Riot Recommendation

36 of Your Favorite Books About Art

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

This week’s Riot Recommendation is sponsored by The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro.

muralistThe Muralist the new novel from B. A. Shapiro, the bestselling author of The Art Forger —traces the life and disappearance of a brilliant young artist, the fictitious Alizée Benoit, on the eve of World War II. She paints murals for the U.S. government’s WPA alongside Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner and her lover Mark Rothko. When her paintings catch Eleanor Roosevelt’s eye, Alizée enlists the First Lady in her desperate attempt to get her Jewish family out of occupied France. Then Alizée vanishes. Seventy years later, her great-niece discovers hidden scraps of paintings and begins to unravel the mystery.





Art can be subjective, analytical, dramatic, conflicted, and controversial, making it the perfect subject for fiction and non-fiction alike.

We asked you to share your favorite books about art — from painting to dancing to crafting and more — and you delivered. Here are 36 of your favorite art reads.

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

Ana of California by Andi Teran

Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans

Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon

Dancers Among Us by Jordan Matters

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The History of Jazz by Ted Goia

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Just Kids by Patti Smith

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

The Lives of Artists by Giorgio Vasari

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

The Monuments Men by Bret Witter and Robert M. Edsel

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Reading Pictures by Alberto Manguel

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

She Bop by Lucy O’Brien

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Stealing the Mystic Lamb:The True Story of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece by Noah Charney

That Summer by Lauren Willig

Theater Geek: The Real-Life Drama of a Summer at Stagedoor Manor, the Famous Performing Arts Camp by Mickey Rapkin

Tiny Pretty Things by by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Twisted by Bert Ashe

We are Water by Wally Lamb

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud