So along with a list of the best books, there needs to be a list of books you need to be very careful with. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read them. In fact, all the books below are NECESSARY to be familiar with. You must read them.
Just be careful about holding them up too high without first rigorously testing the technique/craft/ideas. The reasons to be careful vary : Sometimes their very real good technique has been warped and altered by their acolytes (such as Shurtlif and Hagen). Sometimes they speak to a specific period of time, rather than a useable ‘technique (such as Brook and Caine). Sometimes they are less of a ‘book’ and more of a ‘spiritual path’ and have been used to build into a blind following (Bogart and Mamet).
Like anything dangerous, though, there is frequently great value to be found. I just want to warn you - DON’T be ‘that’ actor, blustering loudly and self-righteously about something you’ve read in these books that you have become sure is ‘the answer’. There’s much more mystery in this than we give it credit for, and it’s so important to remember to stay humble… And let me also add : beware books which are lists of actions that actors can just ‘pick and choose’ from… They aren't particularly freeing… And many of the words in them aren't actually even ‘actions’ at all…
- And then, you act… by Anne Bogart
- Audition by Michael Shurtleff
- Actions : The Actor’s Thesaurus by Marina Caldrone & Maggie Lloyd-Williams
- An Actor Prepares by Constantine Stanislavski
- The Empty Space… by Peter Brook
- Respect for Acting / A Challenge for the Actor by Uta Hagen
- Acting in Film by Michael Caine
- True and False... by David Mamet
- How to Stop Acting by Harold Guskin and Kevin Kline
- The Intent to Live... by Larry Moss