100 books like Concerning the Spiritual in Art

By Wassily Kandinsky,

Here are 100 books that Concerning the Spiritual in Art fans have personally recommended if you like Concerning the Spiritual in Art. 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 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.

Who am I?

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…


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 The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image

Nancy Reyner Author Of Create Perfect Paintings: An Artist's Guide to Visual Thinking

From my list on for painters to stay creative.

Who am I?

When I was nine years old, I saved enough allowance money to buy a big box of oil pastels. I was mesmerized by its amazing display of gorgeous colors. Never could figure out why my girlfriends played with dolls when it was more exciting to paint. It wasn’t until high school, and time to apply to colleges that I made the decision to go to art school. Another key moment for me was after graduating from art school and landing in New York City. It was then that I made a brave decision to never waitress again, and instead do whatever it takes to stay in the arts. 

Nancy's book list on for painters to stay creative

Nancy Reyner Why did Nancy love this book?

In this book, Shlain reveals his unusual take on the power of images throughout history. His discussion using contemporary ideas about our creative right-brain side brings interesting connections between the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Shlain's earlier book, Art & Physics was very popular expressing his breakthrough theory, ad revealing an astonishing parallel with these two seemingly different topics. I find that books like this, not dedicated to learning specific painting techniques, end up being more helpful towards how I think as an artist. A good writer, it is easy to read and very inspiring.

By Leonard Shlain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This groundbreaking book proposes that the rise of alphabetic literacy reconfigured the human brain and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations. Making remarkable connections across brain function, myth, and anthropology, Dr. Shlain shows why pre-literate cultures were principally informed by holistic, right-brain modes that venerated the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Writing drove cultures toward linear left-brain thinking and this shift upset the balance between men and women, initiating the decline of the feminine and ushering in patriarchal rule. Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, Shlain reinterprets ancient myths and parables in…


Book cover of Resilience from the Heart: The Power to Thrive in Life's Extremes

Nancy Reyner Author Of Create Perfect Paintings: An Artist's Guide to Visual Thinking

From my list on for painters to stay creative.

Who am I?

When I was nine years old, I saved enough allowance money to buy a big box of oil pastels. I was mesmerized by its amazing display of gorgeous colors. Never could figure out why my girlfriends played with dolls when it was more exciting to paint. It wasn’t until high school, and time to apply to colleges that I made the decision to go to art school. Another key moment for me was after graduating from art school and landing in New York City. It was then that I made a brave decision to never waitress again, and instead do whatever it takes to stay in the arts. 

Nancy's book list on for painters to stay creative

Nancy Reyner Why did Nancy love this book?

While this book is not written for artists or even about art, I found it very helpful for me as a painter. To achieve the best for my paintings, I realize I need to trust my intuition over intellect. If I get too intellectual about any of my ideas for a painting, the end result is not as fulfilling if instead, I follow my intuition or inner voice. Braden goes into depth in this book about having two sources of intelligence – the brain and the heart. I like his take on this which can also be thought of as right and left brain or intellect vs intuition. By thinking about Braden's ideas on our powerful heart-brain connection, I am able to tap into deeper modalities on what it is that I am painting about. Very interesting read that sticks with you for a long time and easily becomes a…

By Gregg Braden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We solve our problems based upon the way we think of ourselves and the world. From peak energy and peak debt to failing economies and the realities of climate change, everyday life is showing us where we've outgrown the thinking of the past. It's also showing us where big changes in the world mean big changes in our lives. Through dramatic shifts in our jobs, our relationship to money, our health, and even our homes, it's clear that our lives are changing in ways we've never seen, to a degree that we're not prepared for, and at speeds that we've…


Book cover of The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985

Charlene Spretnak Author Of The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art: Art History Reconsidered, 1800 to the Present

From my list on the spiritual dimension of modern art.

Who am I?

Having written several books on cultural history, I was puzzled in the late 1990s by the insistence of most American curators, art historians, and gallerists that there could not possibly be any spiritual content in modern art because the modern project (beginning, they assert, with the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874) was all about the rejection of tradition, religion, etc. This overarching narrative has dominated the professional art world since World War II. I knew it was false because I was aware that many prominent modern artists had spiritual interests, which were expressed in their art. So began a 17-year-long research quest focused on what the artists themselves had said.

Charlene's book list on the spiritual dimension of modern art

Charlene Spretnak Why did Charlene love this book?

This is the grand exhibition catalogue that burst through the professional art world’s wall of denial that modern, especially abstract, art would have any spiritual content. The extensive exhibition this book accompanied opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1986 and then travelled to The Hague, where it influenced young European art historians (though was largely ignored in the United States). This catalogue contains excellent articles by 17 noted “rebellious” art historians, including an overview by the head curator of the exhibition, Maurice Tuchman. The many color plates are stunning. This book is indispensable for anyone seeking to learn about the subject.

By Maurice Tuchman (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The seventeen essays in this provocative book provide a radical rethinking of abstraction, from the Symbolism that prefigured abstract art through the current manifestations of spiritual content in American and European painting.


Book cover of John Howe Fantasy Art Workshop

Sandra Staple Author Of Drawing Fantastic Dragons: Create Amazing Full-Color Dragon Art, Including Eastern, Western and Classic Beasts

From my list on art instruction for fantasy artists.

Who am I?

I have been drawing fantasy creatures and characters for over thirty years now, and have collected hundreds of fantasy, art, and art instruction books over the decades. Both drawing and reading are a passion of mine, so I am happy to share some of my favorite fantasy art books that I have in my own personal library.

Sandra's book list on art instruction for fantasy artists

Sandra Staple Why did Sandra love this book?

John Howe is a renowned Canadian Illustrator and artist best known for his artwork depicting Tolkien’s Middle Earth. While this is not a typical how-to or step-by-step art instruction book, it is nonetheless a must-have book full of tips on creating fantasy creatures, scenes, and landscapes, with many case studies showing some of the steps he followed when creating his masterpieces. 

By John Howe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked John Howe Fantasy Art Workshop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

''Here's how I do it, and why''

This is the premise behind John Howe's first practical exploration of his artistic inspirations, approaches and techniques. This title will appeal to practical artists and fans of John Howe's work by providing step-by-step demonstrations, sketches and oustanding finished paintings, some designed specifically for this book. It covers a wide range of subjects essential to any aspiring fantasy artist, including materials and the creative process, and drawing and painting humans, beasts, landscapes and architecture. The final section of the book provides further inspiration and guidance on presenting work in various forms including film work,…


Book cover of Horse

Thomas Dresser Author Of Hidden History of Martha's Vineyard

From my list on defining a place both quirky and unique.

Who am I?

I’m a washashore who’s lived on Martha’s Vineyard for 25 years. I’ve worked small businesses, drove school and tour buses, volunteered, toured and given walking tours. I know the Island. In my writing I’ve focused my love of American history on the backstory of Martha’s Vineyard. Hence my books comprise a wealth of research and information on each topic. I love what I do. And I like to think it shows.

Thomas' book list on defining a place both quirky and unique

Thomas Dresser Why did Thomas love this book?

Horse is an historical novel set in the era leading up to the Civil War. The focus is a legendary racehorse, but the story is about the relationship between Blacks and Whites.

There is an authenticity to the drama, which includes both real and imagined characters. Horse revolves around the life and times of Jarret, the slave who cares for Lexington.   

To bring immediacy to the story, Brooks imagines a parallel modern tale, with Theo mirroring the legendary Jarret. Horse focuses on specific places in a historic era. In my books, I try to make the story about the place, Martha’s Vineyard, come alive. 

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Brooks' chronological and cross-disciplinary leaps are thrilling." -The New York Times Book Review

"Horse isn't just an animal story-it's a moving narrative about race and art." -TIME

A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history

Kentucky, 1850. An enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. When the nation erupts in civil war, an…


Book cover of The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau

Kristin Cashore Author Of Winterkeep

From my list on mysteries—and solutions—you never saw coming.

Who am I?

As a reader and writer, I work with a pretty broad definition of “mystery.” You’ll find my own novels in the fantasy section of the bookstore, but my books are mysteries too — and romances, and tales of adventure, and intimate character studies, and reflections on our reality, no matter how fantastical the worlds in which they take place. I love melding genres! So when I think of my favorite mysteries, I try not to limit myself to the mystery section of the bookstore. Few things make me happier than discovering partway through a book that a mystery has been building that I didn’t even notice.

Kristin's book list on mysteries—and solutions—you never saw coming

Kristin Cashore Why did Kristin love this book?

I’m going to guess that most adults don’t encounter many picture books, except in the context of introducing them to children. I would like to humbly suggest that if your reading habits don’t extend to picture books, you may be missing out. It’s an art form I adore, and one of my favorites is this book about a mysterious painter in Paris whose paintings contain scenes that come alive. I love Agee’s palette and the perspectives he chose for this story — and no matter how many times I read this book, I’m still thrilled by the twist at the end. It’s the sort of mysterious story that delights, while opening your imagination to bigger things.

By Jon Agee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Art imitates life in this hilarious, absurdist picture book--one of Jon Agee's most beloved titles, now back in print.

"Outrageous!" the judges cried. "Ridiculous!" Who would dare enter a portrait of a duck in the Grand Contest of Art? But when Felix Clouseau's painting quacks, he is hailed as a genius. Suddenly everyone wants a Clousseau masterpiece, and the unknown painter becomes an overnight sensation. That's when the trouble begins.


Book cover of Woman on Fire

Lisa Niver Author Of Brave-ish: One Breakup, Six Continents, and Feeling Fearless After Fifty

From my list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story.

Who am I?

As both a lifelong traveler and reader, I cannot start an adventure without a great book. Having owned a Kindle since 2008, I consistently carry a virtual library, curating an assortment of captivating reads for every journey. As a travel journalist, I fly multiple times a month, which amplifies my need and understanding of the perfect in-flight companions; stories that transport and captivate. As an author with a memoir to my name, I appreciate the transformative power of storytelling. This blend of literary passion, frequent travel, and personal authorship has led me on my search for engaging, unforgettable books that mesmerize the reader.  

Lisa's book list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story

Lisa Niver Why did Lisa love this book?

I could not put down Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr.

This book is a captivating tale of passion, history, and mystery. Set against the backdrop of 1940s Chicago and war-torn Europe, the novel follows the journey of a resilient journalist navigating love and espionage.

Barr's evocative prose and meticulous research transport readers to a bygone era, creating a rich tapestry of emotions. The intricate blend of romance and suspense ensures a thrilling reading experience perfectly suited for the transient nature of air travel.

As you glide through the clouds, let the pages of this book transport you to a riveting tale of love, courage, and intrigue, making your journey truly unforgettable. 

By Lisa Barr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Woman on Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, SOON TO BE A MOVIE PRODUCED BY AND STARRING SHARON STONE A BUZZFEED MUST-READ FOR 2022

A young journalist embroiled in an international art scandal centred around a Nazi-looted masterpiece, forcing the ultimate showdown between passion and possession, lovers and liars, history and truth.

After talking her way into a job in Chicago, young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusual assignment: locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years ago. The painting? None other than legendary artist Ernst Engel's most famous work, Woman on Fire. A dying designer covets the portrait…


Book cover of The Stroke of Winter

Barbara Ellen Brink Author Of Roadkill

From my list on mysteries set on the banks of Lake Superior.

Who am I?

I’m a Minnesota writer who loves to read and write books set in places I’ve spent time in. The Upper Peninsula is a favorite vacation destination. It has so much history to unearth, quaint towns and woods to explore, and giant mosquitoes to avoid. I’ve traveled along Lake Superior in all seasons. Lake Superior covers 31,700 square miles and holds more water than all the other Great Lakes combined, so there's a lot to see and enjoy. After my first visit to the U.P., I began to write the Double Barrel Mysteries series. Set in the tiny fictional town of Port Scuttlebutt, Lake Superior isn’t just a backdrop, but part of the story.

Barbara's book list on mysteries set on the banks of Lake Superior

Barbara Ellen Brink Why did Barbara love this book?

I really enjoyed this story even though it isn’t exactly the kind of mystery I normally choose. At the center is a rather eerie vein of darkness, but the beautiful winter scenes of Minnesota, neighbors who care about one another, and a budding romance, tend to lessen the impact. It’s rather a heartwarming story with a ghoulish murder mystery attached.

A woman returns to her hometown to open a bed-and-breakfast in the old mansion that has been in her family for generations. One wing of the house is blocked off and she wants to open it up for her personal living quarters. Cue scary noises and sudden chilly drafts.

This story is also set by Lake Superior in winter, and you get an authentic taste of Northern Minnesota Nice, but inside, the house has a sinister presence that needs Tess to know what happened fifty years ago.

By Wendy Webb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She's restoring the old family home on the hill. And unearthing something evil.

In the tourist town of Wharton, on the coast of Lake Superior, Tess Bell is renovating her old family home into a bed-and-breakfast during the icy dead of winter...

As the house's restoration commences, a shuttered art studio is revealed. Inside are paintings Tess's late grandfather, beloved and celebrated artist Sebastian Bell, hid away for generations. But these appear to be the works of a twisted mind, almost unrecognizable as paintings she and others familiar with his art would expect. The sinister canvases raise disturbing questions for…


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