5 Books That Inspired Me

Every once in a while we need to be inspired. We are in the arts. We need inspiration like air. Without it we can’t breathe, and our art dies a long, slow death. Actually, I think everyone needs a little inspiration. If you’re an accountant, you need to be inspired.

I have included five books that have inspired me for different reasons in the last couple of years. I think there’s a little something for everyone on this list, so enjoy, and I hope this helps.

Jimmy’s Book Club — Five Books That Inspire

  1. The Artist’s Way — Julia Cameron. This book sat on my shelf for years until I decided to organize group that met at my apartment on Sunday morning and worked through it. I did this for years, and I saw people in the group change, get un-stuck and get bigger and bigger, including me. It’s an easy read, and if all you get out of it is doing your morning pages, it’s worth it. I would recommend going through this book with other people, either in a class or with friends, because you’ll get more out of it. And the more you involve others the farther you will go.

  2. An Improvised Life: Alan Arkin. As an actor, I love Alan Arkin. He’s in one my favorite comedies of all time: the original “In Laws” with Peter Faulk, a must rent. When I first bought the book, I thought it would be stories about his films, his career and people he worked with. I found a little of that and really enjoyed his talking about the early years at Second City. What blew my mind, though, was the second half of the book where he talked about his experience of teaching improvisation and the different groups of people he worked with. Here is this Academy Award winning actor who is more excited writing about teaching improvisation and how it transforms people lives than about Hollywood. Right up my alley.

  3. The Inner Game of Tennis: W. Timothy Gallwey. This is a wonderful book ostensibly about playing tennis, but more than that, it’s about learning to perform in high-pressure situations, and you can easily apply this to your acting, auditions and improvising. I found this incredibly helpful, especially on how to deal with mistakes when I am in the moment. Any book that can help me to beat myself up a little less when I am performing is always a good read.

  4. Brand Like A Rock Star: Steve JonesI don’t care what you do today, be it an actor, writer, teacher, director, improviser, or producer, you need to be thinking about branding yourself in some way. What made this such a fun read is that it discusses branding using such bands like The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, Kiss, Led Zeppelin as examples.

  5. Comic Tool Box — How To Be Funny Even if You Are Not: Jon Vorhous. This book debunks the myth that comedy is something you are born with and instead says comedy is a good old-fashioned craft that any one can perfect. As the author puts it: “Comedy is not magic, not inspiration, not a ‘gift.’ Mostly, it’s simple rules and structures—the logic of the illogical—tools that anyone can use.” When the author talks this frankly, it inspires me, because it gives me hope that if you are willing to put in the work, you will succeed. I think this book is good for anyone who wants a career in comedy, especially if you think other people have more talent than you do.

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