booksmARTs! 2018 selections

Members Exclusive

We meet at 7 p.m. at the FCAL gallery on the dates indicated.  All members of FCAL are welcome to join us for any or all of our lively discussions.

You may click on any book cover to order a copy from Amazon.com


January 3, 2018

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

David McCullough

The #1 bestseller that tells the remarkable story of the generations of American artists, writers, and doctors who traveled to Paris, the intellectual, scientific, and artistic capital of the western world, fell in love with the city and its people, and changed America through what they learned, told by America’s master historian, David McCullough.


March 6, 2018

Identify Unknown:  Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

Donna Seaman

An award-winning writer rescues seven first-rate twentieth-century women artists from oblivion--their lives fascinating, their artwork a revelation. Who hasn't wondered where-aside from Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo-all the women artists are? In many art books, they've been marginalized with cold efficiency, summarily dismissed in the captions of group photographs with the phrase "identity unknown" while each male is named.

Seaman brings to dazzling life seven of these forgotten artists, among the best of their day: Gertrude Abercrombie, with her dark, surreal paintings and friendships with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins; Bay Area self-portraitist Joan Brown; Ree Morton, with her witty, oddly beautiful constructions; Loïs Mailou Jones of the Harlem Renaissance; Lenore Tawney, who combined weaving and sculpture when art and craft were considered mutually exclusive; Christina Ramberg, whose unsettling works drew on pop culture and advertising; and Louise Nevelson, an art-world superstar in her heyday but omitted from recent surveys of her era.

These women fought to be treated the same as male artists, to be judged by their work, not their gender. Seaman reveals what drove them, how they worked, how they were perceived by others in a world where women were subjects-not makers-of art. Identity Unknown speaks to all women about their neglected place in history and the challenges they face to be taken as seriously as men no matter what their chosen field-and to all men interested in women's lives.


May 2, 2018

Leonardo DaVinci

Walter Isaacson

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.

His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions and his delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.


July 4, 2018 (to be rescheduled)

Women Who Read Are Dangerous

Stefan Bollman

What is it about a woman reading that has captivated hundreds of artists over the centuries? Stefan Bollmann’s Women Who Read Are Dangerous explores this popular subject in more than 70 artworks—drawings, paintings, photographs, and prints—by iconic artists such as Henri Matisse, Edward Hopper, Suzanne Valadon, August Sander, Rembrandt, and many more. 

As the book’s provocative title indicates, a woman reading was once viewed as radical. In chapters, such as “Intimate Moments” and “The Search for Oneself,” Bollmann profiles how a woman with a book was once seen as idle or suspect and how women have gained autonomy through reading over the years. Bollmann offers intelligent and engaging commentary on each work of art in Women Who Read Are Dangerous, telling us who the subject is, her relationship to the artist, and even what she is reading. With works ranging from a 1333 Annunciation painting of the angel Gabriel speaking to the Virgin Mary, book in hand, to twentieth-century works, such as a stunning photograph of Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses, this appealing survey provides a veritable slideshow of the many iterations of a woman and her book—a compelling subject to this day.


September 5, 2018

The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship

Roger Friedland

Frank Lloyd Wright was renowned during his life not only as an architectural genius but also as a subject of controversy—from his radical design innovations to his turbulent private life, including a notorious mass murder that occurred at his Wisconsin estate, Taliesin, in 1914.

But the estate also gave rise to one of the most fascinating and provocative experiments in American cultural history: the Taliesin Fellowship, an extraordinary architectural colony where Wright trained hundreds of devoted apprentices and where all of his late masterpieces—Fallingwater, Johnson Wax, the Guggenheim Museum—were born.

Drawing on hundreds of new and unpublished interviews and countless unseen documents from the Wright archives, The Fellowship is an unforgettable story of genius and ego, sex and violence, mysticism and utopianism. Epic in scope yet intimate in its detail, it is a stunning true account of how an idealistic community devolved into a kind of fiefdom where young apprentices were both inspired and manipulated, often at a staggering personal cost, by the architect and his imperious wife, Olgivanna Hinzenberg, along with her spiritual master, the legendary Greek-Armenian mystic Georgi Gurdjieff. A magisterial work of biography, it will forever change how we think about Frank Lloyd Wright and his world.


November 7, 2018

Final Selection TBD!

We’ll make our last selection at our September meeting.