This is the essential list of 15 books every actor needs to have on their shelf.  These are the books that helped acting coach Raquel Gardner craft and design her 30 year acting career.  If you’re looking for life changing tips and techniques, you can get just about everything here.  These books offer advice and techniques from various artists, actors, directors, and acting coaches.  We’ve got you covered! This list will surely answer your questions and improve your craft. 

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The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem | Dr. Nathaniel Braden 

This is our number one recommendation! Self Esteem is not only important for our mental health but also our personal achievements. But “how do we gain true self-esteem?” According to Dr. Nathaniel Braden, with proper awareness, acceptance, responsibility, and with Dr. Braden’s Six Pillars of Self Esteem, this book will surely uplift your hearts! Braden has compiled six action-based pillar practices to make our daily life powerful and determined not just for us as an individual but also as values that help organizations grow and thrive! We’ll be sure to keep flourishing on the way!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change | Stephen R. Covey

Listed on the New York Times Bestseller with millions of copies sold and was named #1 on the most influential business books of the twentieth century. Need I say more? Of course, I will! For 25 years, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People really did give powerful lessons on personal change. The power it holds is immaculate! It teaches us that we should focus on our attitude and behaviors, especially with decision making. The decisions we make reflect on the change we want to impose on ourselves, and to make good decisions, we should take in mind the 7 Habits Covey wants us to see. Who knows, maybe we’ll be the next highly effective person.

 How to Win Friends & Influence People | Dale Carnegie 

This one’s for all you introverts out there, being in the acting industry is a tough job, especially if you have a small voice. Fear not, Dale Carnegie is here to help you out! Having a big voice in acting isn’t the only thing you need. You need everyone else who’s there to make it happen for you and with you! Dale Carnegie gives you six ways to make people like you, twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and nine ways to change people without arousing resentment, and so much more! Be as eager with others as you are with your craft. Most important of all, be genuine. This is the best book you’ll read for understanding yourself and others, especially when it comes to going out of your comfort zone. Who knows what opportunities you’ll land next? 

 The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary Edition | Julia Cameron

Every artist gets stuck or best known as a creative block. Most of the time we don’t know how to deal with it or how we should begin to get back on track. No worries, Julia’s got us covered! In The Artist’s Way, A Sixteen Chapter program that helps us reconnect or renew ourselves with the purpose of living and enjoying our lives to the fullest to pursue a creative life and wholesome life. With hopes of remembering why we do this and who this is for, This 16 week course was able to delve deeper in the hearts and minds of the readers and open up a new chapter in our creativity!

 The Intent to Live: Achieving Your True Potential as an Actor | Larry Moss

Don’t be set off by the title! There is so much more to learn from this exquisite book. It is geared towards people who have already taken acting classes. It acts as a guide that takes the readers a level deeper from the normal acting classes. The best thing about this is how Moss describes his classes in detail! It has the same level of knowledge you would learn in big acting schools, from script analysis to the nuances of physicalizing and sensory work, this book is full of insights that will help you connect more with your role, script and develop your character from the inside out. The more you read, the more it inspires you to fall in love with your craft.

The Power of The Actor: The Chubbuck Technique – The 12-Step Acting Technique That Will Take You from Script to a Living, Breathing, Dynamic Character | Ivana Chubbuck

Big Hollywood names like Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, and many more were taught by the one and only Ivana Chabbuck! The Power of The Actor helps the student turn their scripts into real-life performances. Interaction is key! Making it so believable you can start a great connection with the audience. This book is a great way to have a step by step guide on how to make the most out of your scene study. Definitely recommendable to actors of all levels! 

The Technique of Acting | Stella Adler 

The ultimate book for all the DO’s and DON’Ts can help you discipline yourself! This book will surely help you improve your work ethic, saying goodbye to procrastination and hello new and improved you! Her techniques and practical doing will make you understand what type of actor you want to be. It comes with tons of advice with acting preparations, demands of characterization, and dramatic exercises. Stella will surely make you fall in love with being an actor all over again. She might even get you to explore more about the art of theatre.

Joanne Linville’s Seven Steps to an Acting Craft | Joanne Linville and John Deck 

If you aren’t too familiar with Author Joanne Linville, she has appeared in Star Trek: The Original Series, where she played Romulan Commander, earning her the title of the first female Romulan Commander and much more. Amazing right? What’s more amazing is that this book explores Joanne Linville’s exploration into the creative world during her lifetime. This book has an easy setting that talks about learning from life’s failures, mistakes, and even success. Linville was able to reach people’s hearts by giving practical advice on the art of acting, whether in shape form or any medium. We can definitely see that with what she learned over the years has paid off!

AUDITION | Michael Shurtleff 

Michael Shurtleff, the casting director for many Broadway shows such as Chicago and films like “The Graduate” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Shurtleff has created a book for aspiring actors and the auditioning process. Here he answers the all-important, question “how?”. With the help of the 12 Guideposts, Michael Shurtleff answers how one student begins an acting career by trying for the chance-in-a-million role? It’s definitely everything an actor needs to get the part! 

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: How to Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action | Susan Jeffers 

With the fear of public speaking, assertion, interviews, and especially believing in yourself, Susan Jeffers has helped millions of people overcome their fears. She helps heal the pain in their lives with earnest advice that will surely be able to ease your mind. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway helps you live your life to the fullest! Jeffers has given insights and tools to improve our ability to handle any given situation. This book endorses empowering and life-affirmations to the next level, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway will help you triumph over your fears and keep moving forward. 

Improvisation for the Theater: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques (Drama and Performance Studies) | Viola Spolin

Viola Spolin has changed the very nature of modern theater. With over 100,00 copies sold solely from the first two editions, Spolin has inspired numerous actors, directors, teachers, and writers in theater, television and film. Spolin’s groundbreaking technique, as they called it, grew excitement and enthusiasm from different hearts. It’s in its 3rd edition, after being updated to include the various theatrical discoveries she made after the initial publication.

No Acting Please: A Revolutionary Approach to Acting and Living |  Eric Morris, Joan Hotchkis, and Jack Nicholson

A definite must-read with 125 acting exercises based on journal excerpts and dialogues from Eric Morris’ class.  These exercises can systematically tune in an actor and the sensory world around him. No Acting Please helps you to overcome various obstacles – Tensions, Fears, Inhibitions – with this system that can explore the “being” state, wherein you do no more or no less than what the actor feels. A great way to improve and hone your craft!

Respect for Acting | Uta Hagen 

Actress and Teacher Uta Hagen is described as a fascinating and detailed author and teacher. Hagen guides the readers through practical problems such as “how do I talk to the audience?” and “how do I stay fresh in the long run?” This book advocates the use of substitution in informing and shaping the actions a character the actor is playing. Her accumulated wisdom over the years shows her high artistic level that provides practical information by a superb craftswoman! Who wouldn’t want to be inspired by her?

Sanford Meisner on Acting | Sanford Meisner 

Sandford Meisner is one of the greats in the acting field, his ability to teach and inspire shows well in his book.. As we delve into Sanford Meisner’s acting classes, he starts with the most rudimentary exercises and ends up influencing contemporary American plays. We are able to focus on demonstrating a clear and full understanding of emotional preparation, relationships, and objectives. Meisner is one of the well-known and beloved teachers of acting in the country in collaboration with Dennis Longwell, both bring with delight and provokes emotions from the students. As Meisner said, it is based on the fact that all good acting comes from the heart, as it were, and that there’s no mentality to it.”

The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide | Jenna Fischer

Being a professional actor is a tough path to take, especially if you don’t know the ins and outs of the industry. For Jenna Fischer, her acting career felt out of reach. It took her eight long years before landing a role in The Office. From expectations to reality, this book has you covered! Sharing her journey as an upcoming actress in Los Angeles, Jenna has shared everything she knows. What the importance of being an actor truly means. Life can be tough, but if it’s meant for you, It’ll always be for you.