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Get Those Old Hollywood Vibes with These 6 Glamorous Books

by  | July 29

There’s nothing quite so classy as the days of Old Hollywood. Whether you’re harkening back to the 1930s and 1940s when Hollywood was taking off with talkies, or to the 1950s and 1960s as the first major shifts in genre and tone began to change movies, there’s glitz and glam galore. Quentin Tarantino’s new film Once Upon a Time in . . . Hollywood will explore, with a twist, of course, 1960s Hollywood, an era of great films and great tragedy. If you’re looking for books to help you imagine that heyday, pull up a seat, grab some popcorn, and get ready to be transported with these six sizzling reads. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Nothing says Hollywood quite like the glamour of a famous film actress, and that’s exactly who the fictionalized Evelyn Hugo is. Throughout her storied career, she’s had several loves, and several scandals to go with them. Hugo is telling it all to magazine writer Monique Grant, who herself is in a bit of a rut, both in her love life and in her career. As the tale traverses through time, starting in the 1950s and wrapping up in the 1980s, readers see how Hollywood changed around a star, and the secrets she had to hold on to in order to keep it all together. This beautiful story will not just help you feel the glow of neon lights but also touch you with the realization that time may have passed but hearts often remain the same.

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Hollywood's Eve

Hollywood's Eve

by Lili Anolik

It’s not just stars who were the movers and shakers of Hollywood—IT girl Eve Babitz was proof of that. Babitz was a famous model, writer, and artist in the 1960 and 70s who was just as notorious for her flings with Jim Morrison, Ed Ruscha, Harrison Ford, and many, many more. But things fell apart after a fire in the 1990s led Babitz to turn away from the public eye for good. Author and historian Lili Anolik made it her mission to locate and interview Babitz, which she was finally able to do in 2012, and get the inside take on what happened throughout her many years of living and working in Hollywood. This biography takes us through a less-explored side of Hollywood, one that might remind some readers as much of the art and literary scene of New York City as of L.A., as it paints a picture of the woman who got to see and enjoy it all.

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Woman Enters

Woman Enters

by Jessica Brockmole

It’s a tale that feels as old as time: a young woman moves west to find fame and fortune in the film industry. What you don’t often hear about, though, is that same woman, having developed a successful career, going back to where it all started. When Louise, a successful actress in the 1950s, finds photos of her mother, Ethel, among the keepsakes of screenwriter Florence Daniels, she is inspired to leave Hollywood and go back to New Jersey to find out more about both women’s stories. The book follows all three women through their personal and professional journeys, as they overcome obstacles and decide to pursue what feels right for them. And while the narrative itself is enough to grab most readers, history buffs might be extra impressed with the careful attention to detail in the clothing, food, and other pieces that makes the world of this trio—Louise, Florrie, and Ethel—feel fully vibrant and real.

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The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep

by Raymond Chandler

If you’re looking for classics, look no further than one of the earliest noir stories every put to paper, and it just happens to take place in Tinseltown in the late 1930s. The Big Sleep follows private detective Philip Marlowe as he investigates a complex tale of blackmail, affairs, disappearances, and more. Named on of Time’s list of the 100 Best Novels, the story combines the two ways audiences are used to thinking about pre-World War II Hollywood—as a place where stars are made and where shady dealings are happening around every corner, with hard-boiled gumshoes and femme fatales walking the streets. The book was incredibly influential not just on the literary scene, but on the film one as well, with the 1946 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall often regarded as one of the important works in cinema history.

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The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia

by James Ellroy

The dark side of Hollywood’s shining lights can best be epitomized by the gruesome murder of Elizabeth Short, also known as the Black Dahlia, in 1947. The story has been told many times, and in many different ways, but one of the most enthralling versions not only lets you read a fictional account based on the real murder, but see it as well. A graphic novel adaptation of the book of the same name by James Ellroy follows Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, two cops investigating the murder only to find themselves drawn deeper into a terrifying reality hiding behind all the bright lights of the city. With gorgeous, fully colored drawings, The Black Dahlia brings this decadent, dark world to life and helps immerse readers in the story even further, with little details that add to the story’s sense of gravitas and tragedy.

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The Girls

The Girls

by Emma Cline

There was a lot happening in California in the 1960s—a shift in film technology and subjects, protests and civil rights movements, and, of course, the Manson murders, one of the most shocking sprees of crime, which sent shock waves across pop culture. The film Once Upon a Time  presents an alternate history version of the Manson family’s crimes, but Emma Cline’s The Girls presents a narrative more based in its reality. Evie finds herself drawn to a group of cool girls hanging out around town, following them to their camp on its outskirts. However, it turns out these women are part of the Manson family, and the more Evie spends time with them, the closer she feels to disaster. The novel not only presents a compelling narrative of the lure of a cult to people without stable home lives looking to belong, but also creates a perfect snapshot of California in the 1960s.

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com