10 books like Big Magic

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Big Magic. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Range

By David Epstein,

Book cover of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

I like to consider myself a generalist, in many ways, so I’d be lying if I said this book didn’t give me lots of warm-fuzzies. (It’s always good to get scientific validation that your approach to things is a good one.) The most creative people I know are those that have combined multiple careers, interests, or pursuits to arrive at their groundbreaking ideas, so this book is a must-read to grant yourself permission to explore the “unrelated” in your quest for the new.  

Range

By David Epstein,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Range as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Fascinating . . . If you're a generalist who has ever felt overshadowed by your specialist colleagues, this book is for you' - Bill Gates

The instant Sunday Times Top Ten and New York Times bestseller
Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
A Financial Times Essential Reads

A powerful argument for how to succeed in any field: develop broad interests and skills while everyone around you is rushing to specialize.

From the '10,000 hours rule' to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialization and many…


Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

After diving into environmental justice, environmental health, cancer, and toxins, readers may desire more positive, healing, and affirmative modes of interconnecting with the natural world. Robin Wall Kimmerer, who recently won the McArthur genius grant, offers a beautiful gift in this multilayered, wonderfully readable work. She generously gives us “a braid of stories meant to heal our relationship with the world.” The book is woven from three strands, “indigenous ways of knowing, scientific knowledge, and the story of an Anishinabekwe scientist trying to bring them together in service of what matters most.” When I taught this book in a college class, the students were moved, inspired, and transformed. They became more deeply connected with the plants all around us, seeking ways to be in relation, care, and give back. 

Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…

Everybody Writes

By Ann Handley,

Book cover of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

With sharp communication skills, you can do anything. When returning from a conference, you’ll want to share what you have learned in a thoughtful and professional manner, whether it’s to your boss, team, and/or audience.

Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes—which is getting an update in Fall 2022—is a go-to guide for all things writing. It includes sections on how to write better, crafting content, tools, and more. 

Besides, what better way to continue a conversation with a speaker than to see if they’ll let you interview them for your blog... or podcast or livestream?

Everybody Writes

By Ann Handley,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Everybody Writes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finally a go-to guide to creating and publishing the kind of content that will make your business thrive. Everybody Writes is a go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication, because in our content-driven world, every one of us is, in fact, a writer. If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers. Yeah, but who cares about writing anymore? In a time-challenged world dominated by…

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

By Shunryu Suzuki,

Book cover of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

I work with groups and communities in studio environments where people worldwide encounter past baggage about their artistic expression or lack of it, all of which invariably arouses intimidation, fear, doubt, and resistance. This concise, 138-page text has been the go-to book in affirming universal and quality participation. Less experienced artists appreciate the value of beginning and veterans let go and begin anew. The goal for all is authentic expression, or as Suzuki-roshi says, “to express your true nature in the simplest, most adequate way and to appreciate it in the smallest existence.”

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

By Shunryu Suzuki,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of the 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Twentieth Century (Spirituality & Practice)

A 50th Anniversary edition of the bestselling Zen classic on meditation, maintaining a curious and open mind, and living with simplicity.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books. Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line. In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen…

The Obstacle Is the Way

By Ryan Holiday,

Book cover of The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph

This book is really for anyone trying to do anything hard in life – because life is freaking hard. I actually find this to be the single most useful (and nearly best) nonfiction title in my library (of about 2,500 volumes), and it’s useful for everything – but, given that Holiday mainly makes his living writing bestselling books, once again writers enjoy a particular embarrassment of riches here. Also N.B. – contains the secret of life.

The Obstacle Is the Way

By Ryan Holiday,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Obstacle Is the Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We give up too easily. With a simple change of attitude, what seem like insurmountable obstacles become once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Ryan Holiday, who dropped out of college at nineteen to serve as an apprentice to bestselling 'modern Machiavelli' Robert Greene and is now a media consultant for billion-dollar brands, draws on the philosophy of the Stoics to guide you in every situation, showing that what blocks our path actually opens one that is new and better.

If the competition threatens you, it's time to be fearless, to display your courage. An impossible deadline becomes a chance to show how dedicated you…

Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott,

Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Lamott recalls when her ten-year-old brother put off a three-month project on birds until the night before it was due. She describes him as immobilized. Their father sagely advised, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Although these soothing words were indisputably not directed towards me, I cannot overstate how regularly they calm me in moments of thinly disguised hysteria. The metaphor is brilliant, plus I adore birds. Lamott frequently reminds the reader how quality writing requires—demands—full attention. So does deep reading. So does deep living. While this book is primarily about writing, it is equally about life—nestled atop a solid foundation of singletasking.

Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…

Writing Down the Bones

By Natalie Goldberg,

Book cover of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

When I read this book, I felt as though I’d come home somehow. Goldberg has such a natural, conversational voice while sharing life-changing truths. She shared in a way that embodied her message and I realized I wanted to do that with my calling. While writing about writing, she is also offering instruction that is valuable for anyone who wants to work on any art, craft, or business. Using her years of Zen meditation as a backdrop, she instructs the reader on going beyond self-judgment, training yourself to be excellent, and staying present. It’s a powerful book for anyone who wants to use writing to uncover their truth, and for anyone who wants to dive into practice of any kind, and not get their identity wrapped up in the outcome.

Writing Down the Bones

By Natalie Goldberg,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Writing Down the Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Experience a modern classic on writing as you've never heard it before. With nearly one million copies of Writing Down the Bones in print, Natalie Goldberg has helped change the way writing is practiced in homes, schools, and workshops across America. Through her heartfelt personal reflections and her ingenious Zen-based exercises, Goldberg makes writing available to you as a tool for personal expression, self-exploration, and healing.

In this enhanced reading of her seminal work, Goldberg offers new commentary about the creative, spiritual, and practical dimensions of writing. Join her as she looks back on her life, sharing the story of…

Art Matters

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World

Gaiman is always wonderfully positive on the subjects of experimentation, failure, and persistence, and with advice such as “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” This inspiring book is made even better by the accompanying four-color artwork from his longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell.

Art Matters

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seize the day in the name of art. This creative call to arms from the mind of Neil Gaiman combines his extraordinary words with deft and striking illustrations by Chris Riddell.

'Like a bedtime story for the rest of your life, this is a book to live by. At its core, it's about freeing ideas, shedding fear of failure, and learning that "things can be different" ' INSTITUTE OF IMAGINATION

Be bold. Be rebellious. Choose art. It matters.

Neil Gaiman once said that 'the world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before'. This little book…


Letters to a Young Poet

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Book cover of Letters to a Young Poet

There’s nothing in Letters to a Young Poet about craft, writer’s block, or any of the recognizable challenges faced by twenty-first-century writers. Yet this slender volume published more than a century ago speaks to writers everywhere and in every era, who so often work in isolation and, if they are to be true to their art and authentic within themselves, must rip open their souls and spill the contents onto the page without regard for others’ judgment and criticism. In fact, it speaks to anyone, non-writer as well as writer, whose sensitivity and feelings of not belonging make it sometimes feel impossible to express themselves out in the world. In the end, isn’t that what writer’s block is all about. It certainly was for me!

Letters to a Young Poet

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Letters to a Young Poet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle…


Peace Is Every Step

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

This slender book is my “bible” for inspiration as well as mindfulness. (One can’t go wrong with a book that includes a foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama!) The first essay, “Twenty-four Brand-New Hours,” reminds me that each day affords an opportunity to bring “peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.” Thich Nhat Hanh, described in the introduction as “a cross between a cloud, a snail and a piece of heavy machinery—a true religious presence,” humbly offers simple ways to be present in the moment (the only moment we have, btw!). “We are very good at preparing to live,” the author reminds us, “but not very good at living.” The essays in Peace Is Every Step inspire me to breathe more, think less, wake up, and feel alive.   

Peace Is Every Step

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Peace Is Every Step as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is a very worthwhile book. It can change individual lives and the life of our society.' The Dalai Lama

Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace is Every Step contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Nhat Hanh's experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is - in the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking in a park - and shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and…


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