100 books like Art Matters

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman,

Here are 100 books that Art Matters fans have personally recommended if you like Art Matters. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Craig Detweiler Author Of Honest Creativity: The Foundations of Boundless, Good, and Inspired Innovation

From my list on creativity and deepening your spirituality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I blame my mother. She took us to the public library every week and let us check out as many books as we could carry. Consequently, reading was a joy rather than a burden. The writing came after I got over my false assumptions about English Lit and Modern Poetry. As a screenwriter, I craft silly stories to make audiences laugh. That’s why I watch movies after an exhausting week. As an author, I gravitate towards non-fiction–trying to reconcile my artistry with my faith. I’ve written about movies, music, video games, technology, and art–with an eye toward lifting our spirits and comforting our aching souls.

Craig's book list on creativity and deepening your spirituality

Craig Detweiler Why did Craig love this book?

Every time I start a new project, I run through all the reasons not to begin. Perfectionism is such an enemy to creativity.

Anne Lamott offers practical, hard-won advice on the creative process, getting over our self-imposed hurdles bird by bird (one by one). I resonated with her encouragement to compose a lousy first draft that we can then start to edit and refine. I’m so glad she challenged us to turn off the radio buzzing in our own heads.

We may not be able to see where our creative endeavors will lead, but Anne brings humor and humanity to the frightening process of plunging ahead. 

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

16 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 Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Lin Wilder Author Of Plausible Liars: A Dr. Lindsey McCall Medical Mystery

From my list on preparing for writing/walking/thinking/acting against the crowd.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who just published a book I didn’t have any interest in writing. I didn’t like the subject matter, so I had no interest in doing the research to create credible characters and a cohesive plot.

Lin's book list on preparing for writing/walking/thinking/acting against the crowd

Lin Wilder Why did Lin love this book?

This book had me laughing from the first paragraph.

I had no plan to write novels then. I just wanted to write in a beautiful leather journal a good friend gave me to record my thoughts on my trip to Greece. It was a trip I’d planned with others, one in particular. But when he decided to leave, I went anyway. Alone.

A friend of mine knew the trip would be emotionally and technically difficult. Travelling alone in a non-English-speaking country can be dicey. She hoped that this book would provide relief from the debris of my personal life. And it did.

By Natalie Goldberg,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Writing Down the Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Experience a modern classic on writing as you've never heard it before. With nearly one million copies of Writing Down the Bones in print, Natalie Goldberg has helped change the way writing is practiced in homes, schools, and workshops across America. Through her heartfelt personal reflections and her ingenious Zen-based exercises, Goldberg makes writing available to you as a tool for personal expression, self-exploration, and healing.

In this enhanced reading of her seminal work, Goldberg offers new commentary about the creative, spiritual, and practical dimensions of writing. Join her as she looks back on her life, sharing the story of…


Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Miles Borrero Author Of Beautiful Monster: A Becoming

From my list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a trans, Latinx yoga teacher, writer, and musician who transitioned at the age of 40. Before that, I’d spent most of my life trying to live by someone else’s rules…only to realize, when my dad was dying, that I was not truly living. The funny thing is, as an artist and teacher, I’d dedicated myself to helping others live their lives to the fullest but had not granted myself the same courtesy. Sometimes, our lessons are hard-won. The books on this list have been beacons of hope and treasure trove chests of inspiration for me, as I hope they will be for you, too. 

Miles' book list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest

Miles Borrero Why did Miles love this book?

This book is pure genius. I have listened to it at least once a year since it came out. Not only is it brilliant, inspiring and oozing in grounded positivity, but it is also the best manifesto I have read on creativity.

Chock-full of fantastic stories that delight the senses, it is funny, devastating, and irresistibly magical. Listening to it in Liz’s own voice is totally the way to go. She is so inviting and warm and makes me feel loved and held.

The best part is that she makes a sound case for my creativity, the fact that it matters and is a worthy undertaking, purely because it gives me joy and pleasure. This book changed my life.  

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…


Alpha Max

By Mark A. Rayner,

Book cover of Alpha Max

Mark A. Rayner Author Of Alpha Max

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Human shaped Pirate hearted Storytelling addict Creatively inclined

Mark's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Maximilian Tundra is about to have an existential crisis of cosmic proportions.

When a physical duplicate of him appears in his living room, wearing a tight-fitting silver lamé unitard and speaking with an English accent, Max knows something bad is about to happen. Bad doesn’t cover it. Max discovers he’s the only human being who can prevent the end of the world, and not just on his planet! In the multiverse, infinite Earths will be destroyed.

Alpha Max

By Mark A. Rayner,

What is this book about?

★★★★★ "Funny, yet deep, this is definitely worth venturing into the multiverse for."

Amazing Stories says: "Snarky as Pratchet, insightful as Stephenson, as full of scathing social commentary as Swift or Voltaire, and weirdly reminiscent of LeGuin, Alpha Max is the only multiverse novel you need this month, or maybe ever."

Maximilian Tundra is about to have an existential crisis of cosmic proportions.

When a physical duplicate of him appears in his living room, wearing a tight-fitting silver lamé unitard and speaking with an English accent, Max knows something bad is about to happen. Bad doesn’t cover it. Max discovers…


Book cover of Letters to a Young Poet

Anna Pasternak Author Of The American Duchess: The Real Wallis Simpson

From my list on books to touch your heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a nonfiction writer who aims to bring heart to my writing. If I can move the reader and enable them to connect to their inner world, then I consider that I have been successful. As I consider my purpose is rehabilitating women whom history has mistreated, my way into these misunderstood women is to examine their inner lives. What moves them and how they manage to survive and surmount their own heartbreak is the question that I am most interested in.

Anna's book list on books to touch your heart

Anna Pasternak Why did Anna love this book?

This book became a lifeline for me when I was going through an unhappily difficult and extremely stressful time. I felt as if it was written for me as a form of salve for my lack of trust in myself and my life at this point.

Rilke is wise, knowing, and reassuring about the vicissitudes of our emotional journeys. He encouraged me to hold onto myself in an emotional sense. To seek my own inner counsel and to not panic when my life seemed to unravel. I love his discourse on faith, solitude, trust, and his dissection of what it is to be an artist.

I found this a profoundly important and moving book when I was wavering about the bigger picture of life.

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Letters to a Young Poet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle…


Book cover of My Muddy Puddle

Carolyn Watson Dubisch Author Of Dragon Stones

From my list on to spark your child's imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've spent decades teaching art to preschool and elementary school-aged kids in New York, California, Arizona, and here in Mexico where I live now. Children’s minds make connections that adults rarely do, especially in their art. Watching their imaginations at work have helped me keep my mind fresh when it comes to my own writing and art. Stories and books like these in my list connect to a child’s sense of wonder. Something that so many people lose as the world wears them down. I’m thrilled to share authors and artists here who have held onto that magic and I look forward to more books from all of them.

Carolyn's book list on to spark your child's imagination

Carolyn Watson Dubisch Why did Carolyn love this book?

This book captures the joy and wonder of being a child. The little girl becomes fascinated by the giant muddy puddle, that becomes so much more in her mind. The illustrations add to this book perfectly, and are brightly colored and rich in detail. Told in verse it tells such an imaginative story that every child can relate to.

By Kristina Nearchou, Tiffany Everett (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Muddy Puddle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My Muddy Puddle is a children's rhyming book that follows a child's love of playing in muddy puddles. When the rain dries up, the puddles go away, and there's nothing else she wants to do. Using basic language, repetition, sight words, and beautiful illustrations, My Muddy Puddle is perfect for shared reading with emergent readers.


Book cover of Girl Reading

Lisa Stromme Author Of The Strawberry Girl

From my list on historical creativity and the arts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a British writer but I have lived in Norway for over twenty years. My yearning for history goes back as long as I can remember and I often feel trapped in the wrong time. Writing historical fiction is my way of delving into the past and bringing it back to life. I’ve always been creative and enjoyed arts and crafts and, as well as being a writer, I am also a creativity coach and have my own podcast, The Creatively You Show, which helps writers and artists deal with the emotional challenges of the creative process. My book choices reflect these interests and the broader themes of history and art.  

Lisa's book list on historical creativity and the arts

Lisa Stromme Why did Lisa love this book?

Girl Reading is a highly creative and imaginative book. Superbly written, it takes the reader on a journey through time, and the vehicle for that journey is art. There are seven scenes from seven different time periods, each depicting an artist and a portrait of a girl or woman reading. It is such an original concept and it’s thoroughly absorbing. Given my fascination with history and art, I absolutely devoured it. Girl Reading went on to play an important role in my own writing life. I was so impressed with it that when it came to sending my own book out to agents, I sent my manuscript to Katie Ward’s agent, who is now my own.   

By Katie Ward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An orphan poses nervously for a Renaissance maestro in medieval Siena, and an artist's servant girl in seventeenth-century Amsterdam snatches a moment away from her work to lose herself in tales of knights and battles. A woman reading in a Shoreditch bar catches the eye of a young man who takes her picture, and a Victorian medium holds a book that she barely acknowledges while she waits for the exposure.


Book cover of Thank You, Mr. Falker

Lori Fettner Author Of No Place Like Earth

From my list on that teach without being teachy.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was little, I knew I would work with books in some way, and I did, for many years working for one of the major children’s book publishers. But it wasn’t rewarding in the way I had hoped. Some kids know they want to be a teacher when they grow up. I definitely did not, yet I became one. I love finding ways to make learning fun. In my teaching days I found ways to get the most reluctant students to find something they could enjoy about learning. And now as an author, I find myself doing the same, and as a parent, seeking out books like the ones I recommend here that teach without teaching.

Lori's book list on that teach without being teachy

Lori Fettner Why did Lori love this book?

This is one of the few books that no matter how many times I read, I still get choked up. A family has a tradition they keep whenever the children are going to learn to read. They do it for their little girl when she’s headed to kindergarten, but she doesn’t learn to read there. She doesn’t learn in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade either. In 5th grade, Trisha still can’t read, and she feels “dumb” and “different.” One teacher finally realizes Trisha’s problem and through hard work and creative methods teaches her to read. This is based on the true story of the author, Patricia Polacco, who overcame her reading struggles so well that she became an author! This book beautifully teaches that one can overcome difficulties to achieve greatness.

By Patricia Polacco,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thank You, Mr. Falker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

The real-life classic story of a dyslexic girl and the teacher who would not let her fail. A perfect gift for teachers and for students of any age.

Patricia Polacco is now one of America's most loved children's book creators, but once upon a time she was a little girl named Trisha starting school. Trisha could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. It took a very special teacher to recognize little Trisha's dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability. Patricia Polacco will never…


Book cover of Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read

J. Richard Gentry Author Of Brain Words: How the Science of Reading Informs Teaching

From my list on the movement to change teaching reading in English.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reading educator my mission in life is to give the gift of literacy. Inspiration came from my mother, my first-grade teacher who taught me to read. At 90-plus years old and declining, I dedicated one of my 18 books on teaching literacy to her. She sent me the last letter she would ever write and said, “Oh, oh, oh!”—a quote from Dick and Jane, the book she used to teach reading to three generations of first graders—“I always wanted to write a book but never did. I hope a word of mine is on a page or two of yours.” Her inspiration is on every page.

J.'s book list on the movement to change teaching reading in English

J. Richard Gentry Why did J. love this book?

The work I have been doing for decades calling for change in how we teach reading in English is now supported by the world’s preeminent neuroscientific researcher in how the brain reads, Professor Dehaene.

He is candid, unapologetic, and clear regarding what needs to change. He asserts that whole language “does not fit with the architecture of our visual brain” (2009, p. 195) and goes on to say, “Cognitive psychology directly refutes any notion of teaching via a 'global' or 'whole language method'” (2009, p. 219).

Whole language or even balanced literacy confuses the attention of a child. Ergo, 1) Do not use three-cueing; 2) Do not guess from context or from the word’s shape; and 3) Guessing plays no role; it’s all in the letter string (the spelling).

By Stanislas Dehaene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Brings together the cognitive, the cultural, and the neurological in an elegant, compelling narrative. A revelatory work."--Oliver Sacks, M.D.

The act of reading is so easily taken for granted that we forget what an astounding feat it is. How can a few black marks on white paper evoke an entire universe of meanings? It's even more amazing when we consider that we read using a primate brain that evolved to serve an entirely different purpose. In this riveting investigation, Stanislas Dehaene, author of How We Learn, explores every aspect of this human invention, from its origins to its neural underpinnings.…


Book cover of Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties

J. Richard Gentry Author Of Brain Words: How the Science of Reading Informs Teaching

From my list on the movement to change teaching reading in English.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reading educator my mission in life is to give the gift of literacy. Inspiration came from my mother, my first-grade teacher who taught me to read. At 90-plus years old and declining, I dedicated one of my 18 books on teaching literacy to her. She sent me the last letter she would ever write and said, “Oh, oh, oh!”—a quote from Dick and Jane, the book she used to teach reading to three generations of first graders—“I always wanted to write a book but never did. I hope a word of mine is on a page or two of yours.” Her inspiration is on every page.

J.'s book list on the movement to change teaching reading in English

J. Richard Gentry Why did J. love this book?

I am a lifelong survivor of dyslexia who writes about a dyslexia paradox: refereed research now not only refers to dyslexia as the number one reading disability, but also as a gift shared by a wide range of super achievers including architects, athletes, and entrepreneurs.

Is dyslexia a curse or a gift? Kilpatrick’s intervention-oriented book for teachers of struggling readers provides content and practical information in alignment with my own extensive writing including articles, and book chapters on dyslexia.

By David A. Kilpatrick, Alan S. Kaufman (editor), Nadeen L. Kaufman (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Practical, effective, evidence-based reading interventions that change students' lives

Essentials of Understanding and Assessing Reading Difficulties is a practical, accessible, in-depth guide to reading assessment and intervention. It provides a detailed discussion of the nature and causes of reading difficulties, which will help develop the knowledge and confidence needed to accurately assess why a student is struggling. Readers will learn a framework for organizing testing results from current assessment batteries such as the WJ-IV, KTEA-3, and CTOPP-2. Case studies illustrate each of the concepts covered. A thorough discussion is provided on the assessment of phonics skills, phonological awareness, word recognition,…


Book cover of Bring Out the Magic in Your Mind

Wolfgang Riebe Author Of Discover Your Magic: 7 Steps to a Truly Fulfilling Life

From my list on inspiration that bring out the magic in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having grown up in South Africa in the ’70s & '80s with the whole world against the corrupt, racist government and pretty much cut off from the world, I still managed to achieve my dreams and change the lives of peoples of all races and cultures in over 165 countries globally. My book reflects ‘real-life’ authentic tips to help everyone discover their magic!

Wolfgang's book list on inspiration that bring out the magic in your life

Wolfgang Riebe Why did Wolfgang love this book?

It was the first motivational book I ever read and the start of me changing my thinking and helping others to do so.

The advice I learnt from reading it in the 80’s was way ahead of it’s time, yet remains timeless and many of the tips I still practice today.

By Al Koran,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bring Out the Magic in Your Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reading books is a kind of enjoyment. Reading books is a good habit. We bring you a different kinds of books. You can carry this book where ever you want. It is easy to carry. It can be an ideal gift to yourself and to your loved ones. Care instruction keep away from fire.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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