging book.

By Neal Gabler,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked An Empire of Their Own as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A provocative, original, and richly entertaining group biography of the Jewish immigrants who were the moving forces behind the creation of America's motion picture industry.
 
The names Harry Cohn, William Fox, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer, Jack and Harry Warner, and Adolph Zucker are giants in the history of contemporary Hollywood, outsiders who dared to invent their own vision of the American Dream.  Even to this day, the American values defined largely by the movies of these émigrés endure in American cinema and culture. Who these men were, how they came to dominate Hollywood, and what they gained and lost…


Book cover of We'll Always Have Casablanca: The Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Film

Bob Whalen Author Of Casablanca's Conscience

From my list on books about the best movies (for movie fans).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian, with a special interest in the 20th century. I’ve written about Freud’s Vienna, the aftermath of the First World War, strikes in the 1920s and 1930s in America’s cotton South, the plot to assassinate Hitler, and the notorious 1940s gangsters nicknamed “Murder, Inc.”. What intrigues me about the 20th century are the era’s underlying values and the shocking and violent collisions among them. In Casablanca’s Conscience, I use the great film as a lens with which to take another look at the tumultuous times just a generation ago.

Bob's book list on books about the best movies (for movie fans)

Bob Whalen Why did Bob love this book?

Isenberg has explored all the Hollywood archives and has produced a delightful and fascinating story of the actors, the director and producer, the writers, and all the technicians who created the film. A splendid guide to Casablanca and a great example of an in-depth, how-it-was-made history of a single film. 

By Noah Isenberg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We'll Always Have Casablanca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Casablanca is "not one movie," Umberto Eco once quipped; "it is 'movies.'" Film historian Noah Isenberg's We'll Always Have Casablanca offers a rich account of the film's origins, the myths and realities behind its production, and the reasons it remains so revered today, over seventy-five years after its premiere.


Book cover of Blue Pages

Carleton Eastlake Author Of Monkey Business

From my list on what Hollywood is really like.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been a Hollywood writer for thirty years, and now written a novel that although satirical still accurately describes the creation of a TV series, I’ve long been amazed at how many Hollywood stories – including films made in Hollywood – offer fantasies that have even less to do with the reality of love and work in film and television than Game of Thrones does with the real Middle Ages. I’ve written fantasy myself, but for people fascinated by Hollywood, or who want to work in film and TV, there’s a reason too to read books that capture the reality, especially when like the books listed here, they do so astonishingly well.

Carleton's book list on what Hollywood is really like

Carleton Eastlake Why did Carleton love this book?

Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning Eleanor Perry put her training as a psychiatric social worker to extraordinary use writing now-classic films including the hypnotic David and Lisa and The Diary of a Mad Housewife. She brought the same dramatic skills and insights to examining her own life as a writer at a time when women faced nearly impossible challenges in Hollywood. The result was this deeply felt, authentic, often autobiographical novel. My wife Loraine Despres, herself a highly regarded novelist and TV writer, gave it to me when I first confessed an interest in screenwriting. The book, now unjustly out of print but hopefully available from libraries and at a price from rare book dealers, has haunted me ever since.

By Eleanor Perry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Novel


Book cover of The Last Time As We Are

Seth Brown Author Of The Disapproval of My Toaster

From my list on human poetry for an increasingly inhuman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been writing poetry since second grade, although oddly it took me until after college (where I was Class Poet) to start writing poetry that *gasp* didn't rhyme. (Did I mention I grew up on Ogden Nash and Shel Silverstein?) I started attending local poetry slams and then poetry festivals like WordXWord, and listening and performing there showed me what poetry could be. Poems can crystalize in a few lines a universal truth you've felt for years but been unable to express. I think that's amazing. (I also think it's better with a dash of humor mixed in, because I'm a humor columnist and I'm biased.)

Seth's book list on human poetry for an increasingly inhuman world

Seth Brown Why did Seth love this book?

There's a good chance you're familiar with his poem “What Teachers Make”, from his other book. But this is the book that has his most poignant and human poems, including “Tony Steinberg: Brave Seventh Grade Viking Warrior”, which has long been one of my partner's favorite poems, and accomplishes in a few minutes of words what many Hollywood movies try and fail to accomplish with a full cast, two hours, and hundreds of millions of dollars: It alternately makes you laugh and cry. Which I say as someone who has seen it performed many times, and it still makes me laugh every time, and still makes me cry every time.

By Taylor Mali,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You don't need a classroom to be a teacher, and you don't need to be a teacher to help someone learn a lesson. Taylor Mali's poetry explores this truth in entertaining and plainspoken ways because "the last thing this world needs is another poem" ("The Call to What We Know"). Whether discussing the language of love or the love of language, the poems contained in The Last Time As We Are prove that "He who dares to teach must never cease to learn." Not since Taylor Mali has there been a poet the likes of Taylor Mali-he is a man…


Book cover of Hollywood's Golden Year, 1939: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration

Thomas S. Hischak Author Of 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

From my list on 1939 Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing books about film, theatre, and popular music since 1991 but my love of old movies goes back much further. Before VCRs, DVDs, and streaming, one could only catch these old films on television (often cut to allow for commercial time) or revival houses. Today even the more obscure movies from 1939 are attainable. Writing 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year gave me the opportunity to revisit dozens of old favorites and to see the many also-rans of that remarkable year.

Thomas' book list on 1939 Hollywood

Thomas S. Hischak Why did Thomas love this book?

Ted Sennett is one of the most prolific and widely-read writers about Hollywood and this book on 1939 is one of his very best works. It is filled (one might even say, stuffed) with behind-the-scenes stories. The writing is sometimes critical and analytical rather than gushing as in some of Sennett's many coffee table books. He concentrates on only seventeen 1939 movies so one doesn't get a full picture of that amazing year of movies. It's good to see some lesser-known classics like Midnight and Angels Have Wings included in the seventeen.

By Ted Sennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hollywood's Golden Year, 1939 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book on the famous year 1939 an epic year for great classic films.


Book cover of In a Far-Off Land

Rhonda Ortiz Author Of In Pieces

From my list on historical romances for armchair Theologians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer married to a theologian. My husband and I often discuss Augustine and Aquinas, Austen and Tolstoy, Christie and Sayers, and trends in popular fiction—when we’re not discussing Frog and Toad, Elephant and Piggie, baby diapers, and what to make for dinner. Love stories have long been my favorite stories, and I’ve always enjoyed historical settings. My award-winning novel In Pieces, a 1793 Boston-set historical romance with elements of family drama, society drama, and political suspense, combines all these interests. I even managed to sneak in a diaper-changing scene.

Rhonda's book list on historical romances for armchair Theologians

Rhonda Ortiz Why did Rhonda love this book?

Biblical allegory is hard to do well. Bible stories themselves have infinite depths, but their allegories are often didactic, especially when author parallels the original story too closely. Stephanie Landem’s In a Far-Off Land is anything but didactic. Set in 1930s Hollywood, the novel is equal parts Prodigal Son retelling, romance, and murder mystery. By allowing the story to take on a life of its own, Landsem avoids the Sunday School vibe, and in the end, I understood the Prodigal Son archetypal characters better.

By Stephanie Landsem,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In a Far-Off Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Immersive, enchanting, and gripping, In A Far-Off Land is do-not-miss historical fiction.” —Patti Callahan, NYT Bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis

It’s 1931 in Hollywood, and Minerva Sinclaire is on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.

As the Great Depression hits the Midwest, Minerva Sinclaire runs away to Hollywood, determined to make it big and save the family farm. But beauty and moxie don’t pay the bills in Tinseltown, and she’s caught in a downward spiral of poverty, desperation, and compromise. Finally, she’s about to sign with a major studio and make up for it all. Instead, she…


Book cover of Artistic Differences

Peter Lefcourt Author Of The Deal: A Novel of Hollywood

From my list on 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.”

Peter's book list on the glitter and insanity of Hollywood

Peter Lefcourt Why did Peter 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 This Thing of Darkness

Karen Ullo Author Of Jennifer the Damned

From my list on horror with Catholic themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

At about age fifteen, I fell in love with nineteenth-century Gothic horror. I read all the classics in just a few months: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Edgar Allen Poe… And then I ran out. Most twentieth-century horror lacked the understanding that evil’s true target is not the body but the soul. Horror fiction, more than any other genre, is the laboratory of the soul, the place where we can experiment with good and evil to follow the consequences of each to their fullest and therefore truest conclusions. And since I ran out of such books to read—I wrote one.

Karen's book list on horror with Catholic themes

Karen Ullo Why did Karen love this book?

After Bram Stoker and Vlad the Impaler, the real person most closely associated with vampires has to be Bela Lugosi—so why not write a horror novel with him as the villain? This book underscores the important role that unsettling and dramatic occurrences can play in shaking us out of our own accustomed vices, as well as the difficulty we often face when trying to discern the difference between the works of evil and the truly mundane. After all, Bela Lugosi is nothing more than a tired, sad old man still pining for his glory days on the silver screen—isn’t he?

By K.V. Turley, Fiorella De Maria,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hollywood, 1956. Journalist and war widow Evangeline Kilhooley is assigned to write a ";star profile" of the fading actor Bela Lugosi, made famous by his role as Count Dracula. During a series of interviews, Lugosi draws Evi into his curious Eastern European background, gradually revealing the link between Old World shadows and the twilight realm of modern horror films.

Along the way, Evi meets another English expatriate, Hugo Radelle, a movie buff who offers to help with her research. As their relationship deepens, Evi begins to suspect that he knows more about her and her soldier husband than he is…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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