The most recommended anatomy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 26 experts.

26 authors created a book list connected to anatomy, and here are their favorite anatomy books.
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What type of anatomy book?


Book cover of Unhallowed: A Novel of Widdershins

Samara Breger Author Of A Long Time Dead

From my list on queer monsters who need a little kiss.

Who am I?

I am a writer and performer born and raised in New York City. In my previous life, I was an Emmy-nominated journalist and digital media producer, covering sexual and reproductive health. In addition to writing, I love musical improv, opera, Olympic weightlifting, and spending time with my wife and dog.

Samara's book list on queer monsters who need a little kiss

Samara Breger Why did Samara love this book?

Tentacles get a bad rap, which is a shame.

What most people fail to appreciate is that each new tentacle is another location for a little kiss. Vesper Rune, a warm-hearted eldritch horror, has tentacles, and, as librarian Sebastian Rath can attest, each could do with at least one little kiss.

Jordan L Hawk, author of the popular Whyborne and Griffin series, is a titan in the world of kissable monstrosities, and the cultist-turned-hero Vesper Rune is possibly my favorite. After a lifetime of hiding, he finally finds a place where he can be safe, open about both his queerness and his untraditional anatomy, and receive many little kisses. Widdershins knows its own. 

By Jordan L. Hawk,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form

Uldis Zarins Author Of Anatomy For Sculptors: Understanding the Human Figure

From my list on human anatomy for artists.

Who am I?

I’m a traditional sculptor with more than 25 years of experience. Being a dyslectic student in the 2000s, I developed a systematic approach to translating medical anatomy texts into visual information that I could use while sculpting.  All the anatomy books for artists at the time were text-centered. My reference sketches became quite popular among colleagues. It was clear that visual artists perceive information best when it’s visual, and that is how I got the idea for my first book. Now the Anatomy for Sculptors handbooks are bestsellers among visual artists striving to better understand the human form.

Uldis' book list on human anatomy for artists

Uldis Zarins Why did Uldis love this book?

Eliot Goldfinger’s book is very precise, reliable, and not too lengthy. Its systematic approach reminds me of a medical anatomy book, but it has been adapted for artists. The book is consistent in its depictions of human anatomy, and you will find each anatomical structure depicted from set angles: front, side, top, etc. It’s not always easy to find reliable human anatomy references, but this is one of them.

By Eliot Goldfinger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Human Anatomy for Artists as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eliot Goldfinger, a realistic sculptor and instructor of human and animal anatomy, has designed and written a reference work for artists and art students on the visual and descriptive components of human anatomy. The format is simple and accessible; all information about one aspect of a topic is set forth on facing pages. For example, the anterior leg muscle is illustrated in a series of precise anatomical drawings and well-lit photos, with text on origin,
insertion, action, structure, and how it relates to creating surface form directly opposite the pictures. Unique to this book are photographs of a series of…

Book cover of Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are

Kerrie Holley Author Of AI-First Healthcare: AI Applications in the Business and Clinical Management of Health

From my list on artificial intelligence in health care.

Who am I?

I fell in love with technology when I wrote my first computer program at age 14 when there was no public Internet, no personal computers, no iPhone, no cloud. I have made technical contributions to every era of computing from mainframes, to PCs, Internet, Cloud, and now AI. I was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. AI currently surpasses my wildest imagination on the art of what’s possible. I'm still passionately working in technology at Google focused on how to live healthier lives. I believe we can make AI the telescope of the future, to helping everyone live long and healthy lives.

Kerrie's book list on artificial intelligence in health care

Kerrie Holley Why did Kerrie love this book?

The opening paragraph of this book is pure poetry in motion, putting me in a trance and craving to read the entire book. 

You wouldn’t know this is a book about neuroscience when reading the opening lines in Chapter 1. Connectome is a thought-provoking exploration of the brain's neural connections and their potential to transform our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. 

Given that artificial intelligence is inspired by neuroscience it’s a great book to understand how the brain works.

By Sebastian Seung,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Connectome, by Sebastian Seung is 'One of the most eagerly awaited scientific books of the year ... intellectually exhilarating, beautifully written, exquisitely precise yet still managing to be inspirational' Irish Times

What really makes us who we are? In this groundbreaking book, pioneering neuroscientist Sebastian Seung shows that our identity does not lie in our genes, but in the connections between our brain cells - our own particular wiring, or 'connectomes'.

Everything about us - emotions, thoughts, memories - is encoded in these tangled patterns of neural connections, and now Seung and a dedicated team are mapping them in order…

Book cover of Leonardo Da Vinci: A Singular Vision

Susan Dorothea White Author Of Draw Like Da Vinci

From my list on the drawing techniques of great masters and great mistresses.

Who am I?

A practising artist for more than 60 years, my main source of inspiration is people and the natural world. I work in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, and printmaking. Drawing is the foundation of my art and I always keep a sketchbook handy. As a left-hander in a right-handed world, drawing became my main means of expression from an early age, when I instinctively wrote back-to-front with my left hand but was made to use my right. In addition to my art practice, I have taught drawing and developed a teaching method based on 7 principles that are outlined in Draw Like da Vinci.  

Susan's book list on the drawing techniques of great masters and great mistresses

Susan Dorothea White Why did Susan love this book?

This is my favorite book on drawings by Leonardo, with the best from his broad œuvre of head studies, figures, children, anatomy, plants, horses, mechanics, buildings, water dynamics, and aerial landscapes. The quality of the color reproductions is superb. The text is insightful with quotes from Leonardo. I love the silverpoint figure drawings with white chalk highlights on blue paper that Leonardo prepared himself. Leonardo’s understanding of anatomy, combined with the flesh-colored line of oxidized metal, make the figures leap from the page.

I was astonished to learn that Leonardo used black chalk under-drawing in his anatomical ink studies. The correlation between Leonardo’s studies and his paintings is enlightening – in drawings for The Last Supper, Leonardo expresses the anguish in the head of St Philip with a few skillful lines and captures the look of disdain in the head of Judas in red chalk on red ground. I…

By Martin Clayton,

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?

The full range of Leonardo's genius is revealed in this elegant book, which reproduces for the first time many unfamiliar drawings from the masters hand as well as more widely known works.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was arguably the greatest draftsman in the history of Western art. Best known as a painter, he also excelled as sculptor, architect, musician, anatomist, botanist, engineer, geologist, and mapmaker. But since he completed few of his projects, most of his work is known to us only through his drawings and notes. This selection of 100 sheets from the collection at Windsor Castle are presented…

Book cover of Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist

Ron Husband Author Of Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

From my list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist.

Who am I?

I've been drawing for over 68 years and carrying a sketchbook for over 60 of those years. I've seen success as an author, I'm an award-winning illustrator of books and magazines and animated many classic Disney features. Am I an expert on sketching humans and animals? ...No. I'm constantly learning in my effort to capture humans and animals in action by following the basic principles of drawing as they apply to quick sketching. My learning is aided by these books as I prepare lesson plans or the encouragement and inspiration found within their pages. I'm married to LaVonne, my high school sweetheart of 50 years, and have three grown children and six grandchildren.

Ron's book list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist

Ron Husband Why did Ron love this book?

This book laid the foundation of the importance of anatomy for me. I was first introduced to the pages as a college student and over fifty years later I use it as reference for myself and the students I teach. The author, through the use of his thorough, detailed illustrations, charts, photographs and explanations guide us through a maze of complicated body parts. His mastery of the human body allows him to visually present this complex topic into easily understandable material. The information contained within its pages has also been invaluable to me over the years as a constant reference in my quick sketching, illustration, and animation projects.

By Stephen Rogers Peck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stephen Rogers Peck's Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist remains unsurpassed as a manual for students. It includes sections on bones, muscles, surface anatomy, proportion, equilibrium, and locomotion. Other unique features are sections on the types of human physique, anatomy from birth to old age, an orientation on racial anatomy, and an analysis of facial expressions. The wealth of information offered by the Atlas ensures its place as a classic
for the study of the human form.

Book cover of Figure Drawing: For All It's Worth

Brian C Hailes Author Of The Dynamic Female Figure

From my list on art references for drawing the human figure.

Who am I?

Born at the base of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, I began exploring and sketching the world—as most children do—at a very early age. I continued to pursue not only my artistic path through traditional schooling, higher education, and endless hours of practice, but also my love of storytelling. Intrigued by Science Fiction and Fantasy, many of my projects reflect elements of the fantastic, but I also appreciate the beauty and elegance in fine art masterpieces. I studied illustration and graphic design at Utah State University and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I currently live in Salt Lake City with my beautiful wife and four boys, where I continue to write, paint and draw regularly.

Brian's book list on art references for drawing the human figure

Brian C Hailes Why did Brian love this book?

This figure drawing guide is a classic, and for good reason. Artist Andrew Loomis wrote this book for those who have graduated from the fundamentals of drawing and are ready to embark on their artistic careers. The focus is on aesthetic as well as practical, and leans toward a more commercial approach rather than fine art, but will be helpful to both disciplines. Loomis includes chapters on anatomy, planes and lighting, drawing from living models, the figure in action, and costume, among others. He discusses idealization and other tricks of the trade to help the reader produce superior work. Explanatory sketches and examples of some of his own best sketches appear on almost every page. Originally published in 1943 this book continues as a solid reference for artists struggling to perfect their own skills.

By Andrew Loomis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The illustrator Andrew Loomis (1892-1959) is revered amongst artists - including comics superstar Alex Ross - for his mastery of figure drawing and his clean, realist style. His hugely influential series of art instruction books have never been bettered, and "Figure Drawing" is the first in Titan's programme of facsimile editions, returning these classic titles to print for the first time in decades.

Book cover of The Unfeathered Bird

Dougal Dixon Author Of After Man: A Zoology of the Future

From my list on popular depiction of evolution.

Who am I?

Dougal Dixon graduated from the University of St. Andrews with two degrees in geology. But although his education was entirely scientific his background was deeply artistic – a potentially unemployable combination back in the ‘70s. And so he ended up in publishing, as the Earth Science editor for an illustrated encyclopedia publisher. Since then he has become a full-time writer, specializing in geological articles for encyclopedias, handbooks on fossil collecting, and principally children’s books on dinosaurs. As well as that he has done a number of books on speculative evolution – exploring the principles of biology in novel ways.

Dougal's book list on popular depiction of evolution

Dougal Dixon Why did Dougal love this book?

So you want to paint dinosaurs? An artist depicting a modern animal works from life, or works from photographs. Neither option is open to the dinosaur artist. But now that we know that dinosaurs are evolved from birds we have modern examples that can give us a start – at least we can see the layout of muscles and how they bulk out the body around the skeleton. This book is a wonderful atlas of bird parts and can provide a perfect guide to how bones are articulated and how the muscles are built up. It is the nearest that a dinosaur artist will get to a direct visual reference! And it is so beautifully done that it works as a coffee table book – something to be just looked at and admired.

By Katerina van Grouw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There is more to a bird than simply feathers. And just because birds evolved from a single flying ancestor doesn't mean they are structurally all the same. With over 385 stunning drawings depicting 200 species, The Unfeathered Bird is a richly illustrated book on bird anatomy that offers refreshingly original insights into what goes on beneath the feathered surface. Each exquisite drawing is made from an actual specimen and reproduced in sumptuous large format. The birds are shown in lifelike positions and engaged in behavior typical of the species: an underwater view of the skeleton of a swimming loon, the…

Book cover of Ensnared

J.D. Astra Author Of Brutal Rival

From J.D.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Smut connoisseur Fantasy devourer 3-Star chef Dungeon master

J.D.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

J.D. Astra Why did J.D. love this book?

Set aside the fact that this book is a romance between a human woman and a spidertaur man, the world-building is incredible. There’s a fully fleshed-out alien civilization whose anatomy and environment were considered when crafting their culture. It was incredibly well done.

The book is beautifully written, with expressive prose and descriptive settings. The smut (if you don’t have arachnophobia) will make you fan yourself, and it doesn’t feel forced as you might expect.

It’s a HEA three-book series that’s complete and definitely binge-worthy. I demolished the series in three days.

There’s promise of expanded universe content coming soon, and I’m here for it. Tiffany Roberts is my favorite author duo right now for good reason.

Book cover of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Jessica Pierce Author Of The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives

From my list on thinking differently on human-animal relationships.

Who am I?

What does it mean to live a good life in a world shared with a multitude of other beings? I’ve spent my career exploring this question, in both my personal and my professional life. In my work as a bioethicist, I’ve researched and written about how to integrate environmental values into health care and medical research; how to think through (and survive) caring for a companion animal who is nearing the end of life; and why keeping pets is ethically problematic. My most current project—in collaboration with my canine companion Bella—is about ethics in human-dog relationships.  

Jessica's book list on thinking differently on human-animal relationships

Jessica Pierce Why did Jessica love this book?

Bailey’s book is about a friendship (one-sided perhaps) between a woman and a snail. She describes her growing affection for a woodland snail who is trapped inside with her during a long illness. Although Bailey isn’t offering commentary on pet-keeping, her book suggests a compelling alternative to loving animals—especially creatures we bring in from the wild—by making them into our pets. She shows us how to encounter another creature with curiosity, wonder, and respect.

By Elisabeth Tova Bailey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While an illness keeps her bedridden, Elisabeth Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence in a terrarium alongside her bed. She enters the rhythm of life of this mysterious creature, and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world. In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, she shares the inspiring and intimate story of her close encounter with Neohelix albolabris - a common woodland snail.

Intrigued by the snail's world - from its strange anatomy to its mysterious courtship activities - she becomes a fascinated and amused…

Book cover of The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature

James Gurney Author Of Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist

From my list on anatomy and drawing.

Who am I?

My name is James Gurney and I've been a professional illustrator for National Geographic and Scientific American for over 40 years. Although I went to art school, everything I know about drawing and painting comes from studying art instruction books, and from sketching directly from nature. I'm best known for writing and illustrating the New York Times bestselling Dinotopia book series, published in 32 countries and 18 languages. I designed 15 dinosaur stamps for USPS and a set of five dinosaur stamps for Australia Post. My originals have been shown in over 35 solo museum exhibitions. My book Color and Light has sold over 200k copies and was Amazon's #1 bestselling book on painting for over a year.

James' book list on anatomy and drawing

James Gurney Why did James love this book?

Disney animator Ken Hultgren shares an approach to drawing animals that emphasizes the unique characteristics of all the major types of mammals. His style features action poses ranging from straight to cartoony. His pen-and-ink drawings are usually accompanied by a skeletal analysis to help students see the hidden structure. He never loses sight of the lines of action flowing through a pose, something that both realist painters and cartoonists can benefit from.

By Ken Hultgren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"You'll learn everything there is to learn about drawing animals." — Collectors' Corner
This thoughtful and incisive guidebook, written by a former animator for Walt Disney Studios, will help artists at many skill levels improve their ability to draw a wide variety of animal forms both realistically and as caricatures.
You'll learn why the author considers construction, action analysis, and caricature all-important for a clear understanding of animal anatomy and movement. You'll also benefit from Mr. Hultgren's expert
advice and tips on catching the essential movement and character of animals and avoiding the stiff, wooden poses that are the frequent…