The best film books 📚

Browse the best books on film as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Jaws Log

The Jaws Log

By Carl Gottlieb

Why this book?

Gottlieb was the credited writer of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Great White blockbuster. And in this slim volume published shortly after the film’s massive success, he tells the (mostly) unvarnished story about how this little movie about a vacation town terrorized by a man-eating shark spiraled completely out of control (in terms of its budget and shooting schedule) and how it was saved by a series of happy accidents, creative flukes, and of course, youthful hubris and genius. Jaws has always been my favorite film since I first saw it at age 6 (my parents were sadists, apparently). And if you…

From the list:

The best books about the making of a movie

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Book cover of Stories of Your Life and Others

Stories of Your Life and Others

By Ted Chiang

Why this book?

Even if you have watched the theatrical adaptation, Arrival, this story is still well worth the read, thanks to its in-depth look at its characters' lives. Stories of Your Life is one of those sci-fi short stories that manages to be both educational and emotional, allowing us a peek into what first contact might look like, and how we humans struggle with the abstract notion of free will. The core of this story is about a relationship between a mother and her daughter, and while I won’t give away how this culminates, I can safely say that it will have…

From the list:

The best speculative short stories about life

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Book cover of Blacking Up: The Minstrel Show in Nineteenth-Century America

Blacking Up: The Minstrel Show in Nineteenth-Century America

By Robert C. Toll

Why this book?

Published almost half a century ago (1974), but still the best introduction to the minstrel show as it emerged in America in the 1840s. Describes the various elements of a minstrel show, how it was originally received, and how it materially evolved in the late 1800s, but stops at the end of the century. A good, readable overview of this highly popular form of entertainment as it was originally performed on stage.

From the list:

The best books to understand the minstrel show

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Book cover of Hitchcock's Films Revisited

Hitchcock's Films Revisited

By Robin Wood

Why this book?

Wood’s book Hitchcock’s Films made the case that Hitchock was a major artist, not merely a manipulative “master of suspense” but someone who reflected profoundly on human limits, power, and authority, comedy and tragedy, men and women. He paved the way for later critics like William Rothman, who demonstrated that Hitchock’s films were richly rewarding frame by frame. Wood is always attentive to the human value of the movies he discusses, inquiring into the world of each film and wondering what it has to tell us. His book is great fun, but at the same time, it takes Hitchcock seriously…
From the list:

The best books about the movies

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Book cover of Emma

Emma

By Jane Austen

Why this book?

I love a comedy about a young woman who becomes a better person and realizes her boyfriend is the cute guy who’s always hanging around. Emma thinks she knows what everyone else needs to do, but (spoiler) she needs to figure herself out first. Her surprising inner shift makes this one of my favorite Jane Austen novels.

From the list:

The best books about young people finding themselves without a phone

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