Best pop culture books 2015: 7 books to gift the pop culture obsessive
I Blame Dennis Hopper: And Other Stories from a Life Lived In and Out of the Movies
This year’s best books were full of heartfelt romances, weary travels, and through-provoking questions about our society. As 2015 comes to a close, EW will roll out gift guides for the very specific bookworms in your life. First up: here’s what to get the pop culture obsessive.
Brian Kellow, Can I Go Now?
Why? Kellow’s biography of famed Hollywood agent Sue Mengers — who represented such greats as Barbara Streisand, Michael Caine, and Ali MacGraw at the peak of her career in the 1970’s — is full of out-of-this-world anecdotes from the stars, like when Caine assumed the bowl of white powder in Mengers’s kitchen was sugar for his coffee. (Spoiler: It was cocaine.) Read our review here.
Illeana Douglas, I Blame Dennis Hopper
Why? The Goodfellas star and one-time girlfriend of Martin Scorcese turns out to be as phenomenally funny a writer as she is an actress. (Poor Dennis Hopper’s name gets dragged through the mud because Douglas’ parents saw Easy Rider and sloughed off their middle class comforts in favor of running a hippie commune.) Douglas is obsessed with movies — not just appearing in them, but watching them, too — and her fervent affection for them emanates from these pages, along with an absolutely charming self-deprecating humor. Read our review here.
Hilary Liftin, Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper
Why? Who better than a best-selling celebrity ghostwriter to spin a riveting Roman à clef about a movie star who marries a cult-minded A-lister, then grabs the chance to tell her side of the story after their marriage ends? This story, by the way, is totally not based on Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise (wink, wink). As EW’s Leah Greenblatt wrote in her review, “Readers who come for the dirt, real or imagined, won’t be disappointed; there’s plenty of gold in these True Hollywood hills.” Read our review here.
Leah Remini, Troublemaker
Why? If you have even the slightest interest in Scientology, Remini’s honest and scathing memoir will rivet you. The King of Queens star was a member of the church from her youth, and has the fascinating — and extremely rare — experience of seeing Scientology from multiple viewpoints: First as a child member of the infamous Sea Org, then as a glorified celebrity star of the church, praised, celebrated, and invited into the rarified social circles of Tom Cruise and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. Even if you’ve read the headlines about Troublemaker’s juiciest bits, the book is absolutely worth reading in its entirety: Until Katie Holmes, Nicole Kidman, or Cruise himself writes a true tell-all, this is probably the closest peek behind Scientology’s curtain we’re likely to get. Read our review here.
Where to buy it: Powell’s Books
Mollie Gregory, Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story
Why? Gregory’s absorbing and thoroughly reported book centers on the strong, daring stuntwomen who populated Hollywood in the early age of film, but were largely replaced by men from the 1930s to 1960s, facing endless heaps of discrimination and sexual harassment even today. Through detailed research and a whopping 65 interviews, Gregory unveils the stories of these veritable superwomen, chronicling their history for the first time.
Where to buy it: Amazon.
Mark Edlitz, How To Be A Superhero
Why? Today’s moviegoers can’t get enough superhero movies. Though the phenomenon may feel relatively recent, superhero films have had viewers confusing birds and planes for flying men for over seventy years. Edlitz’s book takes us into the minds and memories of actors who’ve played everything from heroes to villains to sidekicks, exploring these mega-movies from the perspectives of their stars.
Where to buy it: Forbidden Planet.
Josh Karp, Orson Welles’ Last Movie
Why? Karp details the riveting story behind the great filmmaker’s bizarre, still-unseen final film, The Other Side of the Wind. Our reviewer Jason Clark called Karp’s “excellent” book a “sensitively rendered and panoramic depiction of [Welles’] famous megalomania.” It’s chock-full of hilarious anecdotes — like the time Welles instructed his actors to look down while reading so he could add “midgets” to the shot later — but never goes so far as to turns Welles into a caricature. Read our review here.