Recommended Reading

Recommended creative reading - art books - women artists, urban painting watercolor
Here is a list of books I’ve read and recommend. Click each title to learn more.

The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan. The Summer List is a tender yet tantalizing novel about two friends, the summer night they fell apart, and the scavenger hunt that reunites them decades later—until the clues expose a breathtaking secret…

Ghosts of the Missing by Kathleen Donohoe. Culleton, New York has a long history—of writers, of artists, and of unsolved mysteries. It’s where Adair grew up before she moved to Brooklyn to try to make it as an artist. But after years away from her hometown and little to show for it, Adair decides to return. She moves back in to Moye House, the old mansion, and current writer’s retreat, imbued with her family’s legacy.

The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman. “A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches—perhaps because she bears her own invisible scars: Only five years old when she witnessed her parents’ deaths in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace still has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace’s harrowing past returns with a vengeance.”

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan. Super funny book about a new mom. “Ashley Keller – new mom…hot mess.”

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan. “When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford professor and the beloved writer of The Chronicles of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters.”

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. “Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she’d realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth’s father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming all her grief.”

Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly. “Meet the women of Delaney Gardens, a bustling suburban village in the outer reaches of Dublin. There’s Cassie, who’s spent her married life doing everything right for her children, husband, and mother-in-law, yet feels so exhausted that “wine o’clock” comes a little earlier each afternoon. There’s her sister Coco, who runs a vintage dress shop, but has avoided the complications of romantic commitment.”

Motive by Jonathan Kellerman. I love Jonathan Kellerman’s books. I started with Motive and have read several additional books in the Alex Delaware series. “Jonathan Kellerman writes razor-sharp novels that cut to the quick. Now comes Motive, which pits psychologist Alex Delaware and homicide cop Milo Sturgis against a vicious criminal mind—the kind only Kellerman can bring to chilling life.”

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells. “Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really. That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors and is now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere.”

The Woman who Stole my Life by Marian Keyes. “In her own words, Stella Sweeney is just “an ordinary woman living an ordinary life with her husband and two teenage kids,” working for her sister in their neighborhood beauty salon. Until one day she is struck by a serious illness, landing her in the hospital for months.” I’ve always found Marian Keyes hysterical. Find out how Stella goes from the hospital to a published author.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. “Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.”


Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon. “An artist’s unique voice is their calling card. It’s what makes each of their works vital and particular. But developing such singular artistry requires effort and persistence. Featuring advice from Congdon herself and interviews with a roster of established artists, illustrators, and creatives, this one-of-a-kind book will show readers how to identify and nurture their own visual identity, navigate the influence of artists they admire, push through fear and insecurity, and appreciate the value of their personal journey.”

”Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age”
There are so many great lessons, and mind shifts, in Jeff Goins’s book, with examples from people as diverse as Michaelangelo, J.R. Tolkien, and Led Zeppelin. I’m truly inspired by this book. Read this uplifting description: “Today we live in a New Renaissance, an era of unprecedented opportunity in which you can share your creative work without fear of suffering or starving. Drawing lessons from the likes of Jim Henson, C. S. Lewis, Dr. Dre, and many others, bestselling author and entrepreneur Jeff Goins invites us to drop the myths, worries, and flat-out lies that have been drilled into us our entire lives and instead reveals an empowering truth: Real artists don’t starve. They THRIVE.” Order a copy here.

“A Big Important Art Book: Now with Women!”
I love how Danielle Krysa’s new book, “A Big Important Art Book: Now with Women!,” is divided into art themes and features living artists (so Danielle could ask them lots of questions), as well as deceased artists, as well as projects for the reader. Favorite quote from the introduction, “I was quite sure there were more than three women who had ever made art.” Danielle is the author of the wildly popular blog The Jealous Curator, creator of one of my favorite podcasts, Art for your Ear, and author of several other books including a favorite of mine Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative.

“Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad.”
Austin Kleon’s Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad. I found myself nodding along with Austin’s creative advice, like carve out a creative space and/or time. Yup I have that. But there are other tips that made me think, “Wow I never thought about that.” I just finished it and am planning on reading it again. We all need the push to “Keep Going.” I also loved Austin’s other books: Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share your Creativity and get Discovered and Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.

“Working with Color: Techniques for Using Media on the Go.”
Shari Blaukopf’s “Working with Color: Techniques for Using Media on the Go.” I usually shy away from watercolor instructional books because they seem to say the same thing and are focused on the beginner. Shari’s book is more like a collection of her watercolor secrets. And I’ve wondered what her secrets were, since beginning to follow her blog “The Sketchbook” and admiring her work, back when I started blogging. Her ability to paint the colors and shades of snow has always amazed me. Her book has already motivated me to paint on the road – read about my travels and map making here.

A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives
I am LOVING Lisa Congdon’s latest book. I’ve been inspired by Lisa forever. Lisa an artist, illustrator, and writer, is as a self described late bloomer who didn’t start painting until her 30s. In this book Lisa “explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives.” I was so inspired after only a few pages! Another favorite of mine written by Lisa is Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist.

Read more recommendations here: “Books for Creatives.”
19 Books for Creatives

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel – Such a unique story about modern day social media and going “viral” but in the face of a world altering event. “A sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she’s part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.”

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living – I really enjoyed this “The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.”

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own – “Recognize the life-giving benefits of owning less. Realize how all the stuff you own is keeping you from pursuing your dreams. Craft a personal, practical approach to decluttering” your home and life

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – My book club picked this book, and at first I was groaning – I didn’t like Eleanor at all! By the end I was rooting for her with tears in my eyes. “Eleanor Oliphant struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.”

Believe It to Achieve It: Overcome Your Doubts, Let Go of the Past, and Unlock Your Full Potential – “a motivational guide to using the Psychology of Achievement to banish negative thoughts and behaviors and unlock your full potential for success”

The Art of Being Bill: Bill Murray and the Many Faces of Awesome – “a colorful collection of over 150 Bill Murray–inspired artworks. Featuring artists from all over the world, details about the inspiration for each piece, fun facts from his groundbreaking movies, and a critical appreciation of some of Murray’s landmark roles—spanning his incredible career from Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day to Lost in Translation and The Royal Tenenbaums—this is the ultimate gift book for the film buff, art lover, and Murray addict in your life.”

Whiskey in a Tea Cup – It’s like a one sided chat with Reese! “Reese Witherspoon invites you into her world, where she infuses the Southern style, parties, and traditions she loves with contemporary flair and charm.

The Ritual Bath – “Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD is stunned when he gets the report. Someone has shattered the sanctuary of a remote yeshiva community in the California hills with an unimaginable crime.”

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel “of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.”

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir “unfolds the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of a village choir during World War II. An enchanting ensemble story that shuttles from village intrigue to romance to the heartbreaking matters of life and death, Jennifer Ryan’s debut novel thrillingly illuminates the true strength of the women on the home front in a village of indomitable spirit.”

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – “Brian Tracy cuts to the core of what is vital to effective time management: decision, discipline, and determination. This life-changing book will ensure that you get more of your important tasks done—today!”

Read more recommendations here: “Books for Creatives.”
19 Books for Creatives

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