Summer Reading List

Summer Reading Guide for Creative Recovery and Inspiration


It’s summer and an excellent time to catch up on reading!

Although typically summer is good to read more fiction-based works, don’t neglect the opportunity to learn more about how to enhance your creativity, especially if you are striving to reach some creative goals before the end of the year.

I thought I would share a few of my favorite books that I have found to be helpful with my own creativity.  They all can be found in a variety of formats (Kindle, hard cover, soft cover or audio) and range from including exercises to help you get going with your creative work to providing motivational messages to keep you on track.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

What it is about…

From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.”

The “Skinny”

The first thing I noticed about this book is how upbeat it is.  Gilbert gives down-to-earth and at times humorous testimony on the creation process in a fun and provocative way.   She provides anecdotes about personal creative triumphs and failures as a writer, as well as share stories from other artists which helps us all not to be discouraged from our own short-comings. The one-liners and awesome testimony ultimately focuses on encouraging readers to over come their own fears, whether by other people or themselves and have curiosity instead, lead the way to creative fulfillment.

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

What it is about…

“The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity.  An international bestseller, it’s an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life.  Perhaps more vital in today’s cultural climate than it was when it was first pulbished a decade ago, it is powerfully provacative and inspiring work.”  The Artist’s Way

“The book was written to help people with artistic creative recovery, which teaches techniques and exercises to assist people in gaining self-confidence in harnessing their creative talents and skills.  Correlation and emphasis is used by the author to show a connection between artistic creativity and a spiritual connection with God.” Wikipedia

The “Skinny”…

I consider this book is the “Grandmother” of creativity books and one that is most recognizable all over the world.  The book was first published in 1992, is divided into 12 chapters with exercises that can be conducted on a weekly basis, with topics such as recovering a sense of creative identity to recoverging a sense of faith.  Two important tools that Cameron shares for creativity recovery is Artists Dates and Morning Pages.

I first read this book in the early 2000s and was amazed how much it helped me to not only open my own creativity but also manifest success in other areas of my life.  I highly recommend it as the starter book for anyone who is interested in reclaiming their creative gifts at any point of their life.

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte

“The Desire Map is a holistic approach to life planning that uses your core desired feelings as the guidance system for your goal setting. Over 125,000 copies sold and print in multiple languages.

Here’s the vibe of it: “With an organic elegance The Desire Mapcouples our primal desire-energy with the inborn intelligence of our feelings. The result? Optimizing our time on Earth. LaPorte’s joie de vivre is contagious. Prepare to catch it!” – Michael Bernard Beckwith I Life Visioning

And here’s why you need them: You’re a seeker who wants to get things done. You want to take your life from good to great. You want to strive less and at the same time, open up to the fortunes of life — from greater life force and passion, to cash, adventure and freedom of every kind. You’re here to design a life that’s an expression of your soul.” –

The “Skinny”….

The Desire Map was a life saver for me when I became personally dissatisfied with the way my art career was moving.  The book brilliantly leads you to the core question…”how do you want to want to feel?”   That question has lead me to make a lot of decisions based on what she defines is the “core desired feelings”…the main 3-5 feelings you want to experience with whatever you are doing, the relationships you are in engaged in or the choices you are making.  Since 2016, I have been working with the Desire Map to serve as a guide regarding almost everything I do.  If I am engaged in a project that does not meet my current (annual) core desired feelings, I get out of it.  As a creative person it is important that I stay true to my commitment to my creative practice. Using the Desire Map process, I am able to identify the projects and activities that resonate with my soul rather than from an ego-based perspective.

This book is perfect for those who are defining their creative goals and need help ensuring that they choose the kind of projects and activities that support them.

How Georgia Became O’Keeffe by Karen Karbo

What it is about…

“Most people associate Georgia O’Keeffe with New Mexico, painted cow skulls, and her flower paintings. She was revered for so long—born in 1887, died at age ninety-eight in 1986—that we forget how young, restless, passionate, searching, striking, even fearful she once was—a dazzling, mysterious female force in bohemian New York City during its heyday.

In this distinctive book, Karen Karbo cracks open the O’Keeffe icon in her characteristic style, making one of the greatest women painters in American history vital and relevant for yet another generation. She chronicles O’Keeffe’s early life, her desire to be an artist, and the key moment when art became her form of self-expression. She also explores O’Keeffe’s passionate love affair with master photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who took a series of 500 black-and-white photographs of O’Keeffe during the early years of their marriage.

How Georgia Became O’Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living delves into the long, extraordinary life of the renowned American painter, exploring a range of universal themes—from how to discover and nurture your individuality to what it means to be in a committed relationship while maintaining your independence, from finding your own style to developing the ability to take risks. Each chapter is built around an aspect of living that concerns women today of all ages: how to find your own path; work with passion and conviction; express yourself; be in a relationship without sacrificing your sense of self; and do it all with an effortless, unique style.

As with Karbo’s previous books, How Georgia Became O’Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living is not a traditional biography, but rather a compelling, contemporary reassessment of the life of O’Keeffe with an eye toward understanding what we can learn from her way of being in the world.” –

The Skinny…

This is not a how to regain your creativity book.  It is an inspiring read, focusing on one of the art world’s most talented and renown artists in the 20th Century.  Karbo takes us on a journey of how O’Keeffee became…well…O”Keeffee.  The story of the artist’s life provides a timeless testimony on how Georgia took risks and worked outside social norms at a challenging time for women artists  to stay focused on her own individuality and creative talent to produce some of the most beloved artwork that is still celebrated today.

This is the perfect book if you are looking to learn about an artistic icon and how their life can be an inspiration for your own creativity.

Feel free to add your favorite books on creativity in the comments so you can share with others as well.



Two Books on My Summer Reading List on Art

This summer, I have dedicated myself on catching up on a few books of interest regarding art.  I thought I would share the books that I have been reading since both are recently published.

What I Have Read


As an member, I receive periodic emails on books that match my interests.  Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class  by Patricia A. Banks (published in 2010)  was one that came across my email that caught my attention.  In this book, Banks traverses the New York and Atlanta art worlds to uncover how Black identities are cultivated through Black art patronage.  Drawing on over 100 in-depth interviews, observations at arts events, and photographs of art displayed in homes, Banks elaborates a racial identity theory of consumption that highlights how upper-middle class Blacks forge Black identities for themselves and their children through the consumption of Black visual art.  She not only challenges common assumptions about elite cultural participation, but also contributes to the heated debate about the significance of race for elite Blacks, and illuminates recent art world developments. In doing so, Banks documents how the salience of race extends into the cultural life of even the most socioeconomically successful Blacks.

Some interesting quotes:

Regarding Black Cultivated Consumption (pp. 4-5)

I argue that upper-middle-class blacks self-consciously engage in black arts participation (activities that involve art by black artists or about black people) to enact and nurture their own and their children’s racial identity.” I call this practice black culitvated consumptions.  Black identity and black arts participation are mutually reinforcing because upper-middle-class black engage in black arts participation to enact their already existing black identities, and the experience of black artsw participation nourishes their racial identity.  During this process different dimensions of black identity are constructed, including black appearances, black history, black pride and black unity.”

Regarding Narratives of Art (p. 49)

Some participants direct their arts participation toward deepening their knowledge of the history of black visual arts production, such as African American art history.  They seek to become familiar with aspects of these histories such as the names of black artists, their techniques, their relationships with other artists, and interpretations of their work.

Advancing the Race (p. 79)

Many of the middle-class blacks I talked with articulate their sense of interdependence with other blacks through the patronage of black art.  They conceptualize their patronage of black art as contributing to a collective project of black cultural advancement.  The success of black artists and black cultural institutions is seen as shared black endeavors, as is the black community’s ownership of black art.  The sense of common purpose that surrounds their patronage of black art is often characterized by a belief that black artists, black institutions, and black collectors face adversities within the world of art, and that their arts participation helps to remedy these adversities.  They see their art patronage as addressing collective endeavors including developing a market for the work of black artists and valorizing their art, participating in black ownership of black art, and cultivating the audience for black visual arts institutions and enriching them financially.”

Patricia A. Banks is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Mount Holyoke College. Her  research and teaching interests include the sociology of culture and race and ethnicity.    She received her Ph.D. and A.M. from Harvard University and B.A. from Spelman College    (Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa). Her research has been published in journals such as Ethnic and Racial Studies. In 2009-2010, Professor Banks is in residence as a Fellow at the W.E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.   Professor Banks has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, an Exchange Scholar at Columbia University, and received fellowships or grants from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, AAUW, the UNCF/Mellon Program, and the Irene Diamond fund. She has been recognized for teaching excellence by the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, and presented her research at major conferences such as the Collecting African American Art: Aesthetics, Methods, and Marketplace Conference at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, and the Arts, Culture and the Public Sphere Conference in Venice, Italy.

As an artist, art consultant and collector, this book was a valuable resource in learning more about how and why  upper-middle class African Americans support  the visual arts.  Banks’s interviews with a variety of collectors are quite candid and eye-opening.  There are photographs also of artwork in private collections,, however, they are in black and white and the quality does not reproduce well in the book.

What I Am Reading Now

I am not sure what drew me to EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art by Kellie Jones.  I believe I read something about the book’s upcoming release earlier this year and I remember saying to myself, who is Kellie Jones and why is this book so important. From the book’s description below, it provided me with some background on this legendary art scholar:

“A daughter of the poets Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and social justice across the river in Newark. The activist vision of art and culture that she learned in those two communities, and especially from her family, has shaped her life and work as an art critic and curator. Featuring selections of her writings from the past twenty years, EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing attention to the work of African American, African, Latin American, and women artists who have challenged established art practices. Interviews that she conducted with the painter Howardena Pindell, the installation and performance artist David Hammons, and the Cuban sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the photographers Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist Betye Saar; and the painters Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, and Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial sensibility, this collection is structured as a dialogue between her writings and works by her parents, her sister Lisa Jones, and her husband Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones, insight into the development of her critical and curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most important figures in contemporary art.”

Dr. Kellie Jones is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. Her research interests include African American and African Diaspora artists, Latino/a and Latin American Artists, and issues in contemporary art and museum theory. Her teaching covers the 17th – 21st centuries.  Dr. Jones was named an Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellow in 2008 for her lifetime of writing on visual art.  The fellowship commemorates the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling of 1954 which struck down legal segregation; it recognizes candidates whose work honors and furthers the spirit of the statute. In 2005 she was the inaugural recipient of the David C. Driskell Award in African American Art and Art History from the High Museum of Art, Atlanta and a Scholar-in-Residence, at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. Dr. Jones’s writings have appeared in numerous exhibition catalogues and the journals NKA, Artforum, Flash Art, Atlantica, and Third Text among others.  Current book projects include, Taming the Freeway and Other Acts of Urban HIP-notism: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s (forthcoming from The MIT Press).

I felt compelled to learn more about her writings and her work, specifically with African American artists and other “marginalized” populations in the greater historical context of visual art.  So far, I am enamoured with her writing and historical prespective regarding the work of many artists that I admire and look forward to consuming the entire book!

So have you read any interesting books about art, art history or artists in general?  Have you read any the books above?  Feel free to share and recommend!