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Have you ever wondered how some people seem to think up brilliant, creative ideas at the drop of a hat, while you’ll probably end up eating the same lunch for the 8th day in a row?

You probably just assume those people have something you’ll never have, or that they were born with a “creativity gene” that somehow skipped a generation or doesn’t run in your family.

The truth is that creativity is a skill that can be learned and honed, much like riding a bike or playing an instrument after hours of practice. One of the best ways to learn more about this skill and how you can improve is by reading the best books about creativity.

11 Best Books About Creativity

Below are 11 books about creativity that will teach you how to think like some of history’s most brilliant minds so you can generate life-changing ideas of your own.

1. How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb

Author Michael J. Gelb draws on real examples from Da Vinci’s notebooks, inventions, and legendary art to support what he calls the 7 Da Vincian Principles, which he argues are the essential elements of creative genius. Discover how you can use curiosity, connection, and other key elements to unleash your creative thinking and self-expression.

2. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so successful and widely admired. Uncover the company’s that defy convention but promote and protect creativity so you (and your team) can learn to maximize your creativity and originality.

3. Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono

In Lateral Thinking, psychologist Edward de Bono offers a practical explanation of how creativity works. The book also shows readers how to move beyond a “vertical” mode of thinking to unleash the potential of lateral thinking, so you can finally escape the patterns that may have worked in the past but are now hindering your growth.

4. The War of Art By Steven Pressfield

The War of Art teaches readers to recognize and tear down the barriers that impede their creativity, while also silencing their inner critics. Pressfield examines the psychology of creation and offers actionable plans to help readers battle the “resistance” of a blank page or canvas.

5. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

Advertising guru Paul Arden shares how the talented but timid can learn to make the unthinkable thinkable. Using real world examples, quotes, facts, and pictures, this book explains how playing your cards right and even making mistakes can lead to greater creativity and productivity.

6. How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton

In How to Fly a Horse, technology pioneer Kevin Ashton shares how seemingly unremarkable people have used gradual steps, numerous failures, and ordinary acts to bring about some of society’s most astounding breakthroughs. 

7. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

In Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon argues that because nothing is truly original, we should embrace influences and teach ourselves using the works of others. Learn to rework and reimagine existing creations to create your own path.

8. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Where do great ideas come from? That’s the central question that Steven Johnson seeks to answer as he explores the environments that breed breakthrough ideas and the catalysts of genius. Johnson identifies 7 key patterns behind innovation, and traces them across time from the ideas of Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple,

9. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explores the satisfying state of consciousness he identifies as flow, a state in which we experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and total involvement in life. This book reveals how this elusive state can be reproduced and controlled for greater productivity, creativity, and happiness.

10. The Book of Doing by Allison Arden

Why do we stop doing the things we once loved—like crafts, games, and getting our hands dirty—once we become adults? This book argues that it’s time to change the mindset that such activities are frivolous or unhelpful, and rediscover the things we love to do because they energize, center, and connect us with the world in meaningful and positive ways.

11. Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

Discover the daily rituals of 161 of history’s greatest minds, from Franz Kafka to Woody Allen, Pablo Picasso, Agatha Christie, and more. Learn how they subtly maneuvered many obstacles and used daily rituals to get the work they love to do done.

Improve Your Creativity Skills

Contrary to what many of us have grown up thinking, even if some people seem like they were born with creative genius, creativity is actually a skill that can be learned and improved no matter what your age.

Check out our guide on how to be creative to discover tips for testing your imagination and exercises you can practice now in order to flex your creative muscles.

Do you have a favorite book about creativity? Tell us about it in the comments below!


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