The most recommended books about Judy Garland

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to Judy Garland, and here are their favorite Judy Garland books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of A Private View

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?

The dutiful daughter of one studio mogul and devoted wife of another, Irene Selznick was Hollywood royalty throughout the 1920s to 40s, the Golden Age of American cinema. Her father, the tyrannical Louis B. Mayer, steered MGM, Hollywood’s most successful studio, discovered Greta Garbo and victimized Judy Garland. Her husband, David O. Selznick made the first A Star Is Born and Gone with the Wind before self-destructing from drugs and megalomania. Irene escaped the shadow of overpowering men to become the respected Broadway producer of A Streetcar Named Desire, a woman to be reckoned with and—in this powerful memoir—a first-class storyteller.

By Irene Mayer Selznick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Irene Mayer came to Hollywood when she was ten. Her childhood was populated with legendary names as her father, Louis B., practically created the movie industry. But life at the Mayers' was not lived in the typical Hollywood style. They believed in family, in strict hours, tiny allowances, no boys, no going away to college, and no socializing with actors. She didn't marry an actor. She married David O. Selznick, a wildly energized, and ambitious man who would go on to make some of the greatest movies Hollywood would ever see. Irene eventually left him, and Hollywood, for New York…


Book cover of Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939

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?

It might seem presumptuous to call 50 films from 1939 "classics" but I agree with Vieira that these 50 movies deserve that distinction. This book is filled with all the pertinent information, fun facts, and great visuals. Movie stills, behind-the-scenes candid photos, portraits, and poster art make this a memorable volume to treasure. I particularly like the attention Vieira gives to the many outstanding movie directors working in 1939.

By Mark A. Vieira,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1939 was a watershed year. The Great Depression was barely over economics, politics, and culture braced for war. There was a lull before the storm and Hollywood, as if expecting to be judged by posterity, produced a portfolio of masterpieces. No year before or since has yielded so many beloved works of cinematic art: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gunga Din, Only Angels Have Wings, Destry Rides Again, Beau Geste, Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Ninotchka, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Women , and of course, Gone With the Wind . Majestic…


Book cover of Mr. Nobody

Keith Steinbaum Author Of You Say Goodbye

From my list on the sleuth will set you free.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my first foray into poetry when I was in high school, I've been creative writing for over fifty years. Poetry proceeded into writing alternative song lyrics to established songs while in college. After graduating I naively pursued a career as a professional song lyricist, achieving limited success and unable to continue. While in the midst of a long career in the landscape industry, upon realizing that I wanted to write a novel based on an idea I had, I eventually completed a supernatural thriller titled, The Poe Consequence. Years of watching detective shows and reading memorable crime thrillers provided the inspiration to write a murder mystery as well. You Say Goodbye is the result. 

Keith's book list on the sleuth will set you free

Keith Steinbaum Why did Keith love this book?

Steadman needed to offer the reader a believable character in terms of who she is in relation to the storyline. In this case, the protagonist is a clinical psychologist who is tasked with putting the pieces of information together to find out who the mysterious man is that was found wandering on the beach. The man doesn't know either, and is at a loss to explain how he wound up on the beach in the first place.  But it’s not just a ‘simple’ case of amnesia because that would be too simple a diagnosis. The buildup to the eventual discovery, leading to the surprising and climactic ending, made this a fun read for me. 

Authors who are able to combine elements of a mysterious character and an intriguing storyline that carries you through the action of a unique concept is a winning formula for whodunits or just good mysteries of…

By Catherine Steadman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Nobody as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Fans of The Silent Patient will love it' CJ TUDOR
'Very clever, brilliantly compelling' BA PARIS
'Cinematic and gripping' SARAH VAUGHAN
'Original, ingenious and utterly gripping' JP DELANEY

*** Memento meets Sharp Objects in this superb thriller from the bestselling author of Something in the Water, a 2019 Richard & Judy Book Club pick ***

When a man is found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him; to international medical experts who are…


Book cover of Traps, the Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich

Bill Bruford Author Of Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer

From my list on why drummers do what they do.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been intrigued by drums, drummers, and drumming since the age of 12 when my sister gave me some brushes and told me to swish them around on a vinyl album sleeve. I was fortunate to begin my drumming career at the top, which gave me options as to how I could manage whatever came next. I spent 41 years playing the music I wanted with whom I wanted and where and when I wanted, in an endless search for the unusual and the unlikely. This brought me into contact with the great, the good, and the downright hopeless, from all of whom I learned that life isn’t about ‘finding’ things or ‘finding yourself,’ it’s about creating things and thus creating yourself.

Bill's book list on why drummers do what they do

Bill Bruford Why did Bill love this book?

This biography of a person that many consider to be the greatest drummer that we’ve had so far, is excellent on several fronts. First, it is written by a long-standing friend and roommate Mel Tormé. Tormé was there when it happened, and as a highly rated jazz singer experienced in Rich’s world, he is able to help us understand why it happened. Second, it speaks volumes about American music and entertainment in the context of the Swing era. Rich could be mean, prickly, and arrogant, and then turn on a dime into a sweetheart. It says much for their friendship that, despite periods of estrangement, it was able to withstand such vacillations. I interviewed the drummer in his Dorchester hotel suite in London in 1968 and I got the sweetheart. Finally, as Jerry Lewis says on the back cover, the book is “written by a champ about a champ”.

By Mel Tormé,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mel Tormé is world renowned as a leading jazz vocalist. He has performed in MGM musicals, co-wrote one of the enduring Christmas classics, "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)," and was recently profiled in Life magazine as one of the greatest living jazz singers. But
Tormé has also written five books, including The Other Side of the Rainbow, Tormé's account of his year working on the Judy Garland television show--considered the best portrait of Garland ever written. In this book, Tormé writes a brilliant biography of his friend of forty years--the drummer
Buddy Rich.
Buddy Rich was…


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 Wizard of Oz

Judith Ratcliffe Author Of The Silver Shoes In The Land Of The Dinosaurs

From my list on children’s stories with fantastic heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

As you may notice, in my own stories, I like to find the magic in everyday things and, to a greater or lesser extent, each of the books I have chosen to write about here, do that. Having worked with children as a Rainbow Guide Leader, taught children, for a brief spell, abroad, I know children and their intelligence, understanding, and kindness, amongst other things, can often be underestimated. The books I chose, show how children (girls in particular) win the day by using their intelligence, skills, and talents. Celebrating girls and their achievements is increasingly important in improving their rights and access to opportunities in life.

Judith's book list on children’s stories with fantastic heroines

Judith Ratcliffe Why did Judith love this book?

Perseverance and living in the moment, are probably the lessons to take away from The Wizard of Oz and enjoying the journey, wherever the road may lead and the fact that while having courage, a heart (empathy/ emotional intelligence/ kindness and gentleness) and a brain (intelligence), may be fine by themselves, it is when they work together that the magic happens and good things become real).

By L. Frank Baum,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Wizard of Oz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its range of best-loved, essential classics.

'"Come along, Toto," she said. "We will go to the Emerald City and ask the Great Oz how to get back to Kansas again."'

Swept away from her home in Kansas by a tornado, Dorothy and her dog Toto find themselves stranded in the fantastical Land of Oz. As instructed by the Good Witch of the North and the Munchkins, Dorothy sets off on the yellow brick road to try and find her way to the Emerald City and the Wizard of Oz, who can help her get home.…


Book cover of September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle

Jon Burlingame Author Of Music for Prime Time: A History of American Television Themes and Scoring

From my list on film and television composers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a working journalist for 50 years, and as a child of TV, especially in the 1960s, I grew up with some of the most memorable TV themes ever written. I started writing about TV in the 1980s, and since moving to Los Angeles in 1986, have used every opportunity to meet and interview all of my favorite composers of movie and TV music. The result is this book, which looks at the history of TV themes and, in a larger sense, music written for TV generally. Every genre of TV, from crime to sitcoms, westerns to adventure, has had fun, often compelling, and truly memorable music, and I've tried to celebrate it here.

Jon's book list on film and television composers

Jon Burlingame Why did Jon love this book?

Longtime jazz publicist Peter Levinson wrote four books on musical figures and this is my favorite.

I'm fudging on the topic just a little bit because Riddle was far more than just a film and TV composer; he was arguably the greatest arranger of the 20th century, working with such giants as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and Rosemary Clooney.

I was especially interested in Riddle's TV career, which included a hit theme for Route 66 but also music for The Untouchables, Batman, The Blue Knight, and Emergency (as well as film scores from Ocean's 11 to The Great Gatsby).

Levinson captures not only the ambiance of the recording studio but also the surprising insecurities and melancholy that dogged the composer throughout his career.

By Peter J. Levinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Known for single-handedly saving Frank Sinatra's career in the mid-1950s with his stunning orchestral arrangements, Riddle's "intelligent, seductive style" also attracted such singers as Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Johnny Mathis, and Linda Ronstadt. Peter Levinson, a friend of Riddle's, presents the musical side of Riddle as well as the private, including details of his marriage-ending affair with Rosemary Clooney.