Teen Volunteer Review: The Story of Art

Boston Public Library's teen volunteer program has gone remote! As part of this program, local high schoolers will be sharing their thoughts on books, movies, and more on our blog. Today Elizabeth Choi, a student at Boston Latin School, shares how The Story of Art inspired her.

The Story of Art, an introduction to art history by E. H. Gombrich, is a book that I will remember and cherish for a very long time. Although I’d heard of some of the major artists, I went in knowing basically nothing. After reading The Story of Art, I have a greater understanding and appreciation of art and artists. Now, I pass by places and see, for example, pointed arches, and I know that Gothic architecture influenced those buildings.

I admit this book took me a while (more than three months) to finish. It’s not because Gombrich wrote in a dry style or used too much jargon - in fact, one of the things I most love about this book is its simple language and easy-to-understand explanations. But after a long day of school, work, and then school work, I usually don’t want to read nonfiction. 

So why did I want to read a book about art history? I don’t paint, draw, or sculpt. I dread assignments that require some artistic skill. I guess I had a couple of reasons for choosing this book. I did have an interest in art history (my father always talks about how his college art history class changed his life) and wanted to become more knowledgeable in general. I also want to travel around the world (I have never been outside the United States) and figured that knowing more about art would let me have a more valuable experience, especially when it comes to visiting art museums.

I am so thankful that I found this book because it has opened my eyes to a whole new world (this is a cliché, but it’s true). I had a wonderful time reading about how the story of art evolved, as well as comparing and contrasting different works of art (there is a lot of flipping back and forth in this book). I would recommend this book to anyone who has the slightest interest in art history. And even if you don’t, read a couple of chapters, and Gombrich’s inviting prose will likely captivate you.