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Acting Resources

Favorite Reads of 2011

I’m an avid reader. I go through a book a week. It’s exercise for the mind, people. While I do read plays and the occasional piece of fiction, the majority of my library is non-fiction. Behavior, psychology anything relating to the human condition is what I enjoy. My friend, Danielle Pfister recently commented: “You must single-handedly keep the business and self-help section of bookstores in business.” I do. In addition to my voracious appetite for books, I love to share recos and often buy books as gifts. Heck, if you’re on my good list, you may have got one of the titles below as a gift from Santa Charles. Anywho, without further adieu, here are the favorite books I’ve read in the past year:

1. 4 Hour Work Week (Timothy Ferriss) – As the title suggests, this book is all about simplifying your life and focusing on the important things. It’s practical handbook that help anyone stuck in a 9-5 rut escape the monotony of that world and enjoy the being one of the new rich. You don’t need to be a millionaire to have a millionaire’s life. Inspiring stuff.


2. Magic of Thinking Big (David J. Schwartz, PHD) – I don’t even know where to begin… This book is filled with so much useful info on how to have an amazing life. It’s an easy read that you’ll constantly refer back to for inspiration. Over the course of the year, it’s “the” book I’ve gifted most frequently in 2011. Your library isn’t complete without it.


3. Awaken The Giant Within (Anthony Robbins) – All right, I’m cheating here. I read this book prior to 2011, but it’s one of my all-time favs. Plus, I spent so much time listening to Tony’s audiotapes this year, I feel no remorse including it on the list. This man will change your life. There’s the saying our biggest fear is we are powerful beyond measure. So true. This book will help you get there.


4. Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill) – I own the audiobook of this classic as well. It’s another one that will change your life. Rock legends Aerosmith went through some tough times in their journey as artists. They credit two books to aiding their recovery back to stardom – Tony Robbins’ “Unlimited Power” and Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” To me, I feel like this one should be required reading. It’ll help you get whatever you want in life.


5. Happiness Hypothesis (Jonathan Haidt) – This one was a reco from the brilliant Chicago improviser Jet Eveleth. The Happiness Hypothesis studies behavior, psychology, religion, history and culture to answer the question: “What makes us happy?” Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down. I’m so grateful to Jet for this reco.


6. Power of Now (Eckert Tolle) – Another Jet Eveleth reco. Whew! I probably took more notes reading this one than anything else on this list. This bestseller that once had Oprah gushing helps get you to enlightenment and stay in the moment – the now. If you want your brain to bend this is a good one to read.


7. Moonwalking With Einstein (Joshua Foer) – So, apparently there are mental athletes and international memory competitions. Foer, a former web journalist, shares his tale from reporting on this world to becoming part of it. Along the way he describes the fascinating history of how our minds and memory work. It’s a page turner and will inspire the heck out of you. It was a reco from Ryan Ben (and my first eBook). Moonwalking is burned in my brain permanently.


8. (Tie) Freeing the Natural Voice (Kristin Linklater) and The Actor Speaks (Patsy Rodenburg) – Switching gears here… A big part of my focus as an actor has been the voice (and movement). I’ve been doing work on both for years, but had some breakthroughs in 2011. With respect to the voice, these two books are the two must reads for anyone looking for a way to get to that next level. If you truly want to transform as an actor, improviser or performance artist, spend time on your instrument. To get to that zen-like place of artistry, there needs to be congruency between your voice, body and emotions. These two will help you get there.


9. No Acting Please (Eric Morris)– At this point, I’ve read nearly all the big name acting texts. For me, I’ve learned more about the art of acting from behavior and psychology books than anything written on the subject of acting. Actor Tim Robbins once made almost the exact same statement. Eric Morris’ “No Acting Please,” for me, is the exception to the rule (along with a handful of others: Mick Napier’s “Improvise,” Michael Caine’s “Acting in Film,” etc.). I feel like it’s a practical guide every actor can use and any non-actor can benefit from in terms of breaking through the walls of everyday life.


10. Born Standing Up (Steve Martin) – The former Wild and Crazy Guy penned an autobiography. It’s fantastic. In addition to doing just about everything imaginable in the world of showbiz, Steve Martin is also quite the accomplished author. Once you pick up this book, you won’t be able to put it down as Martin shares his life’s journey. Don’t believe me? Well, excuuuuse me.


I could extend this list to 20, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. There are some great books here and I encourage you to take the time to find one that interests you and give it a read. There was a time in my life where I didn’t read that much. Once I changed my habits, I changed my life. I can’t imagine where I’d be without books and, more accurately, the ones listed above. My one wish is that you’re able to experience the same kind of joy that these books have given me. Happy reading!


2 Responses to “Favorite Reads of 2011”

  1. I have read atleast 5 of these books and must agree w/u!! By far…my favorite books…definitely will check out the rest of your list as well..thanks for the info! 🙂

    Posted by Yess | December 22, 2011, 5:13 pm


  1. […] no doubt end up on my year-end Favorite Reads of 2012 (see the 2011 list here) and will be a stocking stuffer for countless friends (assuming copies are still available – […]

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