My new favourite trope is foodie romance, but I recently shared a post with all of my recommendations, so you can check that out here if you are interested! That said, there are so many tropes that I love and want to put together recommendation lists for, so I was so thrilled with this week’s TTT topic!
I decided to go with the theme “Books With Creative Characters” because these are often hits for me and I know that if I hear that a character in a book has a passion for the arts (whether that is painting, music, dance, etc.) I am more inclined to pick it up. I have also noticed that a ton of my YA favourites have this trope, which I had not realized until I was putting this list together. There also seems to be that trend in romance!
I read I’ll Give You the Sun many years ago and it remains a favourite. Something that I thought was special was how invested I was in both perspectives- that does not always happen! I think the fact that both characters have a passion for art played a huge role in that. Noah is known as the artist in the family and expresses himself through painting. Jude’s form of creativity was fascinated to me! I love the idea of sand sculptures. So much of this story centers around the power of art, and I thought it was beautiful.
I did not know going into Starfish just how heartbreaking it would be. I truly believe that expressing yourself through art can be healing, and that is illustrated in this book. Kiko has a complicated relationship with her mother and moves away to chase her dreams of attending art school. This opens up a whole new world to her and it was beautiful to read.
The concept for Pet is a little bit out there, but Akwaeke Emezi is brilliant and it works so well! The story follows Jam, whose mother is a painter. Jam becomes fascinated with her mother’s newest piece and, eventually, a creature named Pet emerges through the painting and is on the hunt for a monster. The prequel, Bitter, just released in February and I need to read it ASAP. It follows Jam’s mother, so you know art is going to play a huge role in her story.
Punching the Air is one of the most unique books I have read in recent years. It is written in verse, which really lends itself well to the tone of the story. Our main character, Amal, is actually attending a diverse art school when he is wrongfully arrested. We follow him throughout his time in jail and we see him turn to his art as a way to tell his truth. He is both an artist and a poet, and there are actually illustrations and doodles throughout the book, which adds to the experience.
The Poet X is another book written in verse that perfectly reflects the story itself. Xiomara has always written in journals and expressed herself through the written word, and she eventually finds herself invited to join her school’s slam poetry club. The way that she is able to show her true self to her mother through her poetry was so moving to me!
Pumpkin is my favourite book by Julie Murphy and is the third book in the Dumplin’ series. It follows Waylon and his journey of falling in love with drag, which is definitely a form of art! This was so much fun and moving and I think could be read as a standalone if you aren’t interested in reading the first two books in the series.
Let Me Hear a Rhyme was the first Tiffany D. Jackson novel that I ever read and I instantly fell in love with her work. I will say, that this book has a totally different vibe than her other work. It follows three friends as they try to make their friend’s dream of being a famous rap come true after he is killed. This book is heartwrenching but so moving and a wonderful example of the found family trope- another one of my favourites!
A Certain Appeal is a Pride and Prejudice retelling and it taught me so much about the world of burlesque! It is definitely an art- many of the characters were talented singers and/or dancers. Discovering burlesque was life-changing for Liz and I just loved the way that she spoke about it and the passion that everyone had for it. Jane, in particular, was extremely talented!
If the Shoe Fits is a Cinderella retelling where Cindy, the main character, is a shoe designer and finds herself on a show that is much like The Bachelor because she thinks that doing so will bring attention to her work! I loved reading about the shoes that she created and actually wish we got more of that.
In The Happily Ever After Playlist, the love interest, Jason, is a famous musician, which is another trope I love. I am so here for famous characters!
Art plays a smaller role in the Part of Your World, but it did stand out to me! Daniel is a woodworker and reading about his creations was delightful. I just loved his passion for it!
The Painted Girls is a book that I read many years ago and I really need to revisit. I truly believe that my love for this trope behan here. I remember being so fascinated by the many forms of art that explored in this book from ballet to sculptures. The artist/muse relationship is at the center of this book, and that has stayed with me. It is a fictional story of the creation of the bronze statue Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, which was created by Edgar Degas.
The Ensemble took me by complete surprise! I fell in love with quartet and seeing them navigate the world of classical music and their relationships with one another. The story unfolds over a number of years and things become really complicated. Both there personal and professional lives are so tied to one another, which ultimately becomes messy.
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev is often compared to Daisy Jones & the Six (which I could have included on this list as well!), and I think that is an apt comparison. It follows an interacial rock duo who were popular in the 70s but had a major falling out and are now reuniting for a last tour many years later. Their story is told through interviews, which makes it feel all too real!
Ellie and the Harp Maker is a book I really enjoy but rarely talk about! I think that is because it is a quiet love story between a women and a harp maker. Ellie begins taking music lessons from Dan and they slowly form a really beautiful connection. While the conversations around music are wonderful, it is the descriptions of what goes into making a harp that really stood out to me and make this book worth reading!
Do you also like this trope? What is a book you loved that has creative characters?