On Directing, by John Badham (Michael Wiese Productions, 2020)

The veteran film and television director on working in the industry. This second edition covers working with actors, directing action and suspense, TV and its differences to cinema, and preparation for shooting. An excellent personal perspective with practical value for any collaborative creative practitioner, drawing on a host of professional viewpoints and texts. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt (Scribner, 2011)

An episodic and non-linear autobiography, with other writings. Inevitably patchy (the non-autobiographical material is weaker, though it’s fun to re-read the Neill Cumpston movie reviews again) but nevertheless engaging stories from childhood, adolescence, and of various bad times on the comedy circuit. For fans only, maybe, but that’s a broad outsider church.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Your Simple Guide to Reversing Type 2 Diabetes, by Professor Roy Taylor (Short Books, 2021)

As promised, a pacy and straightforward overview of the relationship between excess pancreatic fat and type 2 diabetes, and how a direct no-nonsense approach to dieting can address this health issue. Perhaps easier said than done, but the book makes a clear case for action, outlines what’s needed to be achieved and why, and tells you how to do it. That’s pretty good going. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Quarantine Comix: A Memoir of Life in Lockdown, by Rachael Smith (Icon Books, 2021)

A diary of mental health and struggling to cope during the initial phase of the coronavirus, told in comic strips. An interesting personal record of the first half of 2020, with a focus on the ways that the pandemic fed into individual anxieties. Might have benefited from dates by the entries: documents like these will have value in the years to come, and it’d be useful to have that context to these responses.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure, by Dan O’Bannon and Matt R Lohr (Michael Wiese Productions, 2012)

A guide to three act structure, and why it works for narrative cinema: including the Alien screenwriter’s own variant. Completed posthumously, this is an accessible, lightly erudite and fun guide to onscreen storytelling. One third structural analysis, one third application of O’Bannon’s version of the three act template to selected movies, one third industry observations.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Quantum Mechanics, by Jim Al-Khalili (Ladybird Expert, 2017)

An overview of quantum mechanics, taking a largely historical approach. Another excellent, clear, uncluttered primer on a key topic. Just enough information to challenge and to get the reader enthused about the topic so that they go and find out more: the useful bibliography of accessible texts helps too.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Big Bang, by Marcus Chown (Ladybird Expert, 2018)

An accessible introduction to the beginning of the universe. A straightforward and (just about) graspable account of how it all began, and of the ramifications of this for the ways that the cosmos works now, and where it might all be going. As with other entries in this series, there’s enough here to make your investment in time worthwhile, while encouraging a more in-depth look also.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Nobody Wants To Read Your Shit (And Other Tough-Love Truths To Make You A Better Writer), by Steven Pressfield (Black Irish Entertainment, 2016)

Another writing/creativity get-up-and-do-it how-to book from Pressfield, this time focused on lessons learned along the way as a novelist, screenwriter, as an advertising creative, and as a motivational writer. The most important lesson is in the book’s title: others focus on the twin imperatives of theme and story to any form of writing. Excellent as ever: the trick is to now go and do it, of course.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.