Best Creativity Books
Wondering what are the best books to read on creativity? Here are some of my favorites:
Best creativity books
- The Heart to Start: Stop Procrastinating and Start Creating: I know, how can I start off my list with my own book? If I didn’t think my own book was worth reading, what kind of writer would I be? I consistently refer to my own book whenever I find myself procrastinating. It’s my favorite book on creativity. Don’t take my word for it – Seth Godin calls it “solid advice.”
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles: This book is a legend in the creativity genre. Steven Pressfield’s introduction of “Resistance” is instantly relatable to anyone who has created anything. The final third gets spiritual in a way that doesn’t jibe with my personal approach to creativity, but the first two-thirds is must-read for any creator.
- The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life: Choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp with extensive advice on tapping into your “creative DNA.”
- Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day: This title calls out to any creator. Todd Henry breaks down how to contribute something to the world while you’re here.
- Daily Rituals: How Artist’s Work: Sometimes you just want to read about how other creators get creative. An amazing collection of the habits and routines of history’s greatest creators. The follow up, Daily Rituals: Women at Work, is also great, and the format is slightly improved.
- Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad: Creativity is the best path I know to resilience, and Austin Kleon is a treasure trove of insights on the mental tools of great creators. If you don’t believe me, listen to my Austin Kleon podcast interview.
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear: Admittedly, I’ve only read a small amount of this while sitting in a Barnes & Noble. I saw Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creativity, and we have some fundamental disagreements on creativity. I do not think creativity is “magic.” I still really do hope to read this some day.
- The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity: Here’s another one I’ve read very little of, but no list of creativity books is complete without it. Again, as a creativity pragmatist, I had trouble getting through the “spiritual” talk. I’ll have to revisit it again someday. Julia Cameron’s “morning pages” is a great ritual that is ubiquitous in the habits of great creators.
Most of these books are about unleashing creativity, but there are other ways to think about creativity.
For creative thinking techniques, Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking is a fascinating read.
For business mindset as a creator, Jeff Goins’s Real Artists Don’t Starve was an instant classic.
For the neuroscience of creativity, John Kounios and Mark Beeman’s The Eureka Factor is a great review of the science of insight.
For creative productivity, my own Mind Management, Not Time Management is my personal system for having ideas and bringing them into the world.
For a productivity method for creative writing, I highly recommend How to Take Smart Notes. Read my How to Take Smart Notes book summary.
There are probably some good books about creative thinking or “innovation” on an organizational level. That’s not interesting to me, so I haven’t read such books, but it seems in that vein many enjoy Creativity, Inc., from a Pixar co-founder.