Green Shirt Studio

5 Great Books for Every Actor That Aren’t About Acting

I get a lot of books as presents and, since I’m an actor, that means I am getting a lot of books about acting. I have triples of Sanford Meisner on Acting and Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting and doubles of dozens more tomes on the art and craft of acting. Since it’s now officially the holiday season and shopping has begun, I decided to put a list together of essential and wonderful non-acting books to put on your wishlist or gift to the actor in your life.
1. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The Artist's Way
Not so much a book as a workbook and life coach in one, The Artist’s Way can be a life changing thing to experience. Set up as a 12-week self-guided tour into your inherent creativity, this book unlocks, challenges and nurtures the reader’s artistry. It is pithy and profound. Julia Cameron clearly believes that creativity is the natural human condition and then gives the reader (or the doer in this book’s case) practical tools to rediscover and remember. It can be an emotional experience, and I can personally attest that the workbook incites you to take action. Many of the biggest artistic endeavors I’ve personally engaged in would not have come to fruition without this book. Get it and begin it now!
2. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and Mark Reiter
The Creative Habit
Art doesn’t happen by accident, it takes work. Artist, choreographer and producer Twyla Tharp knows what it takes to lead an active creative life. In this book, she lays out practical advice on how to create the right environment in your life in which creative work can occur. It’s a quick read and full of quotes and exercises to help you systematically build creativity into your daily life.
3. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Daring Greatly
I often say in class that courage is not the absence of fear, it is the acceptance of fear. It is a difficult lesson for artists to learn and one that comes with a lot of resistance. In this book, Brene Brown dives headfirst into one of the most important qualities for an actor: vulnerability. In passionate, engaging and deeply human terms, Brown lays out the case for opening yourself up to the world and the power that comes from acknowledging your fears and hurts. It is a lesson that transcends acting and art, getting to the core of what it means to be human.
4. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
War of Art
Refreshingly, Steven Pressfield acknowledges that making art is a struggle. This book focuses on art and creativity generally and gives practical tips on overcoming artistic obstacles and resistance, both the type coming from others and from within. If you’ve ever been wracked with self doubt, paralyzed by fear of judgement, angry at your own failings, this book is for you. In this book you learn how the struggle to create is also the path to unlocking your work.
5. Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith
Wreck This JournalMaybe the most irreverent book on the list, this isn’t your grandma’s journal. Freeing and immersive, this is a creative manifesto in journal form. Acclaimed guerrilla artist Keri Smith gives you a book full of out-of-the-box journal prompts to free you from your own self-judgement and perfectionism. She demands you tear out pages in the book, poke holes through them with your pen, and paint a page with coffee, daring you to color outside your own creative lines. Learning how to say “F—K IT” and mean it is a vital part of being an artist and wrecking this journal is a great start.
What are your favorite creative books? Share with us in the comments below.