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Books and art were the mainstays of my childhood summers. What can be more entertaining than a book about art? I have compiled a list of 12 books for Art Teachers to jump-start your summer. From books to inspire artists to books that delve into art history through fiction, you will be thoroughly entertained and inspired by this list. While you will find no books about teaching, these books will keep your mind percolating while renewing your creativity.


  1. Title:
    ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History
    Author: Jennifer Dasal
    Summary: ArtCurious is a colorful look at the world of art history, revealing some of the strangest, funniest, and most fascinating stories behind the world’s great artists and masterpieces. Through these and other incredible, weird, and wonderful tales, ArtCurious presents an engaging look at why art history is, and continues to be, a riveting and relevant world to explore.

  2. Title: Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts-For Actors, Performers, Writers, and Artists of Every Kind
    Author: Anna Deavere Smith
    Summary: In vividly anecdotal letters to the young BZ, Anna Deavere Smith addresses the full spectrum of issues that all artists starting out will face: from questions of confidence, discipline, and self-esteem, to fame, failure, and fear, to staying healthy, presenting yourself effectively, building a diverse social and professional network, and using your art to promote social change. At once inspiring and no-nonsense, Letters to a Young Artist will challenge you, motivate you, and set you on a course to pursue your art without compromise.

  3. Title: Girl in Hyacinth Blue
    Author: Susan Vreeland
    Summary: A professor invites a colleague from the art department to his home to see a painting he has kept secret for decades. The professor swears it is a Vermeer—why has he hidden this important work for so long? The reasons unfold in a series of stories that trace the ownership of the painting back to World War II and Amsterdam, and still further back to the moment of the work’s inspiration. As the painting moves through each owner’s hands, what was long hidden surfaces quietly, illuminating poignant moments in human lives. Vreeland’s characters remind us, through their love of the mysterious painting, how beauty transforms and why we reach for it, what lasts, and what in our lives is singular and unforgettable.

  4. Title: Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
    Author: David Bayles
    Summary: Art & Fear explores 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. The book’s co-authors, David Bayles and Ted Orland, are themselves both working artists, grappling daily with the problems of making art in the real world. Their insights and observations, drawn from personal experience, provide an incisive view into the world of art as it is experienced by artmakers themselves.

  5. Title: Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art
    Author: Mary Gabriel
    Summary: Five women revolutionize the modern art world in postwar America in this “gratifying, generous, and lush” true story from a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist (Jennifer Szalai, New York Times).
    Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting — not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come.

  6. Title: Seven Days in the Art World
    Author: Sarah Thornton
    Summary: ‘Seven Days’ is a book that literally depicts seven actual calendar days, although not chronological ones, in order to give a firsthand account of seven conflicting extremes of the art world – a Christie’s auction, a studio visit with Takashi Murakami, the Basel Art Fair, a behind-the-scenes look at Artforum magazine, the Turner Prize, an all-day critique with grad students at Calarts, and the preview of the Venice Biennale. In all of these situations, Thornton did dozens, if not hundreds of interviews with art world insiders, in preparation for the actual day, so that she was able to weave in personal commentary and historical narrative.

  7. Title: Daily Rituals: Women at Work
    Author: Mason Currey
    Summary: More of Mason Currey’s irresistible Daily Rituals, this time exploring the daily obstacles and rituals of women who are artists–painters, composers, sculptors, scientists, filmmakers, and performers. We see how these brilliant minds get to work, and the choices they have to make: rebuffing convention, stealing (or secreting away) time from the pull of husbands, wives, children, and obligations, in order to create their creations.

  8. Title: Spark: How Creativity Works
    Author: Julie Burstein
    Summary: How did Richard Ford’s cat influence his work as a novelist? HOW is Chuck Close’s portraiture driven by his inability to remember faces? What pivotal moment helped Rosanne Cash understand the healing power of the stage?
    Creativity is an elusive subject. We enjoy its fruits—movies, novels, paintings, songs—but rarely are we privy to what happens in the creative process. In Spark, Julie Burstein traces the roots of some of the twenty-first century’s most influential and creative thinkers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Yo-Yo Ma, David Milch, Isabel Allende, and Joshua Redman. Burstein pulls back the curtain to reveal the sources of these artists’ inspiration and the processes that bring their work into being.

  9. Title: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear 
    Author: Elizabeth Gilbert’
    Summary: From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and City of Girls: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.
    Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective on creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

  10. Title: Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles
    Author: Beth Pickens
    Summary: If you are an artist, you need to make your art. That’s not an overstatement—it’s a fact; if you stop doing your creative work, your quality of life is diminished. But what do you do when life gets in the way? In this down-to-earth handbook, experienced artist coach Beth Pickens offers practical advice for developing a lasting and meaningful artistic practice in the face of life’s inevitable obstacles and distractions. This thoughtful volume suggests creative ways to address the challenges all artists must overcome—from making decisions about time, money, and education, to grappling with isolation, fear, and anxiety. No matter where you are in your art-making journey, this book will motivate and inspire you. Because not only do you need your art—the world needs it, too.

  11. Title: Girl Reading: A Novel
    Author: Katie Ward
    Summary: Each chapter of Katie Ward’s novel immerses readers into the intimate tales behind the creation of seven portraits by artists, ranging from Simone Martini to Pieter Janssens Elinga to a Flickr photographer. In gorgeous prose, Ward explores our points of connection, our relationship to art, the history of women, and the importance of reading. Dazzlingly inventive, this is “a fascinating testament to the universal themes of art and literature and the spirit of femininity.”

  12. Title: Scarlet in Blue: A Novel
    Author: Jennifer Murphy
    Summary: Told through the alternating voices of Blue, Scarlet, and Henry, Scarlet in Blue is a page-turning story about the ramifications of past trauma, the way art can hold our lives together, and, most of all, the enduring bond between mother and child.