Here are some of my favorite creativity books. They’re either about the creative process itself, or I just find them creatively inspiring. In alphabetical order by author.

A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
Dipping into any chapter of this book is a like sensual wake-up call for me. You will see, hear, taste, smell and touch things with a whole new attention after reading it.

The Quilts of Gees Bend by Arnett, Wardlaw, Livingston and Beardsley
The first time I saw images of these quilts, created by an African-American community in southern Alabama, I was spellbound. Their bold colour combinations and visual rhythms can inspire the most jaded designer. I keep coming back to these images again and again.

Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock
Bantock is a British artist and author who creates the most amazing illustrated books. The Griffin and Sabine trilogy was my first introduction to his work, and I flip through the volumes whenever I need a splash of something unusual.

The Spontaneous Fulfilment of Desire by Deepak Chopra
Not so much a book about creativity, as an Eastern “Law of Attraction” text. I’ve included it here because whenever I read it, I feel like anything is possible.

Theatre of the Imagination by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I’ve enjoyed the work of Jungian psychoanalyst and poet Estes for a couple of decades. This audio book – actually a two-volume set of recorded lectures – inspires me not only with its folk stories, but also with Estes’ stunning poetry that she weaves throughout her lectures. If you’d like a daily dose of creative inspiration from Estes, look no further than her popular Facebook page, which she updates nightly.

Glorious Patchwork by Kaffe Fassett
In case you haven’t already guessed, I love graphic quilts. Fassett is a well-known fabric, knitwear and textile designer, and his quilts are my favorites.

Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World by Natalie Goldberg
Well-known writing workshop leader and coach Goldberg published this moving book – a collection of her drawings and paintings – in 1997. It’s one of my favorite books about art because she is so honest about her process. Believing that she should stick to just one art form (writing), she gave up visual art for several years, and the story of how she came back to it is inspiring.

Brave on the Rocks by Sabrina Ward Harrison
All of Harrison’s published art journals take my breath away, but Brave on the Rocks: If You Don’t Go, You Don’t See is my favorite, because in it she tells the story of her dream trip to Italy.

Write it Down, Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser
Like Chopra’s book, if you aren’t interested in the Law of Attraction, this one may not appeal. But the many anecdotes about people who have made great creative changes in their lives might inspire you.

Unplugged Kitchen by Viana La Place
I love to cook, and La Place’s book is one of those cookbooks that you can read cover to cover like a novel – packed with reminiscences from her childhood, and sensual descriptions of her favorite foods.

The Listening Book by W. A. Mathieu
I used to buy this book and give it to all my music teacher friends. Mathieu’s many exercises and musings will have you listening to your world in a whole new way.

How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist by Caroll Michels
I bought this book in a remainder bin, and it’s one of the most practical books for visual artists that I’ve ever found. A little dated, maybe (it was published in 1983), but still very useful for strategizing your growth in the field of visual arts.

I am Spock by Leonard Nimoy
Nimoy’s second autobiography is a recent addition to my favorites list. I love his descriptions of the behind-the-scenes production of the Star Trek series and movies, and I was really interested to hear about the breadth of his other acting and directing work.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
I was really put off by the title of this work by novelist Pressfield when it was first recommended to me, but I’m glad I finally read it recently, because I credit this book with giving me the encouragement to finally commit to my creative muse. This website would likely not exist if I hadn’t read Pressfield’s book, because I would never have recognized how urgently Mirificationis wanted to be born, without The War of Art.

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
A companion piece to the above book, Do the Work takes The War of Art a step further, and lays out the paths and pitfalls of the creative territory.

A Creative Companion: How To Free Your Creative Spirit by SARK
Susan Kennedy renamed herself as SARK and gifted the world with a number of inspiring volumes handwritten in colourful magic markers. This one is my favorite, although there are others that speak more directly to the creative process.

The Year of the King by Antony Sher
I read this book many years ago, but like Nimoy’s I Am Spock, Sher explores the world of the actor – in this case describing his process of preparing for the role of Shakespeare’s King Richard III.

The Flinch by Julien Smith
If I were listing these books in order of importance to me instead of alphabetical order, this short e-book would be at the top. It is one of the most life-changing books I have ever read, and I’m recommending it to everyone I meet. The premise is simple: If we can learn to overcome the “flinch” – the habit of pulling back from experiences that we fear will hurt us – we can learn to (almost instantly) break lifelong habits of underachievement and ordinariness. If you only read one book on this list, make it this one. Warning: The more you need this book, the less you will want to read it. Do it anyhow.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
Tharp is a renowned modern choreographer who decided to put her creative process on paper so that other people could benefit from her experience. Lots of great tips and practices for the serious, professionally minded creator.

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