100 books like Art & Fear

By Ted Orland, David Bayles,

Here are 100 books that Art & Fear fans have personally recommended if you like Art & Fear. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Marge Pellegrino Author Of Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing

From my list on creative jump starts whatever your medium.

Who am I?

As a kid, I loved how words on a page transported me. Later, I was astounded by how the words I wrote myself could help me solve problems, deepen my understanding, and expand my thinking. Over time, that writing offered clarity and built my confidence. And in my most challenging times, writing has saved me over and over again. Learning to observe like a writer or an artist continues to help me be more present in my life. Sharing expressive writing experiences with others, during a 35-year career as a writer and workshop facilitator, allowed me to witness how this creative engagement offers a respite while building resilience and joy in others too.

Marge's book list on creative jump starts whatever your medium

Marge Pellegrino Why did Marge love this book?

When I first heard about The Artist’s Way, I doubted that this was a book for me. Was I wrong! Over the next year, I met monthly with a visual artist to process each chapter. We discussed prompts, our artist date, or what we wrote from the suggested journaling. The invitations at the end of each chapter led me to work that fed my spirit. Transforming theory into action exercised my creative muscles. The variety of creative engagements encouraged a rich body of work and a new confidence, while the book’s quotes introduced me to other thinkers. Artist’s-Way work not only strengthened my words on the page, but my nonprofit and library work flourished as well. I credit The Artist’s Way for pushing my work into award-winning territory.

By Julia Cameron,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Artist's Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Artist's Way provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self. It aims to dispel the 'I'm not talented enough' conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist. Its step-by-step approach enables you to transform your life, overcome any artistic blocks you may suffer from, including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt, and replace them with self confidence and productivity. It helps demystify the creative process by making it a part of your daily life. Whatever your artistic leanings, this book will give you the…


Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Mechal Renee Roe Author Of I'm Growing Great

From my list on expanding your inner vision and allowing life to rush in.

Who am I?

My name is Mechal Roe and I have loved creating fun and colorful art to inspire the inner child in all of us. I began my journey in children's print design and worked my way up to Clothing Designer. It was quite rewarding, and I learned so much. After, I left to create a children's book and toys to serve underrepresented youth. Creating the book was a form of introspection to move me along my heart's path. It was also a gift to those young ones who also struggle with understanding themselves in the world. 

Mechal's book list on expanding your inner vision and allowing life to rush in

Mechal Renee Roe Why did Mechal love this book?

I recommend this book because I have found that creativity is on its own wavelength, and some days I have to work harder than others to find its harmonious rhythm. Some days the flow state is easy to glide on, and other days I find myself creating impractical methods to achieve the same results. This was until I discovered this book.

Lamont suggests breaking up the tasks into bite-size pieces and giving your whole self to the smaller tasks at hand. My confidence increases with each completed smaller task, and I end up having an enjoyable day.

I'm grateful Lamont wrote this book, as the creative process can sometimes get stalled with inefficient practices. Moving towards my finished projects reading this book has been the most productive practice so far.

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…


Book cover of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Donald B. Stewart Author Of Past Medical History: Recollections of a Medical Miscreant

From my list on surviving a life-changing challenge.

Who am I?

When life’s experiences fall dismally short of expectations, many of us find ourselves lost at a crossroads. When my path to becoming a doctor began to exact an unacceptable toll, I had to find a way out; discharging myself from the hospital was the solution, and by far the best clinical decision of my brief medical career.  As a result, I’m still fascinated by choices others make when faced with what seem like impossible obstacles, and where those decisions lead. Following the medical dream from age five, it wasn’t easy to change my life’s course, but that crucial choice allowed me to grow in ways I couldn’t imagine.  

Donald's book list on surviving a life-changing challenge

Donald B. Stewart Why did Donald love this book?

Shifting from one career to another offers no guarantee of success in the new venture. This is especially true for those of us answering a creative vocation.

The War of Art acknowledges the thousand difficulties any artist faces when trying to render ideas into a livelihood, and reduces them to a singularity: Resistance. Pressfield takes no prisoners, and offers no sympathy for the creative wannabe who can’t find time to work, or edit, or refine, or take whatever next step is required to continue moving forward.

He teaches the reader how to identify a blockage and eliminate it, again and again, as that is the requirement for generating an original product, and making it pay for its upbringing.

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The War of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide forsucceeding in any creative sphere, The War ofArt is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid theroadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dreambusiness venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy thatevery one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer thisinternal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve…


Book cover of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Judith V.T. Wilson Author Of Growing Smarter

From my list on embracing your mistakes and a growth mindset.

Who am I?

My perspective as a parent, grandparent, and teacher has changed since I’ve read Mindset. I only wish I had heard about this book sooner. After I read Mindset, I felt like I had discovered the secret sauce for learning. As a teacher, I was always searching for new ways to motivate my students. I adopted innovative strategies and new trends that were engaging. As a result, I was named Teacher of the Year in my school district. Because Dweck’s messages about how the brain learns, the value of mistakes, and perseverance are key to improving a child’s achievement, I annually present this topic at both teacher conferences and parent meetings.

Judith's book list on embracing your mistakes and a growth mindset

Judith V.T. Wilson Why did Judith love this book?

My perspective totally changed as a parent and teacher after reading, Mindset I thought I knew what a growth mindset was all about, but Dweck’s insightful research quickly changed my mind. A growth mindset is more than a “I can” mantra, or learning from mistakes, or persevering through challenges.

Dweck’s research explains how the brain is like a muscle that grows smarter due to its neuroplasticity. I became more intrigued when Dweck showed to school-aged students various brain scans of different brain regions “lighting up” during learning. After I read about Jimmy, I was hooked.

Knowing that our brains make new neural pathways when we are learning is very empowering. That is why we can get smarter, and that’s why I wrote my children’s book.

By Carol S. Dweck,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Mindset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the renowned psychologist who introduced the world to “growth mindset” comes this updated edition of the million-copy bestseller—featuring transformative insights into redefining success, building lifelong resilience, and supercharging self-improvement.

“Through clever research studies and engaging writing, Dweck illuminates how our beliefs about our capabilities exert tremendous influence on how we learn and which paths we take in life.”—Bill Gates, GatesNotes

“It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.”

After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this…


Book cover of Minding the Muse: A Handbook for Painters, Composers, Writers, and Other Creators

Jennifer Louden Author Of Why Bother: Discover the Desire for What’s Next

From my list on when you’re creatively stuck.

Who am I?

I’ve been obsessed with the creative process since I was 8 and read Harriet the Spy and realized her writing saved her and after I spied on one of my parent’s cocktail parties and wondered why everybody was so dull (I was so cheeky). Still, it’s the quest that drives me: how do we be fully ourselves in this world and how does creativity help? I explore this question on my podcast Create Out Loud and in my weekly newsletter, and these books have helped me formulate, if not answers, creative and mindful practices that sustain me daily. I hope they inspire you too.

Jennifer's book list on when you’re creatively stuck

Jennifer Louden Why did Jennifer love this book?

This is one of those secret gems of a book that hardly anybody has heard of but after you read it, you’ll be giving multiple copies away to every creative you know. Rich with real-life examples from working artists and writers, and Priscilla’s long history as a working creative and teacher, I have underlined an idea or suggestion on almost every page.

By Priscilla Long,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Minding the Muse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Minding the Muse is a practical handbook for the artist or writer—highly experienced, aspiring, or somewhere in between. Long draws from her extensive background as a poet, writer, and master teacher, but also gathers the insights and practices of a wide range of high-achieving artists, including mystery writer Raymond Chandler, choreographer Twyla Tharp, poet and performance artist Patti Smith, and the painter Joan Miró. Beginning with the first sparks of artistic creation—“Gathering, Hoarding, Conceptualizing”—Long moves through the various stages to “Completing Works” and “Poet as Peddler, Painter as Pusher: Marketing.” Every creative worker will find something here to take to…


Book cover of Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process

Jenny Alexander Author Of Writing in the House of Dreams: Unlock The Power of Your Unconscious Mind

From my list on dreams for writers who want to boost creativity.

Who am I?

I came to writing after twenty years of working with dreams, so I already had lots of techniques for coming and going easily between the everyday world and the inner worlds of imagination, and I’m sure that’s why I’ve never suffered from any creative blocks or anxieties. In a career spanning 30 years, I have written about 150 books, both fiction and non-fiction, for children and adults, and scores of articles including a monthly column in Writing Magazine. I have taught creative workshops for major writing organisations such as The Society of Authors, The Arvon Foundation, and The Scattered Authors’ Society, and I offer a varied programme of courses independently throughout the year.

Jenny's book list on dreams for writers who want to boost creativity

Jenny Alexander Why did Jenny love this book?

This is one of only a few books I’ve found that looks directly at the way writers can use dream awareness in their creative practice. It’s a collection of interviews with twenty-six well-known authors compiled by dream researcher and radio-show host Naomi Epel, in which they talk about specific dreams that have inspired them and their thoughts about dreaming in general. I bought a copy to dip into on the train to London for a meeting but found it so fascinating, I abandoned my plan to do some sightseeing afterward, and made instead for the nearest bench and takeaway coffee, to spend the afternoon reading.

By Naomi Epel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writers Dreaming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As they discuss their dreams--both sleeping and waking--with Naomi Epel, the 26 writers in this intriguing book create a portrait of the creative process that is more candid than most autobiographies and more inspiring than any guide to writing.


Book cover of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

Mary Potter Kenyon Author Of Called to Be Creative: A Guide to Reigniting Your Creativity

From my list on to jumpstart your creativity.

Who am I?

I began exploring the topic of creativity after my mother’s death in 2010. Mom was an extremely creative woman. The mother of ten children, living in poverty, she was a self-taught artist who managed to beautify her simple home with her art, building a home business selling paintings, woodcarvings, wall hangings, and quilts she created. When I began speaking to groups of women about creativity, I was shocked to discover just how few of them saw themselves as creative. Thus began my odyssey into creativity research and therapeutic art, and the resulting book and workshops that inspire and encourage others to discover their creative self.

Mary's book list on to jumpstart your creativity

Mary Potter Kenyon Why did Mary love this book?

This book is perfect for anyone who likes to see research that supports what they believe. There’s science behind the study of creativity and Wired to Create does an excellent job explaining it. Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research, this book offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire study the latest findings of neuroscience and psychology, and the practices of well-known “creatives,” concluding that we are all, in some way, wired for creating, and everyday life presents endless opportunities to express that.

By Scott Barry Kaufman, Carolyn Gregoire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wired to Create as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity?

Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes— like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration –…


Book cover of The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property

J. Baird Callicott Author Of American Indian Environmental Ethics: An Ojibwa Case Study

From my list on American Indian worldviews and ecological wisdom.

Who am I?

After “the environmental crisis” came to popular attention in the 1960s, American Indians were portrayed as having a legacy of traditional environmental ethics. We wanted to know if this were true. But how to gain access to ideas of which there is no written record? Answer: analyze stories, which have a life of their own, handed down from one generation to the next going all the way back to a time before European contact, colonization, and cultural, as well as murderous, genocide. And the stories do reveal indigenous North American environmental ethics (plural). That’s what American Indian Environmental Ethics: An Ojibwa Case Study demonstrates.

J.'s book list on American Indian worldviews and ecological wisdom

J. Baird Callicott Why did J. love this book?

Before there was money, people bartered one kind of stuff they had in abundance for another kind that they needed (or wanted). That may be true, but little appreciated in our market-oriented Western worldview, there was once an even older gift economy.

The Gift, among other related topics, explores the gift economy, which characterized the lifeways of many American Indian peoples. Hyde provides the key to understanding many of the stories in our book.

Hunters are portrayed as “visiting” the lodges of beavers, moose, and bear. They come bearing gifts that only humans can create through artifice or cultivation: knives and tobacco, for example—things much prized by the animal recipients.

In turn—but not necessarily in return—the animals give the humans their flesh and fur. The bones are their somatic souls, which should not be broken, but returned to the element from which they came—earth or water—to be reclothed in flesh…

By Lewis Hyde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discusses the argument that a work of art is essentially a gift and not a commodity.


Book cover of Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making

Luke Italiano Author Of Hollow Heart

From my list on Christians struggling with depression.

Who am I?

As a pastor, I thought I had to be a put-together person. Sure, I was allowed to have problems, but I wasn’t really allowed to struggle. Then I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I thought I was alone. I thought I’d have to leave the ministry. I was wrong. I needed to find other people who struggled, though. Through other books, I was able to find them. These books have helped me in my journey so, so much, and if you struggle with depression, I hope it helps with your journey, too! 

Luke's book list on Christians struggling with depression

Luke Italiano Why did Luke love this book?

I bought this book, thinking it would be about Andrew Peterson’s creative process as he writes songs. Well, yeah, it’s about that. It’s also about his struggle with depression. He talks candidly about how he hid from others, wept, and thought he was worthless. And as I read his descriptions of his depression… I knew I was not alone. This is an intimate look at a singer and the darkness he battles. Thankfully, it’s not only brutal about depression, but also points to the light we have in Jesus. 

By Andrew Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adorning the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of The Wingfeather Saga and award-winning musician and storyteller, Andrew Peterson. 
Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, WORLD Magazine each named Adorning the Dark as one of their books of the year. 

Making something beautiful in a broken world can be harrowing work, and it can’t be done alone.
 
Over the last twenty years, Andrew Peterson has performed thousands of concerts, published four novels, released ten albums, taught college and seminary classes on writing, founded a nonprofit ministry for Christians in the arts, and executive-produced a film—all in a belief that God calls us to proclaim the…


Book cover of Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life

Robert Quinn Author Of Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within

From my list on finding your purpose and success.

Who am I?

Robert Quinn is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan School of Business. His research and writing focus on purpose, leadership, culture, and change. He has published 18 books on these subjects. He is passionate about speaking and teaching and his recent talk to Google on finding your purpose was viewed by over 18 million people.

Robert's book list on finding your purpose and success

Robert Quinn Why did Robert love this book?

This is a classic and has been foundational to my thinking and work. Fritz explains that we all live on the path of least resistance. Our lives change when we learn to ask one question; “What result do I want to create?” We all think we ask this question, but we do not. We ask; “How do I get what I want?” The difference is critical in the impact it can have on our lives. This book is filled with practical insight and wisdom.

By Robert Fritz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Path of Least Resistance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A revolutionary program for creating anything, from a functional kitchen to a computer program, to a work of art, Robert Fritz demonstrates that any of us has the innate power to create. Discover the steps of creating; the importance of creating what you truly love, how to focus on the creative process to move from where you are to where you want to be, and much more.


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