The best books to feed your creativity

Cathy Pickens Author Of Create! Developing Your Creative Process
By Cathy Pickens

The Books I Picked & Why

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

By Madeleine L'Engle

Book cover of Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

Why this book?

For me, Madeleine L’Engle’s novels, especially her fantasy A Wrinkle in Time, were enriched when I came across her writing about her creative process and the role her spiritual faith played in her work. L’Engle was a Christian, but she wasn’t afraid of questions—she didn’t think anyone should be. I re-read this book periodically, to refill my creative well with words from a wise voice about how our creative work should be an integrated part of our whole lives.


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A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

By Daniel H. Pink

Book cover of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

Why this book?

For many years, I taught in a graduate school of business. Daniel Pink’s book is a well-researched argument about why all of us—especially those of us who don’t think we’re creative—need to (1) realize we are creative, (2) develop the creative abilities we have, and (3) recognize those abilities as our competitive advantage, in our work lives as well as our personal lives.


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If You Want to Write

By Brenda Ueland

Book cover of If You Want to Write

Why this book?

Many of us are a bit afraid of stepping out and trying something new. That applies especially with creative work. “I’m just not that good,” we tell ourselves—or voices from our past tell us. Brenda Ueland was a long-time Chicago creative writing instructor, and her little book is strong encouragement (and a bit of a kick in the pants) about risk-taking and learning about our super-powers in the process.


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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

By Twyla Tharp

Book cover of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Why this book?

Modern dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp encourages the discipline of creativity. She illustrates both the play and the hard work that went into creating her dance works—and shows how her life’s lessons can be applied to any of us, if we really want to be productive creatives.


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Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

By John Medina

Book cover of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Why this book?

While not a book explicitly about creativity, it opened my eyes to how our brains work, how we can make them work better, and what we’re just going to have to live with. For instance, “multi-tasking” is really a myth—some brains just switch from one task to another faster and women are better at that than men, something rooted in our evolutionary development. And our brains are hardwired for movement, particularly walking. Developmental neurobiologist Medina offers plenty of food for creative brains.


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