Usually, when I want a book to give me a creative boost, I look for a beautiful coffee table book or an artist biography. Once in awhile I’ll come across a novel that describes the creative process so well that I’ll have to go out and create something. Here are five novels (from five different genres) that make me head out to my studio:
1. Folly by Laurie R. King (Mystery). I read this book, on average, about once a year. King is probably best known for her historical mystery fiction and her interpretation of Sherlock Holmes and Folly is a departure from both those themes. This novel tells the story of a woodworker who flees to the San Juan Islands following a personal tragedy. King’s descriptions of both the building of the house (which is a focal point of the book) and of more artistic woodworking creations are exquisite. Plus, there are layers of mysteries to be solved in two separate time periods.
2. The Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay (Fantasy). Guy Gavriel Kay is one of the best fantasy writers working today. His prose stands up to authors who write “literary” fiction but I think is often overlooked because of his placement within the fantasy genre. There are two books to this short series, which focuses on the magical story of a mosaicist who must navigate court intrigues as he completes a commission for the emperor.
3. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (Historical Fiction). Ken Follett is probably the best known author on this list and the Pillars of the Earth is probably his best known book. Although this book is more about architecture than art, there is something inspiring about the scope of the architectural work in this book that makes me grateful that I work on a much smaller scale.
4. Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas (Romance). Like Folly, this book also takes place in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest. More of a modern love story than a bodice ripping romance, the main character in this novel is stained glass artist who recreates a window that has a mystical quality to it.
5. Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland (Fiction). This is the fictional account of the artistic relationship between Clara Driscoll and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Although her work was largely uncredited until recently, Clara Driscoll was recently identified as the creative force behind many of the lamps produced by Tiffany studios.