100 books like Creative Clarity

By Jon Kolko,

Here are 100 books that Creative Clarity fans have personally recommended if you like Creative Clarity. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create, and Lead in Unconventional Ways

Karen Hold Author Of Experiencing Design: The Innovator's Journey

From my list on mastering design thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inspired by the brilliant Silicon Valley technologists that I worked with in the early 90s and the pioneering design work of my husband’s grandfather, Leroy Grumman, I believe that design thinking is one of the most important reasons to believe that teams can achieve extraordinary results. It increases the likelihood of implementation of ideas by enhancing any companies’ abilities to align, learn, and change together. I have made it my mission to build creative capacity in individuals, organizations, and cities using the language of design thinking so that everyone can make positive change within their sphere of influence.

Karen's book list on mastering design thinking

Karen Hold Why did Karen love this book?

Creative Acts for Curious People is a treasure trove of activities and exercises to build design thinking competencies. It is the first book of its kind to move beyond design methods to design learning experiences. Each exercise was carefully crafted by 116 of the most talented designers, educators, contributors, and academics at the Standford d.School. Until now, these exercises were only available to d.School collaborators in shared Google Drives if you were lucky enough to get access. This is a huge gift to the design thinking community.

By Sarah Stein Greenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creative Acts for Curious People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Packed end to end with ways to see the world in new ways' Mike Krieger, cofounder, Instagram

'Designed to spark creativity, help solve problems, foster connection and make our lives better' Gretchen Rubin

'Navigate today's world with agility, resilience and imagination' Lorraine Twohill, CMO, Google

What do they teach you at the most prestigious design school in the world?

For the first time, you can find out. This highly-visual guide brings to life the philosophies of some of the d.school's most inventive and unconventional minds, including founder David Kelley, Choreographer Aleta Hayes and Google Chief Innovation Evangelist Frederik Pferdt and…


Book cover of The Field Study Handbook

Gregg Bernstein Author Of Research Practice: Perspectives from UX researchers in a changing field

From my list on understanding user research.

Why am I passionate about this?

After a career that took me from designer to design professor, I’ve spent the past decade leading user research practices for growing product organizations. I’m excited about user research because it positions us closer to the people we design for, and challenges us to capture and explain complex scenarios in service to them. Though there are many books that teach user research, my list of recommendations is meant to demonstrate why we research, how we make sense of what we learn, and where research might take us.

Gregg's book list on understanding user research

Gregg Bernstein Why did Gregg love this book?

The Field Study Handbook is both a guide to international field research and a beautiful work of art. Jan Chipchase comprehensively covers every possible consideration for the planning and execution of global field research, including such topics as travel logistics, lodging guidance, division of labor, and working with local guides. Jan’s deep experience from the front lines of field research comes across on every beautifully illustrated page.

By Jan Chipchase,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Field Study Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader

Karen Hold Author Of Experiencing Design: The Innovator's Journey

From my list on mastering design thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inspired by the brilliant Silicon Valley technologists that I worked with in the early 90s and the pioneering design work of my husband’s grandfather, Leroy Grumman, I believe that design thinking is one of the most important reasons to believe that teams can achieve extraordinary results. It increases the likelihood of implementation of ideas by enhancing any companies’ abilities to align, learn, and change together. I have made it my mission to build creative capacity in individuals, organizations, and cities using the language of design thinking so that everyone can make positive change within their sphere of influence.

Karen's book list on mastering design thinking

Karen Hold Why did Karen love this book?

The Catalyst will inspire every manager who wants to create extraordinary growth in spite of the organizational roadblocks standing in the way. It is both a how-to guide and an inspirational you-can-do-it guide that provides both the pathway and the vision for creating change in organizations. It is the prequel to Jeanne Liedtka’s popular Designing for Growth and Designing for Growth Field Book which are my go-to workbooks for applying design thinking to projects. A must-read.

By Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Rosen, Robert Wiltbank

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book will help every executive--especially those middle managers caught in the middle, between bureaucratic structures and the need for profitability--deliver the organic growth that is demanded of them. It also will help their bosses--the C-Suite executives--unleash the corporate creativity lying dormant with the organization.


Book cover of Sticky Wisdom: How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work

Karen Hold Author Of Experiencing Design: The Innovator's Journey

From my list on mastering design thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inspired by the brilliant Silicon Valley technologists that I worked with in the early 90s and the pioneering design work of my husband’s grandfather, Leroy Grumman, I believe that design thinking is one of the most important reasons to believe that teams can achieve extraordinary results. It increases the likelihood of implementation of ideas by enhancing any companies’ abilities to align, learn, and change together. I have made it my mission to build creative capacity in individuals, organizations, and cities using the language of design thinking so that everyone can make positive change within their sphere of influence.

Karen's book list on mastering design thinking

Karen Hold Why did Karen love this book?

My favorite business school professor gave me this book on a whim that I might be interested in the work of What If? I took it home and devoured it in a matter of hours. It’s captivating in its accessibility to normal people and probably more relevant today than it was twenty years when it was published as creative catalysts and design thinkers refocus on behaviors over process and habits over tools. By adopting the six creative behaviors outlined in the book: freshness, greenhousing, realness, momentum, signalling, and courage, innovators can increase their creative capacity and even more importantly, their creative confidence. 

By Dave Allan, Matt Kingdon, Kris Murrin , Daz Rudkin

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We all know how important creativity is at work. New ideas, fresh solutions, and innovative approaches are always talked about, but rarely ever practiced. ?Whatif!, Second Edition gives you the power, insight, and courage to capture the essence of creativity at work. This one--of--a--kind book breaks creativity into six practical behaviors and shows you how all of us----not just the wacky genuis----is packed with creative potential. This fully updated and expanded edition explores areas that the first edition did not, filled with new insights, stories, and cases it will help you find or recapture your creativity with proven exercises that…


Book cover of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation

Muhammad Mashhood Alam Author Of Transforming an Idea Into a Business with Design Thinking: The Structured Approach from Silicon Valley for Entrepreneurs and Leaders

From my list on design thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been driving innovation in various capacities with world’s leading companies and start-ups for the last 23 years in Silicon Valley. I've been granted six US patents, won two prestigious design awards including the Red Dot award, and published a book on transforming an idea into a business using Design Thinking. What I've learnt is that at the core of any successful business lies the value to the end user who uses the solutions. As I got exposed to Design Thinking earlier on in my career, I realized its immense power in delivering human-centered innovations. I regularly speak at several industry & entrepreneurial events and various business schools around the world. 

Muhammad's book list on design thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship

Muhammad Mashhood Alam Why did Muhammad love this book?

This is a book that describes why design thinking can be a powerful tool for innovation and problem-solving.

Brown argues that traditional approaches to problem-solving often rely on linear and analytical thinking, which can be limiting when it comes to addressing complex and multifaceted challenges.

Brown presents a framework for design thinking that emphasizes empathy, experimentation, and collaboration.

I found numerous examples of individuals and organizations in the book that have successfully used design thinking to create innovative solutions to a wide range of problems, from improving healthcare to redesigning public spaces.

I found practical strategies of applying design thinking in life and work.

By Tim Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Change by Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The subject of "design thinking" is the rage at business schools, throughout corporations, and increasingly in the popular press-due in large part to the work of IDEO, a leading design firm, and its celebrated CEO, Tim Brown, who uses this book to show how the techniques and strategies of design belong at every level of business.

The myth of innovation is that brilliant ideas leap fully formed from the minds of geniuses. The reality is that most innovations come from a process of rigorous examination through which great ideas are identified and developed before being realized as new offerings and…


Book cover of Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace

Anne Jacoby Author Of Born to Create: How Creativity Sparks Connection, Innovation, and Belonging in Our New World of Work

From my list on organizational culture to spark creativity and connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m on a mission to cultivate creativity at work! After starting my career in the performing arts, I made a pivot to corporate life over 20 years ago and haven’t looked back. What I’ve discovered is how essential creativity is in any workplace, and how its impact on organizational culture is underrated. Effective leaders prioritize connection, creativity, and make culture a strategic priority. After learning from hundreds of artists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, I wrote this book to highlight their stories—unpacking how they bring creativity to life in their work. My hope is readers leave with tools to spark more meaningful connection and creative work experiences.

Anne's book list on organizational culture to spark creativity and connection

Anne Jacoby Why did Anne love this book?

A refreshingly unconventional business book read, Orbiting the Giant Hairball reveals Gordon MacKenzie’s long-tenured career at Hallmark and distills his reflections on what it means to be a creative human in a traditional corporate environment.

Illustrated with playful art throughout, this book invites deeper meditation on how our creative spirit shows up in our work—and life. For the non-linear thinkers among us, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable escape.

By Gordon MacKenzie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Orbiting the Giant Hairball as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Creativity is crucial to business success. But too often, even the most innovative organization quickly becomes a "giant hairball"--a tangled, impenetrable mass of rules, traditions, and systems, all based on what worked in the past--that exercises an inexorable pull into mediocrity. Gordon McKenzie worked at Hallmark Cards for thirty years, many of which he spent inspiring his colleagues to slip the bonds of Corporate Normalcy and rise to orbit--to a mode of dreaming, daring and doing above and beyond the rubber-stamp confines of the administrative mind-set. In his deeply funny book, exuberantly illustrated in full color, he shares the story…


Book cover of Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being

Anne Jacoby Author Of Born to Create: How Creativity Sparks Connection, Innovation, and Belonging in Our New World of Work

From my list on organizational culture to spark creativity and connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m on a mission to cultivate creativity at work! After starting my career in the performing arts, I made a pivot to corporate life over 20 years ago and haven’t looked back. What I’ve discovered is how essential creativity is in any workplace, and how its impact on organizational culture is underrated. Effective leaders prioritize connection, creativity, and make culture a strategic priority. After learning from hundreds of artists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, I wrote this book to highlight their stories—unpacking how they bring creativity to life in their work. My hope is readers leave with tools to spark more meaningful connection and creative work experiences.

Anne's book list on organizational culture to spark creativity and connection

Anne Jacoby Why did Anne love this book?

Many of us are looking for the secrets to a happy life, so I was delighted to discover Shawn Achor’s book, Big Potential, include a bundle of them.

Combining ample scientific research and compelling narrative, this book is packed with memorable stories and strategies to immediately apply to work environments. I often return to its dog-eared pages to get inspired and isolate the behaviors that lead to greater connection.

For readers who aim to develop talent in others or are looking to tap into their own potential, this is a thoughtful and generous read.  

By Shawn Achor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Forget everything you thought you knew about being your best. It's not about your own skills or talents. Instead, real success in work and life comes from your connections and relationships - the teams you build around you, the friends you make - and getting the best out of them. You hugely amplify your own potential by helping others around you to realise theirs.

A TED talk star with over 16 million views, Shawn Achor is one of the world's leading experts on happiness and personal success - and author of the positive psychology classic The Happiness Advantage. Now, in…


Book cover of The People: No Different Flesh

Sally Ember Author Of This Changes Everything

From my list on speculative fiction authors every sci fi author needs to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started reading sci-fi in 1962 with 1957's Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars and have loved it ever since. I became a sci-fi writer with my first three books in utopian speculative fiction, The Spanner Series. Unfortunately, I stalled out due to a TBI, a cross-country move, and other distractions, but I do plan to continue with the other 7 volumes in my utopian speculative fiction series some day. The writers in my “best of” list are some of my lifelong inspirations, so I hope newer readers can enjoy and learn from their works as much as I have.

Sally's book list on speculative fiction authors every sci fi author needs to read

Sally Ember Why did Sally love this book?

Zenna Henderson's entire The People series is worth reading, including the original short stories. These were all published at a time when very few female sci-fi authors were published. There is also a film that is fairly faithful to the books. Her creativity, her understanding the experience of immigrants and those who are “different,” and her depictions of the ways humans and immigrants are likely to re/act are timeless, offering stellar insights into our modern-day experiences. Sci-fi authors would do well to read all her books to learn how to do world-building, draw parallels between non-human species and humans, and analogize modern dilemmas as speculative fiction plots.

By Zenna Henderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Avon No. S328


Book cover of 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel

James R. Benn Author Of Road of Bones

From my list on essential books for writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always wanted to write. It took years to get started, and after working in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years, I quit the day job routine in 2011 to write full time. I've learned two valuable lessons since I started writing which have been of immense help. The first is a quote from writer and activist Mary Heaton Vorse, who said, "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." The second is from novelist Rachel Basch, who told me that "the story has to move down, as well as forward." Both sound simple. Neither is.

James' book list on essential books for writers

James R. Benn Why did James love this book?

Smiley classifies and defines the novel and provides a primer of supportive instructions to the struggling writer. She explores the reasons why some novels succeed and some don’t. She provides the reader with a list of 100 books she has read, from thousand-year-old texts to recent bestsellers, offering her own insights and assessments of each work. Smiley provides a glimpse into the creative process and gives writers and readers new ways to be aware of what goes on between the lines. This book contains important and joyful advice for aspiring writers and is a gift to lovers of literature.


By Jane Smiley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres comes an essential guide for writers and readers alike: an exhilarating tour through one hundred novels that "inspires wicked delight.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

From classics such as the thousand-year-old Tale of Genji to fiction by Zadie Smith and Alice Munro, Jane Smiley explores the power of the form, looking at its history and variety, its cultural impact, and just how it works its magic. She invites us behind the scenes of novel-writing, sharing her own habits and spilling the secrets of her craft, and offering priceless advice to aspiring…


Book cover of Creative Dreaming: Plan and Control Your Dreams to Develop Creativity Overcome Fears Solve Proble

Jenny Alexander Author Of Writing in the House of Dreams: Unlock The Power of Your Unconscious Mind

From my list on dreams for writers who want to boost creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to writing after twenty years of working with dreams, so I already had lots of techniques for coming and going easily between the everyday world and the inner worlds of imagination, and I’m sure that’s why I’ve never suffered from any creative blocks or anxieties. In a career spanning 30 years, I have written about 150 books, both fiction and non-fiction, for children and adults, and scores of articles including a monthly column in Writing Magazine. I have taught creative workshops for major writing organisations such as The Society of Authors, The Arvon Foundation, and The Scattered Authors’ Society, and I offer a varied programme of courses independently throughout the year.

Jenny's book list on dreams for writers who want to boost creativity

Jenny Alexander Why did Jenny love this book?

This ground-breaking book, written in the 1970’s, is still essential reading for anyone wishing to explore dreams as a creative resource rather than interpret them in the traditional Western psychological way. I started recalling and recording dreams in therapy nearly fifty years ago and had reached the conclusion that trying to interpret them was confusing and potentially misleading. Then I chanced on this collection of studies of different dream traditions from other parts of the world. It changed everything. If you think of dreams in a purely psychological way, this book could give you whole new perspectives. 

By Patricia Garfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Simon & Schuster, Creative Dreaming: Plan And Control Your Dreams to Develop Creativity, Overcome Fears, Solve Problems, and Create a Better Self is Patricia Garfield's definitive guide to dreaming.

Patricia Garfield presents techniques and information, drawn from many dreamers and widely varied cultures and times, that will enable you to plan your dreams ahead of time, influence them while they are occurring, and recall them and their lessons forever afterward.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in design thinking, creativity, and organizational culture?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about design thinking, creativity, and organizational culture.

Design Thinking Explore 6 books about design thinking
Creativity Explore 136 books about creativity
Organizational Culture Explore 42 books about organizational culture