15 Best Books on Creativity That Will Boost Your Creative Thinking
Hi there! Before you dive into the list of books on creativity, I would like you to take a moment to think of an answer to this pretty simple question.
What really is creativity? … What do you think?
Is it doing things differently than others? Or is it doing something totally new?
Is it discovering some great ideas? Or is it making an already present idea simpler and better?
Well, whatever answer you are thinking of, you are right! There is no absolute answer to this question. Your perception of creativity can be very different than others and that is totally fine.
Here’s what Paul Arden (an author who also was a creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi ) thinks about creativity.
Yes, everyone is creative. So, of course, you are too! And the moment you start believing it, is the moment you start harnessing your creative power! And if you have even the slightest of doubt on your creative abilities, the creativity books below will definitely help you eliminate those doubts and also help you discover and nurture your creativity.
Here are 15 of the best books on creativity that will boost your creative thinking:
1. Creativity, Inc. by Edwin Catmull and Amy Wallace
The book “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” is written by Edwin Earl Catmull, an American computer scientist and current president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. It was co-authored by Amy Wallace, an American writer.
In short, the book is about creativity at Pixar Animation Studios. It’s about how those amazing animation movies such as The Incredibles, Toy Story, Cars, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, etc. are actually made.
Catmull explains the creative process that is undertaken while making a feature film. The book is full of great advice on how excellence and creativity can be fostered in the workplace. The story writers, animators, and other employees were given the freedom to develop their own ideas and make mistakes. Catmull had an intuitive sense on how to get the diverse people to work together. And all this helped in making those great movies that we are really thankful for.
One of the most stressed concepts in the book is that great ideas can come from anywhere. Catmull has shared many stories and incidents to support this fact.
This book is not just about creativity but also about leadership. And yeah, the book is not just for people in animation or movie making world, but for anyone and everyone who wants to be creative in life.
2. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
“The War Of Art: Break Through The Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles” is one of the top recommended books on creativity. This book, written by American author Steven Pressfield, was originally published in 2002.
The book highlights the one factor that holds back an individual’s creativity, and that factor is ‘Resistance’ – resistance against doing something creative.
It shows how resistance in different forms comes in the way of artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, and other individuals trying to break the creativity barrier and attempting to walk the path of a creatively conscious life.
The book also features ways by which an individual can tackle the resistance that is holding them back. There are many lines in this book that will some way or the other, connect to every individual. Here’s a quote from the book that I could totally relate to:
“It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”
3. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
This is definitely one of the best books that I have read so far. It is not exactly a book on creativity, but it will really boost your mind to pave way for creative thinking.
‘Flow’ is basically the state when we are so focused, absorbed, happy, and satisfied doing something we love that we don’t even notice how fast the time has passed.
This life-changing book will not only help you identify those flow states of your life but it will also give you insights on how to get those happy, absorbed and satisfying experiences more often! A must-read book that will fill your life with pleasant moments and positive vibes.
4. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Written in a very entertaining and conversational style, Steal Like an Artist is a brilliant book on creativity. It is full of real-life experiences and great advice for the creative aspect of any works including writing, drawing, programming, designing and so on. In fact, these advice applies to all facets of life, well beyond artistic pursuits.
It is a short and fun read filled with many engaging pictures, quotes, and snippets of wisdom scattered throughout the pages.
The book is pretty motivational too. You will really get the impression that the writer is someone who has really been there and who really understands your condition and wants you to get to your creative best!
Austin Kleon also artistically breaks down some of the most common misconceptions about being creative or original.
5. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book is quite an interesting read. Elizabeth Gilbert has sort of personified creativity itself. Through this book, Miss Gilbert gives useful insights for the readers to live creatively.
And by creativity, she does not necessarily mean “pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts,” but “living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”
The book has many real-life incidents from the author’s personal life that the readers can really relate to. She discusses the creative process thereby drawing a fitting relationship of creativity with fear.
6. Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
Thinkertoys is a very informative and entertaining book filled with amazing varieties of ingenious and unconventional techniques for approaching challenges from fresh perspectives and generating valuable ideas for solving them.
These techniques allow you to manipulate information in ways that will generate new ideas and also show you how to find ideas by using your intuition and imagination.
The book has plenty of real-world examples with many exercises, case studies, optical illusions, and mind games that, in some way or the other, challenge and change the way you think.
It is definitely one of the best books on creativity and a must-read if you are looking to explore the creative part of yourself!
7. A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech
The book, “A Whack on the side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative” is a creativity classic and can be applied to any challenge or learning situation.
It is amazingly creative, fun, and is a great way to look at things differently. The author teaches the reader to think in a new way, to challenge the legacy ideas that might not be serving you anymore, and to be free to imagine things in a totally new way. This book will surely help you think outside the box.
Moreover, the book is full of good facts about how people think and how to find answers in places you would have never thought of before. It’s an easy read with rich information.
8. The Thinker's Toolkit by Morgan Jones
First thing first, this book is not the type of book that you read in one sitting and then place it on the shelf to collect dust. It is a detailed workbook that you would want to refer to from time to time.
The book consists of complete tools and a good variety of techniques that can be used for analysis purposes, problem-solving, and decision-making.
The author makes you think hard throughout the book with a variety of exercises and mental workouts. It is one of the best books for structuring your thoughts and working through problems systematically.
9. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a book on a 12-week self-study guide that helps readers uncover or restore their sense of creativity. Each week focuses on restoring a different aspect of creative life via a number of exercises and tasks.
The book keeps you focused on the creative process and helps you move past whatever issues are keeping you from being happy, productive, and successful.
It is a great book if you are looking for a creative direction in your life. Once you read this book and follow its advice, you will surely discover something new and powerful about yourself!
10. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
An amazingly interesting book that will change the way you think about thinking itself. It outlines how our intuitions influence our decisions.
In this book, Daniel Kahneman summarizes the flaws of our intuition system and gives the importance of logical reasoning. Though, Daniel explains many psychological experiments which can be a little tedious at times, this book will surely challenge your thinking and give you an interestingly new perspective about almost every aspect of your life!
11. The Myths of Creativity by David Burkus
David Burkus’ The Myths of Creativity “demystifies the processes that drive innovation. Based on the latest research into how creative individuals and firms succeed, David Burkus highlights the mistaken ideas that hold us back and shows us how anyone can embrace a practical approach, grounded in reality, to finding the best new ideas, projects, processes, and programs.”
It is an excellent evidence-based book on how innovation really works. His suggestions on various misunderstandings of creativity are backed by real extensive research. David Burkus through this book demonstrates how these myths and misunderstandings distort the creative process.
The author has laid out the book in an easy to read format with pretty compelling messages that clearly demonstrate that there is creativity within all of us. Most of us just don’t know it.
12. Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
Daniel H. Pink, the author of the book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ aptly summarizes this book as:
“CREATIVE CONFIDENCE is a myth-busting, muscle-building gem of a book. It shatters the false belief that only some people are creative. Then it provides a smart, practical action plan for boosting your innovative capacities. If you want to be more creative, read the Kelley brothers’ words, follow their advice, and then—as they’d tell you—do something!”
If anyone has ever told you that you are not creative or if you yourself doubt that you are a creative person, read this book and you will definitely change your opinion!
Additionally, you can also watch David Kelly’s Ted Talk video on How to build your creativity. It’s just a 12 minutes video but you can really get to understand creativity from the author’s perspective.
13. One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer
“One small step can change your life” is a book on a small idea with enormous implications. The author brilliantly explores the ideas of Kaizen, a philosophy that small steps lead to large changes. The title is no exaggeration. It really can change your life, in teeny-tiny small steps that build up into something big.
In a way, the book removes or minimizes the guilt about not getting enough done. It lets you be satisfied with getting a small part of a large thing done. With time you will be able to acknowledge that small steps really does lead to getting bigger things done and that too with less thought, less stress, and with less failed planning.
For walking the path of creative life, this book will really be a great help because discovering the creative part of yourself will take some time and patience. You will have to take small steps where required rather than jumping to change your lifestyle overnight.
14. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp is an American dancer, choreographer, and author who lives and works in New York City. The book ‘The Creative Habit’ was her second book and was first published in 2003.
In this book, Tharp insightfully demystifies the creative process, showing that it’s mostly a matter of discipline and hard work. She writes about the importance of rituals and routines in the path of being creative. Her advice is very practical and comes with examples and exercises.
Here’s a part of the synopsis of the book that gives an outline of Tharp’s insights on creativity:
“Creativity is not a gift from the gods, says Twyla Tharp, bestowed by some divine and mystical spark. It is the product of preparation and effort, and it’s within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it. All it takes is the willingness to make creativity a habit, an integral part of your life: In order to be creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative”
15. Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei
“Manage Your Day-to-Day” is a collection of interviews, articles, opinions, and anecdotes from many leaders and authors on how to organize our life and time so that we can be more productive, creative and successful.
The book gives very practical day-to-day management action plans. The interviews are an excellent way to understand how successful people do it.
There are also many inspiring quotes in the book that will keep you motivated and engaged. This book is ideal for anyone that struggles with time management, productivity, and creativity.
So, this was the list of 15 of the best books on creativity. I hope these books will help you discover and nurture your creativity as they have done for millions of people around the globe.
In the comment section below, do tell us how many of the above creativity books have you read already. How much value did they add to your creative life?
Also, don’t forget to mention any other books on creativity that you liked and is not mentioned in the list above.