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The Best Books on Improv (Updated)

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This post is a collection of the best books on improv — or improvisational theatre or improvised comedy, or improv, depending on where you are in the world. This is the ultimate list for you to start growing your improv library. It includes new books by friends and mentors and many of the classics.

  1. Improvise Freely by Patti Stiles
  2. Improv Beyond Rules by Adam Meggido
  3. Truth in Comedy: The Manual for Improvisation by Charna Halpern
  4. Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone
  5. Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out by Mick Napier
  6. Improvisation for the Theatre by Viola Spolin
  7. Art by Committee: A Guide to Advanced Improvisation by Charna Halpern
  8. Jill Bernard’s Small Cute Book of Improv by Jill Bernard
  9. Improvisation for the Spirit: Live a More Creative, Spontaneous, and Courageous Life Using the Tools of Improv Comedy by Katie Goodman
  10. Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson
  11. Something Wonderful Right Away: An Oral History of the Second City and the Compass Players by Jeffrey Sweet
  12. Impro for Storytellers) by Keith Johnstone
  13. Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual by Matt Besser
  14. The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond by Tom Salinsky
  15. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  16. Group Improvisation: The Manual of Ensemble Improv Games by Peter Gwinn
  17. Process: An Improviser’s Journey by Mary Scruggs and Michael Gellman
  18. The Compass: The Improvisational Theatre that Revolutionized American Comedy by Janet Coleman
  19. Causing a Scene: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere by Charlie Todd
  20. Improvising Better: A Guide for the Working Improviser by Jimmy Carrane and Liz Allen
  21. Improv for Actors by Dan Diggles
  22. Improvisation Starters by Philip Bernardi
  23. How to Improvise a Full-Length Play: The Art of Spontaneous Theater by Kenn Adams
  24. Acting on Impulse: The Art of Making Improv Theater by Carol Hazenfield
  25. Directing Improv: Show the Way By Getting Out of the Way by Asaf Ronen
  26. Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch
  27. Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch
  28. Theater Games for Rehearsal: A Director’s Handbook by Viola Spolin
  29. The Second City Almanac of Improvisation by Anne Libera
  30. Improv Therapy: How to get out of your own way to become a better improviser by Jimmy Carrane
  31. Improv Ideas 2: A New Book of Games and Lists for the Classroom and Beyond by Justine Jones
  32. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  33. An Improvised Life: A Memoir by Alan Arkin
  34. The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not by John Vorhaus
  35. The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning by Katherine S. McKnight
  36. The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard by Norrie Epstein
  37. Improv Comedy by Andy Goldberg
  38. Long-Form Improv: The Complete Guide to Creating Characters, Sustaining Scenes, and Performing Extraordinary Harolds by Ben Hauck
  39. Improv Wins by Chris Trew
  40. Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation by Patrick Bateson
  41. 58 1/2 Ways to Improvise in Training: Improvisation Games and Activities for Workshops, Courses and Team Meetings by Paul Z. Jackson
  42. Acting: The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky
  43. How To Start Your Own Improv Comedy Group by Paul Johan Stokstad
  44. Handbook of Recreational Games by Neva L. Boyd
  45. Second City: Backstage At The World’s Greatest Comedy Theater by Sheldon Patinkin
  46. Musical Improv Comedy: Creating Songs in the Moment by Jason Alexander
  47. SCTV: Behind the Scenes by Dave Thomas
  48. Aerodynamics of Yes by Christian Capozzoli
  49. [The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance] by W. Timothy Gallwey
  50. The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield
  51. Playful Mindfulness: a joyful journey to everyday confidence, calm, and connection by Ted Desmaisons

If you have some recommendations of other ‘best’ books on improv, please get in touch and let me know! I just might add it to the list.