One of my favorite classic film blogs, Out of the Past, is hosting the fourth annual Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge, and though I’ve missed out on participating in previous years, for 2016 I’ve decided to give it a go! I’m an avid reader but also a “mood reader” — I tend to gravitate toward whatever I feel like reading next in the moment, rather than building a “to be read” list. Sometimes I’m in the mood for light fiction, sometimes literary fiction, sometimes historical non-fiction, and sometimes a good old star biography. I’m breaking my “no TBR” habit this summer to keep myself on track with the challenge, which requires me to read and review six classic film-related books by September 15.
All of the books read for the challenge will come from my ever-growing collection of classic film-related books, which currently takes up about 1/3 of my personal library! I have a special fondness for vintage editions in my collecting efforts, so you won’t find any new-release pieces of film scholarship included, though I do have several of those on my larger “to read eventually” list. Here’s what I plan to read for the challenge, listed alphabetically by author’s last name:
- Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant by Jennifer Grant
I feel like this challenge was designed to help me read books like this. It’s been sitting on my shelf for what feels like forever. I was incredibly excited to read it when it was initially released several years ago. Somehow, though, it has gone unread on my bookshelf!
- Five Women I Love: Bob Hope’s Vietnam Story by Bob Hope
This book, one of the most recent additions to my collection, offers Bob Hope’s recollection of his time performing with the USO for American troops in Vietnam.
- Scarlett O’Hara’s Younger Sister: My Lively Life In and Out of Hollywood by Evelyn Keyes
Best known as Suellen O’Hara, sister to Gone With the Wind‘s Scarlett, Evelyn Keyes had a fairly long career in Hollywood, often playing supporting parts. I always enjoy reading about those lesser-known/underappreciated players in classic film, so I’m excited to get to this one.
- Cagney: The Actor as Auteur by Patrick McGilligan
Cagney by Cagney, the man’s autobiography, has been one of my favorite used book finds and classic film reads in recent years. I picked up this book on Cagney from the same used bookstore, on the same trip. James Cagney was a truly wonderful actor, and those of us who love him know he was much more versatile than he often gets credit for. I’m excited to read McGilligan’s take on his talents, as I greatly enjoyed the author’s book on George Cukor (which I also own).
- LIFE Goes to the Movies, ed. David E. Scherman
If you’ve read this blog for a while you may be somewhat familiar with my vintage magazine collection, or at least aware that I have one. LIFE is one of the mags I like to collect, so when I came across this book, I had to have it. This will no doubt be the lightest read of the challenge as it’s absolutely packed with pictures, but it also offers plenty of insight into how the mag covered Hollywood, from its most frequently featured stars to its behind-the-scenes photo shoots.
- Laughing in the Dark: Movie Comedy from Groucho to Woody by Ted Sennett
This is another one that’s been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I was very excited to find it when I bought it, and then swiftly became too busy to start reading it and just never got around to starting it. The book offers a broad overview of comedy from the silent era to the 1980s, broken into sections by decade and then by subgenre within each decade.
For more details about the challenge or to sign yourself up, visit Out of the Past!