Werner Herzog and Darren Aronofsky Think You Should Read These Ten Books

In a conversation with Errol Morris at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, Werner Herzog stated that you can't be a filmmaker without reading books. More recently, Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky shared a list of his own favorite books. Taking their suggested reading lists in tandem, we now have a list of ten "must read" books from a pair of auteurs; the first five are Aronofsky's selections and are on the topic of movies, and the second five are Herzog's and aren't limited to a particular topic. I've only read three of the ten; how about you?

  1. Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
  2. The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler
  3. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind
  4. The Ragman's Son by Kirk Douglas
  5. Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut
  6. Georgics by Virgil
  7. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway
  8. The Warren Commission Report
  9. Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
  10. The Poetic Edda translated by Lee M. Hollander
  11. True History of the Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz del Castillo

The hawk-eyed among you will note there are actually eleven books in the above list; I never was very good at math. For more on the Aronofsky selections -- or to check out Herzog's "Rogue Film School," where his selections were culled from -- see the links below.


[via Filmmaker Magazine]

Herzog photo by erinc salor; Aronofsky photo by Niko Tavernise

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Your Comment


oh! both ignored "sculping time" (i hope this is the name of the book in english) from andrei tarkovski!!! wow!

ps: pardon my bad english. :)

February 17, 2011 at 12:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

guto novo

This is the reason Aronofsky cant make movies. ppppffffhhhhhhh Come On!!!!!

February 17, 2011 at 1:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


yeah. but he can make masterpieces! :D

February 19, 2011 at 4:32AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

guto novo

Oh! Must... stifle... YAWWWWNNN. Sorry. Couldn't do it.

Herzog's wealth-building efforts may require impassioned disciples to complete such a list (and learn lock-picking and "how to travel by foot") but I'm not so easily shorn.

February 17, 2011 at 2:32PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


For folks who are interested in Herzog I'd like to throw in Paul Cronin's "Herzog on Herzog", its an amazing read - about 200 page interview with him talking about all of his films up to 2002.

February 18, 2011 at 2:43AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Having taken part in last years Rogue Film School I cannot recommend Hemingway's story enough. If that doesn't make you want to become a filmmaker I don't know what will.

I also second max's recommendation of the Cronin book. A substantial amount of what I learned at the Rogue Film School can actually be absorbed by reading that book.

February 20, 2011 at 5:44PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Thanks, David. How did you find the rest of the Rogue Film School experience?

February 20, 2011 at 5:51PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

Yes the Macomber story is a gem!

So far Herzog has not steered me wrong with his book recommendations. I'd love to check out a RFS one day, but in the meantime I will dive into the massive Rabelais tome.

February 20, 2011 at 10:39PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I found it to be an invaluable experience really, and probably learned more about filmmaking in those 3-4 days than in 4 yrs of film school. The people attending were all very talented and a pleasure to talk to. As a whole it was all more motivational than anything. One of the biggest things that I took from the whole experience was understanding that in order to be a filmmaker you must be completely self-reliant, and not be afraid of solitude when the going gets rough.

February 20, 2011 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


And I suggest 1 book. Called "Rebel without a Crew" by Robert Rodriguez. I think it tops them all.

July 22, 2011 at 8:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I would definitely recommend Martin Buber's I & Thou (for character)
Paul Tillich's The Courage to Be (for plot) and Audition by Michael Shurtleff (for character development)
The ideas on my website also reference Melville, Cage, Rumi, Cassavettes and others.

May 4, 2014 at 7:56PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM