15 Books You Must Read Before You Move to LA

Picture courtesy of Literary Traveler

Picture courtesy of Literary Traveler

Here’s a list of 15 books that will help you hone your skills and give you an extra boost to get a head start on LA. The list features books from the world of film, screenwriting, acting, music, and general motivation (we all need it!).



When you move to LA, I’m pretty sure you want to start booking paying gigs as soon as possible. In order to do this, a Booking Agent must be assured that you will fill up his venue. They could really careless how good your music is. Dennis Hooper’s How I Make $100,000/year in the Music Business will definitely show you how to create a strong following and get paid to make music.

Musician Bobby Borg gives us a no nonsense guide to the music business and how to survive even in the hardest of times.

It’s important for musicians to understand that their passion for music is already their success. They’ve found something that gives them true meaning; and that’s something that many people don’t find till late in life or sometimes not all. Make sure to hold on to this emotion. Don’t let your love for music be contingent upon getting a deal, being wealthy, or selling millions of records. That’s only the icing on the cake. Always remember that you choose music for your life because you loved it first and foremost. This way, you’ll be happy whether you’re performing before 30 people in a coffee house, or 30,000 in a stadium. – Bobby Borg

You must learn how to harness the power of the internet if you want to be successful in the 21st century of the music industry. The Indie Band Survival Guide shows you how to market, publish your music, and understand the psychology of your fans to give them more of what they want.



This book is not for beginners, but for those who have a basic foundation in film. Steven D. Katz gives the reader an in-depth view into the technique of film direction. If you’re interested in how a filmmaker wraps his head around the abstract, to make a solid film, this book is for you.

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock, you probably know that the DSLR camera should be in any filmmaker’s arsenal, especially those who are operating on a shoestring budget. It is a great digital camera that can give you that mystic “35mm film look”. Kurt Lancaster crafted this ultimate guide, which explains camera techniques, sound, lighting, editing, software, and everything else you need to know to make a cinematic quality production with a digital camera.

Have you ever watched a movie and wondered how did they get those great looking shots? Well, Christopher Kenworthy breaks down 100 shots from some of the greatest movie scenes of all time and shows you how to create them on a low budget. Great book for filmmakers looking for a spark of creativity.

This is without a doubt the Filmmakers bible. Written by filmmakers for filmmakers, it contains over 600 pages and 18 chapters. Want to know about contracts, film language, and what it takes to get a movie made? It’s all in the The Filmmaker’s Handbook.


The Hollywood Standard has great information for the beginner to the professional, on how to write a script in the “Hollywood” format. Christopher Riley, a seasoned LA scriptwriter, presents script examples from television dramas, theatrical films, and made for TV movies.

The Screenwriter’s Bible is endorsed by the top Agents and screenwriters in Hollywood. It  gives you a comprehensive look into the style and structure of screenplay, and how to sell it once it’s completed. It also lists the contact information of studios and the power players in LA who may be interested in your script. If you want to be a working screenwriter in Los Angeles, you may want to take a look at this one.

Blake Snyder provides a common sense guide to screenwriting. Ironically, it’s the common sense that most people seem to disregard when writing a screenplay. He discusses the attributes of a quality screenplay that will grab the attention of the power brokers in Hollywood.

Screenplay is one of the bibles of the film trade and has launched many a would-be screenwriter on the road to Hollywood.” —Library Journal

Need I say more?


If you’re into acting and are serious about your craft, you must read this, period. Acting: The First Six Lessons is deceptively small, yet it contains a complete guide to everything an actor should know. Boleslavsky breaks down acting into six lessons: concentration, memory of emotion, dramatic action, characterization, observation, and rhythm. This book should be in every actor’s toolkit.

An Actor Prepares prepares is the first book in a three part series. It is a story driven book with an actors insight infused within.

One word… Unbelievable. This book opened up my perspectives and understanding in dozens of new ways. Brought my acting up many levels in depth and made me aware of many acting tools that I had been under utilizing- Reader

Many are told they were born actors and that their talents come to them effortlessly. Uta Hagen’s book Respect for Acting is the proverbial slap in the face to those who think their talents cannot be improved through hard work . She digs for a deeper meaning to acting and how to perfect your craft beyond method acting.


It is inevitable, when you move to LA, that you will run into creative roadblocks, which could potentially hinder your career. The War of Art is a great book to stimulate those creative juices. Regardless of your career choice in Los Angeles, this book should be in your library when you hit those bumps on the road to creativity.


(Bonus) Novels About Los Angeles

The Love of the Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
Children of the Light by Robert Stone




Justin Resarieo is a creative entrepreneur and graduate of The University of Alabama. He has lived in LA for 6 years and enjoys the weather, creativity, and opportunity the city offers.


  • Reply October 12, 2011


    Fantastic Post! You are right on about doing your “homework” before you move to L.A. – and continuing to do it when you get there. It only deepens your knowledge and gives you a stronger creative foundation.

    I wonder if people now actually have “shorter” attention spans or just different attention spans? How do you think that different way of paying attention is affecting the aesthetic of film?

    BTW- A must add to the novel list: “The Day Of The Locust”

  • Reply October 31, 2011


    I’ll add Budd Schulberg’s, “What Makes Sammy Run,” to the reading list.

    Also watch “My Big Break,” by Tony Zierra.

    Great list.

  • Reply January 22, 2013

    Emily McFarlane

    Hi there,

    Just wondering if anybody could recommend a good book for “moving to LA” or something along those lines. I am from New Zealand and am moving to LA for one year in June, I can’t wait but I literally know nothing about the place!!


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