100 books like Languages of Art

By Nelson Goodman,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Poetics

David Baboulene Author Of The Primary Colours of Story

From my list on how stories work and how to write your story.

Who am I?

I was lucky enough not only to get published in my thirties, I also got a film deal for those first two books. I was flown to Hollywood and it was all very grand. However, what they did to my stories in translating them into film scripts horrified me. And ruined them. And the films never got made. I started to look deeper into what ‘experts’ did, and it was awful. I became obsessed with how stories work, developed my own ‘knowledge gap’ theory, proved it through my Ph.D. research, and became a story consultant in the industry. Story theory has completely taken over my life and I love it!

David's book list on how stories work and how to write your story

David Baboulene Why did David love this book?

Aristotle was the world’s first story expert.

As a story consultant myself, it was incredible to have a man from 2,300 years ago talk to me about story theory! And more than that… everything he says is spot on. 

The real meaning of much of what Aristotle said has been debated for millennia. However, when I used his principles as story dynamics in real stories, they became very clear to me; so, in my own work, I have distilled Aristotle’s principles into a modern three-part interpretation, and I give examples of them working in classical and popular modern stories.

Aristotle’s principles are not only applicable today, but they are still better than almost any other new thinking of the last 100 years. Aristotle is amazing. I love him! 

By Aristotle, Joe Sachs (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history

In his near-contemporary account of classical Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the Poetics introduced into literary criticism such central concepts as mimesis ('imitation'), hamartia ('error') and katharsis ('purification'). Aristotle explains how the most effective tragedies rely on complication and resolution, recognition and reversals. The Poetics has…


Book cover of Art

Noël Carroll Author Of Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction

From my list on philosophy that surveys the arts.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy, specializing in the philosophy of art at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. When I was a practicing critic, notably of cinema, I backed into philosophy insofar as being a practitioner forced me to ask abstract questions about what I was doing. I have written over fifteen books as well as five documentaries. I am also a former Guggenheim fellow. 

Noël's book list on philosophy that surveys the arts

Noël Carroll Why did Noël love this book?

This book was instrumental in introducing the English-speaking world to Modern Art. As criticism, it taught readers how to appreciate Neo-Impressionism. But it was also a seminal contribution to Anglo-American philosophy. By demanding an answer to the question “What is Art?” Bell set the agenda for subsequent philosophers who sought to develop a definition of art in response. Bell’s own answer is that something is art if and only if it possesses significant form which itself is the cause of aesthetic emotions. Bell’s emphasis on significant form earned him a reputation as one of the foremost Philosophical Formalists.

By Clive Bell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism

Noël Carroll Author Of Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction

From my list on philosophy that surveys the arts.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy, specializing in the philosophy of art at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. When I was a practicing critic, notably of cinema, I backed into philosophy insofar as being a practitioner forced me to ask abstract questions about what I was doing. I have written over fifteen books as well as five documentaries. I am also a former Guggenheim fellow. 

Noël's book list on philosophy that surveys the arts

Noël Carroll Why did Noël love this book?

Originally published in 1958 as a textbook, when Aesthetics was updated, it was recognized as the “summa” of the aesthetic theory of art. This is the view that something is art just in case it is made with the intention to afford a certain magnitude of aesthetic experience. Because of his emphasis on aesthetic experience, Beardsley defended the notion of the autonomy of art – the idea that art is essentially independent of all other social practices. Using this lens, Beardsley explores an impressive range of topics including literature, fiction, pictorial representation, criticism, and interpretation.

By Monroe Beardsley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This second edition features a new 48-page Afterword--1980 updating Professor Beardsley's classic work.


Book cover of After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History

Noël Carroll Author Of Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction

From my list on philosophy that surveys the arts.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy, specializing in the philosophy of art at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. When I was a practicing critic, notably of cinema, I backed into philosophy insofar as being a practitioner forced me to ask abstract questions about what I was doing. I have written over fifteen books as well as five documentaries. I am also a former Guggenheim fellow. 

Noël's book list on philosophy that surveys the arts

Noël Carroll Why did Noël love this book?

This book is an amazing combination of the philosophy of art, the philosophy of art history, and art criticism. The late Arthur Danto was not only a distinguished philosopher but also an award-winning art critic. In this book, Danto tracks the decline and fall of Modernism (which he describes as “the end of art”) and the advent of our present artistic moment which can be critically characterized as an era of post-historical pluralism. Danto, following GFW Hegel, proposes a partial definition of the artwork as an embodied meaning – thereby addressing the challenge to say what art is -- as it was posed by Clive Bell.

By Arthur C Danto,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Originally delivered as the prestigious Mellon Lectures on the Fine Arts in 1995, After the End of Art remains a classic of art criticism and philosophy, and continues to generate heated debate for contending that art ended in the 1960s. Arthur Danto, one of the best-known art critics of his time, presents radical insights into art's irrevocable deviation from its previous course and the decline of traditional aesthetics. He demonstrates the necessity for a new type of criticism in the face of contemporary art's wide-open possibilities. This Princeton Classics edition includes a new foreword by philosopher Lydia Goehr.


Book cover of Signals: Evolution, Learning, and Information

Vangelis Chiotis Author Of The Morality of Economic Behaviour: Economics as Ethics

From my list on economic morality.

Who am I?

Two self-interested people will try to outperform each other. One will win, the other will lose. If they instead cooperate, both will win a bit, and lose a bit. Is this preferable? I say yes, because in the long term, winning a bit many times, is better than winning a lot, once. Choosing short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit is a waste of potential for societies and individuals. Traditional morality works, sometimes, in some cases. Rational morality can fill the gaps, and expand the circle of morality so that when higher ideals fail or become too difficult to follow, rationality can be about more than just short-term self-interest.

Vangelis' book list on economic morality

Vangelis Chiotis Why did Vangelis love this book?

Brian Skyrms works on evolutionary game theory, among other things.

Signals is set in this context but focuses on the importance of information and communication for cooperation, and morality. We cannot cooperate, if we cannot communicate. And we cannot be moral, if we are not cooperative.

Thus, morality is born out of sociability, which is born out of communication. Like Sugden, Skyrms does not assume a moral character but ends up with a moral outcome.

An alternative understanding of Signals is focused on evolution. Signals, meaning and communication follow evolutionary dynamics, similarly to moral and social norms.

Understanding communication is vital to understand our social behavior, and it is especially topical today when communication takes many means and forms.

By Brian Skyrms,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Brian Skyrms presents a fascinating exploration of how fundamental signals are to our world. He uses a variety of tools - theories of signaling games, information, evolution, and learning - to investigate how meaning and communication develop. He shows how signaling games themselves evolve, and introduces a new model of learning with invention. The juxtaposition of atomic signals leads to complex signals, as the natural product of gradual process. Signals
operate in networks of senders and receivers at all levels of life. Information is transmitted, but it is also processed in various ways. That is how we think - signals…


Book cover of Lines of Thought: Branching Diagrams and the Medieval Mind

Jamie Kreiner Author Of The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction

From my list on medieval brainiacs.

Who am I?

I’m a historian of the early Middle Ages. There are all sorts of unexpected differences and similarities between modern and medieval life, and things get especially interesting when it comes to thinking about thinking. Our understanding of how our minds work has obviously changed—and so have the ways that we actually use them. Medieval thinkers in Europe and the Mediterranean world struggled with concentration and memory and information overload, just like we do. But they were savvier in dealing with those problems, and these books invite you into the wonderful world of their cognitive practices. You’ll probably find yourself experimenting with many of these techniques along the way!

Jamie's book list on medieval brainiacs

Jamie Kreiner Why did Jamie love this book?

Lines of Thought reveals the hidden magic of a seemingly simply notetaking device: the horizontal tree diagram, which became especially popular among university students and scholars starting in the thirteenth century.

Upon first glance, you might not be all that impressed by the device: it’s just a combination of vertical lists with horizontal sentence structures! But as Even-Ezra shows, these diagrams accomplished much more than a mere highlighter could.

They turned passive readers into active analysts, distilled long and complex texts into clear and concise schemas, and conveyed new ideas about the material that would have been impossible to communicate through the written text alone.

As a bonus, the book is interlaced with its own horizontal tree diagrams. And who doesn’t love a meta-format?

By Ayelet Even-Ezra,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We think with objects-we conduct our lives surrounded by external devices that help us recall information, calculate, plan, design, make decisions, articulate ideas, and organize the chaos that fills our heads. Medieval scholars learned to think with their pages in a peculiar way: drawing hundreds of tree diagrams. Lines of Thought is the first book to investigate this prevalent but poorly studied notational habit, analyzing the practice from linguistic and cognitive perspectives and studying its application across theology, philosophy, law, and medicine.

These diagrams not only allow a glimpse into the thinking practices of the past but also constitute a…


Book cover of Angels & Demons

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

From my list on weaving adventure and history.

Who am I?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

E. Chris Ambrose Why did E. Chris love this book?

While most people associate Dan Brown with his more famous work, The DaVinci Code, this first novel in his Robert Langdon series really founded the archaeological thriller genre.

I loved how this book transports readers to the milieu so thoroughly that it was a bit of a spoiler when I recognized one key location from my own time in Rome before the secret was revealed—but that's a testament to how well he conveys the scene! Brown invites us behind the scenes of secret societies, sharing insider information to raise the stakes.

I had the great good fortune to take a workshop with Dan just before DaVinci Code came out, and benefit from his enormous skill as a teacher. The man tells a ripping yarn, full of puzzles that blend fact and fancy. 

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Angels & Demons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

CERN Institute, Switzerland: a world-renowned scientist is found brutally murdered with a mysterious symbol seared onto his chest.

The Vatican, Rome: the College of Cardinals assembles to elect a new pope. Somewhere beneath them, an unstoppable bomb of terrifying power relentlessly counts down to oblivion.

In a breathtaking race against time, Harvard professor Robert Langdon must decipher a labyrinthine trail of ancient symbols if he is to defeat those responsible - the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood presumed extinct for nearly four hundred years, reborn to continue their deadly vendetta against their most hated enemy, the Catholic Church.

Origin, the spellbinding…


Book cover of Art As Experience

Frank Jacobus Author Of Archi Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture

From my list on design sensing.

Who am I?

I'm a designer, a teacher, a father, a husband, and a friend. I love beautiful things and personally want to know why I find certain things more beautiful than others. I love learning about the world and finding connections between everyday experience and art. When I say “art” I really am blending art, design, architecture, landscape architecture, product design, etc. I believe everything is connected in some way. If I were to pigeonhole myself in any way I would call myself a generalist design thinker. I draw, I write, I make little objects, I make big objects – I see very little difference in any of these things.

Frank's book list on design sensing

Frank Jacobus Why did Frank love this book?

This book is essential to anyone who wants to come into the meaning of art, design, and architecture.

Give it time and it will undoubtedly change your life. Dewey’s central argument is that experience itself is aesthetic, that we need to pay deep attention to the quality inherent in every experience.

By John Dewey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on John Dewey's lectures on esthetics, delivered as the first William James Lecturer at Harvard in 1932, Art as Experience has grown to be considered internationally as the most distinguished work ever written by an American on the formal structure and characteristic effects of all the arts: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and literature.


Book cover of The Process: A New Foundation in Art and Design

David Airey Author Of Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding

From my list on visual branding.

Who am I?

I am a graphic designer, writer, and brand consultant. I work with clients of all sizes, from multinationals to companies of one. Since opening my business in 2005 I’ve created logos and visual identities for brands in more than 30 countries. I run two design blogs Logo Design Love and Identity Designed. They resulted in publishing deals to write their accompanying books, and their pages now get millions of views each year.

David's book list on visual branding

David Airey Why did David love this book?

If any book can explain why there’s always more than one way to solve a visual problem, this is it. The book shares a compendium of 13 experimental projects, each designed to teach conceptual thinking and problem solving to art and design students.

By Richard Wilde, Judith Wilde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Process is a compendium of 17 experimental art and design projects geared toward teaching college art students what is needed to become an artist.

The projects, created by Judith Wilde and Richard Wilde, focus on developing formal excellence and a strong sense of aesthetics, along with the ability to generate new ideas.


Book cover of How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration

Anjan Chatterjee Author Of The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art

From my list on the science of art and aesthetics.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by beauty and art. As a child growing up in India, I sketched frequently. Later, I became obsessed with photography. In 1999, I moved from my first academic job to join the newly forming Center of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. The move was an opportunity to rethink my research program. In addition to studying spatial cognition, attention, and language, I decided to investigate the biological basis of aesthetic experiences. At the time there was virtually no scholarship in the neuroscience of aesthetics. It has been an exciting journey to watch this field grow. And, it has been exhilarating to start the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics, the first research center of its kind in the US.

Anjan's book list on the science of art and aesthetics

Anjan Chatterjee Why did Anjan love this book?

If you read one book on the psychology of art, make it this one. Winner gives us a book that celebrates the importance of art even as she remains grounded in experimental data and avoids hyperbole. She asks deceptively simple questions. What is art? Why do we make art? Does art make us better people? The clarity of her logic and the elegance of her prose as she answers these and other incisive questions make this book a delight to read.

By Ellen Winner, Ellen Winner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There is no end of talk and of wondering about 'art' and 'the arts.' This book examines a number of questions about the arts (broadly defined to include all of the arts). Some of these questions come from philosophy. Examples include:

* What makes something art?
* Can anything be art?
* Do we experience "real" emotions from the arts?
* Why do we seek out and even cherish sorrow and fear from art when we go out of our way to avoid these very emotions in real life?
* How do we decide what is good art? Do aesthetic…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in aesthetics, philosophy, and art?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about aesthetics, philosophy, and art.

Aesthetics Explore 59 books about aesthetics
Philosophy Explore 1,487 books about philosophy
Art Explore 824 books about art