Books To Fuel Your Creative Mind
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Below are selected books from the hundreds of articles, as well as other book lists, on my various Talent Development Resources series of sites.
These books may help you further develop creative thinking and business innovation, and enhance your creative life and personal growth.
[Summaries / reviews from Amazon.com or other sources as noted.]
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“The computer and the Internet are among the most important inventions of our era, but few people know who created them. They were not conjured up in a garret or garage by solo inventors suitable to be put into a pantheon with Edison, Bell, and Morse. Instead, most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively.”
From excerpt article: The Myth of the Lone Genius.
Walter Isaacson is also author of the bios:
[Read quotes in post: Steve Jobs: Intensities and Obsessions.]
[Read quotes in post: The inspiration of Einstein.]
“This provocative book reveals why sitting in front of a light box can increase your creativity more than listening to a Bach concerto as example. The author Shelley H. Carson, a Harvard psychologist, explains that creativity isn’t something only scientists, investors, artists, writers, and musicians enjoy; in fact, all of us use our creative brains every day at home and at work.
“Each of us has the ability to increase our mental functioning and creativity by learning to move flexibly among several brain states.”
Related article of mine:
Shelley Carson on Brainsets and Creativity
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The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
by Steven Pressfield
“Drawing on his many years’ experience as a writer, Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance) presents his first nonfiction work, which aims to inspire other writers, artists, musicians, or anyone else attempting to channel his or her creative energies. The focus is on combating resistance and living the destiny that Pressfield believes is gifted to each person by an all-powerful deity.
“While certainly of great value to frustrated writers struggling with writer’s block, Pressfield’s highly personal philosophy, soundly rooted in his own significant life challenges, has merit for anyone frustrated in fulfilling his or her life purpose.” [Library Journal]
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Biography: “Austin Kleon is a writer and artist. He’s the author of Steal Like An Artist and Newspaper Blackout. His work has been featured on 20×200, NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, and in The Wall Street Journal. He speaks about creativity, visual thinking, and being an artist online for organizations such as SXSW, TEDx, and The Economist.”
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
by Austin Kleon.
“In chapters such as You Don’t Have to Be a Genius; Share Something Small Every Day; and Stick Around, Kleon creates a user’s manual for embracing the communal nature of creativity— what he calls the “ecology of talent.” From broader life lessons about work (you can’t find your voice if you don’t use it) to the etiquette of sharing—and the dangers of oversharing—to the practicalities of Internet life (build a good domain name; give credit when credit is due), it’s an inspiring manifesto for succeeding as any kind of artist or entrepreneur in the digital age.”
Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being
by Brian R Little.
“The trait of openness versus being closed to experience refers to the tendency to be receptive to new ideas, interactions, and environments and is closely linked to creativity.”
Quote at the beginning of the chapter “Personality and Creativity: The Myth of the Solo Hero” :
“When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible sex with what ever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.” Lady Gaga
“Questionnaires and interactive assessments throughout the book facilitate self-exploration, and clarify some of the stranger aspects of our own conduct and that of others. Brian Little helps us see ourselves, and other selves, as somewhat less perplexing and definitely more intriguing.
“This is not a self-help book, but students at Harvard who took the lecture course on which it is based claim that it changed their lives.” [Amazon summary]
Review: “A monumentally important book for anyone who wants to understand their colleagues, their loved ones — and their very own selves.” — Susan Cain, author of the New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Cain’s book is another one to help you understand your inner life as a creative person.
> Related article: The Complex Personality of Creative People.
Edited by Robin Bronk, CEO of The Creative Coalition. She comments:
The Art of Discovery is meant to encourage all of us to ignite our own curiosity through music, film, art, photography and literature while at home and on the road…
“A few bars of music can evoke even the dimmest of memories, while architecture and design define the spaces we live in. Art helps us discover who we are. What could be more important than that?”
Jessica Chastain comments in the book:
“In my favorite novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says, ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’
“It wasn’t until I began acting that I discovered the true meaning of that statement. Acting makes me feel like I’m part of something larger than myself – we’re all connected.”
See more material from the book in post:
Creative Inspiration: The Art of Discovery book
The Good Creative: 18 ways to make better art
by Paul Jarvis
“You’re creative. You dream and plan and make stuff – all the time. And whether that “stuff” is a book, a startup, or abstract crayon art on the bathroom wall, you have a nagging feeling that you could take your work further.
“Do it better. Become more successful. In The Good Creative, I outline the 18 habits of the world’s most respected artists. It’s a concise, invigorating manifesto for creative pursuits of every kind.
“Unlike the get-rich-while-you-meditate programs and e-courses that seem to multiply by the day, there are no guarantees here. None. These 18 principles might not fund your early retirement, but when applied consistently with a healthy dose of hard work, they will help you to make better, more meaningful art. Now that’s a promise you can take to the bank (or at least to Twitter).
“You’ll learn how to:
Promote yourself without feeling like a used car salesman
Hug your critics, embrace failure and reinvent your work
Launch small and build a larger, more engaged audience
Share your process and break the rules
sample from the audiobook for The Good Creative:
by Eric Maisel, PhD
‘In his decades as a psychotherapist and creativity coach, Eric Maisel has found a common thread behind what often gets labeled “writer’s block,” “procrastination,” or “stage fright.” It’s the particular anxiety that, paradoxically, keeps creators from doing, completing, or sharing the work they are driven toward.
‘This “creative anxiety” can take the form of avoiding the work, declaring it not good enough, or failing to market it — and it can cripple creators…But Maisel has learned what sets successful creators apart. He shares these strategies here, including artist-specific stress management; how to work despite bruised egos, day jobs, and other inevitable frustrations; and what not to do to deal with anxiety. Implementing these 24 lessons replaces the pain of not creating with the profound rewards of free artistic self-expression.’
And for a final title (at least on this Page 1 of 2), my own book:
Developing Multiple Talents: The personal side of creative expression
The dynamic complexity of creative abilities in multitalented people is a huge field of study. My appreciation for the creative work of many actors, plus countless other performers, writers, musicians, visual artists and other creators has led me into researching and writing on aspects of creativity and high ability for more than twenty years, concentrating on the personal and psychological sides of creators.
Hopefully you find material in this book to be of interest and value in pointing toward areas to more deeply explore, and in helping you more fully realize your own multiple abilities.
My series of websites, columns and articles – and now this book – have grown out of my graduate studies in psychology, and personal research to better understand the dynamics of creative expression, as well as my own social, emotional, personal development and achievement challenges, and to publish material that might help other people as well.
The kinds of topics I have been exploring in my research, plus interviews with writers, painters, actors, directors and other artists, as well as with psychologists and creativity coaches, come up in questions I have asked myself, and noted in the comments of many creative people – such as these:
- Why did I feel and think so differently from mainstream culture?
- Why haven’t I ever “settled down” into a traditional career?
- Why am I so sensitive to outer sensations and my own inner world?
- Why am I often so self-critical?
- What makes me, and so many other people, vulnerable to dark moods like depression and anxiety?
- How can I increase my satisfaction, emotional reward, and sense of meaning from what I am doing with my life?
- What strategies can help enhance creative expression?
“Part book about creativity, part compendium of useful tidbits, quotations and research results, and part annotated bibliography, this is a wildly useful and highly entertaining resource.” – Stephanie S. Tolan, fiction writer and consultant on the needs of the gifted.
“Packed full of insights and resources for the creative life, Developing Multiple Talents offers new ways to thrive as a creative person. Douglas Eby addresses many of the issues we face – fear, lack of confidence and focus – allowing the creative person to feel understood and ultimately empowered.” – Cynthia Morris, Writing and creativity coach.
See more reviews and multiple excerpts at the book site: Developing Multiple Talents.
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See many more titles to enhance your creativity – and creative life – on
Books To Fuel Your Creative Mind – Page 2
Also see more books, articles and other resources:
[Photo at top: "The British Library" by Yinka Shonibare MBE from this is tomorrow arts magazine.]
“Books are the true means of acquiring talent, for if one does not read one remains ignorant, and ignorance can never produce true painters.” (Francesco Albani, Italian Baroque painter 1578-1660)
“I really like books that you can kind of hear as much as think about, that are so graphic and visual.” (Laurie Anderson, performance artist, composer and musician)
From the Art Quotes section of site of Robert Genn: The Painter’s Keys which is also the source of his painting above: “Self-portrait with Emily.”
[See quotes by him in post: Robert Genn on Melancholy, Art and Happiness.]
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Reading widely – not just “creativity” books – can stimulate our creative thinking and abilities.
One example: actor Michelle Williams – in this photo as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn.”
In our interview (years ago), Williams noted:
“For as long as I can remember, my father read voraciously to me when I was a kid. I grew up with William Faulkner and all these great, fabulous books, and I always wanted to be in those worlds…
“I lived in these fantasies of whatever it was, “Anna Karenina” or you name it, and I wanted to be there. So it was sort of a natural progression to want to become an actress, to live that out.”
Williams devoted months to researching Marilyn Monroe for her acclaimed performance in the movie. Producer Harvey Weinstein said “She watched and studied the movies and photos; she read every book, every biography…” – From my article Michelle Williams on Acting and Imagination.
[Monroe was also an avid reader - see my article Marilyn Monroe: Her complex Inner Life.]
An interview article notes, “When she manages to steal a little time for herself, Nicole Kidman sneaks a few minutes with one of the four or five books she always has going at once.”
“I love good coffee and just sort of lazing around reading. I have very diverse tastes in literature. I started reading when I was 4 and read War and Peace when I was 9.
“I’m just an obsessive reader, and I think that’s another reason I became an actor. It’s how I build characters in my head, and it’s how I’ve built my imagination.”
From Nicole Kidman: Actress, Mom, Women’s Advocate, WebMD.
Photo: Nicole Kidman as WWII correspondent Martha Gellhorn in HBO movie “Hemingway & Gellhorn.” There are a number of articles on my various sites with quotes by Kidman about being an artist, such as Intensity and Being Creative.
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Book image from Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium page: Digital Library Update.