10 books like Into The Woods

By John Yorke,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Into The Woods. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting

Carleton Eastlake Author Of Monkey Business

From the list on what Hollywood is really like.

Who am I?

Having been a Hollywood writer for thirty years, and now written a novel that although satirical still accurately describes the creation of a TV series, I’ve long been amazed at how many Hollywood stories – including films made in Hollywood – offer fantasies that have even less to do with the reality of love and work in film and television than Game of Thrones does with the real Middle Ages. I’ve written fantasy myself, but for people fascinated by Hollywood, or who want to work in film and TV, there’s a reason too to read books that capture the reality, especially when like the books listed here, they do so astonishingly well.

Carleton's book list on what Hollywood is really like

Discover why each book is one of Carleton's favorite books.

Why did Carleton love this book?

This book coined the maxim far and away the most quoted in Hollywood to this day: “Nobody knows anything.” I first read it the year before I broke in. My copy is heavily annotated with yellow highlighter and red pen; a black paperclip still marks the second of Goldman’s two capitalized maxims, “Screenplays are structure.” The value of this book to anyone wanting to understand – or survive in – Hollywood is that, ironically, Goldman, one of the most successful screenwriters and novelists in Hollywood history, knew almost everything, not only about screenwriting, but also the psychology, cautious care, and perilous feeding of actors, directors, executives, and the rest of the Hollywood zoo. It’s both a textbook and survival guide, illustrated with a veteran’s vivid stories about life behind the tinsel.

By William Goldman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Adventures in the Screen Trade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now available as an ebook for the first time!

No one knows the writer's Hollywood more intimately than William Goldman. Two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter and the bestselling author of Marathon Man, Tinsel, Boys and Girls Together, and other novels, Goldman now takes you into Hollywood's inner sanctums...on and behind the scenes for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, and other films...into the plush offices of Hollywood producers...into the working lives of acting greats such as Redford, Olivier, Newman, and Hoffman...and into his own professional experiences and creative thought processes in the crafting of screenplays. You get…


Tales from the Script

By Peter Hanson, Paul Robert Herman,

Book cover of Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories

Alistair Owen Author Of The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft

From the list on writing for the big screen.

Who am I?

I am the author of four books of interviews with filmmakers: Smoking in Bed: Conversations with Bruce Robinson (a Guardian Book of the Year), Story and Character: Interviews with British Screenwriters, Hampton on Hampton (an Observer Book of the Year), and The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft. I have written original and adapted screenplays and stageplays, on spec and to commission; contributed film interviews and reviews to UK magazines and newspapers; chaired Q&A events at book and screenwriting festivals; and recently published my first novel, The Vetting Officer. My next nonfiction project is a book of conversations with bestselling author and screenwriter William Boyd, for Penguin.

Alistair's book list on writing for the big screen

Discover why each book is one of Alistair's favorite books.

Why did Alistair love this book?

“You never really succeed,” Andrew W. Marlowe tells the editors of Tales from the Script, “You always fail at a higher level.” So: first you can’t finish your script, then you can’t get it read, then you can’t sell it, then you can’t get it made, then it’s made – but badly. Or, in Marlowe’s case, it’s made into Air Force One and you’re asked to repeat the trick. “Even when you get to the top there’s this realization: ‘Okay, the view is great, but tomorrow I gotta get up and start climbing the mountain again.’” If you find that depressing, don’t be a screenwriter. If you see it as a challenge, read on…

By Peter Hanson, Paul Robert Herman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales from the Script as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few modern art forms are as misunderstood as the craft of creating movie scripts, but "Tales from the Script" puts readers in the trenches of the Hollywood development process. Readers will revel in the exploits of Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon"), John Carpenter ("Halloween'), Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption"), Nora Ephron ("When Harry Met Sally"), William Goldman ("The Princess Bride"), David Hayter ("Watchmen"), Bruce Joel Rubin ("Ghost"), Paul Schrader ("Taxi Driver"), Ron Shelton ("Bull Durham"), and dozens of others. They'll learn how these writers surmounted the incredible odds against breaking into Hollywood, transformed their ideas into films that topped the box…


Making Movies

By Sidney Lumet,

Book cover of Making Movies

Kieron Connolly Author Of Dark History of Hollywood: A century of greed, corruption and scandal behind the movies (Dark Histories)

From the list on moviemaking.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved movies. In my 20s, I went to film school – perhaps you can still find a couple of the short films I wrote with animator Matthew Hood on Vimeo (Hourglass and Metalstasis) – and I worked a little in the UK film industry reading scripts for Film4, among others. I’ve also interviewed filmmakers, including Nicolas Winding Refn, Christopher Hampton, Life of Brian producer John Goldstone and editor Anne V. Coates. And I’ve always found a romance, despite the seedy aspects, of Tinseltown being developed out in Hollywoodland, a place of orange groves and pepper trees where people from the Midwest went to retire in the sun.   

Kieron's book list on moviemaking

Discover why each book is one of Kieron's favorite books.

Why did Kieron love this book?

Sidney Lumet directed Twelve Angry Men and The Verdict, among many others, and the beauty of this short book is just how practical he is about his craft. In the magazine interviews and hagiographies about directors, we seldom get a true sense of the working day on a movie set, or what happens long before shooting begins and months after it finishes. But here Lumet reveals why he always tried to schedule a very simple shot for the first set-up on day 1 of production, the value of a rehearsal period (if he was granted one) and that he took a lunchtime nap. From first being offered a script to the final sound mix, this is what a movie director really does.

By Sidney Lumet,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Invaluable.... I am sometimes asked if there is one book a filmgoer could read to learn more about how movies are made and what to look for while watching them. This is the book.” —Roger Ebert, The New York Times Book Review

Why does a director choose a particular script? What must they do in order to keep actors fresh and truthful through take after take of a single scene? How do you stage a shootout—involving more than one hundred extras and three colliding taxis—in the heart of New York’s diamond district? What does it take to keep the studio…


Little Miss Sunshine

By Michael Arndt, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Book cover of Little Miss Sunshine: The Shooting Script

Alistair Owen Author Of The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft

From the list on writing for the big screen.

Who am I?

I am the author of four books of interviews with filmmakers: Smoking in Bed: Conversations with Bruce Robinson (a Guardian Book of the Year), Story and Character: Interviews with British Screenwriters, Hampton on Hampton (an Observer Book of the Year), and The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft. I have written original and adapted screenplays and stageplays, on spec and to commission; contributed film interviews and reviews to UK magazines and newspapers; chaired Q&A events at book and screenwriting festivals; and recently published my first novel, The Vetting Officer. My next nonfiction project is a book of conversations with bestselling author and screenwriter William Boyd, for Penguin.

Alistair's book list on writing for the big screen

Discover why each book is one of Alistair's favorite books.

Why did Alistair love this book?

Once upon a time, in a small apartment in Brooklyn, an unemployed, unproduced, unagented writer sat down to start a script. Three days later he finished it. Twelve months of rewrites and he sold it. Four years later it was made. And a year after that it won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. But, Michael Arndt notes in his modest introduction to the shooting script, this isn’t “a rewards-of-virtue narrative”; it’s a story about the razor-thin line between success and failure – and how, as Dwayne says in the movie, you should “do what you love and fuck the rest”. Words to live – and write – by.

By Michael Arndt, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Miss Sunshine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the official screenplay book tie-in to the uproarious American family road comedy. Brazenly satirical yet deeply human, Little Miss Sunshine introduces audiences to one of the most endearingly fractured families in recent cinema history. Meet the Hoovers, a motley six-member family who treks from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, California, to fulfill the deepest wish of seven-year-old Olive, an ordinary little girl with big dreams.

Starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, and Alan Arkin, the film strikes a nerve with everyone who's ever been awestruck by how their muddled families seem to make it…


The Big Sleep

By Raymond Chandler,

Book cover of The Big Sleep

Ron Base Author Of Scandal at the Savoy: A Priscilla Tempest Mystery, Book 2

From the list on combining mystery and suspense into something magical.

Who am I?

As readers may have gathered from the five books I’ve chosen, my childhood obsessions and passions have had an immense influence on my later writing life. Somewhat to my surprise, I must say. I’ve been a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, movie critic, and have written screenplays. But returning to novels, first with the Sanibel Sunset Detective series and lately with Death at the Savoy and Scandal at the Savoy, I am, in effect, reliving my childhood, using it to write these books. What a joy to be looking back as I move forward—and you always keep the plot moving forward!

Ron's book list on combining mystery and suspense into something magical

Discover why each book is one of Ron's favorite books.

Why did Ron love this book?

Chandler’s novel, first published in 1939, is a touchstone for anyone writing detective fiction.

Never mind that private detective Philip Marlowe never actually solves anything.

In addition to the famously unsolved murder that Chandler brushed off when told about it, there are plot holes you could drive a Buick Roadmaster through, and prose occasionally edged in purple. Never mind its shortcomings, The Big Sleep overall remains intoxicatingly hard-boiled, a much-imitated classic of the genre.

I have gone back to it many times since I first read it, seeing its flaws but loving its tough-as-nails sensibility. It played an important part in setting me on the road to writing not only the Priscilla Tempest novels but also the Sanibel Sunset Detective mysteries.

Like everyone else who writes this stuff, I owe Chandler a lot.

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Big Sleep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Raymond Chandler's first three novels, published here in one volume, established his reputation as an unsurpassed master of hard-boiled detective fiction.

The Big Sleep, Chandler's first novel, introduces Philip Marlowe, a private detective inhabiting the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s, as he takes on a case involving a paralysed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail and murder.

In Farewell, My Lovely, Marlowe deals with the gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women.

In The High Window, Marlowe searches the California underworld for a priceless gold coin and finds himself…


The Dawn of Everything

By David Graeber, David Wengrow,

Book cover of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

Craig Nelson Author Of V Is for Victory: Franklin Roosevelt's American Revolution and the Triumph of World War II

From the list on history that will wake you up.

Who am I?

I spent twenty years as a book publishing executive learning how the trade works before launching myself as a full-time author wanting to make the world a better place. My books use state-of-the-art scholarship for history you can read on the beach, and focus on ‘hinge’ moments, great turnings of the world, as well as on forgotten and unsung heroes.

Craig's book list on history that will wake you up

Discover why each book is one of Craig's favorite books.

Why did Craig love this book?

What ideas do you have about what the first peoples were like, and how human society developed?

Maybe you’ve even read the popular authors on this topic such as Diamond, Harari, Pinker, Hobbes, and Rousseau. Prepare to have all of your notions and received opinions upended and turned to dust by David Graeber (a man universally acknowledged as a genius) and the book he worked on for the last ten years of his life, which brings revolutionary ideas to 30,000 years of civilization.

By David Graeber, David Wengrow,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Dawn of Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution—from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and inequality—and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation.

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike—either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction…


Discipline and Punish

By Michel Foucault,

Book cover of Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Nicholas Hudson Author Of A Political Biography of Samuel Johnson

From the list on why the Enlightenment is the beginning of the modern world.

Who am I?

As a teacher and writer, I am a passionate believer in the ideals of the Enlightenment. In my understanding of these ideals, they include a belief in reason and honest inquiry in the service of humanity. More and more we need these ideals against bigotry, self-delusion, greed, and cruelty. The books recommended here are among those that helped to inspire me with continued faith in the progress of the human species and our responsibility to help each other and the world we live in.

Nicholas' book list on why the Enlightenment is the beginning of the modern world

Discover why each book is one of Nicholas' favorite books.

Why did Nicholas love this book?

This book has perhaps the best opening of any history book ever written. This is a detailed and gruesome description of the public torture and mutilation of Robert-François Damien in 1757.

The description is meant to shock, for it illustrates the difference between a modern attitude towards punishment and the idea of punishment that prevailed in the French ancien régime before the Revolution of 1789. Today we generally see punishment not as a means to display the state’s anger against those who defy its authority but rather as a means to improve society and even rehabilitate the offender.

This book opened my eyes to the modern world very much. It shows how political and social power transformed during the eighteenth century into the forms of discipline and surveillance that govern our lives today. We may not be threatened with public torture but every aspect of our behavior is shaped to…

By Michel Foucault,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A brilliant work from the most influential philosopher since Sartre.

In this indispensable work, a brilliant thinker suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul.


The Second Mountain

By David Brooks,

Book cover of The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life

Les Cowan Author Of Benefit of the Doubt: He Fled, Danger Followed

From the list on crime/thriller for characters and character.

Who am I?

When I first thought about crime writing I was probably too lazy to do the research on police procedures so decided instead to feature an “ordinary” character with no official role but who still intervenes when evil seems to be triumphing and nobody is paying attention. Key elements of this are reflected in my list—the importance of stories and storytelling, some great thrillers, and thoughtful consideration of why someone would put themselves in jeopardy for others. Having worked with many criminals and victims I have seen that ordinary people can make a difference. In a way my books ask the question, “What would you do in David Hidalgo’s shoes?”

Les' book list on crime/thriller for characters and character

Discover why each book is one of Les' favorite books.

Why did Les love this book?

Brooks is interested in what makes for a good society and how we as individuals can lead moral, principled lives that benefit others. This must be a subject of interest to everyone but I think has a particular application for writers trying to portray men and women of character and moral purpose. In Brooks’ metaphor the first mountain consists of career, family, wealth, reputation, and everything you would put into your CV. The second mountain is what they might say about you after you die when none of that matters anymore. The issue now is character not achievements. Were you kind, hospitable, generous, compassionate, and humble in your outlook, or ego-centric and proud? For any one trying to write a character with character this is fascinating reading.

By David Brooks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Second Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Everybody tells you to live for a cause larger than yourself, but how exactly do you do it? The author of The Road to Character explores what it takes to lead a meaningful life in a self-centered world.

“Deeply moving, frequently eloquent and extraordinarily incisive.”—The Washington Post

Every so often, you meet people who radiate joy—who seem to know why they were put on this earth, who glow with a kind of inner light. Life, for these people, has often followed what we might think of as a two-mountain shape. They get out of…


Wolves Eat Dogs

By Martin Cruz Smith,

Book cover of Wolves Eat Dogs

Les Cowan Author Of Benefit of the Doubt: He Fled, Danger Followed

From the list on crime/thriller for characters and character.

Who am I?

When I first thought about crime writing I was probably too lazy to do the research on police procedures so decided instead to feature an “ordinary” character with no official role but who still intervenes when evil seems to be triumphing and nobody is paying attention. Key elements of this are reflected in my list—the importance of stories and storytelling, some great thrillers, and thoughtful consideration of why someone would put themselves in jeopardy for others. Having worked with many criminals and victims I have seen that ordinary people can make a difference. In a way my books ask the question, “What would you do in David Hidalgo’s shoes?”

Les' book list on crime/thriller for characters and character

Discover why each book is one of Les' favorite books.

Why did Les love this book?

Martin Cruz Smith’s first book in his Arkady Renko series, Gorky Park, did very well and was made into a successful film. Later books are perhaps not so well known which I think is a great pity. Smith’s books ooze atmosphere, intrigue, and authenticity taking us into other worlds—in this case, that of Russian oligarchs and the deadly exclusion zone round Chernobyl. Arkady Renko is an incorruptible investigator in a society where everyone is on the makeanother parallel I’ve found very applicable to my own work. And, unlike many thriller authors, Smith is also a brilliant writer of scintillating, gripping narrative. I’d love David Hidalgo and Arkady Renko to meet and have a chat over a few glasses of red wine, vodka, or both!

By Martin Cruz Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wolves Eat Dogs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't miss the latest book in the Arkady Renko series, THE SIBERIAN DILEMMA by Martin Cruz Smith, 'the master of the international thriller' (New York Times) - available to order now!

AN ARKADY RENKO NOVEL: #5

'One of those writers that anyone who is serious about their craft views with respect bordering on awe' Val McDermid

'Makes tension rise through the page like a shark's fin' Independent

***
The iron curtain has fallen and a screen of nouveau capitalism stands in its place. Though the New Russia is foreign to Renko, the corruption and brutality that he encounters are all…


The Second Sleep

By Robert Harris,

Book cover of The Second Sleep

Les Cowan Author Of Benefit of the Doubt: He Fled, Danger Followed

From the list on crime/thriller for characters and character.

Who am I?

When I first thought about crime writing I was probably too lazy to do the research on police procedures so decided instead to feature an “ordinary” character with no official role but who still intervenes when evil seems to be triumphing and nobody is paying attention. Key elements of this are reflected in my list—the importance of stories and storytelling, some great thrillers, and thoughtful consideration of why someone would put themselves in jeopardy for others. Having worked with many criminals and victims I have seen that ordinary people can make a difference. In a way my books ask the question, “What would you do in David Hidalgo’s shoes?”

Les' book list on crime/thriller for characters and character

Discover why each book is one of Les' favorite books.

Why did Les love this book?

I could easily recommend any of Robert Harris’s “intelligent thrillers” however I’ve picked this one because I like the idea of an “ordinary” man who finds himself in the midst of a dangerous mystery. Briefly, The Second Sleep is set in the future after our civilisation has destroyed itself and where life is now functioning at the medieval level. The church, which controls everything, has banned investigation into the past. A humble priest is sent to visit a village in his parish and begins to suspect that things are not as they seem. Eventually, against the orders of the church, he decides to try to penetrate the past with alarming consequences. So, as for my character, David Hidalgo, we find that ordinary people can make a difference!

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Second Sleep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE LATEST NOVEL FROM ROBERT HARRIS: chosen as a Book of the Year by The Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, and Express

WHAT IF YOUR FUTURE LIES IN THE PAST?
_____________________________________
'One word: wonderful. Two words: compulsive reading. Three words: buy it tomorrow. Four words: tonight, if it's possible.' STEPHEN KING
'A thoroughly absorbing, page-turning narrative.' SUNDAY TIMES
'Genuinely thrilling.' DAILY TELEGRAPH
_____________________________________
Dusk is gathering as a young priest, Christopher Fairfax, rides across a silent land.

It's a crime to be out after dark, and Fairfax knows he must arrive at his destination - a remote…


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