100 books like Michelangelo in a Teacup

By Frank Letchford,

Here are 100 books that Michelangelo in a Teacup fans have personally recommended if you like Michelangelo in a Teacup. 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 Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Author Of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

From my list on Austin Osman Spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first encountered Spare in my early teens, when I was reading books about the occult, and then forgot about him for a few years. As time went by, I grew more interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, but I never quite abandoned magic, and I came to see it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library classification system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about exploring the mind and inner experience. And Austin Osman Spare, like Crowley and the surrealists, is among its most interesting figures.  

Phil's book list on Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

This is an unreliable but very readable book from occult writer Kenneth Grant. I used to find the title mysterious; it really means images and oracular worlds, and I remember seeing great heaps of this book remaindered in the 1980s, little knowing it would go on to fetch £300 a copy. Fortunately, Fulgur have since produced an affordable edition.

Grant’s depiction of Spare is heavily influenced by his reading of popular fiction writers like Arthur Machen, Sax Rohmer, and H.P. Lovecraft, and he gives us Spare, the black magician seduced in childhood by an elderly witch, who launches “an amphibious owl with the wings of a bat” into a conflict between magical groups. This is really the book that started the “Spare Mythos.”

By Kenneth Grant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Images and Oracles remains one of the most influential works on esoteric magick and mystical art produced in the last thirty years. Part One discusses Spare's life and biographical anecdotes while Part Two provides Kenneth Grant' important analysis and co


Book cover of Zos Speaks!: Encounters With Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Author Of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

From my list on Austin Osman Spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first encountered Spare in my early teens, when I was reading books about the occult, and then forgot about him for a few years. As time went by, I grew more interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, but I never quite abandoned magic, and I came to see it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library classification system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about exploring the mind and inner experience. And Austin Osman Spare, like Crowley and the surrealists, is among its most interesting figures.  

Phil's book list on Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

Grant met Spare in 1949 through his wife Steffi, who had read a ‘human interest’ feature about him in a magazine. Based on Grant’s diary, this book records the real Spare in the pubs of South London and the West End before Grant semi-fictionalized him.

Grant had a sense of humour, and after introducing Spare to witchcraft revivalist Gerald Gardner, he watched him try to outdo Gardner in boasting about witchcraft, then went home and wrote that it was “screamingly funny.”

This is a substantial tome, beautifully produced and illustrated, with plenty of time-travelling period detail. Steffi remembers when pubs had live pianists, often playing ‘The Harry Lime Theme’ from The Third Man: “It seemed the signature tune of Spare at that period, and hearing it now fills me with nostalgia.”

By Kenneth Grant, Steffi Grant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The long awaited volume with Spare s lost writings. Illustrated with superb plates; many in color. Includes The Logomachy; Zoetic Grimoire. Quarto.


Book cover of The Exhibition Catalogues of Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Author Of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

From my list on Austin Osman Spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first encountered Spare in my early teens, when I was reading books about the occult, and then forgot about him for a few years. As time went by, I grew more interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, but I never quite abandoned magic, and I came to see it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library classification system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about exploring the mind and inner experience. And Austin Osman Spare, like Crowley and the surrealists, is among its most interesting figures.  

Phil's book list on Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

This complete compendium of Spare’s exhibition catalogues has been put together by the great Robert Ansell, a pioneering figure in Spare research. Running from 1907 to 1955, complete with their catalogue essays and some related bits of ephemera, the facsimile catalogues slowly change in their period feel and give the real trajectory of Spare’s career, all the way through to his late shows in pubs.

The book has a generous additional colour section of pictures, and it is all surprisingly readable and even vivid: “Not long now!” says the flyer for an upcoming exhibition in the Mansion House Tavern pub in south London: “The show you’ve been waiting for!” 

Book cover of Two Tracts on Cartomancy

Phil Baker Author Of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

From my list on Austin Osman Spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first encountered Spare in my early teens, when I was reading books about the occult, and then forgot about him for a few years. As time went by, I grew more interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, but I never quite abandoned magic, and I came to see it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library classification system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about exploring the mind and inner experience. And Austin Osman Spare, like Crowley and the surrealists, is among its most interesting figures.  

Phil's book list on Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

This is a marvellous little book that delves into Spare’s engagement with fortune-telling by cards, particularly the story of his 1930s ‘Surrealist Racing Forecast Cards,’ which he sold through a small ad in the Exchange and Mart magazine.

They are quintessentially Spare, perhaps more than the recently discovered Spare tarot (juvenilia, in comparison, from before he went beyond conventional occultism). Along with previously unseen photos and Spare’s own essay "Mind to Mind and How" (“By a Sorcerer”), the heart of the book is Gavin’s "A Few Leaves from the Devil’s Picture Book." 

This was a milestone in Spare research, back when what little was known about him was unreliable, and it is also a beautiful piece of writing–I borrowed a line from it to close my own book on him. 

By Austin O Spare, Gavin Semple (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two Tracts on Cartomancy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edited by Gavin Semple. Previously unpublished writing and very important for Spare studies.


Book cover of Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley

Phil Baker Author Of City of the Beast: The London of Aleister Crowley

From my list on the beast.

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to love Dennis Wheatley’s Satanic pulp fiction when I was about twelve—like a gateway drugand graduated on to read my first Crowley biography a year or two later. I was gripped. As the years went by I developed what might seem like more serious interests in reading about psychoanalysis, Buddhism, and surrealism, but it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about the mind, and inner experience, and Crowley remains one of its towering figures. 

Phil's book list on the beast

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

Weighing in at somewhere over 300,00 words across over 700 pages, this is the most comprehensive Crowley biography. Stylistically is it no great treat for the reader, but it was obviously a staggering amount of work and demands respect: assembling this much material is an achievement. The effect—with generous backup detail on minor figuresis often like a gigantic Wikipedia entry. Kaczynski is one of the Crowley faithful, and he tends to look on the bright side. Consequently the book can be rather pious, as well as occasionally naive (Kaczynski quotes Freud’s supposed lauding of occult artist Austin Osman Spare, for exampleone of Spare’s tall talesas if he really said it, to which you can only say “As if…”). Still a very useful work of reference. 

By Richard Kaczynski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A rigorously researched biography of the founder of modern magick, as well as a study of the occult, sexuality, Eastern religion, and more
 
The name “Aleister Crowley” instantly conjures visions of diabolic ceremonies and orgiastic indulgences—and while the sardonic Crowley would perhaps be the last to challenge such a view, he was also much more than “the Beast,” as this authoritative biography shows. 

Perdurabo—entitled after the magical name Crowley chose when inducted into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—traces Crowley’s remarkable journey from his birth as the only son of a wealthy lay preacher to his death in a…


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 Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in an Iraqi Jewish immigrant family in Sydney, Australia, meant that I was always different, without the words or emotional tools to navigate the world around me. Luckily, I was a reader, and so I learned through books Social Emotional Learning (SEL) tools to deal with anxiety and loneliness and develop qualities of empathy, bravery, and the understanding that we don’t have to be the same but can celebrate our cultural and personal differences. Reading with children is a wonderful opportunity to enter their worlds whilst building their social and emotional skills, such as managing emotions, problem-solving, and creating positive relationships.

Sarah's book list on picture books to develop your child’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills in a fun way

Sarah Sassoon Why did Sarah love this book?

This book made me laugh out loud at the primal truth of two cavemen competing for who is the best—from cave size to fire burning to towering show-off technological feats that quickly spin manically out of control.

I really appreciate the message that to develop as a human species, we need to share and celebrate our resources together. I return to this book, which is written so simply and powerfully with wonderful illustrations, again and again with kids because it’s a hilarious reminder that mindless competition just leads us back into the cave. I want my kids to know that we can all be the "best" together.

By Alastair Chisholm, David Roberts (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inch and Grub as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Two cavemen desire the best of everything! But will their competitive games make them happy in the end?

Inch and Grub are two exquisitely hairy and competitive cavemen. Grub's cave is bigger, and he says that makes him the best. So Inch adds a water feature to his cave. But Grub has made fire! So Inch makes a chair. And a house. And a car. Grub, meanwhile, has accumulated a castle and a train and a radio! And so the contest spirals and spirals to ever ridiculous heights ... until they each have a HUGE wobbling mountain of stuff! From…


Book cover of Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now

James Hobbs Author Of Sketch Your World: Drawing techniques for great results on the go

From my list on to inspire you to draw.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started drawing in my twenties when I was lucky to meet and be inspired by tutors who passed on their passion for it. I have drawn and kept sketchbooks ever since: they trace the everyday things, my travels and important life events, but they are also places for thoughts and experiments, notes, and phone numbers. I don’t dare leave home without a sketchbook and pen in case I miss some unmissable thing. I went to art college, trained as a journalist, worked at a variety of art publications, have written three books about drawing, and exhibit and sell my drawings and prints. 

James' book list on to inspire you to draw

James Hobbs Why did James love this book?

Drawings by artists through the centuries can be a fantastic reservoir of ideas for contemporary artists. This book – published to accompany a British Museum touring exhibition – includes works drawn across a 500-year span, bringing together ancient and modern: Rachel Whiteread and Georges Seurat, Bridget Riley and Albrecht Dürer, Philip Guston and Vincent Van Gogh. The immediacy and directness of drawings from the past means they speak as clearly to us as those that are contemporary. Take, for instance, the 300-year-old brush drawings of Alexander Cozens, which still look thrillingly fresh, or Roger Hilton’s modern, minimalist nude: both make me reach for the pen and paper. The oldest drawings sing alongside the newest and lure me in. 

By Isabel Seligman,

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?

Looking at works from a range of different artists and their various approaches, this book examines the process and practice of drawing, showcasing artworks from 15th- and 16th-century masters, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, right up to artists working today. In arranging them not by period or style, but by the types of thinking that give rise to them, readers gain fresh insights into the thought processes of some of the world's greatest artists. This thematic rather than chronological structure allows us to place historical drawings side-by-side with modern and contemporary works, to show how artists from widely…


Book cover of Raphael, Painter in Rome

Alyssa Palombo Author Of The Borgia Confessions

From my list on historical fiction set in Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by history my whole life, and have been reading historical fiction for as long as I can remember. I have a particular passion for the history of Italy, in all its complicated, bloody, and dazzling glory, from the politics to the music to the art to, of course, the food and wine. There is so much within Italian history that captivates, and as a woman of Italian descent it holds a special interest for me. I try to capture the drama, beauty, and complexity of Italy in my own historical novels, and the books on this list all do that in the most compelling way.

Alyssa's book list on historical fiction set in Italy

Alyssa Palombo Why did Alyssa love this book?

Stephanie Storey brings Renaissance giant Raphael to life in this gorgeous and impeccably researched novel. We see Raphael’s early career through his time in Rome as painter to popes, and watch as he navigates the potentially deadly politics inherent in being an artist to the powerful. The novel also gives us an up-close and personal look at Raphael’s rivalry with his contemporary, Michelangelo. Raphael’s antics will entertain even as his lifelong question for perfection in his work will resonate with artists of every stripe – I know it did with me!

By Stephanie Storey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raphael, Painter in Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Another Fabulous Art History Thriller by the Bestselling Author of Oil and Marble, Featuring the Master of Renaissance Perfection: Raphael!

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling is one of the most iconic masterpieces of the Renaissance. Here, in Raphael, Painter in Rome, Storey tells of its creation as never before: through the eyes of Michelangelo's fiercest rival-the young, beautiful, brilliant painter of perfection, Raphael. Orphaned at age eleven, Raphael is determined to keep the deathbed promise he made to his father: become the greatest artist in history. But to be the best, he must beat the best, the legendary sculptor of the…


Book cover of Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age

Miriam Schulman Author Of Artpreneur: The Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Sustainable Living from Your Creativity

From my list on artists monetizing their creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

With over 20 years of experience as a professional artist and a successful track record of earning six figures a year from my art, I know firsthand what it takes to build a thriving artistic career. As the host of the Inspiration Place podcast, and founder of the Artist Incubator program, I’ve dedicated my life’s work to helping artists everywhere achieve their full potential and reach their goals. When you overcome the common challenges and mindset blocks that hold so many artists back and learn the practical tools and strategies you need for selling your art, you too find the same success.

Miriam's book list on artists monetizing their creativity

Miriam Schulman Why did Miriam love this book?

Real Artists Don't Starve challenges the popular belief that artists must sacrifice financial stability in order to be true to their craft. The author argues that creativity and commerce can coexist, and uses examples from history and contemporary culture to prove his point. What I liked most about this book was learning about the great artists of the past, like Michelangelo, who was not only talented but also a great businessman who made a lot of money from his art. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to make a living from their artistic passion and believes that being a true artist and wanting to make money aren’t mutually exclusive. Goins offers practical tips and inspiration for artists looking to build a successful and sustainable career and provides a fresh perspective on the age-old debate about the relationship between art and commerce.

By Jeff Goins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Real Artists Don't Starve as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jeff Goins dismantles the myth that being creative is a hindrance to success by revealing how an artistic temperament is a competitive advantage in the marketplace.?

The myth of the starving artist has dominated our culture, seeping into the minds of creative people and stifling their pursuits. The truth is that the world's most successful artists did not starve. In fact, they capitalized on the power of their creative strength.

In Real Artists Don't Starve, bestselling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins debunks the myth of the starving artist by unveiling the ideas that created it and replacing them with…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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