TBR: 2020 Classic Film Summer Reading Challenge

The temperature is high, the air is muggy, and there’s no better place to be than in the shade (or in front of a very powerful fan) with a good book. Summer reading is a requirement for students, but a cherished pastime for those of us who love books — and an even greater delight for those of us with stacks of classic film books to read!

One of my favorite blogs, Out of the Past, is once again hosting a classic film-themed summer reading challenge. In previous years, I’ve usually followed along with the challenge, enjoyed seeing what everyone else was reading… and utterly failed at keeping up with my own to-be-read pile. That all changes this year! For the first time since 2016, I’ll be actively participating.

Below is my TBR for this year’s summer reading challenge.

The Female Gaze
The Female Gaze: Essential Movies Made by Women by Alicia Malone

Covering films ranging from 1906 to 2018, TCM host Alicia Malone highlights must-watch movies made by women. This book includes dedicated essays about 52 films and their makers, including Dorothy Arzner’s Dance, Girl, Dance, Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker, and Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7.

Audrey at Home
Audrey at Home by Luca Dotti with Luigi Spinola

Focusing primarily on Audrey Hepburn’s home life rather than her career, Luca Dotti shares favorite recipes, lovely photographs, and personal memories of his mother. In the book’s dedication, Dotti writes, “I believe that our images at home are no less important than all those impeccable black-and-white photos, and that the notes in the margin of her favorite recipes matter as much as those in her scripts.” I’ve skimmed the recipes in this book and marked a few to try, but I’m excited to read it in full!

Not to Be Missed
Not to Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites From a Lifetime of Film by Kenneth Turan

As you can see from the sticker I’m scared to remove for fear of tearing the dust jacket, this book was a steal! I happened to find it on the discount shelf at one of my favorite bookstores on my last visit there at the beginning of the year and couldn’t pass it up. I’m intrigued by the idea of a sort of memoir through film — recounting the movies that have meant the most to you over a lifetime of viewing. While I don’t follow any critics closely, I have enjoyed reading Kenneth Turan’s writing in the past (see his list of comfort movies from this past April), so I have no doubt this will be a delight.

Precocious Charms
Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema by Gaylyn Studlar

I stumbled open this book quite a long time ago while traveling. (Always have to find a bookstore when I visit a new city!) As the title reveals, the book explores the idea of “girlhood” in classic film — as performed by both genuine child stars and adult actresses. Per the blurb on the back, Studlar aims to provide “a new understanding of the complex pleasures Hollywood created for its audience during the half-century when film stars were a major influence on America’s cultural imagination.”

Dutch Girl
Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen

Yes, another Audrey Hepburn book! I know there are lesser-known stars who deserve attention and there are plenty of other unread books on my shelf I could swap out here, but Audrey is a genuine favorite of mine, and while putting together my TBR I realized I bought this book nearly a year ago. I’m long past due to get it read! Like Audrey at Home, Dutch Girl focuses on Audrey’s life outside of her stardom — in this case, her childhood and experience in the Netherlands during World War II.

The Lady From the Black Lagoon
The Lady From the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara

Another highly-anticipated read I’ve somehow neglected in favor of fiction. (Shame on me! I need this reading challenge. I need a year-round reading challenge, haha.) Mallory O’Meara tells the story of Milicent Patrick, designer of the titular creature in Creature from the Black Lagoon. Beyond Patrick’s story, O’Meara explores Hollywood’s continuing tendency to stifle the talent of its female creators.

I’ll be reviewing each of these books as I read them — and perhaps sharing the results of a few recipes from Audrey at Home! If you’re interested in participating, head over to Out of the Past to sign up. If you read any six classic film books and review them on your own blog or social media between June 1 and September 15, you’ll be entered to win a Warner Archive DVD of your choice!

7 thoughts on “TBR: 2020 Classic Film Summer Reading Challenge

  1. A neat list there, Lindsey! If I had to pick one to read from your collection, I would go with Kenneth Turan’s book…same as you, I’m intrigued by the idea of looking back at movies that made a difference or had an impact over one’s lifetime. A cool idea…has me thinking about what MY movies like that would be! (And I can think of a handful right now off the top of my head).

    Looking forward to the reviews…The Lady from the Black Lagoon looks intriguing as well!


    1. Hey Todd, hope you’re doing well! I’m really excited for that one. That would be a good idea for a blogathon — your life in movies. My list would probably be very strange, given my favorites from the time before I really got into classics, haha! Which titles came to mind for you?


      1. The earliest movie I remember seeing at the theater was a Disney film called Blackbeard’s Ghost, but I watched a film on TV when I was eight called Little Fugitive, that had me completely mesmerized, and is the earliest film I can recall that made such an impact on me. I believe The Poseidon Adventure was my first non-Disney movie I saw at the theater, and then of course Jaws made me realize just how freaking cool movies could be!

        How about you…what are a few that make your list? And yes, I’m doing fine, and I hope you’re doing fine as well!


        1. The first few that come to mind are Beauty and the Beast (released in my birth year & my first favorite movie), The Parent Trap (remake, first movie I remember seeing in theaters), Titanic, The Wizard of Oz (first favorite classic), and The Tingler (which really kicked off my classic film obsession). Not quite as strange as I predicted, but in the full list I would have to add the odd contemporary films from my middle school/high school years that my sister and I watched obsessively like Save the Last Dance, Crossroads, and Blue Crush, haha.


          1. Ha, yes, those got a little weird there at the end…but understandable why they’re there! And I love that The Tingler started your classic film obsession…I’d have to think about which one started mine. I’ll get back to you on that.

            I can say without a doubt that The Dark Corner started my film noir obsession, on AMC back in 1991!


            1. I’d seen other classic films through my grandparents and had dabbled in TCM viewing, but The Tingler was where the obsession really took off running. Vincent Price will always be a favorite!

              And you know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen The Dark Corner! Adding it to my watch list. My first noir was Scarlet Street, which I loved.


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