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Book 34

  1. Matheson, Richard — I Am Legend (161 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — No Country for Old Men (307 pages)
  3. Dexter, Gary — Why Not Catch 21?: The Stories Behind the Titles (213 pages)
  4. Ryman, Geoff — 253 (366 pages)
  5. Wyndham, John — The Day of the Triffids (267 pages)
  6. Kurkov, Andrey — Death and the Penguin (228 pages)
  7. Chesterton, G.K. — Orthodoxy (183 pages)
  8. Gibbs, Christopher H., ed. — The Cambridge Companion to Schubert (334 pages)
  9. Sendak, Maurice — Where the Wild Things Are (48 pages — though only 1 page will count towards my tally)
  10. Hurston, Zora Neale — Their Eyes Were Watching God (215 pages)
  11. Clarke, Arthur C. — Rendezvous With Rama (245 pages)
  12. Clarke, Arthur C. — The City and the Stars (246 pages)
  13. Chesterton, G.K. — The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (205 pages)
  14. Tepper, Sheri S. — Beauty (468 pages)
  15. Slawson, Douglas J. — Ambition and Arrogance: Cardinal William O'Connell of Boston and the American Catholic Church (186 pages)
  16. Belloc, Hilaire — The Great Heresies (166 pages)
  17. Waugh, Evelyn — Brideshead Revisited (326 pages)
  18. Rawicz, Slavomir — The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom (278 pages)
  19. Junger, Sebastian — The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea (309 pages)
  20. Seth, Vikram — An Equal Music (486 pages)
  21. Dubus III, Andre — House of Sand and Fog (351 pages)
  22. Kurkov, Andrey — Penguin Lost (251 pages)
  23. Bradbury, Ray — Dandelion Wine (247 pages)
  24. Bradbury, Ray — Farewell Summer (209 pages)
  25. Doran, Jamie and Piers Bizony — Starman: The Truth behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin (241 pages)
  26. Makine, Andreï — A Life's Music (106 pages)
  27. Barnes, Julian — A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (307 pages)
  28. Chaucer, Geoffrey — The Canterbury Tales (623 pages)
  29. Pushkin, Aleksandr — Eugene Onegin (Vladimir Nabokov, transl.) (351 pages)
  30. Lowry, Malcolm — Under the Volcano (387 pages)
  31. Fadiman, Anne — Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (132 pages)
  32. Grimwood, Ken — Replay (266 pages)
  33. Barrie, J.M. — Peter Pan (246 pages)
  34. Stanislavski, Konstantin — An Actor Prepares (315 pages)

Page count: 9027.

An Actor Prepares is one of the books I have been reading on and off for the past several months. I picked it up earlier this year thinking I need to improve my acting skills to become a more complete singer.

That desire hasn't changed. I found, though, that this book did little to help. It's not that I think Stanislavski's technique is flawed or that he explains it poorly. I'm not enough of a theater pedagogue to be qualified to say one way or the other. It's just that much of what's in the book, I've already known or have already practiced. I did take an acting class in high school and have done workshops on acting in opera and musical theater. And I have done quite a bit of acting at the school and community theater levels. Of course, I want to be a professional, and while the voice is the most important consideration as an opera singer, I feel my acting chops should be better than "decent for community theater." I thought reading an acclaimed book on acting technique would help, but it offered little I wasn't already acquainted with.

I suspect Stanislavski himself realized the book's limited practicality. Throughout the book, presented as a fictional student's account of his experience in a drama class, the professor keeps pointing out that these exercises and techniques mustn't be practiced except in the presence of a knowledgable tutor who can ensure the acting doesn't devolve into any sort of falseness or theatricality. I understand the few new concepts I learned quite well, but it's just this sort of practice under tutelage that I need and that the book cannot provide. An intellectual understanding of acting technique is fruitless, as acting is doing and being and needs a dynamic emotional engagement.

I'm not disappointed I read Stanislavski's work, and I may indeed decide to read some of his other stuff in the future, but what I need is hands-on mentoring such as from a class.

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