The best books that inspire me as a storyteller and filmmaker

Paul J. Salamoff Author Of On The Set: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette
By Paul J. Salamoff

Who am I?

Born in Natick, MA, I was raised on a healthy diet of sci-fi and horror from age five when I saw a double-feature of Star Wars and Logan’s Run! I soon discovered The Twilight Zone and Doctor Who and then Stephen King and Clive Barker. I moved to CA to attend USC and parlayed my obsessions into a successful three decades plus run in the Film industry as a Writer, Producer, Film Executive, Comic Book Creator, Author, and originally as a Special F/X Make-Up Artist. The five books I chose were seminal in inspiring me as a storyteller to explore the frayed edges of the human (and inhuman!) condition.

I wrote...

On The Set: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette

By Paul J. Salamoff,

Book cover of On The Set: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette

What is my book about?

Whether you are new to the industry, a seasoned pro or just interested in what the credits mean at the end of your favorite movie, this book is for you. Not only will you learn about the different jobs on a movie set, but for the first time, you’ll discover the hidden rules of movie set etiquette not taught in any film schools.

Featuring advice from over 90 working professionals including: James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), Bryan Singer (X-Men), Wes Craven (Scream), Gale Anne Hurd (Aliens), Lin Shaye (Insidious), Doug Jones (The Shape of Water), Edward Neumeier (Robocop), Owen Roizman (The Exorcist), Patrick Tatopoulos (Independence Day), Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead) and Kevin D. Ross (Stranger Things).

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Why did I love this book?

Being from MA, I’m naturally imbued with a highly attuned sense of sarcasm, and nobody taps into that for me more than Douglas Adams! The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy also holds the distinction of the book I’ve reread the most. A wonderful blend of sci-fi and whimsy, I love how it plays with genre tropes and tweaks them by the ear while still giving the reader gloriously compelling characters that you want to go on a journey with far past the fourth (and fifth!) books in the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy. As a storyteller it showed me how you can seamlessly combine disparate genres (like sci-fi and comedy) and still create stories that are perfectly cohesive and effective on a visual and an emotional level.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This box set contains all five parts of the' trilogy of five' so you can listen to the complete tales of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Bebblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android! Travel through space, time and parallel universes with the only guide you'll ever need, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Read by Stephen Fry, actor, director, author and popular audiobook reader, and Martin Freeman, who played Arthur Dent in film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is well known as Tim in The Office.

The set also includes a bonus DVD Life, the Universe and…

The Chronicles of Narnia

By C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Book cover of The Chronicles of Narnia

Why did I love this book?

My first dive into the fantasy genre was through C.S. Lewis’ wardrobe, which transported me as a pre-teen into the magical realm of Narnia and all its denizens. What I learned from the series was that all things didn’t end up happily ever after in this genre. That there was dark magic that sometimes defeated the light and beloved characters could die! Even though I consider myself a sci-fi/horror writer, fantasy has been a subgenre to a lot of my stories, and these “Chronicles” were the books that spurred that interest.

By C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Chronicles of Narnia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don’t miss one of America’s top 100 most-loved novels, selected by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Experience all seven tales of C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, in one impressive paperback volume!

Epic battles between good and evil, fantastic creatures, betrayals, heroic deeds, and friendships won and lost all come together in this unforgettable world, which has been enchanting readers of all ages for over sixty years.

This edition presents the seven books—The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The…

Book cover of The Books of Blood Volume 1

Why did I love this book?

When I was young, a had minor surgery which laid me up for a bit but gave me plenty of reading time. A family friend gave me Stephen King’s The Dead Zone and it was my first foray into horror fiction. Years later, I read an article in FANGORIA about a rising British author that King was a fan of (I have seen the future of horror and his name in Clive Barker!”) So, I tracked down The Books of Blood and was instantly drawn into a dark fantastical world of horror! Barker’s writing became a huge influence on my writing, giving me the confidence to push boundaries. I would even go on as a screenwriter to develop reboots (that unfortunately didn’t get produced) of Hellraiser and Rawhead Rex.

By Clive Barker,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Books of Blood Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Rediscover the true meaning of fear in this collection of horror stories from Clive Barker, New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Hellraiser series.

Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red.

In this tour de force collection of brilliantly disturbing tales, Clive Barker combines the extraordinary with the ordinary, bringing to life our darkest nightmares with stories that both seduce and devour. As beautiful as they are terrible, the pages of this volume are stained with unsettling imagery, macabre humor, and visceral dread. Here then are the…

Mother Night

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Book cover of Mother Night

Why did I love this book?

I discovered Vonnegut in my early 20s and the first of his books I read was Slaughterhouse Five, which I quite enjoyed and still love to this day. But it was his fictional tale of American spy Howard W. Campbell that really captured my imagination. I consider myself a “thematically based writer” and I’m much more interested in exploring layers of challenging themes than I am actual plot. Mother Night had many themes, including the struggle with one’s conscience, freedom, and obsession but it was his central theme of We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be that really grabbed me! Vonnegut expertly shows how theme infuses a story and solidified my obsession with exploring the story beneath the story.

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mother Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.”—Time

Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this brilliant book rife with true gallows humor, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gray with a verdict that will haunt us all.

“A great artist.”—Cincinnati Enquirer

“A shaking up in the kaleidoscope of laughter .…


By Stanislaw Lem, Steve Cox, Joanna Kilmartin

Book cover of Solaris

Why did I love this book?

When asked what my favorite book is, the answer is quite definitively Solaris as it exemplifies everything that great sci-fi can accomplish. Having seen Andrei Tarkovsky’s film and been intrigued by its premise of love, obsession, and guilt in the face of something beyond all human comprehension (a living planet!), I was inspired to explore its source material. I found Stanislaw Lem’s book enthralling and like Kris Kelvin’s obsession with his late wife, it’s a story that haunts me and keeps coming back to be relived again and again! The futility of trying to understand things beyond human comprehension and our penchant to anthropomorphize things we don’t understand are themes that I explore within my stories, and it was the biggest inspiration for my SATURN Award-winning film Encounter

By Stanislaw Lem, Steve Cox, Joanna Kilmartin

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Solaris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface he is forced to confront a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others suffer from the same affliction and speculation rises among scientists that the Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates incarnate memories, but its purpose in doing so remains a mystery . . .

Solaris raises a question that has been at the heart of human experience and literature for centuries: can we truly understand the universe around us without first understanding what…

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