Book Recommendation · Bookish List · Uncategorized

Books With Artist Characters

Hi there!  It’s Sabrina and today I’m recommending you a bunch of books with artistic characters.  They’re mostly female and mostly main characters, but there’s a couple I couldn’t help slipping in there that don’t fit those qualifiers.  I’ve split the list into two – the first, and shortest, section is books where the art is an integral part of the plot and the second section is where it is less integral, but still present.  Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and only covers a narrow range of art.  Please enjoy 🙂

Part One

STARFISH
by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Genre: YA contemporary
Art: The main character draws and paints

🖌 This book follows a half-Japanese teen named Kiko with anxiety and a dream to get into Prism, a top tier art school. A lot of chapters end with Kiko explaining what she has drawn or painted that day which was so interesting to read.

🖌 I related a lot to the main character, particularly with the way she explains her social anxiety.

🖌 Kiko goes through so much in this book, making it a very emotional read – especially when it comes to the way her family abuses her. I would definitely check the trigger warnings for this one because it doesn’t shy away from difficult topics.

🖌 Outside of her family, Kiko has some great relationships, including a really cute romance (though I had some issues with it) and a fantastic mentor.


STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO
by A.S. King
Genre: YA contemporary, fabulism
Art: The main character takes art in high school and has always wanted to be an artist

🖌 This book follows a teen who is struggling with high school, her artistic journey and her life in general. Over the course of the story, she meets several versions of herself at different ages and uncovers things she wanted to forget.

🖌 This is another book that deals with abuse and trauma. The author has a simple way of writing that also manages to pack a massive punch.

🖌 It’s a bit weird, but not too weird, and it will probably stick with you for a while.


RADIO SILENCE
by Alice Oseman
Genre: YA contemporary
Art: Fanart and a podcast

🖌 Though this was one of my favourite books I read last year, I devoured it in a single day so my memory of it is not all that clear.

🖌 I do remember that it explores fan culture, the internet and academic pressure in an authentic and meaningful way.

🖌 The book centres around an incredible friendship between two people, both navigating their own struggles with the help of their creative expression.

🖌 I loved all the characters and related to them in some way or another, and the plot itself really resonated with me as well.


LANNY
by Max Porter
Genre: Adult literary fiction, fabulism
Art: One of the central characters is an artist and is teaching another character

🖌 This is a short little book that I was not expecting to love as much as I did, especially with the strangeness of the first chapter.

🖌 It’s …kind of… about a brilliant young boy named Lanny and Green Man folklore.

🖌 It’s not only heavy on themes explored with beautiful writing but has a strong plot and well-developed characters.

🖌 Another weird but good one.


Bonus Suggestions: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Part Two

LETTERS TO THE LOST
by Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA contemporary
Art: One of the main characters is a photographer

🖌 This is my favourite book I’ve read so far this year and you can read all my thoughts about it in my review here.

🖌 At its heart, this is a story about grief and growth. It follows two teens both reeling from loss who unexpectedly connect.

🖌 There are so many things to love about it, but the most significant to me is the way characters work together to change for the better – including all the adult characters.

🖌 It really draws you in and does not let go – not only because of the characters, but the turns the plot takes.


NO EXIT
by Taylor Adams
Genre: Adult mystery thriller
Art: I believe the main character is an art student

🖌 The story follows a woman stuck at a rest stop in the snow and the things that go down while she’s there.

🖌 Admittedly, there were a lot of flaws with this book (certain things didn’t make much sense in hindsight) but it was so darn exciting that I didn’t mind at the time, and can’t bring myself to mind now.

🖌 If you are looking for a fast-paced, slightly gory read set in an isolated place, I recommend this one.


REBECCA
by Daphne du Maurier
Genre: Classic mystery
Art: Main character apparently likes to sketch

🖌 This classic follows a young bride moving in to her new husband’s house that is pervaded by the memory of his late wife.

🖌 You may know I had a mistake with this book – I somehow listened to the abridged version on audio instead of the unabridged version. I consider the fact that this book was even abridged in the first place to be a crime.

🖌 The writing is beautiful and provides a truly magnificent atmosphere and the main character is easy to relate to.


DARK MATTER
by Blake Crouch
Genre: Adult sci-fi thriller
Art: The main character’s wife is an artist

🖌 I feel like I’ve talked about this one a lot lately, and it’s one that is best to go into not knowing much about it. But having said that, I have to warn you that now, during the pandemic, is probably not a great time to read it.

🖌 I loved following the twists and turns this novel took, trying and failing to guess what would happen next.

🖌 It’s very fast paced, really intriguing and unique. It gives you a lot to think about.


GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN
by Talia Hibbert
Genre: Adult contemporary romance
Art: One of the two main characters is a painter

🖌 This is a cute and also steamy romance between two wonderful people both experiencing big problems. One is trying to get over an abusive relationship and one is making changes in her life after a near death experience whilst also dealing with fibromyalgia.

🖌 The book manages to strike a great balance between fun entertainment and emotional moments.

🖌It’s very British and also includes a cat!


DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE
by Laini Taylor
Genre: YA portal fantasy
Art: The main character is an art student in Prague

🖌 Follows a girl brought up by monsters from another world – but the doors to the other world are disappearing and she has to do something about it.

🖌 Of course I loved the writing in this trilogy, but the characters, plot and themes also spoke to me.

🖌 This is one of my favourite series ever and, not that this is information you need, but I really have to reread it soon.


THE DARKEST STAR
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: YA paranormal romance
Art: The main character is a photographer

🖌 This story follows a girl living in a post-alien-invasion world who stumbles into something sinister.

🖌 If you are a fan of the Lux series by the same author, I highly recommend checking this one out. Some of the same characters show up and honestly there were times I questioned whether I figured something out on my own or if I was just remembering it.

🖌 The book is a lot of fun, in true YA paranormal romance fashion, but was also fresh and interesting. I’m excited to get around to the sequel sooner rather than later.


I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
by Iain Reid
Genre: Adult psychological horror
Art: Painting

🖌 I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about this one because you need to experience it for yourself.

🖌 It is deeply unsettling in a very entertaining way, and nothing makes sense until it does.

🖌 I don’t want to hype it up too much, because I am a scaredy-cat, but this freaked me out a lot. Plus there’s apparently a movie adaptation coming out on Netflix this year, so maybe you should read this before it’s released!


Bonus suggestions: Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager and The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski.

What do you think?

Have you read any of these?  Do you have any recommendations that fit this list? Be sure to let me know!

26 thoughts on “Books With Artist Characters

  1. Still Life, Chloe Brown, and Letters to the Lost are favorites of mine. I just finished The Happy Ever After Playlist, and the heroine was an artist, who painted hyper realistic paintings. It was a pretty interesting niche to feature in a book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I only have read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is my favorite because the writing and the world building is just ~m a g i c a l~✨ The only characters I remembered are Rachel Elizabeth Dare from PJO series, who I think is a painter, and Noah and Jude from I’ll Give You The Sun who are painter and sculptor (I think Jude is a sculptor)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So happy to hear you are a Daughter of Smoke and Bone fan too – it really is magical!
      Ooh I totally forgot about Rachel Elizabeth Dare being a painter. I haven’t read I’ll Give You The Sun, but you have definitely just upped my interest in it 🙂

      Like

    1. Yay, me too 😀 I am definitely more interested in ‘podcasts in books’ because of Radio Silence, but I haven’t really got on the podcast train outside of that tbh – I find it hard to concentrate on them and also to get uninterrupted time for them (same goes for audiobooks). I feel like I am missing out though 😂
      I love characters that are writers as well – I’m hoping to do a separate post on that sometime!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I usually love artistic characters! I REALLY need to read Radio Silence and Rebecca. Those two are pretty high on my TBR right now. I love that Julian in The Dark Artifices is an artist, but Feyre from ACOTAR is the WORST artist of all time and I really did not enjoy the weak descriptions of her painting. Awesome post idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same! I hope you get to those two soon – I really enjoyed them!
      I haven’t finished reading Lady Midnight (I started it some years ago, but I only got halfway through), but I remember liking Julian. Lol, I agree with your opinions on Feyre too 😂
      Thanks Erin!

      Like

  4. I love artistic characters so much!! It is so fascinating to see how they express themselves and how much it means to them. I like sketching so I think I can relate to them slightly as well !! ❤ Radio Silence was one of my favourites and I loved how much their passions meant to them.
    Starfish and Still Life With Tornado both sounds really interesting, you've made me want to read them both now. Lanny sounds interesting as well. Great idea for a post and I loved reading it !!! Thank you for sharing !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you! I think it’s more important to me to see what the art means to the character, rather than the art itself. Do you post your sketching anywhere? I would love to see it! Yesss Radio Silence is the best 😀
      I hope you get around to reading Starfish, Still Life & Lanny at some point!
      Thanks a bunch Sophie! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I know I already mentioned this book on my blog but I definitely recommend, You’re Welcome, Universe to this list. The MC is a graffiti artist and her artwork is kind of central to the whole storyline. I think you might like it. I’m surprised I’ve read a few of these, though. I loved Get A Life, Chloe Brown and the description of the art was so good. You’re reminding me I seriously need to read Starfish. It’s been on my TBR forever and I just haven’t been in the mood to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh yes, I think I might like You’re Welcome, Universe too – thank you for the suggestion! 🙂
      I loved the description of the art in Chloe Brown too. I hope you get around to Starfish soon, but it is definitely one you need to be in the right headspace to read.

      Like

  6. Radio Silence was soo good.
    Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard would definitely fit the part two of this list, it’s a really cute novel about a girl who comes out of a toxic relationship to find herself and her love for art again!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Being an artist myself I’m always looking for books that feature similar characters, so thanks for putting together this list! I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a wonderful book all about the lives of two twins who are both artists, and I absolutely adore it. If you get the right edition, some of the pages actually have paint splatters printed on them! It looks really cool and they serve to represent the emotions of the characters. And it’s still on my TBR, but An Enchantment of Ravens is about a painter in a fairy kingdom and it sounds really interesting. Great post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked the list! ❤ I'll have to go have a look at your art – I see you've done some posts about it!
      I haven't read I'll Give You The Sun but the way you put it makes it sound amazing; I'll definitely have to pick it up sometime soon. An Enchantment of Ravens sounds interesting too!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I feel like of all the hobbies in books an artist is the one that comes up a lot. Or maybe I have just been reading too much SJM. It could be either one, honestly. I love how for Rebecca you say ‘apparently’ likes to sketch. I do recall it, but I don’t think it features too much. I have Starfish on my kindle and I have a few of these on my tbr as well. Great post ^.^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, you’re right about that! I have seen a lot of arty hobbies in books, especially now that I’m looking out for them more.
      Lol, yes it didn’t feature very much. I don’t think the main character actually sketches at all during the novel, it’s only pointed out by others that it is a hobby of hers + she is gifted some art books for a wedding present. That might actually be of some thematic importance, now that I think about it, lol.
      I hope you get to read Starfish soon 🙂 Thanks Olivia!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Letters to the Lost is such a fantastic book! I also loved A.S King’s other book, Dig, so I definitely need to check out Still Life with Tornado. Some books I liked that have artist characters are Eliza and Her Monsters, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, and though it’s not out yet, I’m really looking forward to I Kissed Alice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is! Ooh I tried Dig but I was not in the right headspace for it at the time I picked it up. But I definitely recommend Still Life and some of the author’s other books too! Please Ignore Vera Dietz was one of my favourite books for the longest time.
      Eliza and Her Monsters was great! I’ll have to keep an eye out for I Kissed Alice + put The Anatomical Shape of a Heart on my TBR.

      Like

  10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is amazing – one of my all time faves.
    I would also recommend Eliza and her Monsters. The MC writes and draws a web-based graphic novel and its just such a heart wrenching story!!

    Like

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