Turns out that this year, I read a lot of books. More than usual, in fact, and the best book I read this year is pretty much a no-brainer. It was very easy for me to choose this year’s stand-out read – it’s Swanson On Swanson by (you guessed it) classic film legend Gloria Swanson.
This book is a BEAST, guys, clocking in at 500+ pages. I took my time with this one, dipping in and out of its pages every so often whenever I’d get the craving to immerse myself in a different, long gone world full of movie magic and star power.
Gloria Swanson doesn’t hold back in her autobiography and that’s one of the reasons why I loved it so much. Granted, she may have over-embellished certain tales and stories, but this is her life the way she lived it and that’s very important not only because she was one of the very first Hollywood silent screen stars, but because she had to withstand some of the vilest treatment any woman has ever gone through. Swanson On Swanson can be absolutely brutal at times, and you really begin to understand just what women of her era had to put up with and live through every single day of their lives.
This is not a fairytale. Don’t go into reading this book if what you’re looking for is good-time banter and some sort of utopic view of Hollywood. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a true, all killer no filler, uncompromising view of the early film industry and how it evolved over time. Swanson On Swanson reveals how legends were made and why and how they’ve (deservedly) stuck around so long.
Now, brace yourself for some woo-woo … if you’re a classic film fan or just a fan of film in general, this book will change your life. If you’re interested in learned more about this book, you can read my review of it here, written for Raquel Stecher’s Classic Film Reading Challenge. Hands down and without a single doubt in my mind, Swanson On Swanson was the best book I read in 2020.