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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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!