The most recommended books on artists

Who picked these books? Meet our 106 experts.

106 authors created a book list connected to artists, and here are their favorite artist books.
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What type of artist book?


Art & Fear

By Ted Orland, David Bayles,

Book cover of Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

Paulette Perhach Author Of Welcome to the Writer's Life: How to Design Your Writing Craft, Writing Business, Writing Practice, and Reading Practice

From the list on inspire a creative life.

Who am I?

Paulette Perhach is an author and writing coach with work in the New York Times, Elle, Vice, Marie Claire, Yoga Journal, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her book is Welcome to the Writer's Life, which was selected as one of Poets & Writers' Best Books for Writers. She helps other writers figure out how to make a life and identity out of being a writer while making the money work (as she figures it out for herself.) She continues to write about writing craft, business skills, personal finance, and joy on her website.

Paulette's book list on inspire a creative life

Why did Paulette love this book?

A guide to making art for those of use who are not geniuses. Don’t worry about making a masterpiece, just make your pieces of art. If you have a hard time letting yourself make bad art, so that you can one day make great art, this is the one to start with.

By Ted Orland, David Bayles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Art & Fear is about the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. Drawing on the authors' own experiences as two working artists, the book delves into the internal and external challenges to making art in the real world, and shows how they can be overcome every day.

First published in 1994, Art & Fear quickly became an underground classic, and word-of-mouth has placed it among the best-selling books on artmaking and creativity. Written by artists for artists, it…

Holy Terror

By Bob Colacello,

Book cover of Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up

Michael Findlay Author Of Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art

From the list on making modern art exciting.

Who am I?

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

Why did Michael love this book?

Of the many biographies of Andy Warhol this early one remains the best, written by a man who worked and partied with the artist in the heyday of the artist’s glamorous world (and I make another brief cameo appearance). Everything about the enigmatic icon of contemporary art continues to inform our culture and I was deeply influenced not only by Warhol’s paintings but by my friendship with him from 1964 until his death in 1987. In books and movies he has been transformed into a cultural icon rather than the complicated amusing hard-working artist I knew. Bob Colacello wrote this book shortly after Warhol died and for me is the best portrait of the “real” Andy Warhol and the era he helped to define.

By Bob Colacello,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1960s, Andy Warhol’s paintings redefined modern art. His films provoked heated controversy, and his Factory was a hangout for the avant-garde. In the 1970s, after Valerie Solanas’s attempt on his life, Warhol become more entrepreneurial, aligning himself with the rich and famous. Bob Colacello, the editor of Warhol’s Interview magazine, spent that decade by Andy’s side as employee, collaborator, wingman, and confidante.

In these pages, Colacello takes us there with Andy: into the Factory office, into Studio 54, into wild celebrity-studded parties, and into the early-morning phone calls where the mysterious artist was at his most honest and…

Nature's Friend

By Lindsey McDivitt, Eileen Ryan Ewen (illustrator),

Book cover of Nature's Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story

Elizabeth Brown Author Of Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler

From the list on women artists who broke barriers.

Who am I?

I have been involved in the arts all my life, working as a writer, in film, and as a musician. I have degrees in music and creative writing and have studied visual arts and art history extensively as well. Besides being an author, I teach writing and humanities at the college level. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do!

Elizabeth's book list on women artists who broke barriers

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Gwen Frostic overcame disability as a child to become one of the most famous nature artists. Through her engaging art and writing, Frostic reminded people to stop and revel in the wonder and beauty of the natural world which is all around. The colorful illustrations highlight the informative and lyrical text. 

By Lindsey McDivitt, Eileen Ryan Ewen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nature's Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2019 Green Earth Book Awards - Long List The art and writing of Gwen Frostic are well known in her home state of Michigan and around the world, but this picture book biography tells the story behind Gwen's famous work. After a debilitating illness as a child, Gwen sought solace in art and nature. She learned to be persistent and independent--never taking no for an answer or letting her disabilities define her. After creating artwork for famous Detroiters and for display at the World's Fair and helping to build WWII bombers, Gwen moved her printmaking business to northern Michigan. She…

Riders in the Chariot

By Patrick White,

Book cover of Riders in the Chariot

Tariq Goddard Author Of Nature and Necessity

From Tariq's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Enthusiast Absolute beginner Publisher Good sport

Tariq's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Tariq's 9, 11, and 17-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Tariq love this book?

There was one night reading this, when the story affected my breathing, heart rate, and time left on this planet, for the worse, as I galloped through it even though I knew every paragraph could hold up to a few years worth of study, if I hadnt been so impatient to learn more!

Very crudely, White seems to say that it doesnt matter what people do, goodness matters and the imaginative and usually obtrusive ways in which he shows good is often quieter than evil, more basic and durable, but sometimes not as strong, seem to me the discipline he tried to train himself in, to get it all down and write the novel in the first place.

That story often feels more painted than written, and when written, written in Australian and not English; people seem to speak when its someone elses turn…

By Patrick White,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Riders in the Chariot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Through the crumbling ruins of the once splendid Xanadu, Miss Hare wanders, half-mad. In the wilderness she stumbles upon an Aborigine artist and a Jewish refugee. They place themselves in the care of a local washerwoman. In a world of pervasive evil, all four have been independently damaged and discarded. Now in one shared vision they find themselves bound together, understanding the possibility of redemption.

This Little Artist

By Joan Holub, Daniel Roode (illustrator),

Book cover of This Little Artist: An Art History Primer

Lorie Ann Grover Author Of I Love All of Me (Wonderful Me)

From the list on children's board books to cut your teeth on.

Who am I?

In the course of everyday life, when I’m writing books for middle grade and young adult readers, board books spring to my mind. Sometimes they come from catching a glimpse of a child hugging a parent, or they may spring from a phrase I overhear or say myself. That sounds like a board book, I think, and I write it down quickly. Sometimes, I’ll wake in the night, and a board book text will come to me in rhyme. Along with writing board books, I’ve been recommending quality works at the readertotz blog since 2009 in order to raise the profile of the format. Authors, illustrators, and publishers must create the very best quality, and then we must support, enjoy, and celebrate the works. A simple eight words may introduce a first reader to a love of books for life.

Lorie's book list on children's board books to cut your teeth on

Why did Lorie love this book?

Part of the This Little series, Joan Holub’s This Little Artist is an introduction to art history for our wee ones. Daniel Roode’s stylized figures with big round eyes illustrate greats such as Michelangelo, Mary Cassatt, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. A rhyme and portrait give an introduction on the left-hand page, and several facts follow to accompany the artist in their own setting on the right page. The book concludes with eighteen other artists and their techniques, as well as questioning what your reader might create. This is a little treasure of creativity and inspiration.  

By Joan Holub, Daniel Roode (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Learn all about artists who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for creators-in-training!

Painting, shaping, making art.
With creative joy, hands, and heart.

Little artists have great big imaginations.

In this follow up to This Little President, This Little Explorer, This Little Trailblazer, and This Little Scientist now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering artists in history! Highlighting ten memorable artists who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this creativity primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Everywhere Disappeared

By Patrick Kyle,

Book cover of Everywhere Disappeared

George Wylesol Author Of 2120

From the list on graphic novels that reinvent the book (literally).

Who am I?

I’m an artist who likes to write, but I’ve never been interested in classic superhero or pulp graphic novels. Early in my career, the word “comics” felt like an insult—it's not “real art,” right? Too childish! While that instinct was definitely wrong, I found a (small) world of experimental, abstract, genre-breaking graphic novels that combine art and writing in a wholly unique way. This is a list of some of my recent favorites that have inspired my drawing and writing practice, and will hopefully inspire you. 

George's book list on graphic novels that reinvent the book (literally)

Why did George love this book?

You could really choose any graphic novel by Patrick Kyle—they’re all excellent. I personally like this collection of his short stories. The art is abstract, cartoony, expressive, drawn with a stylistic boldness not often seen in graphic novels. 

The art could stand on its own, and often I find myself skimming this novel just to look at the art. But the narratives themselves are the real key here—completely original, contemporary thinking that discusses things like the end of cell phones and purifying skin creams. These narratives will change the way you think about narrative.

By Patrick Kyle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A keen observer of the absurd, Patrick Kyle's stories defamiliarize the machinations of life, work, and art with droll dialogue and his angular, humanely geometric drawing and sci-fi settings that recall set design more than satellite images. Kyle's figures may be foreign and his settings strange, but his stories resonate deeply.

Patrick Kyle lives and works in Toronto, ON. He is the author of the graphic novels Black Mass (2012), Distance Mover (2014), and Don't Come In Here (2016). At the 2016 Doug Wright Awards, he won the Pigskin Peters Award for New Comics #6 and #7.

Leonardo Da Vinci

By Walter Isaacson,

Book cover of Leonardo Da Vinci

Peter Zheutlin Author Of Spin: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story

From Peter's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Bicycle enthusiast Lapsed lawyer Devoted father Wordsmith Dog Lover

Peter's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Peter love this book?

We all know who Leonardo was, but only in the broadest brush. I learned so much from this book about one of the true geniuses to ever grace the planet.

The depth and breadth of Leonardo’s talents – painter, sculptor, engineer, inventor, anatomist – was staggering. And I was in awe of Isaacson’s ability to gather so much information about a man who lived centuries ago and turn it into a highly readable and engaging biography.

By Walter Isaacson,

Why should I read it?

4 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…

Talking to Faith Ringgold

By Faith Ringgold,

Book cover of Talking to Faith Ringgold

Susan Goldman Rubin Author Of The Quilts of Gee's Bend

From the list on quilting created by African American women.

Who am I?

I first saw the quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Whitney Museum in New York. I was wowed! I viewed the quilts as works of art and included some in a book I was doing, Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings. But I wanted to show and tell more about the quilters. Who were these women who dreamed up incredible designs and made art out of scraps despite their poverty and hard lives? Since I never quilted I had to find out how they did it, and realized that quilting not only produced covers for their families, but expressed individual creativity, and brought women together.

Susan's book list on quilting created by African American women

Why did Susan love this book?

Faith Ringgold, an acclaimed Black artist who grew up in Harlem, tells about her childhood and explains the process of creating her extraordinary painted quilts such as Tar Beach, Sonny’s Quilt, and Dancing at the Louvre. Each tells a story. “When I was starting out,” she wrote, “there were hardly any galleries that showed the work of black women, or women at all.”  Her quilts are now housed in museums and public collections nationwide. Full-color reproductions of her work, as well as vintage photos, illustrate this inspiring book.

By Faith Ringgold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Talking to Faith Ringgold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her own words, here is a conversational account of Faith Ringgold's life and work--in an innovative, interactive format. Presented in short sections, such as "Introducing Myself," "Growing Up," and "Being an Artist," the author and illustrator comments on her achievements, how she developed her style, and what some of her works mean to her. Ideal for use in the classroom or at home, the book also contains suggestions for activities and projects.

Book cover of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

Elizabeth Spann Craig Author Of Checked Out

From Elizabeth's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Reader Health nut Organized

Elizabeth's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I love reading and writing books about friendships. The one featured in this book is unique: between a pair of terminally-ill patients, one a teen, one an octogenarian.

Full of humor and excellent character development, it’s a thoughtful, beautiful story about making your own family, handling life changes with grace, and the knowledge that it's never too late for true love.

By Marianne Cronin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Emotional, involving, witty and sad. Everyone is going to love Lenni and Margot'

'Lenni and Margot are two of the most wonderful, warm, witty and wise heroines I've ever met. Beautiful and glorious' CLARE POOLEY, author of The Authenticity Project

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

Life is short.

No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni. But as…

Daily Rituals

By Mason Currey (editor),

Book cover of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

Fumio Sasaki Author Of Hello, Habits: A Minimalist's Guide to a Better Life

From the list on harnessing the power of habits.

Who am I?

When I became a minimalist, I found that having less made my household chores so much easier. Before then, I thought I was a loser who lets dirty dishes and laundry pile up. But when my environment changed, what I had believed was my personality also shifted. Once my apartment was tidy, it became a habit to do the dishes right away and vacuum the floor before going out, and my life became consistently enjoyable. But other habits were harder nuts to crack, like quitting drinking or exercising regularly. In Hello, Habits I write about my journey of acquiring these habits through a process of trial and error.

Fumio's book list on harnessing the power of habits

Why did Fumio love this book?

This book summarizes the habits of 161 famous geniuses—authors, musicians, philosophers, and more. When we think of someone who’s a genius, we tend to imagine someone living a very eccentric life. But according to this book, many geniuses actually spend their days in a very regular, disciplined manner: they wake up early, get their work done in the morning, take a nap, and go for a walk. (Of course, some of them do live an eccentric life, like Marcel Proust.) As it turns out, people become geniuses not by waiting for inspiration to randomly strike, but by developing good working habits and devoting time to their work every day.

By Mason Currey (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

More than 150 inspired—and inspiring—novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians on how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do.

Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”
Kafka is one of 161 minds who describe their daily rituals to…

Book cover of The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau

Kristin Cashore Author Of Winterkeep

From the list on mysteries—and solutions—you never saw coming.

Who am I?

As a reader and writer, I work with a pretty broad definition of “mystery.” You’ll find my own novels in the fantasy section of the bookstore, but my books are mysteries too — and romances, and tales of adventure, and intimate character studies, and reflections on our reality, no matter how fantastical the worlds in which they take place. I love melding genres! So when I think of my favorite mysteries, I try not to limit myself to the mystery section of the bookstore. Few things make me happier than discovering partway through a book that a mystery has been building that I didn’t even notice.

Kristin's book list on mysteries—and solutions—you never saw coming

Why did Kristin love this book?

I’m going to guess that most adults don’t encounter many picture books, except in the context of introducing them to children. I would like to humbly suggest that if your reading habits don’t extend to picture books, you may be missing out. It’s an art form I adore, and one of my favorites is this book about a mysterious painter in Paris whose paintings contain scenes that come alive. I love Agee’s palette and the perspectives he chose for this story — and no matter how many times I read this book, I’m still thrilled by the twist at the end. It’s the sort of mysterious story that delights, while opening your imagination to bigger things.

By Jon Agee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Art imitates life in this hilarious, absurdist picture book--one of Jon Agee's most beloved titles, now back in print.

"Outrageous!" the judges cried. "Ridiculous!" Who would dare enter a portrait of a duck in the Grand Contest of Art? But when Felix Clouseau's painting quacks, he is hailed as a genius. Suddenly everyone wants a Clousseau masterpiece, and the unknown painter becomes an overnight sensation. That's when the trouble begins.

The Pursuit of Art

By Martin Gayford,

Book cover of The Pursuit of Art: Travels, Encounters and Revelations

Amy Dempsey Author Of Destination Art: Art Essentials

From the list on Destination Art.

Who am I?

I am an art historian and the author of various books about modern art, including Styles, Schools & Movements: The Essential Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art and three editions of Destination Art. I coined the phrase ‘Destination Art’ in order to discuss artworks in which location is an integral ingredient, as is the journey to find them. I had noticed projects like these happening all over the world, but often in a quiet way. They needed someone to shine the light on them – so I did! My goal is to educate, enthuse and excite – and to continue my mission of spreading the word about intriguing and inspiring art projects. 

Amy's book list on Destination Art

Why did Amy love this book?

Art critic Gayford’s engaging and entertaining essays recount his adventures over the years when meeting artists and visiting destination art sites around the world, such as Brancusi’s Endless Column in Romania and the Chinati Foundation in Texas. A great storyteller, his writing is both chatty and informative and the book is a pleasure to read.

By Martin Gayford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bestselling author of Modernists & Mavericks Martin Gayford recounts some of the extraordinary journeys he has made in the name of art.

In the course of a career thinking and writing about art, Martin Gayford has travelled all over the world both to see works of art and to meet artists. Gayford's journeys, often to fairly inaccessible places, involve frustrations and complications, but also serendipitous encounters and outcomes, which he makes as much a part of the story as the final destination. Entertaining and informative, Gayford includes trips to see Brancusi's Endless Column in Romania, prehistoric cave art in France,…

Blood Water Paint

By Joy McCullough,

Book cover of Blood Water Paint

Megan E. Freeman Author Of Alone

From the list on to introduce readers to novels in verse.

Who am I?

I am a poet and author living and writing in Northern Colorado. I love reading (and writing) novels in verse because they invite the reader into an active relationship with the author-poet. The story is co-created through mutual trust and imagination: the reader has to trust the author to provide enough language to reveal the narrative, and the author has to trust the reader to fill in details left by the white space on the page. Through this mutual effort and creative collaboration, dazzling stories emerge.

Megan's book list on to introduce readers to novels in verse

Why did Megan love this book?

Joy McCullough’s Blood Water Paint is historical fiction that tells the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a Renaissance painter who survived a sexual assault and persevered to see her assailant convicted in an Italian court. If the true aspects of the story weren’t compelling enough, McCullough contrasts her fictional character with the biblical heroines Judith and Susanna, using prose and verse strategically to weave the stories with their counter-narratives. McCullough’s experience as a playwright shines through here and her poetic devices are downright Shakespearean, revealing clues to her characters’ emotional truths through the deceptively simple arrangement of words on the page. This book is astonishingly good and a must-read for anyone intrigued by novels in verse.

By Joy McCullough,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Blood Water Paint as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.

She chose paint.

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the…

Diego Rivera

By Duncan Tonatiuh,

Book cover of Diego Rivera: His World and Ours

Nancy Churnin Author Of Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring

From the list on children’s books about art.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning children’s book author who writes stories about ordinary people, like you and me, that discovered their unique gifts and used those gifts, plus perseverance, to make the world a better place. All my books come with free teacher guides, resources, and projects on my website where kids can share photos of the great things they do.

Nancy's book list on children’s books about art

Why did Nancy love this book?

The best thing a book about an artist can do is to encourage children to make art, too. That’s what award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh does in this innovative biography of Diego Rivera, one of the most famous painters of the 20th century. Tonatiuh focuses on how Rivera dedicated himself to telling the history and stories of people and places he knew and loved in Mexico by capturing their images. Taking this book to the next level, Tonatiuh then asks his young readers what stories this painter would bring to life today and encourages them to create new images that the world needs to see.

By Duncan Tonatiuh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This charming book introduces one of the most popular artists of the twentieth century, Diego Rivera, to young readers. It tells the story of Diego as a young, mischievous boy who demonstrated a clear passion for art and then went on to become one of the most famous painters in the world. Duncan Tonatiuh also prompts readers to think about what Diego would paint today. Just as Diego's murals depicted great historical events in Mexican culture or celebrated native peoples, if Diego were painting today, what would his artwork depict? How would his paintings reflect today's culture?Diego Rivera: His World…


By Kim Todd,

Book cover of Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis

Patrick Dean Author Of Nature's Messenger: Mark Catesby and His Adventures in a New World

From the list on trailblazing explorers in the Americas.

Who am I?

Born and raised in Mississippi, I have long been fascinated with the natural history of the South and of the Americas in general. And as an outdoorsy guy, a NOLS graudate, mountain-biker, trail-runner, and paddler, I revel in reading accounts of the early days of Western exploration in the woodlands, mountains, and coastal regions of our hemisphere. Finally, as an avid reader and now author, I constantly seek out enthralling and wide-ranging narratives about exploration, outdoor adventure, and the natural world.

Patrick's book list on trailblazing explorers in the Americas

Why did Patrick love this book?

I had never heard of Maria Sybilla Merian before researching my latest book, but her life was amazing.

A brilliant artist, Merian lived an unconventional life—even before going to the Dutch colony of Surinam in 1698 accompanied only by her daughter. There Merian produced stunning and important works, illustrating the life cycles of insects and relationships between insect and plant species.

Merian and her work deserve to be better known.

By Kim Todd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before Darwin, before Audubon, before Gilbert White, there was Merian. An artist turned naturalist, known for her botanical illustrations, Maria Sybilla Merian was born in Germany just sixteen years after Galileo proclaimed that the earth orbited the sun. But at the age of fifty she sailed from Europe to the New World on a solo scientific expedition to study insect metamorphosis - an unheard-of journey for any naturalist at that time, much less an unaccompanied woman. When she returned she produced a book that secured her reputation, only to have it savaged in the nineteenth century by scientists who disdained…

Drawing Projects

By Mick Maslen, Jack Southern,

Book cover of Drawing Projects: An Exploration of the Language of Drawing

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

From the list on to inspire you to draw.

Who am I?

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

Why did James love this book?

This book is great because it combines illuminating interviews with leading contemporary artists who draw, such as Cornelia Parker, Dryden Goodwin, and Charles Avery, with no-nonsense practical projects. The book has the atmosphere of an art school studio about it, which is understandable because it has sprung from the authors’ collective 45 years as artists and lecturers. It feels like a creative launchpad, one that will take your drawings in new exciting directions if you’re prepared to give it a go. This is a book you should get dirty in the studio. I can almost taste the charcoal dust in the air reading this book.

By Mick Maslen, Jack Southern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Drawing Projects' is both a pratical guide to drawing and an informative insight into the minds of artists who work with the medium.


By Daniel E. Sutherland,

Book cover of Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Author Of Lenin's Jewish Question

From the list on European art, culture, and history.

Who am I?

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern is the Crown Family Professor of Jewish Studies and a Professor of Jewish History in the History Department at Northwestern University. He teaches a variety of courses that include early modern and modern Jewish history; Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah; history and culture of Ukraine; and Slavic-Jewish literary encounters.

Yohanan's book list on European art, culture, and history

Why did Yohanan love this book?

Known to broad public due to the hilarious “Whistler’s Mother” starring Mr. Bean, James Whistler is a paramount American participant in the Fin-de-siècle artistic life of France and England and a predecessor of most important artistic endeavors of the 20th century. Daniel Sutherland combed all possible archives and  produced a stunning study of Whistler’s private life, full of scandals, sufferings, travels, and triumphs. From the childhood Whister spent in the tsarist Russia to his vagabond life in Paris, his life is always a journey and a self-quest. Eminently readable and bright narrative of a somber and paradoxical character.

By Daniel E. Sutherland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A major new biography of James McNeill Whistler, one of most complex, intriguing, and important of America's artists

This engaging personal history dispels the popular notion of James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) as merely a combative, eccentric, and unrelenting publicity seeker. The Whistler revealed in these beautifully illustrated pages is an intense, introspective, and complex man, plagued by self-doubt and haunted by an endless pursuit of perfection in his painting and drawing.

"[Sutherland] seeks to get behind the public Whistler . . . never judging or condescending to his subject. . . . The portrait of Whistler that emerges is complex…

The Lonely City

By Olivia Laing,

Book cover of The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Michael J. Seidlinger Author Of Anybody Home?

From the list on the destruction of personal space.

Who am I?

I respond to the darkness and the darkness responds to me. Before writing anything creative, I was studying to be a sociologist. I didn’t get there but all those peculiarities that criminology, deviant behavior, and symbolic interactionism (don’t get me started on Foucault or else we’ll be here all day) stuck with me. I won’t say I don’t care about characters but I’m more interested in stories that examine a character in relation to their status and situation within society. So yeah, lots of poverty, loneliness, and identity issues.

Michael's book list on the destruction of personal space

Why did Michael love this book?

I actually forgot the title of this essay collection and for the longest time I was kicking myself, truly beating my head against a wall trying to remember what it was. Thanks to this feature, I was able to! Olivia Laing is amazing in her ability to tap into vulnerabilities with an uncanny sense of ease and in The Lonely City, she focuses on urban isolation and loneliness, something to which most creatives living in a big city can relate. After reading this one, you’ll walk a city block looking not at what the streets have in store for you but rather what might be existing behind closed doors, invisible to you but all too real to those trapped in those spaces.

By Olivia Laing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism

#1 Book of the Year from Brain Pickings

Named a best book of the year by NPR, Newsweek, Slate, Pop Sugar, Marie Claire, Elle, Publishers Weekly, and Lit Hub

A dazzling work of biography, memoir, and cultural criticism on the subject of loneliness, told through the lives of iconic artists, by the acclaimed author of The Trip to Echo Spring.

When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by the most shameful of experiences, she began…

Emily Carr

By Jo Ellen Bogart, Maxwell Newhouse (illustrator),

Book cover of Emily Carr: At the Edge of the World

Scot Ritchie Author Of P'esk'a and the First Salmon Ceremony

From the list on the First Peoples of the West Coast for children.

Who am I?

I'm passionate about nature, our impact on it and the people who best know how to be its companion – Indigenous peoples. I grew up on B.C.'s west coast, swimming with seals and otters. That inspires me to protect the land and to write and draw about it. As the author/illustrator of over 70 books I've been lucky to be able to present my thoughts on many topics. I learned early on to do my research and work with rigorous editors. With P'eska, I relied on members of the community I wrote about. I know I'm speaking to young kids so honesty is paramount.

Scot's book list on the First Peoples of the West Coast for children

Why did Scot love this book?

Going to the Vancouver Art Gallery when I was a kid I saw my first Emily Carr painting and it drew me in with its dark beauty.

This book brings to life the story of Emily Carr, a talented painter and (although the word wouldn't have been used then) ecologist. She passionately pursued her art in ways proper young ladies of the time just didn't do. She revered the First Nations people and their cultures. The gift was returned when she received her own honourary name, Klee Wyck (Laughing One) from the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) people.

I love this book because of its honesty, it is about a person and a place, firmly rooted in a love of nature.

By Jo Ellen Bogart, Maxwell Newhouse (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2005-2006 Red Cedar Book Award, Nonfiction

Selected as Honour Book by the Children's Literature Roundtable Information Book of the Year

The brilliant artist Emily Carr lived at the edge. When she was born, in 1871, Victoria, British Columbia was a small, insular place. She was at the edge of a society that expected well-bred young ladies to marry. For years, she was at the edge of the world of artists she longed to join.

Emily Carr’s life was not an easy one. She struggled against a family that did not approve of her art and against poor…

A PHO Love Story

By Loan Le,

Book cover of A PHO Love Story

Zoë Markham Author Of Under My Skin

From the list on YA retellings of the classics.

Who am I?

In my previous role as a teacher, I often encountered teens who never, ever read outside of school – and hated having to read in school. Finding YA retellings of the classics became an indispensable tool for me in terms of not only linking the past with the present for the young adults in my classes, but also in terms of helping them see themselves in fiction, finding representation there, and discovering their own importance. It opened up whole worlds for all of us, and offered a pathway to a love of reading that I hope they will never forget!

Zoë's book list on YA retellings of the classics

Why did Zoë love this book?

Romeo & Juliet retellings are, in my opinion, the absolute hardest ones to bring anything new to, but Le’s own voices portrayal of Vietnamese culture smashed all my preconceptions and turned what’s often a dry, predictable format into something so insightful and compelling it genuinely took my breath away. With real, authentic teenage protags facing real, contemporary issues, we get an insight into the turmoil of the lives of ‘ordinary’ teens far removed from the ‘glossy’ veneers we’re often presented in YA fiction. A Pho Love Story speaks a unique, powerful truth – and brings a breath of fresh air not only to the original but also to the genre as a whole. (Caution: parts of this book will make you extremely hungry!)

By Loan Le,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A PHO Love Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All's fair in love, war and noodles! This delicious debut is perfect for fans of teen romcoms such as When Dimple Met Rishi and Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before.

What if Romeo and Juliet was set in a Vietnamese restaurant?

Linh and Bao like each other. A lot. The only problem? Their families own rival pho restaurants and hate each other's guts, so they have to keep their relationship a secret.

But they can only steal kisses in dark alleys and the art room at school for so long. Can their love transcend an age-old feud…