100 books like Leonardo Da Vinci

By David Hawcock,

Here are 100 books that Leonardo Da Vinci fans have personally recommended if you like Leonardo Da Vinci. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Leonardo. the Complete Paintings and Drawings

Ben Lewis Author Of The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World's Most Expensive Painting

From my list on Leonardo da Vinci.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with art when I was 14 on a trip to Florence with my parents. From that moment on there was hardly an exhibition in London I didn’t go and see. Over the last 20 years, I have made scores of documentaries (Art Safari) and podcasts (Art Bust) about art and written books that explore how the arts and culture intersect with economics, society, and politics. I love to research and tell stories about art: behind the most beautiful objects there often lie the most intriguing of tales, where intellect and imagination collide with ambition, greed, and vanity.

Ben's book list on Leonardo da Vinci

Ben Lewis Why did Ben love this book?

The definitive account of Leonardo’s life and work by one of the world’s greatest Leonardo scholars, magnificently illustrated, clearly written, admirably objective.

Frank was very generous in his advice to me, as I wrote my own book about Leonardo, though he generally takes a more favourable view of the Saudi Salvator Mundi than I do. It’s a big book but easy to dip in and out of with its Catalogue Raisonée structure of an account of the artist's life followed by essays on each painting.

By Frank Zöllner, Johannes Nathan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leonardo. the Complete Paintings and Drawings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unmatched in his ingenuity, technical prowess, and curiosity, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) epitomizes the humanistic ideal of the Renaissance man: a peerless master of painting, sculpture, cartography, anatomy, architecture-and more. Simultaneously captivating art historians, collectors, and the millions who flock yearly to admire his works, Leonardo's appeal is as diffuse as were his preoccupations. His images permeate nearly every facet of Western culture-The Vitruvian Man is engraved into millions of Euro coins, The Last Supper is considered the single most reproduced religious painting in history, and the Mona Lisa has entranced countless artists and observers for centuries.

On the occasion…


Book cover of Leonardo Da Vinci

Michael Gervais Author Of The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying about What People Think of You

From my list on illuminating the path towards mastery.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a performance psychologist, I’ve spent my career supporting high-performers on their path toward mastery. I founded Finding Mastery, a high-performance psychology consulting agency. Our primary focus is helping leaders, teams, and organizations solve the most dynamic and complex human performance challenges.

Michael's book list on illuminating the path towards mastery

Michael Gervais Why did Michael love this book?

Walter Isaacson’s biography is not just a mere recounting of the life of a Renaissance genius; it is an exploration into the mind of a man whose curiosity knew no bounds.

Isaacson details how that curiosity, combined with his ability to observe and question the world around him, led to groundbreaking insights and inventions.

This resonates deeply with my own pursuit of understanding human potential and performance.

By Walter Isaacson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Leonardo Da Vinci as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller from Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography that is "a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it...Most important, it is a powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life" (The New Yorker).

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo da Vinci's astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson "deftly reveals an intimate Leonardo" (San Francisco Chronicle) in a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo's genius was based on skills we can improve…


Book cover of Living with Leonardo: Fifty Years of Sanity and Insanity in the Art World and Beyond

Ben Lewis Author Of The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World's Most Expensive Painting

From my list on Leonardo da Vinci.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with art when I was 14 on a trip to Florence with my parents. From that moment on there was hardly an exhibition in London I didn’t go and see. Over the last 20 years, I have made scores of documentaries (Art Safari) and podcasts (Art Bust) about art and written books that explore how the arts and culture intersect with economics, society, and politics. I love to research and tell stories about art: behind the most beautiful objects there often lie the most intriguing of tales, where intellect and imagination collide with ambition, greed, and vanity.

Ben's book list on Leonardo da Vinci

Ben Lewis Why did Ben love this book?

Here we shift the focus to what it’s like being a Leonardist. Yes, that is a word! Oxford professor Martin Kemp is one of the world’s most in-demand Leonardo scholars. His inbox is full of emails from strangers who think they have an undiscovered Leonardo in their attic. He rebuilds Leonardo’s flying machines for museum exhibitions. And when a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting is recovered, he gets a call from the police.

Somehow Kemp manages to be self-regarding and self-deprecating, accessible, and a little superior at the same time, as he whisks you along on his adventures in Leonardoland.

By Martin Kemp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Living with Leonardo is a set of highly focused memoirs, a personal journey interwoven with historical research that encapsulates the author's relationship with Leonardo da Vinci over more than half a century.

We learn of his encounters with the vast population that surrounds Leonardo: great and lesser academics, collectors and curators, devious dealers and unctuous auctioneers, major scholars and authors and pseudohistorians and fantasists; but also how he has grappled with swelling legions of 'Leonardo loonies', walked on the eggshells of vested interests in academia and museums, and fended off fusillades of non-Leonardos, sometimes more than one a week. Kemp…


Book cover of Leonardo Da Vinci: Under the Skin

Ben Lewis Author Of The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World's Most Expensive Painting

From my list on Leonardo da Vinci.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with art when I was 14 on a trip to Florence with my parents. From that moment on there was hardly an exhibition in London I didn’t go and see. Over the last 20 years, I have made scores of documentaries (Art Safari) and podcasts (Art Bust) about art and written books that explore how the arts and culture intersect with economics, society, and politics. I love to research and tell stories about art: behind the most beautiful objects there often lie the most intriguing of tales, where intellect and imagination collide with ambition, greed, and vanity.

Ben's book list on Leonardo da Vinci

Ben Lewis Why did Ben love this book?

This is a slim volume, which stands out amidst the thousands of books on aspects of Leonardo, for its focus and unusual team of authors. Written by two brothers, one a professor of drawing, the other of medicine, it walks the reader through Leonardo’s anatomical drawings and their far-reaching influence on both science and art.

The authors are particularly good at sorting out what Leonardo got from previous students of anatomy, from the Greeks onwards, and what was new that he brought to, or took away from the dissection table, where he claims to have examined over thirty corpses.

By Michael Farthing, Stephen Farthing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) created many of the most beautiful and important drawings in the history of Western art. Many of these were anatomical and became the yardstick for the early study of the human body.

From their unique perspectives as artist and scientist, brothers Stephen and Michael Farthing analyse Leonardo's drawings - which are concerned chiefly with the skeletal, cardiovascular, muscular and nervous systems - and discuss the impact they had on both art and medical understanding.

Stephen Farthing has created a series of drawings in response to Leonardo, which are reproduced with commentary by Michael, who also provides…


Book cover of Oil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo

Deborah Swift Author Of The Poison Keeper: An enthralling historical novel of Renaissance Italy

From my list on historical fiction to immerse you in the old skills of artisans and craftspeople.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historical fiction author but have always enjoyed actually making things as well as writing. In the past, I was a theatre designer, so I was often immersed in recreating antique objects for the stage. Our versions weren’t the real thing–but it meant researching old crafts and then imitating them to build a convincing fake version. My research filled me with great admiration and respect for the real craftsmen of the past–their skill and artistry, and I only have to look at our old cathedrals–so lovingly created, to be inspired all over again.

Deborah's book list on historical fiction to immerse you in the old skills of artisans and craftspeople

Deborah Swift Why did Deborah love this book?

Every Renaissance fan loves a bit of Leonardo, don’t they? And I was intrigued by the relationship between the older, established artist Leonardo and the hot-headed Michelangelo.

This is a brilliantly written book with lots of glorious details about art and painting. These are two giants of their time, and it was a brave subject to tackle–Storey manages to convey their intellect as well as their art.

Reading about the sheer labour involved in carving a block of stone into something human was really awe-inspiring, and Stephanie Storey does a great job of getting inside the heads of these two men.

By Stephanie Storey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Oil and Marble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her brilliant debut, Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive, entering with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters, creating a stunning art history thriller. From 1501 to 1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome fifty year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-twenties, desperate to make a name for himself.

Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all…


Book cover of Signora Da Vinci

Alison Ragsdale Author Of The Child Between Us

From my list on with feisty, female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scottish writer, based in the USA after living in eight countries. I spent thirty years following work, family, and love, and my experiences seep into everything I write—so there are often elements of travel in my books. Thirteen years ago, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and underwent life-saving surgery. That experience gave me a new perspective on the power of the human spirit, and our ability to forge new and unexpected paths, in the face of adversity. I love to read about and create characters that take on life’s challenges and find inner strength they didn’t know they had. That’s why feisty female protagonists appeal to me. 

Alison's book list on with feisty, female protagonists

Alison Ragsdale Why did Alison love this book?

Feisty female protagonists don’t come any better than Catriona Da Vinci. The Renaissance was a dangerous time for women when they were marginalized and bound by societal constructs. Not this lady, though. She was a brilliant, single mother—an alchemist and risk-taker. She devised a scheme that allowed her to be part of her illegitimate son, Leonardo’s life, which was nothing short of genius. She did what she had to do to protect him, no matter the cost to herself. She reminds me of my two amazing sisters and the lengths they would go to be there for their children, and for that—Catriona is my hero.

By Robin Maxwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An enchanting novel on the life and origins of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother, as imagined by the author of the “absolutely superb” (Diane Haeger, author of The Secret Bride) Mademoiselle Boleyn.

A young woman named Caterina was only fifteen years old in 1452 when she bore an illegitimate child in the tiny village of Vinci. His name was Leonardo, and he was destined to change the world forever.

Caterina suffered much cruelty as an unmarried mother and had no recourse when her boy was taken away from her. But no one knew the secrets of her own childhood, nor could…


Book cover of How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

Stephen P. Ramocki Author Of Teaching Creativity in Marketing and Business Education: A Concise Compilation of Concepts and Methodologies that Will Increase Students' Creativity

From my list on creativity in marketing and business education.

Why am I passionate about this?

 I have studied creativity for 40 years and, along with the textbook I wrote, I am continually teaching my marketing students how to become more creative.  I have unequivocally demonstrated that everyone who wants to become more creative can do so with the appropriate tutelage.  This is why I get so much satisfaction from teaching creativity and it is why I wrote my book that I am highlighting here.

Stephen's book list on creativity in marketing and business education

Stephen P. Ramocki Why did Stephen love this book?

Leonardo da Vinci was arguably the most creative person who ever walked the earth. He is known by many as an artist but his most impressive contributions came in the form of inventions. Imagine in the fifteen hundreds conceptualizing tanks, automatic weaponry, and parachutes. He was so far ahead of his time that people thought he was crazy.

By Michael J. Gelb,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This inspiring and inventive guide teaches readers how to develop their full potential by following the example of the greatest genius of all time, Leonardo da Vinci.

Acclaimed author Michael J. Gelb, who has helped thousands of people expand their minds to accomplish more than they ever thought possible, shows you how. Drawing on Da Vinci's notebooks, inventions, and legendary works of art, Gelb introduces Seven Da Vincian Principles—the essential elements of genius—from curiosità, the insatiably curious approach to life to connessione, the appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things. With Da Vinci as your inspiration, you will discover an…


Book cover of Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius

Anthony D. Fredericks Author Of From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them

From my list on creativity and imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was the kid who colored outside the lines and marveled at the special effects of monster movies. Yet, as I grew, I became aware of certain “rules” and “expectations” that seemed to limit my innate creativity. When I became a professional educator, I became even more cognizant of how students’ creativity was shut down. I read tons of books on creativity, but soon discovered that no one had ever written a book on the ingrained practices in family life, education, work environments, and personal beliefs that stamped out our natural creativity. Why do so many people consider themselves as “non-creative?” I wanted to find out…and change the equation.

Anthony's book list on creativity and imagination

Anthony D. Fredericks Why did Anthony love this book?

Here is another “classic” that should be part of your personal library.

Michalko shares life-changing creative techniques captured from creative “experts” such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Pablo Picasso. With easy-to-follow instructions, you too, can lead a more creative life (and change the world) at home and at work.

The author shows you, in exquisite detail, how to alter your thinking or modify your problem-solving abilities to generate tons of new ideas and tons of satisfying solutions to ongoing challenges.

No matter your occupation, this is a book that will generate an array of new and positive ideas.

By Michael Michalko,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Thinkertoys, this follow up brings innovative creative thinking techniques within reach, giving you the tools to tackle everyday challenges in new ways. 

Internationally renowned business creativity expert, Michael Michalko will show you how creative people think—and how to put their secrets to work for you in business and in your personal life. You don't have to be a genius to solve problems like one. Michalko researched and analyzed hundreds of history's greatest thinkers across disciplines—from Leonardo da Vinci to Pablo Picasso—to bring the best of their techniques together and to teach you how to apply…


Book cover of If You Should Fail: Why Success Eludes Us and Why It Doesn't Matter

Kieran Setiya Author Of Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way

From my list on finding solidarity in suffering.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I work on ethics and related questions about human agency and human knowledge. My interest in adversity is both personal and philosophical: it comes from my own experience with chronic pain and from a desire to revive the tradition of moral philosophy as a medium of self-help. My last book was Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, and I have also written about baseball and philosophy, stand-up comedy, and the American author H. P. Lovecraft.

Kieran's book list on finding solidarity in suffering

Kieran Setiya Why did Kieran love this book?

I don’t know if misery loves company but I’m convinced that failure does. When their projects fall flat, my kid likes nothing better than to hear about the wreckage of mine: romantic fiascos, flunked tests, athletic defeats. Joe Moran’s “book of solace,” If You Should Fail, is in part a compendium of stories like these, in part an effort to dislodge our tendency to think of human beings as winners or losers at all. “To call any life a failure, or a success, is to miss the infinite granularity, the inexhaustible miscellany of all lives,” Moran writes. “A life can’t really succeed or fail at all; it can only be lived.” 

By Joe Moran,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If You Should Fail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'There is an honesty and a clarity in Joe Moran's book If You Should Fail that normalises and softens the usual blows of life that enables us to accept and live with them rather than be diminished/wounded by them' Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass

'Full of wise insight and honesty. Moran manages to be funny, erudite and kindly: a rare - and compelling - combination. This is the essential antidote to a culture obsessed with success. Read it' Madeleine Bunting

Failure is the small print in life's terms and conditions.

Covering everything from examination…


Book cover of The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects

Kathleen Reid Author Of Secrets in the Palazzo

From my list on art and Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Virginia author who loves everything Italian! Artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci have always inspired me with their genius. I’m very involved with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) where I was a tour guide for many years. Now I’m on the VMFA’s Canvas Advisory Committee which helps guide programming and events. In addition, my articles for the Canvas newsletter give a robust behind-the-scenes look at the museum’s amazing exhibitions. In my books my main character schoolteacher Rose Maning fulfills her dream of buying an apartment in Florence and becoming an artist. It is a true joy to write about Rose’s adventures abroad.  

Kathleen's book list on art and Italy

Kathleen Reid Why did Kathleen love this book?

Many art historians consider this book sacred and the best first-hand account of the wondrous artists of the Renaissance. I found the stories extremely interesting about the character of these artists. Vasari was the biographer who gave the original account of how Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci hated each other. It also told the story of how both Michelangelo and Leonardo were hired to paint significant battle scenes on the same wall inside the Palazzo Vecchio. It was considered the greatest painting competition of all time as both men completed massive cartoons (preliminary drawings) on The Battle of Cascina and the Battle of Anghiari respectively.  

By Giorgio Vasari, Gaston du C. de Vere (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A painter and architect in his own right, Giorgio Vasari (1511-74) achieved immortality for this book on the lives of his fellow Renaissance artists, first published in Florence in 1550. Although he based his work on a long tradition of biographical writing, Vasari infused these literary portraits with a decidedly modern form of critical judgment. The result is a work that remains to this day the cornerstone of art historical scholarship.
Spanning the period from the thirteenth century to Vasari’s own time, the Lives opens a window on the greatest personalities of the period, including Giotto, Brunelleschi, Mantegna, Leonardo, Raphael,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance, and Florence?

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