100 books like Pablo Picasso

By Pierre Cabanne,

Here are 100 books that Pablo Picasso fans have personally recommended if you like Pablo Picasso. 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 Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past

Gijs van Hensbergen Author Of Guernica: The Biography of a Twentieth-Century Icon

From my list on essential Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifetime of an obsession with Spain since a childhood spent on Miro’s farm in Montroig del Camp and just a short walk away from where Gaudi was born I have cooked, researched, battled, and fallen in love with this extraordinary country. Almost 40 years ago I bought a farmhouse in Arevalillo de Cega in the central mountains in Spain from where I have crisscrossed the country in the footsteps of Goya, the culinary genius Ferran Adria and in search of information for my biography on Gaudi – the God of Catalan architecture. Spain is an open book with a million pages, endlessly fascinating, contrary, unique, and 100% absorbing. I fell in deep.

Gijs' book list on essential Spain

Gijs van Hensbergen Why did Gijs love this book?

As the Guardian correspondent in Madrid, Giles Tremlett’s book is a no-holds-barred deep investigation into the Spanish psyche and recent history and its uncomfortable relationship to the trauma of the Spanish Civil War. It is brave, provocative, deeply-researched but above all immensely readable.

By Giles Tremlett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Spaniards are reputed to be amongst Europe's most forthright people. So why have they kept silent about the terrors of their Civil War and the rule of General Franco? This apparent 'pact of forgetting' inspired writer Giles Tremlett to embark on a journey around Spain and its history. He found the ghosts of Spain everywhere, almost always arguing. Who caused the Civil War? Why do Basque terrorists kill? Why do Catalans hate Madrid? Did the Islamist bombers who killed 190 people in 2004 dream of a return to Spain's Moorish past? Tremlett's curiosity led him down some strange and colourful…


Book cover of New Art of Cookery: A Spanish Friar's Kitchen Notebook by Juan Altamiras

Gijs van Hensbergen Author Of Guernica: The Biography of a Twentieth-Century Icon

From my list on essential Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifetime of an obsession with Spain since a childhood spent on Miro’s farm in Montroig del Camp and just a short walk away from where Gaudi was born I have cooked, researched, battled, and fallen in love with this extraordinary country. Almost 40 years ago I bought a farmhouse in Arevalillo de Cega in the central mountains in Spain from where I have crisscrossed the country in the footsteps of Goya, the culinary genius Ferran Adria and in search of information for my biography on Gaudi – the God of Catalan architecture. Spain is an open book with a million pages, endlessly fascinating, contrary, unique, and 100% absorbing. I fell in deep.

Gijs' book list on essential Spain

Gijs van Hensbergen Why did Gijs love this book?

Most books on cookery in Spain are little more than a mish-mash cobbled-together collection of other people’s recipes. Vicky Hayward’s visit to the 18thc via this Spanish Friar’s collection of recipes is an astonishing work of anthropology whose modernity and relevance to Spanish cooking today is extraordinarily prophetic.  If you want to see the future of Spanish cooking – the world’s most celebrated cuisine – go back to the past. To its roots.

By Vicky Hayward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Jane Grigson Trust Award 2017 and the Aragonese Academy of Gastronomy's 2017 Prize for Research

New Art of Cookery, Drawn from the School of Economic Experience, was an influential recipe book published in 1745 by Spanish friary cook Juan Altamiras. In it, he wrote up over 200 recipes for meat, poultry, game, salted and fresh fish, vegetables and sweet things in a chatty style aimed at readers who cooked on a modest budget. He showed that economic cookery could be delicious if flavors and aromas were blended with an appreciation for all sorts of ingredients, however humble,…


Book cover of The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

Steven Nightingale Author Of Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God

From my list on the truth about Spanish history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer who lived in the city of Granada for almost four years, in the uncanny barrio of the Albayzin. The daily blessings of life there are powerful and cumulative, and I wrote a book in honor of such luminosity; and I wrote it, as well, because most of us have been lied to about Spanish history. But the truth, like the poetry of Garcia Lorca, cannot be suppressed. In my sojourn in Spain, and in my visits over the years, I have found Granada to be a treasure-house of stories and poetry; and in flamenco singing, the home of one of the most powerful art-forms of music in the world.

Steven's book list on the truth about Spanish history

Steven Nightingale Why did Steven love this book?

The whole of Spanish history is contentious, with hardly a fact not subject to challenge or attack. But slowly, clarity and understanding have come forth, and finally, in this volume, the extraordinary scholar Paul Preston gives us the facts about the campaigns of extermination in the Spanish Civil War. Anyone who wants a solid, grounded, informed understanding of this miserable time of slaughter needs this book. Painful reading, and all the more necessary for that.

By Paul Preston,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Spanish Holocaust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Evoking such classics as Anne Applebaum's Gulag and Robert Conquest's The Great Terror, The Spanish Holocaust sheds light on one of the darkest and most unexamined eras of modern European history. As Spain finally reclaims its historical memory, a full picture can now be drawn of the atrocities of Franco's Spain-from torture and judicial murders to the abuse of women and children. Paul Preston provides an unforgettable account of the systematic terror carried out by Spain's fascist government.


Book cover of The Disinherited: Exile and the Making of Spanish Culture, 1492-1975

Gijs van Hensbergen Author Of Guernica: The Biography of a Twentieth-Century Icon

From my list on essential Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifetime of an obsession with Spain since a childhood spent on Miro’s farm in Montroig del Camp and just a short walk away from where Gaudi was born I have cooked, researched, battled, and fallen in love with this extraordinary country. Almost 40 years ago I bought a farmhouse in Arevalillo de Cega in the central mountains in Spain from where I have crisscrossed the country in the footsteps of Goya, the culinary genius Ferran Adria and in search of information for my biography on Gaudi – the God of Catalan architecture. Spain is an open book with a million pages, endlessly fascinating, contrary, unique, and 100% absorbing. I fell in deep.

Gijs' book list on essential Spain

Gijs van Hensbergen Why did Gijs love this book?

With intellectual life almost completely closed down and censored by the Franco regime, the shaping of Spanish cultural life was led by its guardians in exile. From an exterior focus Kamen’s light is shone back on the brilliance and resilience of Spanish intellectual life.

By Henry Kamen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A provocative, brilliant, and groundbreaking historical reconsideration of the roots of Spanish culture.

We all carry in our heads a seductive picture of what Spain stands for: its music, painting, buildings, and history. But much of what we think of as Spanish culture is, in fact, the invention of a very specific group: the Spanish in exile.

Historian Henry Kamen creates a vivid portrait of a dysfunctional, violent country that, since the destruction of the last Muslim territories in Granada in 1492, has expelled wave after wave of its citizens in a brutal attempt to create religious and social conformity.…


Book cover of Life with Picasso

Michael Findlay Author Of Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art

From my list on making modern art exciting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent an exciting half-century in the New York art world as a dealer and an author and while my passion is to encourage people to enjoy art for art’s sake (rather than money or prestige) my many close friendships with artists demonstrate how much their life informs their art. The authors of these five books bring the art as well as the artists to life.

Michael's book list on making modern art exciting

Michael Findlay Why did Michael love this book?

She was 21, he was 61. Thousands of books have been written about Picasso, this one is unique. Gilot is an artist (whose work he admired) who became the mother of two of his children and the only woman to have left him. All Picasso’s work is about his life and this book illuminates the passions of his later years.

Women were Picasso’s most enduring subject and his relationships with them vitally inform all the decades of his work. His greatness as an artist is matched only by his failure as a partner and his poor treatment of the real women in his life is well documented. He met his match in Françoise Gilot, the only woman to have left him voluntarily. As an artist in her own right, she is in a unique position to inform us about the man and his work.

By Françoise Gilot, Carlton Lake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Francoise Gilot was a young painter in Pasis when she first met Picasso - he was sixty-two and she was twenty-one. During the following ten years they were lovers, worked closely together and she became mother to two of his children, Claude and Paloma.

Life with Picasso, her account of those extraordinary years, is filled with intimate and astonishing revelations about the man, his work, his thoughts and his friends - Matisse, Braque, Gertrude Stein and Giacometti among others. Francois Gilot paints a compelling portrait of her turbulent life with the temperamental genius that was Picasso.

She is a superb…


Book cover of The Jazz Age in France

Jim Fergus Author Of The Memory of Love

From my list on 1920’s Paris les années folles - the “crazy years”.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young boy, I dreamed of becoming a novelist. I was fascinated and inspired by Les Années Folles, The Crazy Years of 1920’s Paris, when artists of all disciplines, from countries all around the world came together electrifying the City of Lights with an artistic passion. My mother was French. France is my 2nd country, where I spend a portion of each year. While researching my novel, The Memory of Love, I stayed in the actual atelier of my protagonist Chrysis Jungbluth, a young, largely unknown painter of that era. I visited, too, the addresses of dozens of the artists who bring the era alive again in our imagination. 

Jim's book list on 1920’s Paris les années folles - the “crazy years”

Jim Fergus Why did Jim love this book?

This is a terrific coffee table-sized book with wonderful photographs of the sundry characters and vivid reproductions of paintings and other images. Here you’ll find a young, muscular Pablo Picasso with hair—on the beach in his bathing suit in front of Gerald & Sara Murphy’s villa on the Côte d’Azur. This privileged couple—he a fine avant-garde artist in his own right, and she, who became Picasso’s muse, a refined and elegant hostess—were patrons of the arts who surrounded themselves at their home with the young luminaries of the Jazz Age. Chapter headings in this stunning volume tell the tale.

At 174 large pages, this is a beautifully rendered and specific encapsulation of les années folles, from start to finish.

By Charles A. Riley II,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A panorama of the arts scene in Jazz Age France draws on letters, diaries, journals, photo albums, and private archives, in a visual exploration that includes unpublished paintings by Picasso and Leger, previously unknown works by e. e. cummings and John Dos Passos, and more. 15,000 first printing.


Book cover of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

Holly A. Baggett Author Of Making No Compromise: Margaret Anderson, Jane Heap, and the "Little Review"

From my list on how lesbians in history had fun in spite of everything.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in a small town and realizing I was gay, I saw nothing but dread ahead of me. In graduate school, I came across a one-sentence description of Margaret Anderson as a “lesbian anarchist.” I knew I was home. My book is the first full-length biography of Anderson and her partner, Jane Heap. They went through a lot of crap–they were tried for publishing Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses–but above all, they were witty rebels, strong women, and proud and out. 

Holly's book list on how lesbians in history had fun in spite of everything

Holly A. Baggett Why did Holly love this book?

Like Anderson, Gertrude Stein had a sense of humor about gay Paree. Who else would write someone else’s autobiography?

I love her tone of detached amusement when describing the artistic titans of the Lost Generation. If you don’t get it, try the recipe for Alice B. Toklas brownies. 

By Gertrude Stein,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stein's most famous work; one of the richest and most irreverent biographies ever written.


Book cover of Paris 1919-1939: Art, Life & Culture

Jim Fergus Author Of The Memory of Love

From my list on 1920’s Paris les années folles - the “crazy years”.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young boy, I dreamed of becoming a novelist. I was fascinated and inspired by Les Années Folles, The Crazy Years of 1920’s Paris, when artists of all disciplines, from countries all around the world came together electrifying the City of Lights with an artistic passion. My mother was French. France is my 2nd country, where I spend a portion of each year. While researching my novel, The Memory of Love, I stayed in the actual atelier of my protagonist Chrysis Jungbluth, a young, largely unknown painter of that era. I visited, too, the addresses of dozens of the artists who bring the era alive again in our imagination. 

Jim's book list on 1920’s Paris les années folles - the “crazy years”

Jim Fergus Why did Jim love this book?

Having read well over two dozen books on the subject of French history, with a general focus on the especially vibrant period in Paris from the end of World War I to the beginning of World War II, and a laser focus on the 1920s, I find it nearly impossible to rank these five books in the order of their importance. That said, I am choosing this book as my 1st recommendation because at 416 pages, and richly illustrated by hundreds of stunning photographs and images, it casts the broadest, most comprehensive net over this extraordinary era. I proclaim the two decades in Paris that readers will discover in this book, to represent the most important international convergence of painters, sculptors, intellectuals, novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists, dancers, actors, choreographers, musicians, composers, photographers, designers, and fashionistas, in the history of the world. Do I exaggerate? Here is a very incomplete list,…

By Vincent Bouvet, Gérard Durozoi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paris 1919-1939 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the années folles following World War I, Paris underwent a creative fever that brought artists and intellectuals from around the world to the City of Light. The bohemian charms of Montparnasse attracted artists such as Picasso, Chagall, and Giacometti, while a vibrant café culture provided a forum for disputes between Dadaists and Surrealists and gave rise to a group of expa­triate writers. The creative energy was all-encompassing, establishing Paris as the epicenter of new trends in the arts, a position it would occupy until World War II. This newest title in a celebrated series addresses such diverse topics as…


Book cover of The Weeping Woman: A Novel

Lynn Bushell Author Of Painted Ladies

From my list on artists and their muses.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an art historian and painter, I was inevitably drawn to the theme of artists and their muses when I started writing historical fiction. Female, passive, disempowered, and doomed sums up the fate of most muses. History is littered with their corpses - Rossetti’s model Lizzie Siddal committed suicide, Rodin’s model Camille Claudel went mad, Edie Sedgwick, made famous by Warhol, died of an overdose. The title ‘muse’ might offer immortality, but their lives were often hell on earth.  My books set out to understand what drove these women, some of whom were artists in their own right, to make such huge sacrifices. 

Lynn's book list on artists and their muses

Lynn Bushell Why did Lynn love this book?

We all know that Picasso wasn't very nice to his muses – nothing unusual there. He was arrogant and with a massive sense of entitlement. Dora Maar had good reason to weep. She was an artist herself – a successful painter & photographer, gaining commissions historically awarded to men and creating a radical new image of the modern woman  that's until she met Picasso. When she started to cause trouble he had her put away. It's extraordinary how many muses ended up in asylums. Unlike Rodin's muse she did get out, however. In Valdes' novel the story doesn't exactly end happily but in reality she did go on working, as a photographer, up till her death at eighty-nine. Good for you, Dora.

By Zoe Valdes, David Frye (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the prestigious Azorin Prize for Fiction, the best-selling novel about love, sacrifice, and Picasso's mistress, Dora Maar.

A writer resembling Zoe Valdes a Cuban exile living in Paris with her husband and young daughter is preparing a novel on the life of Dora Maar, one of the most promising artists in the Surrealist movement until she met Pablo Picasso. The middle-aged Picasso was already the god of the art world's avant-garde. Dora became his lover, muse, and ultimately, his victim. She became The Weeping Woman captured in his famous portrait, the mistress he betrayed with other mistress-muses, and…


Book cover of Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays

Fred Chao Author Of Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero

From my list on pop culture’s influence on the artistic process.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the writer and artist of the Johnny Hiro graphic novels. In those books, I use pop culture reference humor, but never simply as a joke. A reference can act as a hint to a world beyond the story the writer tells. I often dig slightly into an emotional resonance behind that reference—perhaps the (fictional) story of why it exists, or perhaps it even becomes an integral plot point. Popular media and culture often have a direct influence on our creative arts projects. And just sometimes, that art becomes an integral part of the popular culture itself.

Fred's book list on pop culture’s influence on the artistic process

Fred Chao Why did Fred love this book?

I read this play before I saw it, and it was great as a read. Steve Martin is obviously known as a comedic actor. But if you like the few movies he’s written, think Roxanne and LA Story, then you might want to give this one a try. It’s the fictional meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein circa 1904. Picasso has started gaining fame for his breaking of artistic boundaries, and Einstein is a year away from releasing his theory of relativity. The two men have a chance meeting in a bar and drunkenly philosophize about art, science, society, meaning, and sex. And because it’s Steve Martin, don’t be surprised if Elvis comes along.

By Steve Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An imagined meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in 1904 examines the impact of science and art on a rapidly changing society.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Pablo Picasso, Spain, and France?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Pablo Picasso, Spain, and France.

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