Recommended Reading Summer 2018

Summertime is upon us and book recommendations are pouring in. For the 9th installment of the Don’t Take Pictures recommend reading, I have compiled a Summer reading list for all of you arts readers looking for something to take on vacation or fill time between semesters. I have chosen to limit this list to printed books and not include online content or periodicals. I have read each book on this list and selected titles that I have found helpful in my own art and business practices. This list is not intended to be a review of each book, nor is it focused on new releases, as there are so many great books that remain relevant today.


Your Art Will Save Your Life
Beth Pickens
Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2018
Pages: 136

A must read for every artist, this highly topical book explores the challenges of making art in the current political climate. Whether you make political art or not, the text provides thoughtful advice on facing your inner critic by offering strategies on overcoming fears and self-imposed limitations in order to create art that is important to your well-being.

Purchase from The Feminist Press


The Realist: A Novel of Berenice Abbott
Sarah Coleman
Publisher: Silverwood Books, 2017
Pages: 354

Authored by the late Sarah Coleman, this is the first novel that I have ever included in our recommended reading column. Researched over the better part of a decade, The Realist is historical fiction based on the life of photographer Berenice Abbott. A riveting, un-romanticized yet compassionate look at one of photography’s legends and feminist role model, this book is a fascinating look at what it meant to be a gay woman photographer in the 20th century, and makes the reader think about what it means to be one today.

Purchase from Amazon


Henri Cartier-Bresson: Interviews and Conversations, 1951-1998
Edited by Clément Chéroux and Julie Jones
Publisher: Aperture, 2017
Pages: 128

Twelve interviews and conversations with the late Henri Cartier-Bresson are translated into English and compiled for the first time in this volume. Spanning nearly 50 years, the conversational tone of the texts provides insights into Cartier-Bresson’s spirit and his photographic philosophies. Arranged chronologically, the interviews bring the photographer’s own voice to the forefront as the medium changes around him and he shifts his attention away from photography in his later years in favor of painting of drawing.

Purchase from Aperture


Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers
Leonard Koren
Publisher: Imperfect Publishing, 1994
Pages: 96

This book explores the complex Japanese idea of wabi-sabi as it relates to art and life. The author provides a brief history of the concept and the term before breaking it down into chapters on metaphysical basis, spiritual values, state of mind, moral precepts, and material qualities. The text is an excellent reminder to artists that whatever you are creating will not be complete until something in the process or product results in an imperfection.

Purchase from Strand Books


A Box of Photographs
Roger Grenier
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2013 (translation edition)
Pages: 120

French author and journalist Roger Grenier writes about his lifelong involvement in photography. Each short chapter in this memoir is like a snapshot—offering an anecdotal glimpse into an experience with or shaped by the photographic medium. A great read about how photography impacts non-photographers, the chronological stories include developing photographs in Grenier’s family-owned drugstore, cameras he has owned, his experiences as a reporter, and reflections on the medium’s significance.

Purchase from the University of Chicago Press


The Blank Canvas: Inviting the Muse
Anna Held Audette
Publisher: Shambhala, 1993
Pages: 120

This very slim pocket-sized book is marketed toward beginner artists. While not particularly deep critically, it is a nice refresh on how one stimulates ideas for new work. The author does not suggest assignments so much as she offers strategies for how to develop discipline habits, and how to keep your mind open and your inner critic quiet.

Purchase from Abe Books

For more suggested books, see past recommended reading posts.

Kat Kiernan is the Editor-in-Chief of Don’t Take Pictures.