Books to Spark Up Your Creativity
There's nothing like getting cozying up to a book during the cold weather months, and getting that extra boost of inspiration for creative work onto the new year.
We've compiled a list of our favorite books that spark up creativity across different genres and industries, from authors who are creators themselves. Whether it's about art, writing, film or animation, these books are guaranteed to help creators hone in on their craft. Most of all, these books are great reminders of the one necessary tool needed to succeed--ourselves.
1. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
A book that's creatively written as much as it talks about how to be creative, this book is meant to shift the way we see things around us. With our own perspective and interpretation, what already exists--whether it's art, design or writing--can be reinvented and given new meaning.
2. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
A classic for writers and artists alike, Cameron dispenses thoughtful and practical advice on sustaining the artist's life and the art they make. Brimming with tips Cameron has used and applied in her life, it is also a workbook that lets the readers be introspective about their craft and apply Cameron's concepts in real time.
3. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Known for her book-turned-movie "Eat, Pray, Love," Gilbert lets readers in on her own creative process and experiences. She also dives into a prominent emotion that comes with pursuing creative work: fear. She focuses on cultivating curiosity, generosity, even a spiritual keenness for creativity, with a lens that turns away from the idea of the "tormented artist."
4. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
While this book is contentious for many, it does offer up practical advice about the creative life. A tip from Pressfield: sit down and do the work. He also delves into the inner resistance that many of us face, whether we're doing creative work or not: procrastination, that inner resistance. This classic has been a must-read for many because it goes straight to the point, kicks ass, and gets to the root of what it takes to live a creative life.
5. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
Ever been curious about the lives of famous artists and writers and what their rituals were? Currey documents the lives of writers like Franz Kafka, Leo Tolstoy, Jean Paul Sartre to artists like Pablo Picasso and thinkers like Karl Marx in a compendium that inspires and delights. Understanding the quirks and routines of the world's greatest artists has always been a source of inspiration for many, in the hopes of emulating the process that has led to their greatest work. At the same time, this book also reveals that there isn't a formula to do just that--only when we are ourselves will our best work happen.
6. Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Based on the BBC television mini-series (which can be viewed on Youtube), the book explores how we've come to view art and specifically paintings, over history. Because the book is adapted from the TV series, it features paintings Berger references and essays about how the significance and utility of art has changed over time. With profound insight, this book and the series poses questions that are relevant today as they were in the '70s when this first came out: how do we see art, and who is it for?
7. Year of Yes: How to Stand it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Rhimes has become a household name to many as the creator of acclaimed TV shows like Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, as well as the executive producer of shows like How to Get Away with Murder. In this book, Shonda recounts her own experiences and struggle as an introvert in the industry, with her usually turning down invitations to events, parties and even having panic attacks at press releases. That changed in 2013 when she found the courage to finally say yes to things around her, changing the way she viewed herself. Relatable and inspiring, this book is all about how saying yes to ourselves opens doors.
8. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration with Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
The head of beloved animation studio Pixar details the creative process of storytelling in this book, in a way that lets readers and fans in on how a movie like Up! or Toy Story come to life. It talks about the work of building a culture that hones in on the team's creativity, honesty and openness to bring the best stories to the big screen. From the way meetings are held to "Braintrust" sessions, Catmull also sheds light on how he manages a team of creatives to bring them to their full potential.
9. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Grant pushes the envelope with the idea of originality, backing it with stories of originals and non-conformists themselves from different companies and industries. Centered around the idea of what it takes to nurture an original idea, Grant explores the strategies of pioneers and risk-takers. This book is for anyone who wants to upend the status quo, and what it takes to do just that.
10. Mastery by Robert Greene
From the author of "The 48 Laws of Power" comes a book that draws on the lives of accomplished people like Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin, and what it took to become a master of their work. Defining mastery as a "heightened form of power and intelligence which any of us can attain," Greene dispenses advice based on his research of the discipline and time it takes. This book emphasizes the kind of work it takes to work on something for the long haul, and bringing one's work with authority and innovativeness.
11. Against Creativity by Oli Mould
In this surprising book about creativity, Mould discusses how it's been not as a means for fulfillment but as a means to further neoliberalism. Far from creative work that nurtures the collective, modern society has turned creativity as a standard for productivity and one that only benefits the individual. Mould's theory brings the practice back to what it is intended to do: away from capitalism and more towards the benefit of the public good.
12. What to Do When It's Your Turn (and it's Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin
The guru of marketing delights in this book, a book that inspires with essays and images and reads like a magazine. This is one of those books that anchors many of Godin's teachings, with lines and quotes intended to push its readers to work and know that when it comes to the work you want to do, it's always your turn.