Staff Recommendations: Our Favorite Books Set in or About the Art World/Artists

To celebrate STEAM Month, we asked our staff to suggest their favorite books set in or about the art world and artists. Here’s what they recommend!

Before we dive into the suggestions, are you participating in the STEAM Reading Challenge? If yes, the below books are perfect for completing the “A” category.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Those interested in the challenge can sign up on Beanstack at Participants will earn one badge for each book they read in the STEAM categories (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). You can earn up to five badges, each of which gets you an entry in a drawing for a prize.

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And now… for the staff suggestions!

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg 

“Two children run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They sleep in an antique bed, get coins out of the fountain and investigate the beautiful donated sculpture by an unknown artist. It is an imaginative and fun read. This book won the Newbery Medal in 1968.”

– Anne Fertitta, patron services supervisor, Cold Spring Branch

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Yumi and the Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson

“The book has two people who do unconventional and fantastical types of art. Yumi stacks things and Painter paints in order to contain monsters called nightmares. Both of them respect and are impressed by each other’s art, but they view their own art as work or something not as fantastic as it truly is.” 

– Bella Hemsath, patron services assistant, Carrico/Fort Thomas Branch

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The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen 

“It is a great historical fiction novel about art during World War II. Bowen brings out beauty from a dark place in the past. It’s just a great story.”

– Dakota Guilkey, information services assistant, Cold Spring Branch

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The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

“This book is about the making of the movie The Room, often called one of the ‘best worst movies ever made.’ Sestero’s memoir draws you in with behind-the-scenes stories, but what keeps you there is the compelling and complicated friendship between him and the ‘genius’ behind the whole movie, Tommy Wiseau.”

– Natalie Shadrick, adult/teen services programmer, Carrico/Fort Thomas Branch

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The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 

“It is a bittersweet romance about a time traveling librarian and his artist wife, set in Chicago. It’s a really great story, and you get both the perspective of the librarian Henry, as well as his artist wife, Claire.”

– Shannon Devlin, adult/teen services librarian, Newport Branch

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

“This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel features a Dickensian mix of memorable characters and touches upon the role that art plays in our lives. After a tragic event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, teen Theodore Decker becomes in possession of Carel Fabritius’s painting titled “The Goldfinch.” The novel then takes us from the homes of New York City’s elite to the desert wastelands outside of Vegas and the canals of Amsterdam. Readers follow along as Theo comes of age and is eventually introduced to the underbelly of the art world.”

– Stephanie Class, communications manager

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Drawing from Memory by Allen Say

“A beautiful graphic novel memoir about the author’s journey as an artist during WWII. This book examines how heritage, personal history, and relationships shape artists as they learn and practice their craft. Included alongside the text are original cartoons, watercolor paintings, photographs, and even maps!”

– Stephanie Daugherty, patron services assistant, Newport Branch

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