I love books, and this is a well-known fact. As many of you know, I’m starting a master’s program in Library Science next month, which is something you typically don’t do if you don’t love books. And of course, my love for books has been documented on this blog. Naturally, one of my goals for the coming year is to read a whole lot of books, many of them related to my greatest love, which is classic film.
Here are some of the books I’m hoping to get to in the coming year. An asterisk next to the author’s name denotes a book that I currently own, making it more likely that I’ll actually get around to reading it soon!
- The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty*
This will be my first film book of the year as I’m just about finished with it! Moriarity has written a novel fictionalizing pre-fame Louise Brooks as she ventures to New York from Wichita, Kansas to attend dance school. She is accompanied by Cora, a fellow Wichita resident who volunteered to be Louise’s chaperone but has business of her own to attend to in New York. (Business of what sort, I will not spoil, since it takes a few chapters for it to be revealed.) Expect a review of this book soon.
- The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin*
Another fictional book based on a very real person, this novel provides a fictionalization of the life of Lavinia Warren. Not necessarily classic film related, but a fascinating story nonetheless. Lavinia was a circus performer in the 19th century and was married to Tom Thumb, as the title of the book suggests. Born with proportional dwarfism, Lavinia stood at 32 inches. I picked this up, along with The Chaperone and three other bargain books, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (the greatest store in the world) while visiting Kentucky earlier this month. As I always do, I read the first couple of pages and was completely drawn into it, so I look forward to reading it.
- More H.P. Oliver!
I read Oliver’s novel SILENTS! and reviewed it in March of this year. I absolutely loved it and have been hoping ever since to read more of his work. Highest on my list are And the Angels Sing, a Big Band-era crime drama, and The Truth Be Told, a fictionalization of Peg Entwistle’s tragic death.
- The Art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty Years of His Motion Pictures and The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams by Donald Spoto*
It seems like everyone with even a remote interest in classic film has read something by Donald Spoto, and of course I have read his work before, but I happen to own two books of his that I have not yet got around to finishing. One is on Alfred Hitchcock (who is quoted on the cover as calling it “A great book…,” ambiguous ellipses and all) and the other is on playwright Tennessee Williams, who I love not only for his plays but for the films that have spawned from them. I’m most excited for the book on Williams since I’ve never read a full biography of him, but both of these should be very interesting reads.
STARS & FILMMAKERS
- What Would Grace Do? by Gina McKinnon*
I recently won this book in a giveaway on the fantastic blog The Lady Eve’s Reel Life. Very excited to read it, and to watch the four Elizabeth Taylor films that accompany it to make up my giveaway prize!
- A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907 – 1940 by Victoria Wilson
Everyone and their brother has either read this book, started reading it or has it on their TBR pile. If anyone is deserving of an enormous, incredibly detailed biography, it’s Barbara Stanwyck. I’m tempted to buy the cheaper Kindle edition of this just so I can read it sooner, but I’d really love to own a physical copy of this one, so I’m saving my pennies in hopes that I’ll be able to afford a copy and get to reading it soon!
- The Films of Jean Harlow and The Films of Greta Garbo*
Picked up both of these books at my favorite antique shop earlier in the week. They’re from the ’60s and feature overviews of all of the films of each of these wonderful actresses. Can’t wait to read them!
- The Art of W.C. Fields by William K. Everson*
I own this in a beautiful 1967 edition and I’d be lying if I said its wonderful old book smell wasn’t contributing to my excitement to read it. I’m also intrigued to learn more about W.C. Fields, though, book-sniffing aside. (Yes, I am aware that my obsession with old book smell makes me a total weirdo. Here on TMP, we’re not afraid to let our weirdo flags fly.) I’ve read some about Fields’ personal troubles, and they seem to be mentioned any time he is, but this book seems to focus instead on an in-depth exploration of his work, which is refreshing.
- The Life and Legend of Gene Fowler by H. Allen Smith*
Gene Fowler is most well-known as a reporter, but also worked as a screenwriter. I’m not sure how much Hollywood will be included in this biography, but I look forward to reading it regardless. Found a 1977 copy at my local library’s book sale for only $0.50 and couldn’t pass it up!
- Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
I’ve heard a lot of good things about this touching tribute to Audrey, written by her son. Not sure why I haven’t picked it up yet, but with used hardcover copies available for under $1 on Amazon, I’ll likely be adding it to my book collection very soon.
- Montgomery Clift: A Biography by Patricia Bosworth*
I don’t talk about him enough on this blog, but I really love Monty Clift. I’ve only reviewed two of his films here and have never written a tribute post to him, but I would consider him one of my favorite actors. He was a phenomenal talent, but I know little about his life. This book has been sitting on my TBR pile forever (another book sale find!) so it’s high on the priority list to finally read in 2014.
- The Noel Coward Diaries, ed. Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley*
From 1941 through the end of his life, Noel Coward kept a diary of everything that was going on around him. This book is simply the publication of those journals. Coward did it all: writing, acting, directing, composing. To read about all of his experiences in Hollywood and elsewhere in his own words is guaranteed to be a fascinating read
- Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim
I have very fond memories of Little House and I had no clue this book existed until I decided to browse the biography section on Amazon one night. The title alone tells me that this should be a very fun read.
- Hitchcock & Selznick: The Rich and Strange Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and David O. Selznick in Hollywood by Leonard J. Leff*
I was attracted to this book because of the unique angle it takes. Unlike the typical Hollywood biography, it explores the working relationship of two filmmakers rather than focusing on one person and fleshing out the details of their life. A highly anticipated read.
- Love, Alice: My Life as a Honeymooner by Audrey Meadows with Joe Daley*
This book was on the FREE cart at my library’s book sale. I couldn’t believe my luck when I stumbled upon it! Audrey Meadows starred, of course, in the hit ’50s sitcom The Honeymooners. From what I understand, this is a memoir of her time spent working on that show.
- Lana: The Life and Loves of Lana Turner by Jane Ellen Wayne*
Yet another book sale find. As you can probably tell, my library is an absolute goldmine for books about the entertainment industry. I’ve read quite a bit about Lana Turner so I’m not sure how much new information I’ll gain from reading this one, but you can never read too many classic star bios!
- A Private View by Irene Mayer Selznick*
Daughter of Louis B., wife of David O., close friend to Katharine Hepburn and a theatrical producer in her own right… Irene Mayer Selznick seems to have led a very interesting life. This is her autobiography, and I expect I’ll enjoy it a lot.
BOOKS ABOUT SINGLE FILMS & OTHER ODDITIES
- The Tale of South Pacific, ed. Thana Skouras*
This book is a very short hardcover, released in promotion of the film. I’ve already read it. I added it to my TBR pile as a re-read so I can finally make a blog post on it! It has lots of great pictures and delves briefly into many aspects of the making of the film, including the score, art direction and editing for continuity.
- The Story of the Making of Ben-Hur, ed. General Lew Wallace*
In the same vein as the book on South Pacific, this tiny hardcover tells the tale of the production of the biblical epic Ben-Hur. Unlike the South Pacific book, I’ve not yet read it. I just found it earlier this week at my local antique shop for the shockingly low price of $2!
- All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! by John Springer*
This is a beautiful pictorial overview of the musical genre. My copy is a 6th edition paperback from the ’70s. Really can’t wait to share some tidbits from this one on the blog — the photos are wonderful and the facts that accompany them are fun to read, too!
- All About All About Eve by Sam Staggs
Loved his book about Imitation of Life. Hope this one will be just as great!
- The Making of The African Queen, or: How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind by Katharine Hepburn*
Another re-read that I’m dying to do a blog post on! I found a first edition of this book at a gun and knife show, of all places, and I had a wonderful (but short) conversation with the man who was selling it about how wonderful the film is. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite film-related books and one of the most prized pieces of my book collection.
- I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields*
Not exactly a classic film book, but Lee’s most beloved work, To Kill a Mockingbird, became one of my favorite classic films when it was adapted starring Gregory Peck, so I’m including it in this TBR. To Kill a Mockingbird has been a favorite novel of mine since the first time I read it, which was when I was a wee little elementary student. The back cover of this book features excerpts from the text itself rather than empty quotes of praise, and they’ve already got me hooked.
- Prize Bloopers by Kermit Schafer*
Those of you familiar with my collection of vintage publications may remember that I already own a 1959 Kermit Schafer book titled Pardon My Blooper. While on my trip to Kentucky, my sister and I stopped into Goodwill to look for cheap UK t-shirts and ended up walking out not only with shirts, but with an armful of books. (We lived in Kentucky for a few years during middle school, so I assure you we were not being obnoxious tourists by looking for the shirts — just obnoxious, nostalgic ladies!) This was one of the books I picked up, and it was published exactly 20 years later than my other Schafer book. Should be a fun little read full of corny jokes.
There you have it, folks: over 20 books I hope to finish in 2014. This may seem like an ambitious project, but considering the fact that I’ve read over 50 books this year, I have faith that I can complete it!
What are you looking forward to reading in 2014? Any more recent releases (since I buy used, I realize a lot of the books on my list may seem outdated haha) or upcoming releases that you’re excited to dig into? Share in the comments section!