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Holiday Gift List: Hollywood Moments

10 titles for the starry-eyed film buff and classic-Hollywood aficionados who are perennially tuned into Turner Classic Movies / BY Nathalie Atkinson / December 16th, 2022

These Tinseltown tales from – and about – Hollywood insiders conjure both classic and contemporary Lalaland. For additional inspiration, check out our recent round-up of the season’s top celebrity memoirs and revisit our Hollywood highlights from the first half of 2022.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1A Front Row Seat by Nancy Olson Livingston

The actress, now 94, was nominated for an Oscar in 1950 for her supporting role in Sunset Boulevard, arguably the ultimate movie about Hollywood. Her intimate reminiscences go behind the scenes of Billy Wilder’s 1950 masterpiece and up close and personal to Hollywood figures during the golden age. Since she was married to lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (Brigadoon, My Fair Lady) at the time, it also gave her a bird’s eye view of Broadway in its heyday and, later, of the television boom, through her third husband, an entertainment executive.

2Captain of Her Soul by Lara Gabrielle

Self-possessed silent screen star Marion Davies is too often relegated to footnote status – overshadowed by her long relationship with married publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. This much-anticipated biography from an American film historian is as deeply researched as hoped, shedding new light on the philanthropist’s role in early Hollywood and her influence beyond that as a mistress and acclaimed hostess.

3Elizabeth Taylor by Kate Andersen Brower

There’s not much new for ardent fans in this bio, authorized by Taylor’s children, who gave the writer access to their mother’s personal archives. But that’s missing the point. Larger than life, even in death, the irreverent and generous Taylor – a child actress turned superstar renowned for her frankness, appetites and refreshingly brazen vulgarity – is more of a delight to spend time with on the page than most contemporary celebrities could ever hope to be. (Bonus: Read an interview with Brower about her biography in a recent Zed books feature.)

4Hollywood in the Klondike by Michael Gates

Gates, a former museum curator, was part of the group who, in 1978, discovered an important trove of silent films buried in the Dawson City permafrost (now better known thanks to the acclaimed 2017 documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time). He links the parallel histories of cinema and the Klondike Gold Rush with valuable context on early Hollywood’s connection to the North through entertainment figures like Fatty Arbuckle, Sid Grauman, Jack London and Robert Service.


5Hollywood: The Oral History by Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson

Through unparalleled access and collation of the American Film Institute’s extensive archives, the esteemed film scholar and the movie journalist deliver a definitive take on classic Hollywood. Or at least, a wide-ranging one. Between the candid anecdotes from bygone figures (from costume designers to cinematographers to directors) and commentary by contemporary ones (Steven Spielberg), it’s like listening in on the ultimate fantasy dinner-party chatter. What more could a Tinseltown devotee want?

6Hollywood’s Pioneering Daredevils! by Andy Wilkinson

Before the first significant use of CGI in 1973 in Westworld, stunt work was perilous if not foolhardy. The author, an industry insider who’s been everything from fencing fight director to screenwriter, offers a history of (and homage to) early stunt performers – or in the case of filmmakers like Buster Keaton, the reckless stars themselves. Most film action before CGI was done in-camera, which means live, with no special effects. So, as you read the staggering stories of the technical and legal considerations behind the derring-do, often in the absence of any safety precautions, remember: This all happened.

7Inventing the It Girl by Hilary A. Hallett

Hallett, an American history professor at Columbia, tells the story of Elinor Glyn, the celebrity author (and sister of fashion designer Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon) who pioneered the modern romance genre in the 1920s and coined the term “it” girl, meaning an ingenue with sex appeal. The cultural biography includes glimpses of her early childhood, when she was raised by her grandparents in Guelph, Ont., and is as entertaining as the bestselling fictions penned by Glyn herself.

8The Academy and the Award by Bruce Davis

As the former longtime executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Davis is uniquely positioned to impart the inner workings of the organization behind the Oscar and its place in Hollywood history. The annual awards and coveted gold statuette were conceived in 1927 by a cabal of studio heads as a marketing scheme – which, arguably, they still are. The exploration of the first 50 years (through war, the Cold War and the end of the studio system) make this a companion as awards season ramps up.

9The MGM Effect by Steven Bingen

The Hollywood studio crafted its own image as meticulously as it did the public personas of its stars. This book is equal parts nostalgia trip and business study: Industry archivist and historian Bingen considers how MGM has been portrayed on screen by itself and others (it’s practically a character, for example, in filmmaker Damien Chazelle’s latest opus, Babylon). He also retraces MGM’s innovative early forays into brand extensions with airlines and casinos, for example. Refreshingly, as much attention is paid to what came after the studio’s oft studied (yet relatively short-lived) golden years, between the 1930s and 1950s, as the heyday itself.

10Viva Hollywood by Luis I. Reyes

As part of its ongoing efforts to reframe and widen the lens of Hollywood history, TCM’s imprint with Running Press has published books on the contributions of women, as well as on Black Hollywood. Now, this glossy yet comprehensive tome from scholar Reyes, who specializes in the history of the Latin and Hispanic communities in Hollywood, corrects the reductive racist stereotypes of Latin lovers and spitfire señoritas, and restores the legacy of artists who have contributed to cinema history. The stories of stars like Jennifer Lopez, Anthony Quinn and Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Cansino) are included, but many essential talents behind the camera are also celebrated.


The Book Thief: An Italian Man’s Guilty Plea Ends a Caper That Puzzled the Literary World for YearsFilippo Bernardini’s elaborate phishing scam netted 1,000 unpublished manuscripts by prominent authors including Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan

The Late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison is Honoured with an American StampThe Obamas and Oprah Winfrey pay tribute to the writer whose poetic interpretations of the African American experience gained a world-wide audience

Five Canadian Writers Make the Long List for the Inaugural Carol Shields Prize for FictionThe US$150,000 English-language literary award for female and nonbinary writers redresses the inequality of women in the publishing world

The Furry Green Grump is Back in a Sequel to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”Dr. Seuss Enterprises will publish “How the Grinch Lost Christmas!” in September

Chris Hadfield to Publish a Sequel to His Blockbuster Debut, “The Apollo Murders,” on Oct. 10"The Defector” brings the Cold War intrigue from space to Earth as the Soviets and Americans race to develop fighter jets

Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ Continues to Break Worldwide RecordsThe book also seems to have put a dent in the popularity of members of the Royal Family — including the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Prince Harry’s Memoir Breaks U.K. Sales Record On First Day of ReleaseThe publisher of the new memoir, 'Spare", says it had sold 400,000 copies so far across hardback, e-book and audio formats.

Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2022The former U.S. president’s 13 titles include Canadians Emily St. John Mandel and Kate Beaton, as well as tomes from Michelle Obama, George Saunders and Jennifer Egan

Here are the 5 Books on Bill Gates’ Holiday Reading ListThe billionaire philanthropist is giving hundreds of copies to little libraries around the world

Sheila Heti and Eli Baxter Among 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award WinnersToronto writer Sheila Heti took home the fiction award for 'Pure Colour,' a novel the GG peer assessment committee called "a work of genius."

Suzette Mayr Wins $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for ‘The Sleeping Car Porter’The 2022 Giller Prize jury called Mayr's novel "alive and immediate — and eerily contemporary."

Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards: Authors Nicholas Herring, Dan Werb Nab Top PrizesThe Writers' Trust of Canada awards amounted to a combined monetary prize value of $270,000.

Bob Dylan Releases ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song,’ a Book of Essays Dissecting 66 Influential SongsIn his new book, Bob Dylan offers up both critique and historical insight into various musical recordings of the last century by a variety of popular artists.

Prince Harry’s Memoir ‘Spare’ Will Be Published in January 2023The long-awaited memoir will tell with "raw unflinching honesty" Prince Harry's journey from "trauma to healing", his publisher said on Thursday.

Sri Lankan Author Shehan Karunatilaka Wins 2022 Booker PrizeKarunatilaka won the prestigious prize on Monday for his second novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’, about a dead war photographer on a mission in the afterlife.

Canadian Council for the Arts Reveals Governor General’s Literary Awards FinalistsThe finalists for the Governor General's Literary Awards spotlight books in both the English and French language, as well as translated works.

New Penguin Random House Award Named After Michelle Obama Will Honour High School WritersMichelle Obama Award for Memoir will provide a $10,000 college scholarship to a graduating public school senior based on their autobiographical submission.

French Author Annie Ernaux, 82, Becomes First French Woman to Win Nobel Prize for LiteratureThe author said, of winning, that "I was very surprised ... I never thought it would be on my landscape as a writer."

Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.

Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'

Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.

Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.

Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature

Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.

Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.

Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.

Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”

Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956

Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."

The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.

American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history

Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."

New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.

Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.

Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."

European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."

Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.

Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.

Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.

Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro

“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.

Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories

Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel

South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 

Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events

Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards

Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde

Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 

Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations

Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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