My friend Vera Badertscher, who helms the wonderful blog A Traveler’s Library, sent me a link last night to a story in the The Browser about what Darren Aronofsky is reading.

Darren Aronofsky and Natalie Portman filming 'Black Swan' / Fox Searchlight Pictures

First, I’m a fan of all books pertaining to filmmaking, whether it’s about the actors, the process, or the filmmakers. But it adds a whole new level when you’re talking about books the filmmakers themselves recommend.

Of course, Aronofsky is everywhere these days. He executive produced ‘The Fighter’ and directed ‘Black Swan,’ both of which are up for Best Picture awards at the Oscars on Feb. 27.

But he became a household name for most people after ‘The Wrestler,’ Mickey Rourke’s 2008 comeback film that Aronofsky directed and produced. It scored two Oscar noms and multiple other awards.

Here are five books about film that inspired Aronofsky. Many thanks to Eve Gerber for the great interview — read the full piece here.

making-movies-sidney-lumet ‘Making Movies’ by Sidney Lumet. “I read it when I was in film school — when it first came out,” says Aronofsky. “I had a hardcover copy, which was a big investment when I was a film student (and broke). I remember just devouring it over a weekend. Eating up those stories about ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and ‘12 Angry Men.’ [Amazon]

‘The Writer’s Journey’ by Christopher Vogler. “It’s the Bible for screenwriters.  I think it’s the best book on how to write a screenplay ever written. It helped me get through so many roadblocks as a writer.” [Amazon]

‘Easy Riders, Raging Bulls’ by Peter Biskind. “An incredibly delicious read — just a great, great account of that era from ‘Easy Rider’ (’69) through the mid-’70s.  It’s the story of all those great filmmakers — my icons — Scorsese, Coppola, Friedkin, and Bogdanovich. They changed the way movies were made in America.” [Amazon]

‘The Ragman’s Son: An Autobiography’ by Kirk Douglas. “I read this one in the early ’90s when I first got out to Hollywood. My mentor Stuart Rosenberg, who directed ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ suggested it. It’s basically Kirk Douglas’s story of coming from nothing — he was a ragman’s son — and achieving the American dream through the Hollywood movie system.” [Amazon]

‘Hitchcock’ by Francois Truffaut. “I got the book from Sean Gullette, the star of ‘Pi,’ many years ago, and I proceeded to read that copy until it literally fell apart. I still haven’t replaced it. I have it duct-taped together …  One of my mentors in film school was Robert Boyle, who was a production designer on [‘The Birds’], and I looked at the film a lot. The visual effects are incredible. But that was dealing with an external avian threat, and in ‘Black Swan’ there is an internal one … It was very intentional that the audience could be as unsure as [Natalie Portman’s character] was, when strange things seemed to happen. There needed to be doubt on that journey.” [Amazon]

What about you? Any favorite books about filmmaking or the entertainment business?


  1. I liked Patrick Swayze’s memoir The Time of My Life, Having worked as a television producer for some time myself I also enjoyed Judy Woodruff’s book on her days as White House correspondent (news more than entertainment, in the days she was there, but still the television business) called This is Judy Woodruff at The White House.

  2. I’ve never read much about film-making, but I should. I’d enjoy it. No reason not to use this handy dandy list as my first list of books about the subject when I head to the library.


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