Jan 25

This week we announce a new reading challenge, talk about novels with an art focus, and share our two books we can’t wait for you to read: Vietnamerica by GB Tran, and The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier.

The 2011 BOTNS Retreat Author Challenge

In 2011 read 1 book from each author

Starting in April, we will have a monthly online chat about one of the books. Our first book with be Something Missing by Matthew Dicks.

For the complete monthly schedule of which book we will be talking about when, please see the official challenge page.

Novels about art: (05:04)

Kathy from our Goodreads group asked to hear a podcast devoted to books about the art world.

Susan Vreeland has written 6 books that all relate to art of some sort. They include:

Tracy Chevalier also writes novels about artists:

Stephanie Cowell, who has also written novels about Mozart and Shakespeare, wrote a novel called Claude and Camille, about Monet’s first wife and his model for many paintings including Camille (The Woman in the Green Dress).

and coming out on April 19th is Leaving Van Gogh by Carol Wallace, the story of Van Gogh’s final days as told by his personal physician Dr. Paul Gachet.

Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling is a novel about the the art world in Paris before and after World War II. Houghteling’s characters are based on the Picasso’s real-life art dealer before World War II, and Rose Villand, a woman who was instrumental in the recovery of art looted by the Nazis during the war.

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant is not about a particular painting, but is the story of a young woman in Renaissance Florence who becomes fascinated by a Northern Italian artist, and the process of creating art.

We also found an extensive List of novels about art,  on  the Art Education Yahoo Group. Check it out if this is a topic that interests you.

Two books we can’t wait for you to read: (14:52)

VietnamericaThe Illumination

Michael talks about Vietnamerica, a graphic memoir by GB Tran about a family trip back to Vietnam and the author’s discovery of the real truth about the family. My segment 3 book is Kevin Brockmeier’s The Illumination, which will be published in hardcover on February 1st. Described as “a literary Valentine,” it’s a magical novel about love and pain.

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  • For anyone interested in something more educational, I recently did a blog post on my personal blog about three fantastic art books that I lugged around with me during a 21 day, museum-packed trip through central Italy I took this past fall.

    Each book is unique in what it offers, but all help the novice art observer to translate and contextualize art ranging from the medieval to the modern. I feel anyone museum-bound would find any of them interesting, if not essential! I know I did! See the following link for on these books:
    http://thewrittenwordendures.blogspot.com/2010/11/museum-bound-companions-for-those-of-us.html

  • Stan

    Headlong, by Michael Frayn was a good novel about a “lost painting” by the Dutch master, Pieter Bruegel.

  • Babelbabe

    The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova was a cool look at an artist and his process. Albeit a fictional artist.

  • Just a coupla more titles for the art-novel pile:

    Steve Martin’s The Object of Beauty by Steve Martin just came out a couple of months ago. It’s more about the art-world than artist, but voyeuristically fun.

    I also like books about art theft: Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle and Theft by Peter Carey are good reads, with the Mayle being more of a page-turner than Carey’s novel.

    And I can’t resist two from the 20th C canon: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. Neither are primarily about art: the main character in TtL is an amateur painter visiting a family during summer vacation. The treasure here is reading Woolf writing about painting. Sublime stuff.

    Stein’s book takes you into the inner world of 1920s and 30s Paris, including her unreal collection of and acquaintances with the Impressionists—before they were anything anyone had ever heard of. Lunch with Picasso. Run-ins with Manet. You know, my life.

    Anyway, hope someone finds those interesting.

  • Just a coupla more titles for the art-novel pile:

    Steve Martin’s The Object of Beauty by Steve Martin just came out a couple of months ago. It’s more about the art-world than artist, but voyeuristically fun.

    I also like books about art theft: Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle and Theft by Peter Carey are good reads, with the Mayle being more of a page-turner than Carey’s novel.

    And I can’t resist two from the 20th C canon: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. Neither are primarily about art: the main character in TtL is an amateur painter visiting a family during summer vacation. The treasure here is reading Woolf writing about painting. Sublime stuff.

    Stein’s book takes you into the inner world of 1920s and 30s Paris, including her unreal collection of and acquaintances with the Impressionists—before they were anything anyone had ever heard of. Lunch with Picasso. Run-ins with Manet. You know, my life.

    Anyway, hope someone finds those interesting.

  • Seconding The Swan Thieves for the art history book list!

  • Ckubala

    Some by male authors:

    Venetian by David Weiss
    A fictional novel about Titian

    The Art Thief – Noah Charney
    Three maserpieces are missing sending curators and criminals on a quest to recover the storlen art work.

    Moulon Rouge: A Novel based on the life of Henri-Toulouse-Lautrec – Pierre La Mure
    Sympathetic portrait of the artist

    Lost Diaries of Frans Hals – Micahel Kernan
    A contemporary researcher discovers the diaries of Hals and takes us back to the life of the 17th century Dutch painter.

    The Years with Laura Diaz – Carlos Fuenetes
    A young man reflects on the life of his grandmother after seeing a mural of her done by artist Diego Rivera.

    Female authors that I enjoyed:

    Lydia Cassat Reading the Morning Paper – Harriet Chessman
    Five paintings of Lydia, sister of Mary Cassatt set the backdrop for this novel set in 1870’s Paris.

    Music Lesson – Katherine Weber
    Poitics, Northern Ireland and a plot to steal and ranson a Vermeer paiting provides and exquisite novel.

    Frida – Barbara Mujica
    Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and the revolutinary politics that spurred her and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, are depicted in this fictional biography.

    Private life of Mona Lia – Pierre La Mure
    Historical fiction seeking an answer to the famous smile.

    Memory Cathedral: A Secret Hisory of Leonardo Da Vinci – Jack Dann
    Historical fantasy in which Leonardo travels to Syria and builds the mitlary inventions from his notebooks.

    I’ll copy these to GoodReads Group too.

    • Wow, thanks, Carol! You are such a great resource and I feel so lucky to
      have you as part of Books on the Nightstand.

  • Randbh

    Daniel DeSilva writes about an art restorer/secret agent.

  • Randbh

    Daniel DeSilva writes about an art restorer/secret agent.

  • Randbh

    Daniel DeSilva writes about an art restorer/secret agent.

  • Jana

    I just listened to the podcast and was excited to share my male author recommendation. Alas, it is mentioned here by Stan and on the link you provided. However, I’ll add another word of praise for Michael Frayn’s Headlong. Bruegel is my favourite painter, and I enjoyed this immensely!

  • Katie

    To the Lighthouse is one of the greatest novels of all time, and I think it can be considered to be about art (and everything). Also The Glass Room is about architecture, which is sort of an adjacent category.

  • Thanks for your very kind words and support of VIETNAMERICA! I really tried to take advantage of the constant interplay of words and images to create a unique experience for the reader, and preserve my parents’ legacy in a moving and respectful way.

  • Thanks for your very kind words and support of VIETNAMERICA! I really tried to take advantage of the constant interplay of words and images to create a unique experience for the reader, and preserve my parents’ legacy in a moving and respectful way.

  • Anonymous

    some additional books by male authors:
    Iain Pears – Art history mysteries — The Rafael Affair, Giotto’ Hand, etc
    and Nicholas Kilmer mystery series — Man with a Squirrel, Lazerus Arise, etc

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