100 books like Oil and Marble

By Stephanie Storey,

Here are 100 books that Oil and Marble fans have personally recommended if you like Oil and Marble. 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 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 The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

Kimberly Nixon Author Of Rock Bottom, Tennessee

From my list on books based on a true story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for the family story, and I have been blessed with a plethora of them. My mother grew up in Appalachia during the Great Depression and faced shame because her mother left the family to commit a felony. Her accounts of a childhood without and sleeping in an abandoned log cabin have been seared into my soul. My father, one of fourteen children during the Great Depression, worked on neighboring farms from the age of seven. History has two parts, the facts and details, but the telling of the story wrangles the purpose and sacrifice of those involved.

Kimberly's book list on books based on a true story

Kimberly Nixon Why did Kimberly love this book?

After a trip to Florence to see Michelangelo’s earlier works and then David, I struggled to understand the genius, his intense pursuit of excellence, and how his surroundings influenced his art.

The author set me in one of the most fascinating eras of history and made me feel as if I were an apprentice in Michelangelo’s shop. I wept to comprehend the artist and realized that perfection was not a choice for Michelangelo, but a non-negotiable burden.

As I now observe genius in a musician, a scientist, or a mother caring for an autistic child, I give credence to what I learned from Oliver Stone’s portrayal of Michelangelo.

By Irving Stone,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Agony and the Ecstasy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Irving Stone's classic biographical novel of Michelangelo-the #1 New York Times bestseller in which both the artist and the man are brought to vivid, captivating life.

His time-the turbulent Renaissance, the years of poisoning princes, warring Popes, and the all-powerful de'Medici family...

His loves-the frail and lovely daughter of Lorenzo de'Medici, the ardent mistress of Marco Aldovrandi, and his last love, his greatest love-the beautiful, unhappy Vittoria Colonna...

His genius-a God-driven fury from which he wrested brilliant work that made a grasp for heaven unmatched in half a millennium...

His name-Michelangelo Buonarroti. Creator of the David, painter of the ceiling…


Book cover of The Painter's Apprentice

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?

I loved the detail of the craft of gilding in this book, a craft that is little known today. I was interested, too, in the effect that the plague had on the city of Venice. Another plus for me was that Maria’s love interest was a Moor, Cristiano, and this added to the slow-burn tension of the relationship.

For me, this was the sort of historical fiction I don’t read often–immaculately researched with plenty of insider details that could only be known by an expert. Though the story doesn’t move particularly fast, it did make me think and immersed me in the period. 

By Laura Morelli,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Painter's Apprentice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Would you rather sacrifice your livelihood, your lover, or your life?

When the Black Death comes knocking on your door, you'd better decide quickly.

ERIC HOFFER GRAND PRIZE FINALIST

EDITOR'S CHOICE, HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW

Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

Maria arranges to leave the painter’s workshop to return to her family workshop and to a secret lover waiting for her back home.…


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,…


Book cover of Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

Dianne Hales Author Of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

From my list on italy and italian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Decades ago, I fell madly, gladly, and giddily in love with Italian. This passion inspired La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with the World’s Most Enchanting Language, which became a New York Times best-seller and won an Italian knighthood for my contributions to promoting Italy’s language. Intrigued by the world’s most famous portrait, I wrote Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, translated into seven languages. My most recent journeys through Italian culture are La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World and  ‘A’ Is for Amore, an e-book written during the pandemic and available free on my website.

Dianne's book list on italy and italian

Dianne Hales Why did Dianne love this book?

This was the first Anthony Doerr book I read—the literary equivalent of eating dessert first. I’ve since savored his novels, but this irresistible feast of delicious morsels of Italian life lingers in my mind. Doerr doesn’t show you Rome. He invites you to live in it with him—during his sleepless nights, in the company of his twin babies, as a beloved Pope lies dying and the seasons bring new enchantments. 

I can’t say whether I love this book more for the writing or for its tender portrait of Rome. Read it for the double pleasures of exquisitely crafted vignettes and a virtual visit to a city that eternally surprises and seduces visitors.  

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Four Seasons in Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times bestseller All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land, a "dazzling" (Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran) memoir about art and adventures in Rome.

Anthony Doerr has received many awards—from the New York Public Library, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Library Association. Then came the Rome Prize, one of the most prestigious awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and with it a stipend and a writing studio in Rome for a year. Doerr learned of the award…


Book cover of The Glassblower of Murano

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?

I loved the descriptions of the craft of glassmaking, especially the fact that something so hard could be made out of something so hot and molten. A big part of my enjoyment of this book rested on the descriptions of glittering glass, which seemed to mirror the Venetian Lagoon.

Another thing I loved was the fact I felt a connection to Nora, who was transported from her ordinary life to a life in Venice where everything was shifting because of its watery nature. There was great attention to detail in the writing that brought the seventeenth-century past to life on the island of Murano, a closed world where no one could leave.

By Marina Fiorato,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Venice, 1681. Glassblowing is the lifeblood of the Republic, and Venetian mirrors are more precious than gold. Jealously guarded by the murderous Council of Ten, the glassblowers of Murano are virtually imprisoned on their island in the lagoon. But the greatest of the artists, Corradino Manin, sells his methods and his soul to the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, to protect his secret daughter. In the present day his descendant, Leonora Manin, leaves an unhappy life in London to begin a new one as a glassblower in Venice. As she finds new life and love in her adoptive city,…


Book cover of The Illuminator

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?

I loved the portrait of late 14th-century feudal England in this story of a master illuminator and his forbidden English translation of the Bible.

There are not many books set in this period, and it really immersed me in the time. Lady Kathryn of Blackingham Manor is a character that is both strong and vulnerable, and I was really rooting for her and for her relationship with Finn, the craftsman, to work out. The monastic life is excellently described, as is the craft of illumination.

This is a book that stayed with me for a long time with its rich portrayal of the past.

By Brenda Rickman Vantrease,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A glowing first novel that brings us "historical fiction in the grand epic manner, beautifully felt and written"

It is England, in the fourteenth century -- a time of plague, political unrest and the earliest stirrings of the Reformation. The printing press had yet to be invented, and books were rare and costly, painstakingly lettered by hand and illuminated with exquisite paintings. Finn is a master illuminator who works not only for the Church but also, in secret, for John Wycliffe of Oxford, who professes the radical idea that the Bible should be translated into English for everyone to read.…


Book cover of The Silk House

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?

I used to work as a costume designer, so I admit I have a bit of a thing for old textiles. I couldn’t resist this book, which features the silk trade and has a mystery at its heart.

The three women whose fates are linked by the Silk House in a quiet market town are all interesting characters, and their lives are linked together well by the author over the span of the 17th to 21st centuries.

The book contains two of my favourite interests, the historical silk trade and the ancient healing powers of herbal medicine. It also rattles along at a good pace and has a lovely surprise of an ending. 

By Kayte Nunn,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities-- From Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums

Roger Atwood Author Of Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

From my list on the looting of the Ancient World.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist, critic, and poet who has spent a career engaging with the world. I love telling stories, and I strive to put beauty and tension into everything I write. I’ve had great editors – they’ve published my work in The Guardian, National Geographic, ARTnews, The Washington Post, The Times Literary Supplement, and Archaeology, where I am a contributing editor, and many other places – but it always comes down to me and my computer. And often a plane ticket and a suitcase. 

Roger's book list on the looting of the Ancient World

Roger Atwood Why did Roger love this book?

No book exposes the tricks of the trade that smugglers and dealers use to launder looted artifacts like this one. Focusing on a wave of looting in southern Italy in the 1980s and ‘90s, the authors show how European and American millionaire collectors fueled the ransacking of ancient sites. It’s a substantive, entertaining read about crime and the contradictions of modern Italy by two brilliant writers.   

By Peter Watson, Cecilia Todeschini,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story begins, as stories do in all good thrillers, with a botched robbery and a police chase. Eight Apuleian vases of the fourth century B.C. are discovered in the swimming pool of a German-based art smuggler. More valuable than the recovery of the vases, however, is the discovery of the smuggler's card index detailing his deals and dealers. It reveals the existence of a web of tombaroli ,tomb raiders, who steal classical artifacts, and a network of dealers and smugglers who spirit them out of Italy and into the hands of wealthy collectors and museums. Peter Watson, a former…


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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Michelangelo, Italy, and Leonardo da Vinci?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Michelangelo, Italy, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo Explore 18 books about Michelangelo
Italy Explore 384 books about Italy
Leonardo Da Vinci Explore 20 books about Leonardo da Vinci