Contributed with intelligence by staff writer Russell Sperberg
Getting lost in a story is imperative for every artist. Creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised, and reading develops mental acuity by allowing you to fantasize and develop your imagination.
Similar to daydreaming, the brain does not differentiate between what you feel while reading a story and living the story in reality. Therefore, allowing your mind to float into the author’s world grants you the opportunity to delve into abstract human experiences.
It’s important to be constantly learning. At TK Studio, we get questions all the time about what we should be reading. Here is another list of Terry Knickerbocker’s recommendations to get started on the wonderful world of novels every Meisner actor needs.
Before they were world-famous artists, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe were just struggling New York artists like you in the late sixties who turned to each other for support. Art, chaos, and life are one in the same in this beautiful memoir with language verging on poetry. It’s a tender, sweet tale of how we live to make art and how friendship is an art of its own.
Malcolm X doesn’t look back on his life. Instead, he tells you about it as if it’s happening right now. It’s a powerful little trick; you see the world through his eyes and start to question what you know about Malcolm X. His journey from criminal youth to black nationalist leader shows a man constantly reevaluating his place in the world. The book is a suitably complex portrait; it shows how stories both reflect and shape our lives, and is a must-read for any actor interested in any character work.
This is the epic mashup. It’s tragic, it’s funny, it’s thrilling, and it’s magical. By combining all these Eastern and Western forms, Rushdie miraculously manages to capture the massive, multitudinous spirit of India itself. Read the journey of Saleem Sinai, whose life just so happens to mirror the history of modern India, and you’ll be gobsmacked. No other book will make you appreciate the profound connections we hold to each other and our homes. No other book will make you feel at one with your history, your roots, and your fellow man. A must read.
You will cry when you finish this book. It’s ok. Everyone does. And actor’s need to cry sometimes. Márquez’s book, which wraps the history of Colombia into the history of the Buendía family, centers on ghosts both literal and metaphorical. In his magical realist style, fantastical things are mundane and everyday interactions are fantastical and heartbreaking. Worlds collide and boundaries are blurred as characters come to terms with the past and with their families. It is a great read and can go into the “things that make me cry” bucket for your next audition.
Slavery is dead but its ghosts live on. In Beloved, those ghosts are made real. When Sethe, a former slave, encounters a young woman who may or may not be the ghost of her dead daughter, she and her family must confront their traumatic past. It’s a ghost story, but it’s also an exorcism of America’s National Sin. At the end of the day, we remember the importance of selfhood and community, something we can all hold to as humans and actors.
The jury’s still out on whether Holden Caulfield is annoying or super deep, but you can’t debate J.D. Salinger’s achievement, and his commitment to character in his narrative style. What seems like a simple story is a surprisingly complex portrait of a conflicted narrator stuck between childhood and adulthood. It can be dizzying to watch Holden contradict himself every other sentence, but hey, that’s what teenagers do. That’s what we all do. Somehow, Salinger manages to capture all the ironies and contradictions within one person, which is no small feat.
Harper Lee only wrote one book, but I’ll be damned if not’s perfect. Told through the eyes of the young girl Scout, Mockingbird tells the story of her family in 1930s Alabama. We see firsthand the racism and fear of Jim Crow, but through it all we have the guiding light of Atticus Finch. Atticus shows his kids (and us readers) how to live of a life of decency and respect. It’s a beautiful novel about finding humanity in others, which is a vital tool for all artists.