Having spent a portion of my college years living in L.A., to say I love the Golden Age of Hollywood is an understatement. This means you’ve come to the right place for tips on how to host an Old Hollywood book club.
I grew up with parents who appreciated the classics, I was a film minor in college, and I got to work behind the scenes of Hollywood with my Aunt Jann. So we decided to host an Old Hollywood book club for a previous reading challenge.
Our real life book club chose to read The Great Pretenders, but we’ve rounded up a dozen book recommendations that fit the bill. We’ve also got tons of food suggestions, a music playlist, and even some FREE PRINTABLES to make it easier for you to host your own Old Hollywood book club.
Bonus – you can use all of the suggestions to host an Oscars Party!
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Hosting An Old Hollywood book club
When it came time to host our March book club, I knew I had to make everyone read The Great Pretenders by Laura Kalpakian. I absolutely LOVED this book last year. It featured the glitz and glamour I wanted in a book, but then it also had heavy-hitting topics like McCarthyism, interracial relationships, racism, sexual harassment, and more. This book took a few chapters to get into, but once I was dialed in I couldn’t put it down.
Old Hollywood Book Club Decor
Is it even an old Hollywood book club if there is no red carpet? We went full-on Oscar’s vibes with this red carpet on loan from my Aunt Gwen. Don’t have an aunt with a red carpet? We’ve found these 2 alternatives for you – one red paper and one actual red carpet.
We also set up a photo booth as part of the decor. It doubles as a fun activity for everyone to participate in. We kept our backdrop simple with a gold foil door cover, but for a little more money, you can get a theme-specific backdrop.
Oscar Party Attire for Your Old Hollywood Book Club
It would be amazing to see all of your friends come dressed as their favorite Hollywood starlets though. Imagine having Audrey, Katherine, Marilyn, and Grace walking your red carpet! It’s the attire and an activity all in one.
We decided not to have people come in costume. Instead, we opted to hang a bunch of furs, muffs, pearl necklaces, and other clothes on a rolling coat rack for people to try on and use in the photo booth. It’s up to your book club to decide!
Just for fun, we collected our favorite Audrey, Grace, Marilyn, and Katherine-inspired items below. You can wear them to book club and easily work them into your daily wardrobe too.
Old Hollywood Book Club: Movie-Inspired Food
For our Old Hollywood book club, we did a mix of Hors d’oeuvres and concession stand-style foods. We got boxes of our favorite candy and popped multiple kinds of popcorn. The biggest hit was the chocolate popcorn.
We got melting chocolate in the baking section, melted it, poured it over air-popped popcorn, mixed it, spread it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, and popped it in the fridge to harden. We made sure to stock up on popcorn containers too.
We also served shrimp cocktails, spanakopita, veggies with dip, fruit salad, and cheese with crackers at our old Hollywood book club party.
Activities for An Old Hollywood Book Club
We’ve already discussed a fun red carpet-photo booth in the decor section. You can add these photo props if you want to up the ante.
We also made FREE Printables for you to download. The Oscar Party Charades and Heads-Up Bundle includes movie title charade cards, Heads-UP style celebrity cards, and a blank card printable so you can customize the games. There is a second printable with a fill-in-the-blank Oscar Speech too.
Golden Oldies Playlist for an Old Hollywood Book Club
The playlist we crafted this month is filled with our favorite Golden Oldies. Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland all make it on the list. You can listen to the Old Hollywood book club soundtrack for free on Spotify.
Old Hollywood Book Choices
What a ride!!! I was expecting a light-hearted story about the glamorous world of 1950s Hollywood with Cary Grant, Ginger and Fred, Rock Hudson, and the like. I got them, but this old Hollywood book had meat on its bones. Roxanne is a granddaughter of a movie studio head but she decides to strike out on her own as a Hollywood agent. Upset with her grandfather’s callous treatment of his loyal writers with former communist ties, she begins representing blacklisted writers under pseudonyms.
As if this plotline wasn’t compelling enough, she then begins a deep, meaningful romance with a young black journalist covering the emerging civil rights movement. The author brought to light so many issues of the time in such a thoughtful way.
I had never considered how the shifting politics of the time would affect the film industry. The glamour of Hollywood was present and the book was overflowing with old movie references, but it was the love and personal growth at the heart of this story that I found most compelling. This story made our best books of 2019 list.
A tell-all about a fictional Elizabeth Taylor-
Evelyn Hugo has asked an unknown reporter, Monique Grant, to write her life story in a no-holds-barred book. There is a bit of mystery around why Monique was chosen and Evelyn certainly has her fair share of hardships as she claws her way to the top.
The drama and suffering add dimension to the story that makes it so much more than fluff, though the inner workings of Hollywood were fun to read too. The story seems so candid that I honestly forgot that Evelyn Hugo was not a real celebrity.
Taylor Jenkins Reid slays with this story finding the perfect balance of glamour and grit. This was an easy pick for a list of the best romance novels of all time and might seem like an unusual pick for books like A Man Called Ove but, both Ove and Evelyn are seeking to change their lives and in doing so, change for the better. This is one of the older book for book clubs on the list and we have never found someone who didn’t like it.
This nonfiction old Hollywood book sheds light on the talent of Disney’s pioneering female animators and the struggles they faced in a male-dominated field. I loved learning about these incredible women – like Mary Blair who created the art for the “It’s a Small World” ride.
I was appalled by the disparate treatment female in the animation field received, but I was also impressed by their gumption. The author does a tremendous job of showing their struggles but also how these women shaped animation as we know it. If you are looking for non-fiction books like Lessons in Chemistry, this is a fantastic pick.
I was heartened to see just how far they have come. The book ends with Frozen and you could clearly see the studio’s growth. This is an amazing, non-fiction book about art.
Perfect selections for book club!