• The cover of the book My Name Is Red

    My Name Is Red

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    This story of miniaturists in the Ottoman Empire is as gripping as it is innovative. Told in short chapters from varying points of view (“varying” is kind of an understatement, since the perspectives include those of a corpse and an illustration of a horse), the novel incorporates meditations on artistic technique into a tale of intrigue and ideological conflict.

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  • The cover of the book Lucky Us

    Lucky Us

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    Much of Amy Bloom’s writing is infused with music, and this book is no exception. In addition to a character who’s a jazz singer, the book also features one who moves to Hollywood to become an actress. The subject of the novel is love, between partners and among family members, and the chapter titles—all the titles of songs—provide a perfect soundtrack.

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  • The cover of the book An Artist of the Floating World

    An Artist of the Floating World

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    I read this book as a teenager, and it still sticks with me today. The story of a Japanese painter during and after World War II is a political and social—as well as a personal—tale, but what still haunts me is the sense of melancholy that permeates every scene.

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  • The cover of the book How to be both

    How to be both

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    I can’t stop talking about this book. In addition to being one of the best stories about love and death I’ve ever read, it’s also a wonderful story about art: about the mechanics of painting and photography, and about the joy and solace that creating something can provide.

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  • The cover of the book A Little Life

    A Little Life

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    This novel has gotten tons of justified praise for many reasons, but one of its most fascinating aspects is its treatment of its characters’ artistic careers. The novel follows Willem as he becomes a film star and J.B. as he becomes a successful artist, and it charts the ways in which their successes both do and do not change them.

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