Each year, Raquel from Out of the Past hosts a classic film reading challenge in which she encourages us to read all of the unread classic film books we’ve accumulated over the past however many years/months/weeks/days (in my case, it’s days). Chances are, if you’re a classic film fan and collector, you’ve got a handful of books sitting on your shelves that you haven’t cracked open yet. Now is the time to show those books some love and join us for the #ClassicFilmReading challenge!
For more information on this year’s challenge including instructions on how to register and contest rules, click here.
Here’s a closer look at my (overly ambitious) to-be-read (TBR) book stack:
Technically, in order to qualify for Raquel’s grand prize, you need to read and review six classic film books by September 15, 2019. This year – because I love to punish myself – I’ve selected EIGHT books off my shelves (and one of those is a re-read). Here’s what I’m hoping to get to this summer:
A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women (1930-1960) by Jeanine Basinger // Ever since reading The Star Machine just over a decade ago, Jeanine Basinger has become one of my auto-buy authors. Her books are all really informative and approachable; though they’re academic books, they’re easy to read and understand and I appreciate the work she puts into each of her releases. I purchased this one secondhand off of Amazon Marketplace and though it’s a hefty book, I’m sure it’ll go by in a flash as most of Basinger’s books tend to do (they’re that addictive).
Norma: The Story of Norma Shearer by Lawrence J. Quirk // This will be the first book I finish for the #ClassicFilmReading challenge as I’m already more than halfway through it. I’m gonna be honest and say that it hasn’t wowed me at all, but I’ll save my thoughts for the review I eventually post here soon. Suffice to say, if you’re looking for a great biography of Norma Shearer, Gavin Lambert’s book is a real winner.
Dark Star: The Untold Story of the Meteoric Rise and Fall of Legendary Silent Screen Star John Gilbert by Leatrice Gilbert Fountain (John’s daughter) // This is a re-read and I’ve been assured by Raquel that re-reads do indeed count towards the challenge. The first time I read this book was back in 2016 when I purchased a secondhand copy of it off of Amazon. I’ve been a massive fan of silent screen star John Gilbert for years, so I searched high and low for this book for quite some time before I finally found a copy in decent condition. This book is an emotional roller coaster thanks in part to Fountain’s touching stories about her father.
Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood by Emily W. Leider // This book is a fairly new purchase and I’ve been wanting to pick it up ever since I added it to my shelves. What’s not to love about Myrna Loy? It seems like everyone who knew her and worked alongside her absolutely adored her, so I’m sure this will be another book filled with lovely stories about her life and career. Chances are, it won’t beat Loy’s autobiography Being & Becoming in terms of excellence, but here’s hoping it turns out to be another 5-star read!
Olivia de Havilland: Lady Triumphant by Victoria Amador // This will be the first bioghraphy of Olivia de Havilland that I’ve ever read, so fingers crossed it doesn’t disappoint. I have high hopes, not only because the book’s published by the University Press of Kentucky, but because I’m pretty much going into de Havilland’s life blind. I know next to nothing about her, aside from the films she’s made and her life-long feud with sister Joan Fontaine.
The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont by Shawn Levy // During last year’s reading challenge, I read Levy’s biography of Paul Newman and that ended up becoming one of my favourite reads of 2018. Since then, I will buy anything Shawn Levy writes – HEL-LO auto-buy author alert! This is a brand new book release and I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. I can’t wait to get stuck in!
Michael Curtiz: A Life In Film by Alan K. Rode // This book’s a beast and I probably won’t get to it in time to complete this year’s challenge BUT I’M GOING TO TRY! Michael Curtiz was one of Hollywood’s busiest film directors, but apparently he was a nightmare to work with. All the stories I’ve read about him are unflattering ones so I’m curious to see whether or not that side of him will be truthfully explored in this book (or if the author sugar-coats everything to make Curtiz look kinder, more professional).
Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit by Sean Hepburn Ferrer (Audrey’s son) // I bought this last year when I started getting properly into Audrey Hepburn and her films (I was never much of a fan of her’s before). I’m curious about her life and her relationships and I hope that since this little coffee table book was written by her son, it will offer a wealth of insight into the life of a woman the whole world seems to be in love with.
If you’ve read any of these books, let me know what you thought of them! Also, let me know in the comments section if you’ll be participating in Raquel’s #ClassicFilmReading challenge this year – I’d love to compare notes with you!