Movie, Media, and Music Book Gift Ideas
Here are the 2023 books about television, movies, and music that I'm most excited to give as gifts this holiday season.
Other contenders for this list were:
Black TV: Five Decades of Groundbreaking Television from ‘Soul Train’ to ‘black-ish’ and Beyond by Bethonie Butler
From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy by Scott Meslow (published in 2022)
Curepedia: An A-Z of The Cure by Simon Price
I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum (The New Yorker culture critic)
I'm sharing my annual Bossy book gift ideas on Fridays leading up to the holidays, and I hope you'll find a book or two in these lists to delight someone you love--or to gift to yourself!
Don't forget to check my past Bossy idea lists for quirky books, perennial classics, modern favorites, nonfiction must-haves, or other new-to-you titles that might be perfect for the people on your holiday gift list!
2020 Bossy Book Gift Guides
2021 Bossy Book Gift Guides
2022 Bossy Book Gift Guides
2023 Bossy Book Gift Guides
Bossy Independent Bookstore Love
A Bossy book-buying note: If you're buying books this holiday season, please support your local independent bookstore. They need and appreciate our business! (The book covers on this site link you to Bookshop, a site that supports the beloved indies that keep us swimming in thoughtful book recommendations and excellent customer service all year round.)
I love my local independent bookstore here in Charlotte, Park Road Books. They have a fantastic selection of titles, staff members offer spot-on recommendations (and sparkling personalities!), and they can order almost anything they don't have in stock.
01 Kind of a Big Deal: How Anchorman Stayed Classy and Became the Most Iconic Comedy of the Twenty-First Century by Saul Austerlitz
...shares surprising stories and facts: from the film's original conception as a plane crash/cannibal comedy mashup to the surprising, real-life newscaster who inspired the character of Veronica.
With more than 60 new interviews with Anchorman cast, crew, and creators, Kind of a Big Deal tells the story of the writing by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell; the casting of future stars Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd; and the film's "sly commentary on feminism, the media, fragile masculinity, 1970s nostalgia, and more."
02 Quantum Criminals: Ramblers, Wild Gamblers, and Other Sole Survivors from the Songs of Steely Dan by Alex Pappademas
No one else in the classic-rock canon has conjured a more vivid cast of rogues and heroes, creeps and schmucks, lovers and dreamers and cold-blooded operators—or imbued their characters with so much humanity.
In Quantum Criminals, Alex Pappademas explores the "darkly comic" inspirations and imaginations of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, who've created song protagonists that are so richly built, they feel fully formed--including Rikki, Dr. Wu, Hoops McCann, and Kid Charlemagne.
03 Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever by Matt Singer
Before Rotten Tomatoes, before IMDB, before the internet, if you wanted to find out if a movie was worth watching, you waited to hear whether Siskel and Ebert gave it "two thumbs up."
Gene Siskel was the film critic for the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert was at the Chicago Sun-Times before they collaborated on a movie review show for PBS.
With verbal sparring on screen and off, Siskel and Ebert often disagreed--on which movies to review, the wisdom of casting choices, which of them would lead the review, and how to pronounce foreign titles. But when both of them approved that a movie earned two thumbs up, that's when you knew it was a winner.
04 Lou Reed: The King of New York by Will Hermes
In Lou Reed: The King of New York, Will Hermes offers the definitive narrative of Reed’s life and legacy, dramatizing his long, brilliant, and contentious dialogue with fans, critics, fellow artists, and assorted habitués of the demimonde.
In King of New York, Hermes examines the life of turbulent musical artist Lou Reed, his collaborations with David Bowie and Andy Warhol, his career with The Velvet Underground, and his early days on the Lower East Side of New York--all while examining New York itself as a cultural capital.
05 Surely You Can't Be Serious: The True Story of Airplane! by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker
With interviews with famous fans like Bill Hader, Judd Apatow, Adam McKay, as well as detailed interviews with the ZAZ trio of Airplane! creators (authors Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker) about the inspirations for the movie's one-liners, gags, and slapstick jokes.
With background on casting decisions, how Leslie Nielsen's pranks got everyone in trouble, and an exploration of how a movie with a budget of 3.5 million earned more than 200 million and became influential for comedy ever after its 1980 release.
06 But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?: An Oral History of the '60s Girl Groups by Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz
"...I never really wanted to sing girl songs and I never wanted that typical girl sound...my thing wasn't cutesy. I wanted to go up there--and I was competitive. I'd go to these music centers and I'd hear these guys, they were just throwing down--singing and the harmonies were so rich and full. That's the sound that I wanted."
Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz conducted more than 100 interviews while exploring the successful voices of the young, predominantly black girls making up the 1960s girl groups, their often working-class backgrounds, and the power disconnects between the young women and the music-industry executives in charge of their contracts and pay.