Booklist’s Top Arts Books of 2016

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Lonely city covermad enchantment coverPaul staiti book coverArchitectures old couple coverBrick and mortals coverFlatiron coverHow architecture work coverWintersong coverAll our pretty songs coverThe last painting of sara de vos coverIdentity unknown coverBooklist recently unveiled their Top Arts Books of 2016*, including these Macmillan titles, and Bill Ott gave a preview of IDENTITY UNKNOWN by Booklist‘s own Donna Seaman!
Top 10 Arts Books: 2016 (full list)

THE LONELY CITY: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
Laing imaginatively entwines memoir with profiles and astute interpretations as she looks to visual art in an effort to understand the true nature of loneliness.

MAD ENCHANTMENT: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King
With deep knowledge and mesmerizing skill, King tells the little-known story behind Monet’s 30-year effort to paint his magnificent Water Lilies at Giverny.

OF ARMS AND ARTISTS: The American Revolution through Painters’ Eyes by Paul Staiti
Staiti vividly profiles the five artists whose paintings helped inspire the vision of independence and unity that generated the American Revolution and the forging of a new nation.

Core Collection: Architects and Architecture in (Mostly) America (full list)

ARCHITECTURE’S ODD COUPLE: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson by Hugh Howard
Howard portrays two iconic, outspoken, twentieth-century architects whose provocative ideas and innovative designs transformed America’s built environment, two artists who “were the yin and the yang, …the positive and negative charges that gave architecture its compass.”

BRICKS AND MORTALS: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made by Tom Wilkinson
As the real-estate market recovers from a decade-long recession and new towers rise at breakneck speed around the globe, Wilkinson skillfully evaluates 10 notable structures, past and present.

THE FLATIRON: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City That Arose with It by Alice Sparberg Alexiou
Alexiou, whose grandfather was once a co-owner of the Fuller Building, the New York landmark known as the Flatiron, recounts a tale of architectural innovation and the larger-than-life personalities responsible for this iconic structure, including the visionary architect and urban designer Daniel Burnham.

HOW ARCHITECTURE WORKS: A Humanist’s Toolkit by Witold Rybczynski
Architect and outstanding architectural writer Rybczynski takes palpable pleasure in revealing the complex, often contradictory demands of architecture, illuminating “the practical as well as the aesthetic” in this expert and invigorating guide to the field’s profound humanness.

Read-alikes: Music as a Weapon (full list)

Music and magic have long gone hand in hand. S. Jae-Jonesstunning debut, WINTERSONG, about a young composer and her descent into the Goblin underworld, is just the latest exploration of the ways in which music can be weaponized.

An enigmatic, nameless narrator and her best friend, Aurora, have known each other since birth. But when talented guitarist Jack comes into their lives, their differences come to a head, as Jack’s music not only inspires the narrator but awakens something old and dark in the world.

Listen-alikes: Women as Artists (full list)

THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS by Dominic Smith, read by Edoardo Ballerini
When struggling art student Ellie Shipley is offered cash to forge a painting, she reluctantly agrees. She’s barely surviving in 1950s New York City, where there are few prospects for women artists. Fifty years later, this decision comes back to haunt her. Interwoven with Ellie’s tale is the dramatic story of golden age Dutch artist Sara de Vos and the exquisite painting Ellie copies. Ballerini’s haunting baritone sets the stage for these richly detailed and emotionally intense stories of two women artists and the obstacles they faced.

*Titles included were reviewed between November 1, 2015, and October 15, 2016.

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