Around 4 or 5 months ago I was at the Fishermen’s Warf market rummaging through mountains of books when I came across a Marilyn Monroe biography called “Norma Jean: The Life of Marilyn Monroe” by Fred Lawrence Guiles. The copy I picked up was rather tatty but bonus that it had that old book smell, I love that smell. I really enjoyed the book and found it fascinating and heartbreaking to learn about her life. I think I could have read a book about anyone from that era and just been fascinated by there every day life but Marilyn’s was an interesting and intense one at that giving it a much greater appeal.
After reading this I craved more information but not wanting to re-read her whole life story book after book I decided on another 50’s famester. James Dean. This drool worthy fella would be worth reading about so I set out to the book shops to find me a biography. Considering Monroe and Dean are still such popular cultural icons I was shocked to find that there were no biographies in stock for either of them at the several book shops I visited. Rather disheartened I decided to google and find out which the best James Dean biography would be and then look for it specifically. This leads me to an older post “100 eBay Purchases” where I bought “The James Dean Story” by Robert Martinetti.
Again, the book was fascinating and I also bought the James Franco as James Dean bio pic “James Dean” which conveniently arrived the night before I started reading and was a good teaser. I buy these books to entertain me on the train, but with both of these I enjoyed them so much I was tucked up in bed early each night reading more… I wanted to keep reading (I honestly had to pace myself or I would have finished it in one sitting) but didn’t want the books to end. Especially considering the way they both conclude. I highly recommend “The James Dean Story” for any James Dean fan as I found it very in depth. And hey, after all from what I googled I am in the opinion that it is the best James Dean biography out there…
Image from BornBad.fr
Having devoured both of these books in such a short amount of time I had bought another one to read straight after. It was Dita Von Teese’s "Burlesque and the Art of the Teese/Fetish and the Art of the Teese". It is a beautiful hard cover book that could easily be a coffee table book with some of the wonderful photographs inside and half way through it flips from burlesque to fetish. But… being a large hard cover book I didn’t want to cart it on the train with me so I could only read it at home. This was last Monday. I had finished the Burlesque side of the book by the Wednesday and finished the last chapter of the Fetish side on Sunday. As interesting as this book was I didn’t have anything to read on the train or another book lined up for when I finished… I had found a biography on Bettie Page on eBay but they did not accept bank deposit so it was out of the question. I then promptly remembered the Harlequin Vintage Collection I had gotten for Christmas and began reading “Kiss Your Elbow” by Alan Handley.
Image from Harlequinblog.com
It was a good cheesy little novel with mystery and intrigue but didn’t capture my attention the way the previous two books had. I read it strictly on the train and didn’t really have to urge to tear away to bed early and read further. This kept me entertained for long enough, until my mother (bless her) informs me she had found a shop in Melbourne who stocked the Bettie Page biography I had found on eBay and that it was on its way. I had wanted this book since my “100 eBay Purchases” post! It arrived the same week she ordered it (last week) and I couldn’t wait to start it.
The “Kiss Your Elbow” book was bookmarked and put back on the shelf and “The Real Bettie Page” by Richard Foster was in my hot little hands. However as the book arrived on Friday and I was busy all weekend I had to wait until Sunday until I could finally get a start on it. So far it has more then lived up to my expectations and I only currently on chapter eight.
Image from StoweVintage.com
If you are even slightly interested in James Dean, Marilyn Monroe or Bettie page I highly recommend all of these books… you will have trouble putting them down. Or even if you are simply looking for something to read! For now I am still on my Bettie Page book and it is great, but I have my eye on a Clara Bow biography for when I finish. What is your favourite biography? And what are you reading? I’d love some recommendations…