Artful Books to Celebrate World Book Day

World Book Day — Books That Come Alive with Art

Happy World Book Day! There’s no better time to share our favorite books inspired by art and artists and, of course, books that inspire us to make art. We’ve got recommendations for everyone and we encourage you to share your favorites with us. We’re always looking for a good read!


Books about Specific Artworks

For those of you who love spending time getting to know a painting really well (even if part of what you get to know is fictitious!), these reads are for you.

  • Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


world-book-day-DaVinciCodeFor mystery lovers

No list of books inspired by art would be complete without mention of Dan Brown’s mystery novels. You’ll visit the Louvre and the Palazzo Vecchio between the covers of these two.

  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  • The Inferno by Dan Brown



About Working Artists and Their Lives

Covering artists both real and fictional, contemporary and historical, these novels look at the everyday lives of working artists. From family issues to dealing with rivals or mental health issues, the characters balance art with life just like we do.

  • The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Great Man by Kate Christensen
  • How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall
  • Vanessa and Virginia by Susan Sellers
  • A Seahorse Year by Stacey D’Erasmo


world-book-day-monuments-menFor History Buffs

When one stops to consider how destructive humans have been in the past 100 years alone, it’s astounding how much artwork has actually survived. These two books share the lengths several men and women went to in order to hide, save, and rescue artwork during World War II.

  • The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
  • Saving Italy by Robert M. Edsel



For Sci-Fi Fans

Even “ugly” art is meaningful to someone as you’ll discover in this time-travel novel in which researchers from Oxford go through great lengths and several centuries to rescue a supposedly atrocious piece of art.

  • To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Ellis



These classics could have easily fit into other categories on this list but come on, they’re classics!

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  • The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary


journey by moonlight cover

Books That Feel Like Art

These books may not be about art per se, but the descriptions of the settings and feelings of the characters beg for painted interpretations. The Enchanted April and Journey by Moonlight inspired me to create a watercolor travel journal for a trip to Italy.

  • The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb
  • The Waves by Virginia Woolf


Books to Inspire You to Make Art

Art Journey Abstract PaintingAnd of course, no book list from would be complete without books that will enchant and encourage you to make art.

Don’t forget to share your favorite books about art and artists in the comments. And Happy World (art) Book Day!

The Art of MistakesJohn Salminen: Master of the Urban Landscape





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