The most recommended books about Michelangelo

Who picked these books? Meet our 24 experts.

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


Book cover of Oil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo

Deborah Swift Author Of The Poison Keeper: An enthralling historical novel of Renaissance Italy

From my list on historical fiction to immerse you in the old skills of artisans and craftspeople.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historical fiction author but have always enjoyed actually making things as well as writing. In the past, I was a theatre designer, so I was often immersed in recreating antique objects for the stage. Our versions weren’t the real thing–but it meant researching old crafts and then imitating them to build a convincing fake version. My research filled me with great admiration and respect for the real craftsmen of the past–their skill and artistry, and I only have to look at our old cathedrals–so lovingly created, to be inspired all over again.

Deborah's book list on historical fiction to immerse you in the old skills of artisans and craftspeople

Deborah Swift Why did Deborah love this book?

Every Renaissance fan loves a bit of Leonardo, don’t they? And I was intrigued by the relationship between the older, established artist Leonardo and the hot-headed Michelangelo.

This is a brilliantly written book with lots of glorious details about art and painting. These are two giants of their time, and it was a brave subject to tackle–Storey manages to convey their intellect as well as their art.

Reading about the sheer labour involved in carving a block of stone into something human was really awe-inspiring, and Stephanie Storey does a great job of getting inside the heads of these two men.

By Stephanie Storey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her brilliant debut, Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive, entering with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters, creating a stunning art history thriller. From 1501 to 1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome fifty year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-twenties, desperate to make a name for himself.

Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all…

Book cover of Figure Drawing for Artists, 1: Making Every Mark Count

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Author Of Vanishing Point: Perspective for Comics from the Ground Up

From my list on for people who draw people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Drawing and painting people has been my passion and my profession for a couple of decades now. Fine art, comic books, animation, illustration – as long as I'm drawing people, I'm happy. I love the challenge of trying to capture (or create) a living, breathing, thinking person on paper. And I love talking about art books with other artists. Which ones are great, which ones miss the mark, which ones have tiny hidden gems in them. This list is a mix of books I love, and books I heartily recommend.

Jason's book list on for people who draw people

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Why did Jason love this book?

Steve Huston is one of my heroes. I love his art and I love how he talks about art. Steve walks with his feet firmly on the ground and lavishes the feel of the dirt between his toes. He talks about the lofty goals of being human and creating art in the most down-to-earth, practical ways.

And that's not a side-note to his how-to-draw book, that's the central message of this how-to-draw book. See the world, be in the world, trust and love your own senses, make contributions to the world. This book is filled with gorgeous drawings and a warm invitation to ways of seeing and drawing and conceptualizing the human figure.

By Steve Huston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Figure Drawing for Artists: Making Every Mark Count is not a typical drawing instruction book; it explains the two-step process behind juggernauts like DreamWorks, WB and Disney.

Though there are many books on drawing the human figure, none teach how to draw a figure from the first few marks of the quick sketch to the last virtuosic stroke of the finished masterpiece, let alone through a convincing, easy-to-understand method.

That changes now!

In Figure Drawing for Artists: Making Every Mark Count, award-winning fine artist Steve Huston shows beginners and pros alike the two foundational concepts behind the greatest masterpieces in…

Book cover of This Is Rome

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth

From my list on kids traveling to Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Italy when I traveled there with my family in 2013. While touring through this fascinating country, I felt inspired to write about it. When I came home, I threw myself into research. That research spawned my debut novel, Into the Lion’s Mouth, which is set in Renaissance Venice. I am always on the lookout for all things Italian, podcasts, TV shows, and definitely books. Since middle grade is my sweet spot, I am a sucker for a middle grade book set in Italy. Here are some of my favorites that will have you browsing airplane tickets to Italy and beyond.

Nancy's book list on kids traveling to Italy

Nancy McConnell Why did Nancy love this book?

This last book is a classic and part of a series that would be helpful for other travel adventures. It’s the only non-fiction book on the list. But it’s a great introduction for kids wanting to know more about the place they are travelling. While originally published in 1960 the book was updated in 2007. This is a great overall introduction to Rome and its history and a good place to start piquing a young traveler’s interest. 

By Miroslav Sasek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Is Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Like the other Sasek classics, this is a facsimile edition of the original book. The brilliant, vibrant illustrations have been meticulously preserved, remaining true to his vision more than 40 years later. Facts have been updated for the 21st-century, appearing on a "This is . . . Today" page at the back of the book. These charming illustrations, coupled with Sasek's witty, playful narrative, make for a perfect souvenir that will delight both children and their parents, many of whom will remember the series from their own childhoods. This is Rome, first published in 1960, traces the history of Roman…

Book cover of On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein

Andi Diehn Author Of Forces: Physical Science for Kids

From my list on children’s books about physics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by how the world works. What gives gravity so much power? Why is it easier to lift things with levers and pulleys? Why do we have electricity inside of our own bodies?! The world is amazing. My job editing nonfiction books for kids puts me on the front lines of some of the smartest science writing out there. While I had no hand in the making of the following five picture books about physics, they are still some of my favorites because of the way they peel back the mysterious layers of the world to show us the science hidden in our daily lives.

Andi's book list on children’s books about physics

Andi Diehn Why did Andi love this book?

You can’t talk physics without talking Einstein! This beautiful book explores Einstein’s curiosity and drive to know more, which began when he was young. His journey from nonverbal child to brilliant scientist is fascinating and inspiring for all kinds of readers.

By Jennifer Berne, Vladimir Radunsky (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked On a Beam of Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. Parents and children alike will appreciate this moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.

Book cover of The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican

Martin Bodek Author Of Zaidy's War: Four Armies, Three Continents, Two Brothers. One Man's Impossible Story of Endurance

From Martin's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Goal-achiever Ultra marathoner Voracious reader Semi-pro scrabbler Dad jokester

Martin's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Martin Bodek Why did Martin love this book?

I wish I had discovered this book before I visited the Sistine Chapel, rather than after it. On the other hand, it's possible that if I did so, I would still be in there staring up at the ceiling. The authors make *such* a marvelous case, and fill in so many supporting backstory details that it does feel that it is absolutely open-and-shut.

Nevertheless, they still responsibly dedicate the opening chapters to explain that protest art itself is a thing, and provide sterling examples, including the art already present on the walls of the Sistine Chapel before Master Buonarotti began his work. Once that's established in its own right, the rest of what's going on with the ceiling and the front wall is just mind-bending stuff.

Michelangelo's art was subject to the whims of various rulers coming and going, with numerous edicts, with multiple close calls, and we have what…

By Roy Doliner, Benjamin Blech,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Shocking Secrets of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Artwork

The recent cleaning of the Sistine Chapel frescoes removed layer after layer of centuries of accumulated tarnish and darkness. The Sistine Secrets endeavors to remove the centuries of prejudice, censorship, and ignorance that blind us to the truth about one of the world's most famous and beloved art treasures.

Book cover of The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

Kimberly Nixon Author Of Rock Bottom, Tennessee

From my list on books based on a true story.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Kimberly Nixon Why did Kimberly love this book?

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

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

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

By Irving Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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

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

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

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

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

Book cover of This Little Artist: An Art History Primer

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Lorie Ann Grover 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. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

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.

Book cover of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Jennie Yabroff Author Of If You Were Here

From my list on young readers set in old-school NYC.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in California, I was enchanted by the idea of New York City—largely due to the visions of it I found in the books on this list. I’ve now lived in NYC for 20 years and love matching real locations with their versions in my imagination. In my time in the city I’ve been a staff writer for Newsweek Magazine, an editor at Scholastic, and a freelancer for many publications including The New York Times and The Washington Post. I’m currently working on a second novel. 

Jennie's book list on young readers set in old-school NYC

Jennie Yabroff Why did Jennie love this book?

In this book, a sister and brother escape the horrors of suburban Connecticut and take refuge in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they discover an art mystery that leads them to a wealthy surrogate grandmother. Beyond the iconic setting, this story has an irresistible only-in-New York feeling to it, so that you can’t help believing it all might have really happened, or still could happen.

Book cover of Art Forgery: The History of a Modern Obsession

Noah Charney Author Of The Devil in the Gallery: How Scandal, Shock, and Rivalry Shaped the Art World

From my list on art crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

Back in 2006, a New York Times Magazine feature article about me announced that I had essentially founded the field of the study of art crime, while still a postgraduate student. I’m often mentioned as the world’s leading authority on the history of art crime and I’ve been a professor teaching the subject for more than a decade (I’m not actually that old). I also founded ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, the world’s first think tank and research group on art crime. We launched the first academic journal on the subject, The Journal of Art Crime, as well as the first academic study program, the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, which runs every summer in Italy. I’m also the author of more than a dozen books, many best-sellers, and one a Pulitzer finalist. I write on art crime for TED Ed videos, I host TV programs on the subject, and I recently curated a virtual exhibit of lost art called Missing Masterpieces.

Noah's book list on art crime

Noah Charney Why did Noah love this book?

This book is part philosophy, part on art and forgery. Most approaches, my own included, to art forgery are art historical and criminological. This one is readable and thoughtful and fun but focuses on the big ideas behind the scenes.

By Thierry Lenain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The obsession with art forgery appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon. In Art Forgery, the author's aim is not to suggest new methods of detection, but rather to look at the genealogy of faking and to interrogate the anxious, sometimes neurotic, reactions triggered in the modern world of art by these clever frauds. Thierry Lenain considers the idea of authenticity in the Middle Ages, when the issue of false relics and miracles often arose: if a relic gave rise to a cult, it would be considered as genuine even if it had evidently been 'forged'. Similarly, the seventeenth and…

Book cover of Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters

Robh Ruppel Author Of Graphic L.A.

From my list on timeless art advice.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the “meme-ification” of the world, the long-form version of learning and practicing skills is getting lost. True discovery happens after a thorough and deep understanding of the subject. Truth is a multilayered, complex exploration that is hard to sum up in a single sentence. 

Robh's book list on timeless art advice

Robh Ruppel Why did Robh love this book?

Hale’s book uses master drawings as the basis for his analysis. He shows the critical thinking that went behind the draftsmanship and offers a few choice words on conceiving a solid shape before trying to render it. Style is great but style without understanding is just a bad xerox of an idea. Hale offers a deeper dive into understanding what all those bumps and lumps are and more importantly, the hierarchy to where they sit and what to emphasize. Mindless rendering never helped anyone.

By Robert Beverly Hale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A book whose sales have not diminished but rather increased dramatically since its publication 45 years ago, this bestselling classic is the ultimate manual of drawing taught by the late Robert Beverly Hale, who's famed lectures and classes at New York City's Art Student League captivated artists and art educators from around the world.

Faithfully producing and methodically analyzing 100 master drawings-including works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rodin, Goya, and Rembrandt among others-Hale shows how these artists tackled basic problems such as line, light and planes, mass, position and thrust, and anatomy. With detailed analytical captions and diagrams, every…