There’s a frightening amount of acting books out there for actors at the moment – some great, some average and others terrible. But whittling down which suits you best can be a tough task. So we thought why not breakdown the top 5 books all actors must read.
It’s essential to add variety, to get a much better dimension and feel to what suits your acting style. We want you to understand more around the acting technique, auditioning for roles as we as the “business of acting”, sadly talent and creativity doesn’t always get noticed – by reading these diverse books you’ll be prepared for the world of acting!
*Reading is a huge part of developing as an actor. It’s essential to combine the learnings with actual practice.
Here is our breakdown of the “Top 5 books all actors MUST read” ~
- Acting business books – Acting as a business By Brian O’Neill
- Acting technique – Sanford Meisner on Acting By Sanford Meisner
- Audition technique and advice – Audition By Michael Shurtleff
- An actors journey – A life in parts By Bryan Cranston
- Acting as an overview – The golden rules of acting By Andy Nyman
Michael Shurtleff was a huge force in the casting scene across Broadway in the ’60s and ’70s. His book Audition is an essential book for beginners but also resonates well for any actor struggling to book roles after audition – it can reinvigorate your career. Michael addresses the important skill of auditioning from the perspective of a successful casting director.
He helps actors prepare for auditions using his 12-step guide – including questions and in-depth techniques. Our favourite technique is “the moment before“.
Sanford Meisner was an American actor and acting teacher who developed the Meisner technique. His book is written about the journey of 12 actors who study with Meisner over a fifteen month period.
He begins with standard acting exercises as they move through the process to performing thought-provoking, intense, captivating scenes. The book teaches you interesting techniques and some to practise on your own at home that Meisner swore by. It also provides you with an inspiring read, which will give you a much needed boost in your acting career.
His book really lives by his quote:
“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances”
A life in parts takes an in depth look at Bryan Cranston’s early beginnings all the way through to his meteoric rise in Breaking Bad. A life in parts is an insightful and gritty look into his career and shows the hard work and risks he had to take, it quite easily could have taken a different turn. He shows so many qualities that stand out that all actors should take note from.
Bryan shows grit, determination, agility, resilience and he is always looking to learn. His best advice we took from this book is to treat every audition as the job, and once you’ve completed the audition to walk away and throw the thought out of your mind. This way you continue onto the next objective and if you get called up for the job, congrats that’s amazing but if not you moved on ages ago and it’s not those thoughts won’t hold you back.
Andy Nyman is an actor (starred in Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set), director (Co-directed Derren Browns stage shows) and writer (He co-wrote the West End success: Ghost Stories) – with a broad and in-depth of the film world either side of the screen. The book is essential reading, especially if you are looking to succeed in a creative industry with such a competitive edge.
This book is easy to read, written in a conversational tone. It supplies you with ridiculous anecdotes about the film world and structured in a way that will make sense and help you navigate such a tough industry.
It covers thirteen topics! Oh ok, we’ll list them for you
- Drama school
- Living the life
- The business
- Survival tips
- Making it happen
- Final thoughts
Acting as a business is a book by Brian O’Neill. It’s a little unexpected to have this in a list for integral books to read for an acting career. However, this is something a lot of actors overlook. You may have all the talent in the world, the next big star – but, without any business strategy in place, the acting world may just pass you by.
Brian provides clear guidelines for you to understand the true business behind acting. It’s written in an easy to follow, structured manner. An essential book for beginners or anyone who is currently in a career lull – someone who needs to shake up their routine. It will provide you with the steps to improve self marketing and navigate the tricky business side of the acting world.
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