Books That Feel Like You’re in a Monet Painting

Monet paintings transport me to a serene place. Here are the books I would read if I could step through to his Parisian garden.

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I’m scanning my shelves to find the perfect books to read on a beautiful grassy patch. Lying under a shady tree on a blanket is my favorite reading spot. Claude Monet paints the most picturesque scenes of nature and its colorful beauty. I was lucky enough to visit a Monet exhibit in the MoMA this summer, utterly capsulated by their beauty in person.

Books That Feel Like You're in a Monet Painting
Claude Monet Agapanthus (Image via my friend Hailey De Marinis taken at the MoMA)

When I think of climbing into a Monet painting and reading a good book, I think of books full of love, sadness, and the everydayness of life. I want to be filled with joy, but I wouldn’t mind if a few tears ran down my cheeks either. Here are four books I think fully embody being in one of Monet’s paintings.

Emma by Jane Austen

Books That Feel Like You're in a Monet Painting
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Emma is about matchmaking, romance, and the company of female friendships. There is a moment in the novel where Emma and her friends are at a beautiful picnic and that specific scene is what had me imagining reading Emma in Monet’s garden. Emma is not one of the most beloved female characters in literary history. Still, I very much enjoy her oblivious nature and when everything finally makes sense to her in the end. This story experiences quite a few ups and downs, but it does end happily allowing this novel to fit perfectly into a such beautiful scenery.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride and prejudice book cover
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Pride and Prejudice is not only one of my favorites, but while reading it sitting in my bed, I am immediately transported to the rural English countryside. This novel so effortlessly fits into the settings Monet paints. Elizabeth is always running through fields, living amongst trees and wildlife, with her nose in a book. Though Elizabeth was certainly not as posh as the woman in Monet’s paintings, she reminds me of the painting of his wife, Woman with a Parasol.

paintings by Claude Monet
Image via Claude Monet

I picture her walking to Bingley’s home to check on her sister. Though she is much more rigid and disheveled in the most expressive feminist manner, this painting reminds me of her. Like Emma, this novel also embodies romance and the everydayness of middle-class life. I can see myself reading this book in one afternoon sprawled out on the grass depicted in the painting.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

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Call Me By Your Name is perhaps the most perfect book to include in this Monet series. There is so much I want to say about this novel and Monet’s paintings but a great anecdote is that Aciman mentions Monet in his novel. When Elio takes Oliver to his special nature spot he says, “This is the spot where Monet came to paint.” This note couldn’t be more helpful in imagining where Elio and Oliver are; a forest of trees and a quiet cove nestled off of the main road. I think of the settings of Luca Guadagnino’s film adaptation and just how serene and colorful they were. When I read Call Me By Your Name, watch the film, and look at Monet’s painting I get the same swelling feeling of tranquil pleasure; all I want to do is roll around in Monet’s painted grass just as Elio and Oliver do.

The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Fifth Edition by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy

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The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Fifth Edition contains a variety of lying-in-the-grass poetry. From Beowulf to Chaucer, to Shakespeare and Dickinson, there are thousands of poets and poems to pick from. This is the kind of book I have shoved in a bag that I take everywhere with me and pull out when I have a second to myself on a park bench or subway; though it would be better read with my back against a tree decorated in fall leaves. It’s neverending and has poems varying in every emotion.

I find Monet’s painting breathtaking and regularly find art and literature captivating to compare. Hopefully, you are able to enjoy one of these novels in a grassy garden soon enough.

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