The most recommended books on Hollywood

Who picked these books? Meet our 98 experts.

98 authors created a book list connected to Hollywood, and here are their favorite Hollywood books.
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What type of Hollywood book?


This Thing of Darkness

By K.V. Turley, Fiorella De Maria,

Book cover of This Thing of Darkness

Karen Ullo Author Of Jennifer the Damned

From the list on horror with Catholic themes.

Who am I?

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

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…

Candescent Blooms

By Andrew Hook,

Book cover of Candescent Blooms

Eugen Bacon Author Of Danged Black Thing

From the list on short stories in literary and speculative fiction.

Who am I?

I am an African Australian author of several novels and fiction collections, and a finalist in the 2022 World Fantasy Award. I was announced in the honor list of the 2022 Otherwise Fellowships for ‘doing exciting work in gender and speculative fiction’. I have a master's degree with distinction in distributed computer systems, a master's degree in creative writing, and a PhD in creative writing. The short story is my sweetest spot. I have a deep passion for the literary speculative, and I write across genres and forms, with award-winning genre-bending works. I am especially curious about stories of culture, diversity, climate change, writing the other, and betwixt.

Eugen's book list on short stories in literary and speculative fiction

Why did Eugen love this book?

Andrew Hook is a European slipstream author proficient in the literary weird. He certainly does not disappoint in his new collection of Hollywood’s living dead. Candescent Blooms rouses legends of the silver screen right there in your living room, and they are broken, unbroken, full of many secrets. And you know, you know—because history says so—that the actors and actresses are dead, yet living, right there on your page. Imbued with levity wrapped in anguish. Thimble-sized, you will not find a literary collection this superb in a long time.   

By Andrew Hook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Candescent Blooms is a collection of twelve short stories which form fictionalised biographies of mostly Golden Era Hollywood actors who suffered untimely deaths. From Olive Thomas in 1920 through to Grace Kelly in 1982, these pieces utilise facts, fiction, gossip, movies and unreliable memories to examine the life of each individual character set against a Hollywood background of hope and corruption, opportunity and reality.

Easy Riders Raging Bulls

By Peter Biskind,

Book cover of Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock 'n Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

David Browne Author Of Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970

From the list on why the maligned Seventies were pretty awesome.

Who am I?

I’m a senior writer at Rolling Stone, where I cover a wide range of music-related topics. But as a child of the Seventies, I was shaped by the defining and enthralling pop culture of that era, from singer-songwriters, Southern rock, and disco records to Norman Lear sitcoms. In some of my work, I’ve chronicled the highs and lows of that era, perhaps as a way to answer a question that haunted me during my youth: Why did my older sisters and their friends keep telling me that the Sixties were the most incredible decade ever and the Seventies were awful? What did I miss? And how and where did it all go wrong?

David's book list on why the maligned Seventies were pretty awesome

Why did David love this book?

Just before and during the same period that SNL was raging on the East Coast, rising directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas were rewriting the rules of Hollywood. Biskind’s history of the New Hollywood of the Seventies, which starts with 1969’s biker classic Easy Rider, is jammed with juicy stories of sex, drugs, and film canisters. But it also makes you appreciate anew the way movies like  Chinatown, Nashville, Taxi Driver, and Star Wars made going to the local movie theater a newly thrilling and surprising experience. 

By Peter Biskind,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Easy Riders Raging Bulls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the low-budget biker movie Easy Rider shocked Hollywood with its success in 1969, a new Hollywood era was born. This was an age when talented young filmmakers such as Scorsese, Coppola, and Spielberg, along with a new breed of actors, including De Niro, Pacino, and Nicholson, became the powerful figures who would make such modern classics as The Godfather, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and Jaws. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls follows the wild ride that was Hollywood in the '70s -- an unabashed celebration of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (both onscreen and off) and a climate where innovation and…

In a Far-Off Land

By Stephanie Landsem,

Book cover of In a Far-Off Land

Rhonda Ortiz Author Of In Pieces

From the list on historical romances for armchair Theologians.

Who am I?

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

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…

Detecting Women

By Philippa Gates,

Book cover of Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film

Natacha Guyot Author Of The Science is Out There: Scully's Feminism in The X-Files

From the list on women in American film.

Who am I?

I’ve been creating female-fronted Science Fiction stories since I was a child. My love for Star Wars motivated me to go to film school and then spend years working on the representation of women in Science Fiction movies, TV series, and video games. I’ve written about characters like Leia Organa and Hera Syndulla in Star Wars, Dana Scully in The X-Files, Sarah Connor in The Terminator, and Elisabeth Shaw in Prometheus. I have recently started sharing some of my research on Medium. Some of the books on this list have supported my research for over 15 years while I discovered others during my doctoral studies. 

Natacha's book list on women in American film

Why did Natacha love this book?

This is a must-read if you are interested in women investigators in mainstream film, B movies, niche genres, or television.

Gates studies over 300 films and goes back to not only early cinema but even to 19th-century fiction that brought certain figures such as the sleuth, to the screen several decades later. 

By exploring the evolution of women detectives, Gates addresses various topics such as women in the workforce, intellectual women, age, race, and sexuality. This historical analysis played a key role in my research on Scully beyond the chapter on women criminalists such as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.

By Philippa Gates,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ambitious and comprehensive history of the female detective in Hollywood film from 1929 to 2009.

Book cover of Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

Steve Morris Author Of Out on Top – A Collection of Upbeat Short Stories

From the list on short stories for when spare time is short.

Who am I?

Short stories suit the speed of modern society. I began writing them as a child and began to get them published in magazines. My first collection of stories in 2009 got quite a lot of press in the UK and two more collections followed. Initially, they were darkly-themed backfiring scenarios for the anti-hero and I redressed the balance in Out on Top. We all deserve some good Karma!

Steve's book list on short stories for when spare time is short

Why did Steve love this book?

This was recommended to me as having been the lyrical inspiration to songs by several musical artists I was listening to in my teens. To this day I am still baffled and impressed as to where on Earth Dick ever found the ideas for some of these stories. Almost experimental in their nature, particularly at the time of writing, and breaking ground as he went along, P. K. Dick’s skill of crafting chilling perspective scenarios again and again have, become popular film plots. In this book and his other short story collections, you can feast on many more deeply original plots, any number of which could be made into Hollywood films. Many years ahead of his time and almost predicting the disposable instantaneous world we would live in, Dick’s short stories almost arrived from the future themselves. I think he had the edge on dialogue too. I don’t own a…

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick contains twenty-one of Dick’s most dazzling and resonant stories, which span his entire career and show a world-class writer working at the peak of his powers.

In “The Days of Perky Pat,” people spend their time playing with dolls who manage to live an idyllic life no longer available to the Earth’s real inhabitants. “Adjustment Team” looks at the fate of a man who by mistake has stepped out of his own time. In “Autofac,” one community must battle benign machines to take back control of their lives. And in “I Hope I Shall…

The Garden on Sunset

By Martin Turnbull,

Book cover of The Garden on Sunset

Lisa Hall Author Of The Mysterious Double Death of Honey Black

From the list on for fans of Old Hollywood.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved stories, whether on the page or on the screen, and after reading Gone with the Wind I immediately watched the movie, feeling the pull of Old Hollywood drawing me in. My grandfather was a big movie fan, and I spent many an afternoon watching old movies with him – Hobson’s Choice was a favourite. As I got older, Gaslight, Ocean’s Eleven, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane… they all had me gripped. Factor in my self-confessed obsession with celebrity gossip and that was me done for – Old Hollywood is rife with scandal and gossip!

Lisa's book list on for fans of Old Hollywood

Why did Lisa love this book?

Martin Turnbull is somewhat of an expert on Old Hollywood and I found his incredible website in my research for Honey Black.

His website is full of original photos of LA throughout the decades and these were invaluable for me when I was writing certain scenes. I then discovered he had written a series of books based in Hollywood, following three friends who come together to navigate their way through the movie business, starting with The Garden of Allah set in the late 1920s. It’s a fascinating look at the seedier side of Old Hollywood. 

By Martin Turnbull,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Have you ever wanted to climb into a time machine and visit Hollywood during its heyday?

Right before talking pictures slug Tinsel Town in the jaw, a luminous silent screen star converts her private estate into the Garden of Allah Hotel. The lush grounds soon become a haven for Hollywood hopefuls to meet, drink, and revel through the night. George Cukor is in the pool, Tallulah Bankhead is at the bar, and Scott Fitzgerald is sneaking off to a bungalow with Sheilah Graham while Madame Alla Nazimova keeps watch behind her lace curtains.

But the real story of the Garden…

Valley of the Dolls

By Jacqueline Susann,

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

Who am I?

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

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…

The Family

By Ed Sanders,

Book cover of The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion

Richard Boch Author Of The Mudd Club

From the list on music, mayhem, drugs, and sex.

Who am I?

I was a Brooklyn kid who grew up on Long Island. I started hitting the bars and clubs in NYC when I was still a teenager. I found my way to CBGB in 1975, moved to Bleecker St in 1976, and in a right place/right time moment I found myself working the Mudd Club door in early 1979. That moment was a life changer. The Mudd Club book tells the story.

Richard's book list on music, mayhem, drugs, and sex

Why did Richard love this book?

The best book written about 1960’s Pop-Culture madness and mayhem. As founding member of The Fugs and a unique literary voice, Ed Sanders tells this tale brilliantly. The warning signs, the goosebumps, and knowing when it’s time to stop are all there in The Family.

By Ed Sanders,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

extremely rare,very good condition

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

By Taylor Jenkins Reid,

Book cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Avery Easton Author Of Not the Boy Next Door

From the list on romances to read when you're sick of the straights.

Who am I?

Listen, I love straight people. I even married one! But sometimes, you have to get out of the hetero bubble. Most of the people in my life, outside of my family, are queer. Representation matters, and I am thrilled that the queer romance genre is booming. Experiencing lives outside of your own norm can only create more empathy, which is all we can hope for. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I did, and that you check out my Hearts of Broadway series for more representation. And showtunes.

Avery's book list on romances to read when you're sick of the straights

Why did Avery love this book?

I was speechless after finishing this book. It took me completely out of my own life and brought me to its world in a way I hadn't been in a long time.

No spoilies, but your heart will break into a thousand pieces, get put back together, and then break all over again. The world of old Hollywood glamour will draw you in, and the story of Evelyn and her husbands will keep you there. I promise.

Treat yourself to the audiobook, as well. The narrators (Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, and Robin Miles) are marvelous.

By Taylor Jenkins Reid,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"If you're looking for a book to take on holiday this summer, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has got all the glitz and glamour to make it a perfect beach read." -Bustle

From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & the Six-an entrancing and "wildly addictive journey of a reclusive Hollywood starlet" (PopSugar) as she reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready…