10 Art Books That Will Nourish Your Creative Soul This Month

Creative Books

Photo: Sylvie Tittel
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Inspiration can come from anywhere, but a book is a good place to start. Through creative publications, you’re introduced to new ideas and wisdom that will inspire you in your own pursuits. There are books being released each week, making it an exciting—if not overwhelming—prospect that you can consistently be reading something new.

To help you in your search for the best in photography, design, and art books, we’ve selected 10 titles to explore. Each one covers one of these categories and examines facets of them in engaging ways. Start by celebrating the work of 45 contemporary women artists in A Big Important Art Book (Now with Women) by Danielle Krysa. If you want to understand some of the most important images in photography, spend some time with The Short Story of Photography. For interior designers, we’ve picked the iconic Mid-Century Modern period as one to study—not only in its aesthetics but how it exists in the larger scope of design. Maybe you’ll choose one book or all 10, but either way, you’re sure to be fascinated.

Scroll down for our top art book pick for this month. And if you have a Kindle device, you’re in luck—many of these publications are available through the e-reader, too. With Kindle Unlimited, you have an unlimited reading of over a million ebooks that can be read on any device.

Spark your imagination with creative books! Here are our 10 picks for January.


50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life: Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper by Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst

In this book, illustrators from Flow Magazine open up their “toolkits” to share their techniques on how to draw. There are 50 lessons in all that demonstrate sketching everyday things like a bike, a kitchen table, a cat, and apple trees. As you do this, you’ll learn about color, materials, and more. The book comes with a mini daily drawing pad, DIY postcards, special papers, and house interiors to unfold and make your own.


Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World by Katherine Halligan

Herstory celebrates 50 inspiring and powerful women and girls who “shook up the world.” Colorfully illustrated by Sarah Walsh, it features biographies and basic facts about the ladies as well as their lives in the overall landscape of women’s history.


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Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson

Maureen Marzi Wilson is the Instagram cartoonist behind Introvert Doodles, and this book is a collection of her “hilarious, relatable, and heartwarming doodles” that focus on anxiety. For anyone who struggles with this disorder, you’ll be reminded you are not alone.


People Kissing: A Century of Photographs by Barbara Levine and Paige Ramey

Authors Barbara Levine and Paige Ramey have collected photographs detailing people kissing throughout history. The publication includes vintage postcards, sly snapshots, and candid images that will make you wonder about the stories behind these couples caught on film.


Think Small: The Tiniest Art in the World by Eva Katz

Author Eva Katz assembled a volume of 24 artists from across the globe who create miniature masterpieces. Think Small features more than 200 of their images detailing these incredible works, which include everything from carved pencils to crystal shells designed for hermit crabs.


Illustration Workshop: Find Your Style, Practice Drawing Skills, and Build a Stellar Portfolio by Mary Kate McDevitt

Are you an aspiring illustrator? Mary Kate McDevitt’s book Illustration Workshop will help you build your creative skills and produce an “attention-grabbing portfolio.” It features exercises in editorial illustration, surface design, and more, along with tips and tricks of the trade.


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A Big Important Art Book (Now with Women): Profiles of Unstoppable Female Artists and Projects to Help You Become One by Danielle Krysa

Author Danielle Krysa of the blog The Jealous Curator celebrates 45 women artists and pairs their work alongside creative prompts that will make an artist out of anyone.


Chromatopia: An Illustrated History of Color by David Coles

Learn the origins of vivid color pigments in this fascinating book by David Cole. It spans hues throughout time, from those produced by the ancient Egyptian world to advances in color technology.


Mid-Century Modern Interiors: The Ideas that Shaped Interior Design in America by Lucinda Kaukas Havenhand

The 1930s to the 1960s in the United States marked an important period for interior design. Known as Mid-Century Modern, the iconic aesthetic is still popular today. This book examines the influential movement as well as where it falls in the broader context of design history.


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The Short Story of Photography: A Pocket Guide to Key Genres, Works, Themes & Techniques by Ian Haydn Smith

Get a crash course in photography when you read this book. It features 50 important photographs, from the medium’s first experiments to the advance of digital photography. If you are unfamiliar with the field, you’ll come away with knowledge of how and why some images changed our world.


Related Articles:

15 Must-Have Art Books for the Creative Mind

20 Books Every Artist Needs on Their Bookshelf

8 Essential Art History Books for Beginners

10 Inspiring Children’s Books for Budding Little Artists

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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