100 books like Understanding the Beauty Appreciation Trait

By Rhett Diessner,

Here are 100 books that Understanding the Beauty Appreciation Trait fans have personally recommended if you like Understanding the Beauty Appreciation Trait. 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 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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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…


Book cover of Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Ellen Dissanayake was a primary force in the modern era to bring evolution into the conversation of why we have and often revere art. For her, art promotes social cohesion in small groups and making objects special through ritual lies at the root of making art. If you want to learn about how evolution might have promoted the creation of art, this book is the place to start.

By Ellen Dissanayake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Dissanayake argues that art was central to human evolutionary adaptation and that the aesthetic faculty is a basic psychological component of every human being. In her view, art is intimately linked to the origins of religious practices and to ceremonies of birth, death, transition, and transcendence. Drawing on her years in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea, she gives examples of painting, song, dance, and drama as behaviors that enable participants to grasp and reinforce what is important to their cognitive world."-Publishers Weekly"Homo Aestheticus offers a wealth of original and critical thinking. It will inform and irritate specialist, student,…


Book cover of Feeling Beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

This book is an excellent example of interdisciplinarity. Gabrielle Starr is a humanist—a literary scholar, by training—who probes neuroscience methods and how brain sciences can contribute to our understanding of aesthetics. She addresses literature, poetry, music, and visual art with ideas informed by experimental neuroaesthetics work.

By G. Gabrielle Starr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A theory of the neural bases of aesthetic experience across the arts, which draws on the tools of both cognitive neuroscience and traditional humanist inquiry.

In Feeling Beauty, G. Gabrielle Starr argues that understanding the neural underpinnings of aesthetic experience can reshape our conceptions of aesthetics and the arts. Drawing on the tools of both cognitive neuroscience and traditional humanist inquiry, Starr shows that neuroaesthetics offers a new model for understanding the dynamic and changing features of aesthetic life, the relationships among the arts, and how individual differences in aesthetic judgment shape the varieties of aesthetic experience.

Starr, a scholar…


Book cover of Brain, Beauty, and Art: Essays Bringing Neuroaesthetics Into Focus

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

This collection of essays will bring you up-to-date with the neuroscience of aesthetics. Each essay is written by foundational researchers whose empirical work launched the field. The essays are anchored to an original, peer-reviewed paper from the short history of this new and burgeoning discipline. Together, these essays establish the territory and current boundaries of neuroaesthetics and identify its most promising future directions.

By Anjan Chatterjee (editor), Eileen Cardilo (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Aesthetics has long been the preserve of philosophy, art history, and the creative arts but, more recently, the fields of psychology and neuroscience have entered the discussion, and the field of neuroaesthetics has been born.

In Brain, Beauty, and Art, leading scholars in this nascent field reflect on the promise of neuroaesthetics to enrich our understanding of this universal yet diverse facet of human experience. The volume consists of essays from foundational researchers whose empirical work launched the field. Each essay is anchored to an original, peer-reviewed paper from the short history of this new and burgeoning subdiscipline of cognitive…


Book cover of Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening

Paul Harris Author Of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

From my list on musical pedagogy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.

Paul's book list on musical pedagogy

Paul Harris Why did Paul love this book?

This book explores music in a delightfully refreshing way where the author considers music essentially an activity and develops his concept of ‘musicking’ or ‘doing music’ in all its various ways. He gives much confidence to those who may think ‘they are not very good at music’ to take part in a much more enthusiastic and practical way. It’s a lovely way in to the exploration of this wonderful art.

By Christopher Small,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Extending the inquiry of his early groundbreaking books, Christopher Small strikes at the heart of traditional studies of Western music by asserting that music is not a thing, but rather an activity. In this new book, Small outlines a theory of what he terms "musicking," a verb that encompasses all musical activity from composing to performing to listening to a Walkman to singing in the shower.

Using Gregory Bateson's philosophy of mind and a Geertzian thick description of a typical concert in a typical symphony hall, Small demonstrates how musicking forms a ritual through which all the participants explore and…


Book cover of The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music

Barry Green Author Of The Inner Game of Music

From my list on music inspiration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the former Principal bassist with the Cincinnati Symphony and am currently active as a soloist, educator, and author of three books on the mind, body, and spirit of music. My first book is about the mind, The Inner Game of Music, followed by The Mastery of Music on the human spirit of over 120 great musicians and Bringing Music to Life exploring physical skills of communication of all artists, actors, and dancers. I hope to inspire artists of all disciplines, that our performances come from our hearts and souls and not the technical form of dance, music, or words. Performers express feelings and use this gift to spread inspiration and joy to the world.

Barry's book list on music inspiration

Barry Green Why did Barry love this book?

The music lesson is a must-read for not only every musician but an inspiration to non-musicians as well. The book captures the real reason for playing music. The book straddles between a fictional novel and an indispensable true story of why we play music. It is clear in every word, page, and chapter that we play music to share feelings and communicate inspirational messages that can change your life, make you happy, fulfilled, inspired, and thirst for more. 

I love this book not only for the content and inspirational message, but for the style of writing. It’s so engaging to read because he makes you feel like you are in the same room, on the same stage, and with the same band as Victor. Love it!

By Victor Wooten,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Grammy-winning musical icon and legendary bassist Victor L. Wooten comes an inspiring parable of music, life, and the difference between playing all the right notes...and feeling them.

The Music Lesson is the story of a struggling young musician who wanted music to be his life, and who wanted his life to be great. Then, from nowhere it seemed, a teacher arrived. Part musical genius, part philosopher, part eccentric wise man, the teacher would guide the young musician on a spiritual journey, and teach him that the gifts we get from music mirror those from life, and every movement, phrase,…


Book cover of Words & Wisdom

Jan Marsh Author Of The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

From my list on William Morris and his family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a lifelong admiration for William Morris’s eloquent writings on political optimism. And how these fit with the personal life of his wife Janey and daughter May. This began with my biography of the two women, published by the feminist Pandora Press and continuing through to editing Jane Morris’s Collected Letters. Admiration is also critical engagement rather than simple fandom. We need to think, act, and endeavor to promote how we might live better lives in the world. I love the task of relating individual lives in the context of their time. Biography involves historical imagination to fill the gaps in recorded information and conceive how those in the past thought, felt and behaved.   

Jan's book list on William Morris and his family

Jan Marsh Why did Jan love this book?

It’s a compact 100+ pages with 80 images, showcasing Morris’s passionately held view that beautiful, functional design should be accessible to all. All expressed through quotations from his own words and those of his friends, colleagues, and biographers.  

Fits in a pocket and is a perfect introduction for those who do not yet know of Morris’s ideas and influence. Also a handy source of quotations on the aesthetics of design.

By William Morris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born in London in 1834, William Morris was a radical thinker whose democratic vision for society and art has continued to influence designers, artists and writersto this day, long after his death in 1896. He was a gifted poet, architect, painter, writer and textile designer, who also founded the Kelmscott Press, the most famous of the Arts and Crafts private presses. Morris's ideas later came to influence the Garden City movement, as well as numerous artists and craftspeople, who sought to negotiate a viable place within the modern world in the troubled years that followed the First World War. His…


Book cover of Rhetoric

Sam Leith Author Of Words Like Loaded Pistols: The Power of Rhetoric from the Iron Age to the Information Age

From my list on rhetoric and the art of persuasion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist and critic who fell in love with the ancient art of rhetoric through Shakespeare, Chaucer… and Barack Obama. It was when I watched Obama’s consciously and artfully classical oratory as he campaigned for the 2008 election that my undergraduate interest in tricolons, epistrophe, aposiopesis and all that jazz surged back to the front of my mind. I went on to write a 2011 book arguing that not only is this neglected area of study fascinating, but it is the most important tool imaginable to understand politics, language, and human nature itself. Where there is language, there is rhetoric.  

Sam's book list on rhetoric and the art of persuasion

Sam Leith Why did Sam love this book?

Aristotle is the OG: the first person to think seriously about how persuading other people with words might be a craft that can be practised, learned, and taught.

He was the first to identify the three ways you convince someone – ethos (the speaker’s connection with the audience), pathos (emotion), and logos (the argument itself) – and did so two and a half thousand years ago. I find that just thrilling. 

By Aristotle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rhetoric as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

One of the seminal works of Western philosophy, Aristotle's Rhetoric vastly influenced all subsequent thought on the subject — philosophical, political, and literary. Focusing on the use of language as both a vehicle and a tool to shape persuasive argument, Aristotle delineates with remarkable insight both practical and aesthetic elements and their proper combination in an effective presentation, oral or written. He also emphasizes the role of language in achieving precision and clarity of thought.
The ancients regarded rhetoric as the crowning intellectual discipline — the synthesis of logical principles and other knowledge attained from years of schooling. Modern readers…


Book cover of In Praise of Shadows

Alan Hughes Author Of Interior Design Drawing

From my list on exploring interior design and our understanding.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child my heroes were designers and I thought designers could design across many disciplines, this was what I understood and aspired to. I'm fortunate to have been a designer, illustrator, and design teacher for many years. Passionate about the process I firmly believe if you can design in one area you can design in another. Understanding your material's potential is the key. As a tutor and author my job is to unwrap a student’s talent, support and encourage that unique view through skills building and advice to help them. I believe good design can solve many of the world’s problems and passing on that message is valuable.

Alan's book list on exploring interior design and our understanding

Alan Hughes Why did Alan love this book?

An exploration by this famous novelist contrasts the Japanese and the west’s approach to what it means to dwell and inhabit. Light, texture, and culture are explored from an aesthetic point of view and as a design choice through various explorations of sensory experience be that of food, traditional Japanese toilets, or the impact of electric light. An evocative and practical essay for anyone interested in the way we inhabit our environments. This book was a powerful reminder that cultural differences and the history behind them need to be understood and welcomed for the contrast and the alternative view they reveal.  

By Junichirō Tanizaki,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In Praise of Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings. The book also includes descriptions of laquerware under candlelight and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure.


Book cover of Let Love Come Last

Rebecca Jones-Howe Author Of Ending in Ashes: A Short Story Collection

From my list on accompanying your sad girl aesthetic.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, books and music became a refuge for the feelings I found I couldn't express aloud. I loved artists like Garbage and The Dresden Dolls. I felt most at home in stories about female angst, sexuality, and rage. Female stories helped me understand the dichotomy of the madonna/whore complex. They helped me understand where my emotions clashed with societal expectations, and how to push at those boundaries in a constructive way. I've always been fascinated with female rage, and stories that poke a stick into the body of the "good girl" stereotype always make for a cathartic and validating read. Females can be anti-heroes too.

Rebecca's book list on accompanying your sad girl aesthetic

Rebecca Jones-Howe Why did Rebecca love this book?

I picked up this book on a whim and was lured by the premise, which essentially lays out the story of a woman who marries a successful man at the turn of the century.

It's your standard "wealthy family has everything but they're all miserable" book but with Edwardian vibes. The narrative follows every member of the family, the saga of which I found so riveting. There was a bit of romance and angst and loneliness, specifically around the book's protagonist, Ursula.

This book resonated with me in a way that similar books haven't, which goes to show just what period drama can do, showing you that humans still struggle with the same stuff, no matter the time or place, but with a dash of romantic gothic aesthetic to make it fun.

By Taylor Caldwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Let Love Come Last as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FORMER LIBRARY BOOK WITH USUAL STAMPS & MARKINGS. SAME COVER AS STOCK PHOTO SHOWN. MINOR EDGE WEAR, SOME CHAFING & DINGS ON SPINE AND COVERS. CONTENT PAGES TANNED & WITH OCCASIONAL DISCOLORATION.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in aesthetics, neuroscience, and pedagogy?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about aesthetics, neuroscience, and pedagogy.

Aesthetics Explore 63 books about aesthetics
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Pedagogy Explore 12 books about pedagogy