What Are You Reading This Summer? (Curious Monday)

When I heard about Architecture’s Odd Couple, the new bio about Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson, I couldn’t wait to read it.

Book about Philip Johnson & Frank Lloyd Wright


I have a thang for architecture, and reading about the friendly rivalry between these two opposites was too appealing to pass up.

It’s my summer reading.

What’s on your list? Let us know in a comment below.

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127 comments to What Are You Reading This Summer? (Curious Monday)

  • COPTOWN, Karin Slaughter, THE HOUR OF THE WOLF, Hakan Nesser, WONDERFUL TONIGHT, Oatti Boyd, LOUISIANA HOTSHOT, Julie Smith, THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica.

  • this is a must read: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth


    amazon blurb: In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

  • Sue

    Good morning! I just finished “Circling the Sun”, very good read about the life of a very independent woman, “Dead Wake”, about the Lusitania for book club. I’m listening to it on the go… And a Baldachi, “Divine Justice.” That’s just to clear out books on the shelf from my Dad. It’s an easy read. I find it’s hard to have enough time to read, but I do enjoy it. One about Robert Rauschenberg is waiting! However, the architecture one looks really good!

  • In the realm of Art and Art History I’m reading The Art Detective by Philip Mould, A Painter’s Quest by Peter Rogers and Paintings in Proust by Eric Karpeles.

  • Lisa

    I highly recommend Will Gompertz’s “What are you looking at? 150 years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye.” It’s written in a fun, compelling style, and after years of studying some of the “isms” in this book, they finally make sense, and I can more thoroughly appreciate art I might have dismissed in the past, and better understand my place and work as part of a fascinating historical continuum.

  • A wonderful book for artists: Priceless – How I went undercover to rescue the world’s stolen treasures by Robert Wittman (Founder of the FBI Art Crime Team). A riveting account of this investigator going undercover to rescue some of history’s greatest masterpieces.

  • “Presence…” by Amy Cuddy is a collection of studies and stories that reveal how our physical presence supports or reveals our emotional attitude. Stand up, pull your shoulders back and paint like you mean it!

  • My reading consists of listening to audio books while working in th studio. I am currently listening to “The Muralist” by Barbara Shapiro. Barbara was a participant in a panel discussion at the Tucson Festival of Books that I attended and her description of how she researched and used historical events in her fiction books intrigued me.

    From the Amazon description of the book:
    “Entwining the lives of both historical and fictional characters, and moving between the past and the present, The Muralist plunges readers into the divisiveness of prewar politics and the largely forgotten plight of European refugees refused entrance to the United States. It captures both the inner workings of New York’s art scene and the beginnings of the vibrant and quintessentially American school of Abstract Expressionism. “

  • That book looks great, Alyson, I just added it to my TBR list. I love FLW and I was a docent many years ago at the Kreeger House Museum https://www.kreegermuseum.org so I’ve spent considerable time inside a Philip Johnson! Perfect fit for me and a great gift for my dad too.

  • I’ve always got two books going. One – audio – for when I’m on the road. I live in the middle of nowhere so the shortest trip I take pretty much anywhere is about 30 minutes and usually more like an hour plus. The other is my ‘breakfast book,’ since I make a big deal out of my breakfast as part of a leisurely start for my day but since I’m a big fan of learning, the breakfast book is usually fact-based. Currently it’s a book on Human Design called The Global Incarnation Index by Ra Uru Hu.

    In the car, I’m listening to a book called The Land of the Painted Caves by Jean Auel. It’s an older book but I’d never even heard of it and I am particularly enjoying the take on prehistoric cave painting as imagined by other prehistoric peoples! It’s well over 20 CDs and I almost wish it would never end.

    • Victoria: Those sound fascinating.

    • Victoria, The Land of the Painted Caves is the last in a loooooong series (7 hefty books) started by The Clan of the Cave Bear. They are fascinating books and well worth the time. The author traveled and did heavy research for each culture in each book. Although I think she condensed every interesting archaeological event related to the ice age into one person’s lifetime…

  • Becki Hesedahl

    Anita Shreve, Ann Tyler good summer reads. Murder mysteries now – Gregg Olson. Staged in PNW. Eacape fiction. Got enough going on here my brain is too full for anything else right now!

  • Just finished one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. (It won the Pulitzer.) Not only is the story riveting and powerful, but the philosophy behind it — the existential search for Beauty and the meaning of Art.

  • I love to read about the lives of artists, architects and designers.
    Alyson-i have read Frank Lloyd Wright’s biography by Meryle Secrest-an interesting read.
    I visited “Falling Water” his most famous house in Mill Run, PA recently. A must see for all FLW fans. Also-around April of every year, there are tours of homes designed by FLW in Oak Park , Chicago-a great way to spend a weekend if you are in that town.
    I am currently reading, WOLF KAHN by Justin Spring. Just finished reading ‘The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. I keep “The Art of Happinesss” by Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler on my nightstand and read a few pages everyday-over and over again.

  • I’ll echo the endorsement for the Goldfinch! Just finished listening to Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. Interesting to think about her not wanting to have the book published. I also recently enjoyed This House of Sky by Ivan Doig, one of my favorite authors. One of my next possibilities is The Hare with the Amber Eyes, recommended by an artist friend.

  • Susan Troy

    I’m reading a really fascinating book, Better Angels of our Nature, Why Violence has Declined, by Steven Pinker. It is a complex book which uses statistics to show how kinds of violence have actually been in decline over time. It’s not all rainbows and lollipops, and some of the data is chilling, but it makes for a fascinating (if lengthy) read which I am determined to finish this summer. The Hare with the Amber Eyes is wonderful!

  • What a great idea, to share our summer reading lists. Thanks, Alyson! I already see several in these comments that I want to put on my FUTURE READING list.
    I always try to have something going in both fiction and non-fiction. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith is my current fiction — its story moves between a painter in 17th century Amsterdam, a collector in 20th century New York, and a contemporary art historian and painter in Sydney. Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett is the non-fiction (and waiting in the wings, speaking of architecture, is Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space.)

  • I’m re-reading Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne. And I’m slowly reading Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton.

  • Ravensbruck, Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm.

    This is a difficult read, but one I feel everyone must read. Most of the records of this camp were destroyed as Hitler didn’t want the world to know what was being done to women. The story is a result of much research and interviews with survivors.

    After I am done with this I have Sally Mann’s book, Hold Still waiting for me to read.

  • I am reading Necroscope: The Lost Years by Brian Lumley Its a little vampire horror & sci fi and also reading The Cut-Outs Of Heneri Matisse by George Braziller

  • Suzanne

    Anything by or about Judy Chicago that I can find. She opened the doors to awareness and study of women in general and women artists. Also Gloria Steinem’ s recent memoir. Plus the writings of and about Susan B Anthony. Pioneers all.

  • I’m now reading “My Brilliant Friend”: Neapolitan Novels, Book One. It’s a 4 book series, http://amzn.to/29jvVqr . by Elena Ferrante

    I’m also rereading “Art & Fear”, by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

    Also reading “The War of Art”: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. This book was recommended by one of my pod friends in the the Art Career Success System.

  • I just finished “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America” by Colin Woodard and it has forever changed how I understand US history and current affairs. If anyone wants to see the roots of our national tensions, our voting habits, our loose and changing federations laid out plainly, this book will give you the full story. (I always wondered why it was SO culturally different here in Santa Cruz compared to the decade I spent in the Sierra foothills or my time in Santa Barbara. Easy: SC is The Left Coast, the Sierras are The Far West and Santa Barbara is El Norte. And I agree in hindsight from my own experience!) Next up for summer reading: something fluffy.

  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Phillips Gregory (always my go-to author for novels) and Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell, something easy for a trip. I need to get deeper.

  • Hi Alyson, I finished a great book that all of the artists will enjoy. It’s called “A Not-So-Still Life” by Jimmy Ernst. He was the son of surrealist Max Ernst born in pre-war Germany. It is well written and so enjoyable to read!
    Another artist from the KAW group first told me about it. One can imagine growing up at the time Hitler came into power. A lot of history, humor and tragedy. Jimmy eventually came to New York and became an artist in his own right. His father also joined him but unfortunately Jimmy’s mother stayed behind.

  • “Visual Intelligence” by Amy Herman

  • I am in trouble now! My TBR list just got a lot longer! I love this question and being able to mine everyone’s posts for more good reads.

    I just finished Julia Cameron’s “Letters to a Young Artist”. It’s a little treasure full of sage advice and interesting observations on living the life of an artist at any age. It reminds me of “The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri. I am also reading “How to Sell Your Art Online: Live a Successful Creative Life on Your Own Terms”.This is a brand new book by Cory Huff. I am about halfway through it and have learned some very interesting things about the online environment that I didn’t know.

    Although I love real books, I have just finished re-reading Joyce Washor Saltzman’s fabulous e-book “Oil Painting Harmony: The Tao of the Complementary Palette”. This book has “how to” videos embedded in it ,and it’s just a wonderful book on mixing color. I don’t do oils, but I used it to figure out color charts to mix PanPastels which are non-traditional soft pastels that are mixable. Great resource!

  • Wow, y’all totally expanded my reading horizons. I just finished Sketchbooks: A Peronal Memoir by Lisa Sonara Beam. I’m also working through What Color is Your Parachute, and about to complete the journal questions in The Life Organizer for the second time. For fiction I just finished Gathering Prey.

  • Susan Siefer

    I also loved The Muralist by Barbara Shapiro as well as her previous book The Art Forger. The Goldfinch is one of my all time favorites. I’m going to pick up Art and Fear again as I never finished it and hope to start My Brlliant Friend. Thanks for all of the great suggestions! Happy Summer!!

  • Deb Wicks

    Adopting some amazing advice this summer from these great reads:
    * “Think Like an Artist (and Lead a More Creative, Productive Life)” by Will Gompert
    * “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown
    * “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo
    * “Presence” by Amy Cuddy

  • I loved the Hare with Amber Eyes.. And recommend my Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.. The Neapolitan trilogy is so wonderful. I read all 4 in this last month as I could not put it down.. More favorites
    My Name is Red and Shantaram

  • Dorothy

    William Morris by himself (edited by Gillian Naylor) published by Chartwell Books

    Love reading his actual comments from letters.

  • Corinne McNamara

    Re-reading some of my favorite watercolor books (Stephen Quiller, Nita Leland, Catherine Gill, & Jean Haines).
    Working through Heal Yourself with Writing by Catherine Ann Jones.
    Adding expertise for my job with The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brooks and Becoming an Academic Writer by Patricia Goodson.

  • “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie, a great book about dealing with thoughts.
    “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante, book one of a 4-part series about 2 women friends.
    Great reads, both.

  • I enjoy marketing books! I am currently reading Market Yourself by Tara Swiger, How to Style your Brand, Fiona Humberstone, and Finding Divine Inspiration by J. Scott McElroy. Thank you for asking this question. Now I have some diverse options to try.

  • Just finished The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro….has anyone read her The Art Forger?
    Great story!
    Also adored All the Light We Cannot see by Anthony Doerr.

  • Yes. The Art Forger was great fun!

  • On Love, by Alain de Botton: “Overview

    On Love is globally bestselling novelist-philosopher Alain De Botton’s iconic debut—the novel that launched his decorated literary career; and a funny, profound, and searingly true-to-life exploration of love.

    A man and a woman meet over casual conversation on a flight from Paris to London, and so begins a love story—from fist kiss to first argument, elation to heartbreak, and everything in between. Each stage of the relationship is illuminated with starling clarity, as de Botton explores emotions often felt but rarely understood. Now, in tandem with the arrival of The Course of Love—de Botton’s first novel in twenty years and one about mature love—we celebrate the timeless debut about young love that serves as The Course of Love’s precursor and companion.

  • My summer reading list:

    A Lesson In Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear
    What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
    The Other Side of Silence by Phillip Kerr
    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
    Free Expression in Acrylics by John Hammond
    Making Colors Sing byJeanne Dobie
    I am waiting for the next installment in a mystery series written by Louise Penny. Her protagonists are artist living in a small village in Canada.

    I enjoy mysteries the most but I have been known to read literature and non-fiction when I find a topic or author the interests me. I also read books written by artists. Usually I just look at the pictures and read the captions, but sometimes I read from cover to cover.
    I also read a series of spiritual books and self-help books when I feel the need.

  • Linda Landon

    For purely fun entertainment read Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle. It takes you to Provence with crazy characters, wine, and art forgery.

    The most bizarre fun novel for art history lovers is Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

  • The Answer by Jon Assaraf a re-read, Cooking From The Garden: Rosalind Creasy,
    Primary Colors by Anonymous, The Art Of Faux: Pierre Finkelstein and listening to
    a variety including Julia Cameron, Stuart Wilde, The Secret, … and ???
    Want to get The Muralist by Shapiro mentioned earlier.

  • Not reading, per se, but but rather studying parts of Payne’s Composition of Outdoor Painting for a session of consulting I will give on Wednesday; also around the house with bookmarks, Henri’s The Art Spirit, and your recommendation, Alyson, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

  • View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
    The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

  • Mary Jussel

    The Last Painting of Sara De Vos

  • Lynn Cook

    I’m reading Black Mountain: an exploration in community, by Martin Duberman. It’s about Black Mountain College, it was researched and written in the late 60’s, and first published in ’72, some of it feels very close to what’s going on now in education, some of it light years away. I came to it via an interest in the Bauhaus, Josef and Anni Albers came to BMC early on. It’s a fascinating book.
    And in conjunction I’m looking at Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, Helen Molesworth which is a huge, beautifully illustrated book accompanying the exhibition of BMC stuff which was on at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and is travelling right now, not sure where it is on.

  • David’s Feherty’s book on golf, “A Nasty Bit of Rough”. And several other short easy read novels about golf. I’m a golf nut and have been working on a series of abstracted aerial landscapes of golf courses. Reading them on the kindle so I can see them!

    • Add the “Defiant Spirits”, the Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven by Ross King. Extremely well researched book about the Canadian turn of the century painters; one of my biggest influences.

  • Carolyn

    Oh my gosh! Everybody’s reading lists are magnificent! I’m studying English Literature so my reading list is not my own right now but all the same this next 6 months is a study on Australian stories, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll – Ray Lawler, The Boat – Nam Le, Bitin Back – Vivienne Cleven, Johnno – David Malouf, and Dead Europe – Christos Tsiolkas. I feel like I need to make a list of everybody else’s books for future reference 😉

  • I guess I’m not quite in summer reading mode yet…
    The Inconvenient Indian – A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
    Who Owns Native Culture? by Michael Forbes Brown
    The David Suzuki Reader by David Suzuki
    The Architects Odd Couple looks interesting – not sure it sounds like ‘light summer reading’ either : )

  • I enjoyed What Are You Looking At? – have it on my shelf to dip into again. All the Light You Cannot See and the Goldfinch were both excellent, I also enjoyed Against A Darkening Sky – when Christianity first came to Britain. Next novel to read (just got it) is Annie Proulx’s Barkskins. I’m also looking for the second volume of Nilanjana Roy’s The Wildings-which will be called The Hundred Names of Darkness- they are about a cat colony in India and are a bit like Watership Down. On the practical side, I’m reading Mieshelle Nagelschneider’s The Cat Whisperer because I have a cat with anxiety problems. I am also working my way through a stack of old Horizon’s and enjoying them- and I haven’t finished all John Berger’s essays on artists in Portraits. – and I’m always re-reading Ian Robert’s Creative Authenticity – subtitle – 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision…. very worthwhile.

  • Our Victorian Tea Society bookclub read “The Art Forger,” Susan. Loved it. I’m reading, (again) Rex Vicat Coles’ “The Artistic Anatomy of Trees.”

  • Deb Sorem

    I am reading the portfolio from the Denver Art Museum “Women of Abstract Expressionism. It was a great birthday present to visit.
    Also I’m reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, a 10 year old book, that offers pointed insight into todays politics as well as historical insight into the United States civil war.

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