From classic Hollywood glamour to the Manson family, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has the all of the ingredients of a blockbuster hit. So, whether you were first in line at the box office or anxiously waiting for it to be available on Netflix—these reads are for you.
Visit the Golden Age of Hollywood:
The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife, a “rich exploration of two Hollywood friends who shaped the movies” (USA Today)—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford.
It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.
With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin brilliantly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.
Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe
A dazzling debut novel following the lives of three groundbreaking women—Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl—cinema legends who lit up the twentieth century.
At a chance encounter at a Berlin soirée in 1928, the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captures three very different women together in one frame: up-and-coming German actress Marlene Dietrich, who would wend her way into Hollywood as one of its lasting icons; Anna May Wong, the world’s first Chinese American star, playing for bit parts while dreaming of breaking away from her father’s modest laundry; and Leni Riefenstahl, whose work as a director would first make her famous—then, infamous.
From this curious point of intersection, Delayed Rays of a Star lets loose the trajectories of these women’s lives. From Weimar Berlin to LA’s Chinatown, from a seaside resort in East Germany to a luxury apartment on the Champs-Élysées, the different settings they inhabit are as richly textured as the roles they play: siren, muse, predator, or lover, each one a carefully calibrated performance. And in the orbit of each star live secondary players—a Chinese immigrant housemaid, a German soldier on leave from North Africa, a pompous Hollywood director–whose voices and viewpoints reveal the legacy each woman left in her own time, as well as in ours.
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
In this novel from the acclaimed author of A Bridge Across the Ocean and The Last Year of the War, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.
Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie.
Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone with the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet . . . until each woman’s deepest desires collide.
What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.
The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont by Shawn Levy
The definitive history of Hollywood’s most iconic, storied, and scandalous hotel.
For ninety years, Hollywood’s brightest stars have favored the Chateau Marmont as a home away from home. An apartment house-turned-hotel, it has been the backdrop for generations of gossip and folklore: 1930s bombshell Jean Harlow took lovers during her third honeymoon there; director Nicholas Ray slept with his sixteen-year-old Rebel Without a Cause star Natalie Wood; Anthony Perkins and Tab Hunter met poolside and began a secret affair; Jim Morrison swung from the balconies, once falling nearly to his death; John Belushi suffered a fatal overdose in a private bungalow; Lindsay Lohan got the boot after racking up nearly $50,000 in charges in less than two months.
With wit and insight, Shawn Levy recounts the wild revelries and scandalous liaisons, the creative breakthroughs and marital breakdowns, the births and deaths that the Chateau has been a party to. Vivid, salacious, and richly informed, Levy’s book is a glittering tribute to Hollywood as seen from inside the walls of its most hallowed hotel.
I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of Hollywood’s Legendary Actresses by Robert J. Wagner
Film and television actor and New York Times bestselling author Robert Wagner’s memoir of the great women movie stars he has known.
In a career that has spanned more than sixty years Robert Wagner has witnessed the twilight of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the rise of television, becoming a beloved star in both media. During that time he became acquainted, both professionally and socially, with the remarkable women who were the greatest screen personalities of their day. I Loved Her in the Movies is his intimate and revealing account of the charisma of these women on film, why they became stars, and how their specific emotional and dramatic chemistries affected the choices they made as actresses as well as the choices they made as women.
Among Wagner’s subjects are Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Norma Shearer, Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, Dorothy Lamour, Debra Paget, Jean Peters, Linda Darnell, Betty Hutton, Raquel Welch, Glenn Close, and the two actresses whom he ultimately married, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John. In addition to offering perceptive commentary on these women, Wagner also examines topics such as the strange alchemy of the camera—how it can transform the attractive into the stunning, and vice versa—and how the introduction of color brought a new erotic charge to movies, one that enabled these actresses to become aggressively sexual beings in a way that that black and white films had only hinted at.
Finding Zsa Zsa: The Gabors Behind the Legend by Sam Staggs
Culled from new interviews with family, colleagues, and confidantes, and the unpublished memoirs of the author’s friend Francesca Hilton, Finding Zsa Zsa finally introduces fans to the Gabor family they never knew.
For decades, the Gabor dynasty was the epitome of glamour and fairy tale success. But as biographer, film historian, and Gabor family friend Sam Staggs reveals, behind the headlines is a true story more dramatic, fabulous, and surprising than their self-styled legend would have you believe . . .
Culled from new interviews with family, colleagues, and confidantes, and the unpublished memoirs of the author’s friend Francesca Hilton, Finding Zsa Zsa finally introduces fans to the Gabor family they never knew, including many never-before-seen photos. It’s a riveting, outrageously funny, bittersweet, and affectionately honest read of four women who were vulnerable, tough, charitable, endlessly fascinating, and always glamorous to a fault.
For Our Fascination with the Manson Family:
The Girls by Emma Cline
An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong.
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.
“Spellbinding . . . a seductive and arresting coming-of-age story.”—The New York Times Book Review
The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder by Nikki Meredith
“A fascinating study of human behavior motivated by evil . . .” –Kirkus Reviews
In the summer of 1969, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel carried out horrific acts of butchery on the orders of the charismatic cult leader Charles Manson. But to anyone who knew them growing up, they were bright, promising girls, seemingly incapable of such an unfathomable crime.
Award-winning journalist Nikki Meredith began visiting Van Houten and Krenwinkel in prison to discover how they had changed during their incarceration. The more Meredith got to know them, the more she was lured into a deeper dilemma: What compels “normal” people to do unspeakable things?
The author’s relationship with her subjects provides a chilling lens through which we gain insight into a particular kind of woman capable of a particular kind of brutality. Through their stories, Nikki Meredith takes readers on a dark journey into the very heart of evil.
The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, PH. D.
In the pages of The Sociopath Next Door, you will realize that your ex was not just misunderstood. He’s a sociopath. And your boss, teacher, and colleague? They may be sociopaths too.
We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people—one in twenty-five—has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in twenty-five everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.
The fact is, we all almost certainly know at least one or more sociopaths already. Part of the urgency in reading The Sociopath Next Door is the moment when we suddenly recognize that someone we know—someone we worked for, or were involved with, or voted for—is a sociopath. But what do we do with that knowledge? To arm us against the sociopath, Dr. Stout teaches us to question authority, suspect flattery, and beware the pity play. Above all, she writes, when a sociopath is beckoning, do not join the game.
Inside the Criminal Mind by Stanton Samenow
From expert witness Dr. Stanton E. Samenow, a brilliant, no-nonsense profile of the criminal mind, updated to include new influences and effective methods for dealing with hardened criminals.
In 1984, this groundbreaking book offered readers an illuminating window into the workings of the criminal mind and a revolutionary approach to “habilitation.” In 2004, armed with twenty years of additional knowledge and inside, Samenow explored the subject anew, using his vast expertise to explain the thought patterns of those who commit the crimes we were most concerned with in the new millennium, such as domestic violence, Internet victimization, and terrorism.
The fields of criminal behavior have expanded, demanding another updated version, which includes an exploration of computers as a vehicle for criminal conduct; new drugs and pharmaceutical influences; exposure to the rawest forms of violence in video games, films, and television broadcasts; social media as an arena for illicit activities; and updated genetic and biological research into whether some people are “wired” to become criminals. Throughout, we learn from Samenow’s four decades of experience how truly vital it is to know who the criminal is and how he or she thinks differently. Only once equipped with that crucial understanding can we reach reasonable, compassionate, and effective solutions.
The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murderers by Harold Schechter
An indispensable, spine-tingling, eye-popping investigation into the dark hearts and mad minds of that twisted breed of human whose crimes are the most frightening . . . and fascinating.
Hollywood’s make-believe maniacs like Jason, Freddy, and Hannibal Lecter can’t hold a candle to real life monsters like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and scores of others who have terrorized, tortured, and terminated their way across civilization throughout the ages. Now, from the much-acclaimed author of Deviant, Deranged, and Depraved, comes the ultimate resource on the serial killer phenomenon.
Rigorously researched and packed with the most terrifying, up-to-date information, this innovative and highly compelling compendium covers every aspect of multiple murderers—from psychology to cinema, fetishism to fan clubs, “trophies” to trading cards.