100 books like What Makes Sammy Run?

By Budd Schulberg,

Here are 100 books that What Makes Sammy Run? fans have personally recommended if you like What Makes Sammy Run?. 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 The Jaws Log

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?

In my book club I’m known as Second Carl, since Carl Gottlieb has been a member far longer than I. In fact, I was still a lawyer in Washington, D.C. secretly dreaming about Hollywood but never suspecting I’d someday myself work on a Spielberg TV series, when I read this short, fast, now revered account of the filming of Spielberg’s breakout film. It proved to be a deeply accurate and comprehensive description – and warning – about what life and work on location and in Hollywood itself would be like. It’s also so engagingly readable and relevant, a Broadway musical based on the book is in tryouts as I write these words.

By Carl Gottlieb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of 3 Oscars [registered] and the highest grossing film of its time, "Jaws" was a phenomenon, and this is the only book on how 26-year-old Steven Spielberg transformed Peter Benchley's best-selling novel into the classic film it became. Hired by Spielberg as a screenwriter to work with him on the set while the movie was being made, Carl Gottlieb, and actor and writer, was there throughout the production that starred Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. After filming was over, with Spielberg's cooperation, Gottlieb chronicled the extraordinary year-long adventure in "The Jaws Log", which was first published in…


Book cover of Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting

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?

This book coined the maxim far and away the most quoted in Hollywood to this day: “Nobody knows anything.” I first read it the year before I broke in. My copy is heavily annotated with yellow highlighter and red pen; a black paperclip still marks the second of Goldman’s two capitalized maxims, “Screenplays are structure.” The value of this book to anyone wanting to understand – or survive in – Hollywood is that, ironically, Goldman, one of the most successful screenwriters and novelists in Hollywood history, knew almost everything, not only about screenwriting, but also the psychology, cautious care, and perilous feeding of actors, directors, executives, and the rest of the Hollywood zoo. It’s both a textbook and survival guide, illustrated with a veteran’s vivid stories about life behind the tinsel.

By William Goldman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Adventures in the Screen Trade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now available as an ebook for the first time!

No one knows the writer's Hollywood more intimately than William Goldman. Two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter and the bestselling author of Marathon Man, Tinsel, Boys and Girls Together, and other novels, Goldman now takes you into Hollywood's inner sanctums...on and behind the scenes for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, and other films...into the plush offices of Hollywood producers...into the working lives of acting greats such as Redford, Olivier, Newman, and Hoffman...and into his own professional experiences and creative thought processes in the crafting of screenplays. You get…


Book cover of The Last Tycoon: The Authorized Text

Scott Brooks Author Of And There We Were and Here We Are

From my list on if you love old black-and-white movies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a New Yorker with a background in the performing arts. Though a lifelong reader and bookstore loiterer, my early writing career was focused on the stage as well as the pursuit of a career in screenwriting. This led to many years writing and producing theatre as well as working in film and TV both as a writer and in production. The books I've chosen, I feel influenced the American language in the last century, an influence reflected in the tone of the novels and films from that period described by scholars as “Between the Wars.” It's a period that fascinates me for it exists now only in books and movies and is therein preserved.

Scott's book list on if you love old black-and-white movies

Scott Brooks Why did Scott love this book?

As perfectly tragic as one of his Jazz Age characters, Fitzgerald drank himself to death before finishing this novel which in my opinion, could have been his best. Like Gatsby, Monroe Stahr is an eloquent, rich, and isolated character, pining for a mysterious woman. He is a hugely successful movie mogul in the golden age of Hollywood, and Fitzgerald’s contempt for the studio system’s treatment of writers is here on full satirical display. The sparse prose sparkles with diamond-like harshness and clarity as the doomed love affair plays out. I’m sure it's his least known novel since it is technically “unfinished,” but most editions publish Fitzgerald’s unfinished future chapters, his pass at the ending as well as his notes and outlines, making this a master class in novel writing.

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 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 Monster: Living Off the Big Screen

Glenn Frankel Author Of Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic

From my list on Hollywood memoirs that tell the truth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for 27 years at The Washington Post, where I won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. But when I returned home in 2006, I wanted to write about my own country, and what could be more American than the movies? They’re a wonderful looking glass into the past, and my books explore the making of an iconic movie and the historical era in which it was created. My recent ones have recounted the making of The Searchers, starring John Wayne, and High Noon, the Gary Cooper classic and its connection to the Hollywood blacklist, a time of vicious conflict eerily similar to our own troubled era.

Glenn's book list on Hollywood memoirs that tell the truth

Glenn Frankel Why did Glenn love this book?

Besides being superb novelists and essayists, Dunne and his famous wife, Joan Didion, were screenwriters who banked sizable incomes and endless frustrations doctoring scripts for nearly two dozen movies. Still, no matter what their glittering reputations, most writers are viewed as hors-d’oeuvres at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain, and Dunne spares no one, including himself, in this wickedly witty account of developing a screenplay about the life of TV news anchor Jessica Savitch. What started out as a gritty, cautionary story of a talented young woman who succumbed to drugs and alcohol was transformed into a feel-good fairy tale of love and redemption after Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer got attached to the project. Dunne captures every wrong turn with a writer’s sharp eye and ear for Hollywood hypocrisy.

By John Gregory Dunne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Monster is John Gregory Dunne's mordant account of the eight years it took to get the 1996 Robert Redford/Michelle Pfeiffer film Up Close & Personal made. A bestselling novelist, Dunne has a cold eye, perfect pitch for the absurdities of Hollywood, and sharp elbows for the film industry's savage infighting. 192 pp. Author tour & national ads. 25,000 print.


Book cover of The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies

David Baboulene Author Of The Primary Colours of Story

From my list on how stories work and how to write your story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was lucky enough not only to get published in my thirties, I also got a film deal for those first two books. I was flown to Hollywood and it was all very grand. However, what they did to my stories in translating them into film scripts horrified me. And ruined them. And the films never got made. I started to look deeper into what ‘experts’ did, and it was awful. I became obsessed with how stories work, developed my own ‘knowledge gap’ theory, proved it through my Ph.D. research, and became a story consultant in the industry. Story theory has completely taken over my life and I love it!

David's book list on how stories work and how to write your story

David Baboulene Why did David love this book?

Bordwell is an academic who is encyclopedic on Hollywood.

He has written several definitive works on Hollywood and despite their depth and learnedness, they are very readable and enjoyable to absorb. So when he turned his attention to ‘classical’ Hollywood story telling, I knew it would be a good one, and I was not disappointed. 

Most story theorists have an approach that they are arguing for. Bordwell is analysing from a pure perspective, without ‘skin in the game’, so the result is balanced, critical, and highly enlightening for the aspiring writer. 

By David Bordwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way Hollywood Tells It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hollywood moviemaking is one of the constants of American life, but how much has it changed since the glory days of the big studios? David Bordwell argues that the principles of visual storytelling created in the studio era are alive and well, even in today's bloated blockbusters. American filmmakers have created a durable tradition - one that we should not be ashamed to call artistic, and one that survives in both mainstream entertainment and niche-marketed indie cinema. Bordwell traces the continuity of this tradition in a wide array of films made since 1960, from romantic comedies like "Jerry Maguire" and…


Book cover of Hollywood

Steve Saroff Author Of Paper Targets: Art Can Be Murder

From my list on literary that mix old noir with modern themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

20 years ago a software company I founded had been acquired and my life should have been good. Instead, it was a Herculean mess. I had just been fired by a billionaire whom I had accused of crimes, and now I was out of work and broke. It would still be four more years before Bernie Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison (where he became blind and demented and died) for the world’s largest fraud. But when I was writing the first words of Paper Targets, the executives who had pulled me into their world of the “Lie” were freely strutting on the World Stage of Greed. 

Steve's book list on literary that mix old noir with modern themes

Steve Saroff Why did Steve love this book?

Bukowski didn't thieve, solve crimes, or use high-tech. In fact, he worked hard and was poor and isolated most of his life. But he lived in the fringe of the noir world, and beat on his machines—manual typewriters, then an IBM Selectric, and finally, with some fame and money, a computer. He was South of his No North, real and genuine for so long that when Hollywood knocked, he was ready for them. This book is his first-hand account of the dumb ego and stupid money that goes into making a movie. Hilarious and dark at the same time. A poet's novel.

By Charles Bukowski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'What will you do?'
'Oh, hell, I'll write a novel about writing the screenplay and making the movie.'
'What are you going to call it?'
'Hollywood.'

Henry Chinaski has a penchant for booze, women and horse-racing. On his precarious journey from poet to screenwriter he encounters a host of well-known stars and lays bare the absurdity and egotism of the film industry. Poetic, sharp and dangerous, Hollywood - Bukowski's fictionalisation of his experiences making the film Barfly - explores the many dark shadows to be found in the neon-soaked glare of Hollywood's limelight.


Book cover of Valley of the Dolls

Stephen Rebello Author Of Dolls! Dolls! Dolls!: Deep Inside Valley of the Dolls, the Most Beloved Bad Book and Movie of All Time

From my list on the down-and-dirtiest showbusiness Romans à clef.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Southern California-based author and screenwriter whose adventures in and around the film business have led to hundreds of feature stories for such magazines as Vibe, Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, American Film, Smithsonian, and Movieline. My books include three dedicated to Disney animated classics and a volume on the art of American movie posters. The lovingly satirical book Bad Movies We Love, co-written with Edward Margulies, inspired a Turner Network movie marathon series. My next non-fiction book will be published in 2024.

Stephen's book list on the down-and-dirtiest showbusiness Romans à clef

Stephen Rebello Why did Stephen love this book?

Newbie novelist Jacqueline Susann created an iconic all-time bestseller with her tale of three young glamazons who vault to the show business heights, only to tumble into a pit of addictions, poor choices in men, and delightfully overripe dialogue. Susann made her sweeping, sexy soap opera shenanigans even more irresistible by patterning her characters on such 20th-century headline-makers as Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Grace Kelly, Ethel Merman, and the Kennedys. Said publicity-savvy Susann, “They can keep calling it that ‘roman à clef'. It’ll only make my books sell.” They did. It did. Although the sanitized and critically bashed 1967 movie version toned down the à clef elements, it became a box-office smash that has gone on to become enshrined as a kitsch classic.

By Jacqueline Susann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before Jackie Collins, Candace Bushnell and Lena Dunham, Jacqueline Susann held the world rapt with her tales of the private passions of Hollywood starlets, high-powered industrialists and the jet-set.

Valley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published, fifty years ago. Never had a book been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. It is often sited as the bestselling novel of all time.

Dolls - red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn't matter, as long as the pill bottle is…


Book cover of Play It as It Lays

Ava Barry Author Of Double Exposure

From my list on cool, culty Los Angeles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to stories of miserable rich people, especially tales of how old money contorts lineage into something rotten. I grew up in Northern California, and while my family was comfortable, we weren’t part of the tennis club and yachting elite. During my childhood, we spent a lot of time exploring abandoned properties. It was a passion that I kept when I moved to Los Angeles as an adult and started to explore forgotten parts of Hollywood’s past. Los Angeles has always fascinated me because it embodies extreme wealth and extreme poverty: like the American dream itself, it straddles both extremes and promises everything while guaranteeing nothing.

Ava's book list on cool, culty Los Angeles

Ava Barry Why did Ava love this book?

I read this book for the first time when I was in high school, and it made me realize that main characters aren’t always good people. Maria Wyeth is a selfish, broken actress who stumbles through a series of bad decisions. She cares about nothing, not even herself, but the language is so beautiful and evocative of a 1960s Los Angeles that you can’t help wondering what happens.

If nothing else, pick it up for the laissez-faire attitude of the extremely wealthy and beautiful before the age of social media.

By Joan Didion,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A profoundly disturbing novel that ruthlessly dissects American life in the late 1960s, from the author of The White Album and The Year of Magical Thinking.

Benny called for a round of Cuba Libres and I gave him some chips to play for me and went to the ladies' room and never came back.

Somewhere out beyond Hollywood, hollowed-out actress Maria Wyeth's life plays out in a numbing routine of perpetual freeway driving. In her early thirties, divorced from her husband, dislocated from friends, anesthetized to pain and please, Wheth is a woman who has run out of both desires…


Book cover of The Day of the Locust

Ava Barry Author Of Double Exposure

From my list on cool, culty Los Angeles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to stories of miserable rich people, especially tales of how old money contorts lineage into something rotten. I grew up in Northern California, and while my family was comfortable, we weren’t part of the tennis club and yachting elite. During my childhood, we spent a lot of time exploring abandoned properties. It was a passion that I kept when I moved to Los Angeles as an adult and started to explore forgotten parts of Hollywood’s past. Los Angeles has always fascinated me because it embodies extreme wealth and extreme poverty: like the American dream itself, it straddles both extremes and promises everything while guaranteeing nothing.

Ava's book list on cool, culty Los Angeles

Ava Barry Why did Ava love this book?

I’ve read this book a few times, and I honestly can’t tell if it’s a praise or a damning critique of Los Angeles. I think that West–like myself and so many others–is addicted to Los Angeles and is still a bit critical of it.

Tod Hackett is a trained artist who comes to Hollywood to work in set and costume design. Like most outsiders, he sees the city as a projection of all his dreams and nightmares. Set in the 1930s, this book is a moving carnival of outsized stereotypes and winning caricatures. The entire thing feels like a carnival. Read this if you love the Golden Age of Hollywood.

By Nathanael West,

Why should I read it?

3 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…


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Interested in the film industry, Hollywood, and psychology?

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