I love art; I specifically mean artistic illustrations, drawings, paintings and photos. Art is linked to history, culture, heritage, humanity and love. This is of course, on a simpler level. But on a higher level, art is about intellectuality, elegance, class and status. Let me take you through a list of styles of Art books you can read to enrich your artistic knowledge:

1- Books with reference to Art:

These usually refer to non-fictitious pieces of art (real pieces). For example, The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons by Dan Brown refer to real artwork in well-known places like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre  or Michelangelo‘s Sistine Chapel painted ceiling.

Another good example is  Girl With a Pearl Earring  by Tracy Chevalier, the story is about the well-known painting with the same name by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. These novels provide more than just literary beauty in their storylines, they also shed a bit of light on art history and politics in a way that leaves the reader intrigued to learn more!

Cover of the book Girl With a Pearl Earring  by Tracy Chevalier

2- Books about fictitious pieces of art:

These books refer to or revolve around artwork that does not exist in real life and just exist for the story’s purpose. A very famous example is the well-known novel by Oscar Wilde entitled The Picture of Dorian Gray. The novel is about a portrait of the protagonist Dorian Gray, and how it affects his relationship with himself.

Another example is Haruki Murakami’s novel Killing Commendatore about a painting found in an attic.

Although the paintings in these books have no real life artistic reference, one cannot deny the stimulating and interesting effect that art has on any story line.

Cover of the book The Picture of Dorian Gray  by Oscar Wilde

3- Books with beautiful illustrations:

These books are usually designed to let the reader enjoy “seeing” art while reading (not just reading about it). These books get a lot of buzz due to their illustrative nature that sometimes complement the text and are other times more impactful than the text itself. In these books, the reader is invited to envision the events of the storyline through the mesmerizing artwork on the pages. In some cases even, the pages do not even have text in order to let the reader’s imagination flow. Some examples include the original Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland editions.

Other contemporary examples include Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini and The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo.

Cover of the book The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

4-Artist collection books, also known as, Coffee table books:

These are very informative and are usually technical in nature. Like the books found in museum gift shops, or those catered to a specific artist and include the artist’s entire catalogue and information about the pieces. They are usually a bit expensive, hence their collectible nature. In my recent trip to Vienna however, I bought a Klimt collection book from a series produced by publishing house Taschen for a very good price (€10!). I actually really enjoyed it; it was well printed and quite comprehensive.  I think I might be buying one for Botticelli sometime soon.

Cover of the Taschen book Klimt  by Gilles Neret