There are thousands of books on creativity and innovation out there. Many are great, some are exceptional, but few stand (or will stand) the test of time. As an author and researcher on innovation myself, I keep a short list of books to recommend to leaders and entrepreneurs who need to jump-start their creative thinking.
These are my personal favorites so far (in alphabetical order):
1. The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry. A quick, but entertaining read on how to generate brilliant ideas at a moment’s notice.
2. The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. While creativity isn’t the focus, this book is full of insights on how to build a career or business around your creative passions.
3. Collective Genius by Linda Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback. A manual on creative collaborations by an outstanding collaboration of world-class scholars and creative thinkers.
4. Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley. Often we don’t need to improve our creative thinking. Instead, we need to grow confidence in our ability to have creative ideas.
5. Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. One of the first, and still one of the best, science-based books on the creative process.
6. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. An all-access pass inside one of the most prolific and creative animation studios in history.
7. Little Bets by Peter Sims. Great ideas don’t come out fully formed. They grow and change, and eventually shape up from making lots of small discoveries.
8. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. It’s not enough to have ideas. You also have to make them happen, and Belsky shows us how to merge creativity with productivity.
9. The Myths of Creativity by David Burkus. OK. I’m biased on this one, but since I limited the list to 15, I had to include the synthesis of all my research on creativity and creative thinkers.
10. Originals by Adam Grant. Once you’ve got your idea, how do you champion it to a world that demands conformity? Adam Grant brilliantly addresses the question.
11. Powers of Two by Joshua Wolf Shenk. Creativity is a team effort. This book profiles the great teams and draws lessons we all can apply.
12. Unmistakable by Srinivas Rao. A new book and a new idea, but an impactful one. It’s not enough to be original; we need to be unmistakable.
13. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. Pink makes a compelling argument that creativity is the only thing that can’t be outsourced, and offers a guide to growing our creative thinking.
14. Wired to Create by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire. An empirical look at the things highly creative people do differently.
15. Zig Zag by Keith Sawyer. Sawyer is one of the world’s foremost creativity researchers, but this isn’t a book of research. Instead, it’s a practical map of the creative process that anyone can follow.
I should mention again that this list is not exhaustive, nor is it a review of the most in-depth explanations. But if you’re looking for well researched but practical insights, look no further than this list.
“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.”
― Annie Dillard
The Lit World would not be the same without having been blessed with the writings and creativity of Mr. Isaac Asimov, thank you for your contribution to the Scifi community. Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.
Asimov coined the term “robotics”
Karel Čapek, a Czech writer, gave us robot when he used the word in a play in 1921. Derived from a Slavic term for a slave, the word described man-like machines that worked on a factory assembly line. But in 1941, in his own short story called “Liar!,” Asimov became the first person to use the word robotics, referring to the technology that robots possess. The next year, he wrote another short story, called “Runaround,” in which he introduced his three Laws of Robotics. These laws explain that a robot cannot hurt a human, must obey humans, and must protect themselves, so long as it doesn’t conflict with the first two laws.
He Fell in Love with Science Fiction at his First Job
When he was 9 years old, Asimov began working at the family candy stores. His father expected his son to work long hours, and Asimov consistently rose early and went to bed late to help run the shops. Even while employed at other part-time jobs—including one at a fabric company and as a typist for a college professor—he worked in the family business in some capacity, only leaving in his early twenties. In addition to candy, the stores sold magazines, and young Isaac devoured the science fiction stories he read in their pages and fell in love with the genre.
In 1964 Isaac Asimov accurately predicted how technology would look in 2014
Environment and lighting
“Men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better. By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colours that will change at the touch of a push button,” wrote Asimov.
“Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. The IBM exhibit at the present fair has no robots but it is dedicated to computers, which are shown in all their amazing complexity, notably in the task of translating Russian into English. If machines are that smart today, what may not be in the works 50 years hence? It will be such computers, much miniaturised, that will serve as the ‘brains’ of robots.”
“Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare ‘automeals’, heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on. Breakfasts will be ‘ordered’ the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing.”
The Colonisation of Space
Asimov makes mention of Moon colonies, which he seems to presume would have been in existence by now. Obviously that’s the not the case, but his predictions relating to human exploration of Mars are very close to the mark. “By 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works and in the 2014 Futurama will show a model of an elaborate Martian colony,” he writes.
We have indeed sent unmanned spacecraft to the Red Planet, but manned missions and colonization efforts are still, as yet, much talked-about but unrealized.
Consumer Technology and Communication
“The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long-lived batteries,” Asimov mused.
A little side note: Did you know that…
In the ’50s, Asimov wrote a series of six science fiction novels for children using the pseudonym Paul French. The books, collectively called the Lucky Starr series, follow David “Lucky” Starr and his adventures around the solar system. Because the publisher, Doubleday, was hoping to turn the series into a TV show, Asimov used a pen name just in case the television adaptation was terrible—he didn’t want to be attached to something cringeworthy, but he also hated that people began to think he was using the pseudonym in order to protect his reputation in the science community. In the end, the TV show didn’t happen, and some of the books are now credited to both French and Asimov.
HIS TRUE CAUSE OF DEATH WASN’T REVEALED UNTIL 2002.
Although the family considered telling the world Asimov had AIDS, his doctors dissuaded him—the general public was still fearful of HIV and very little was understood about it. His HIV status remained a secret until 2002, a decade after his death, when Janet disclosed it in It’s Been A Good Life, a posthumous collection of letters and other writings that she edited. “I argued with the doctors privately about this secrecy, but they prevailed, even after Isaac died,” Janet further explained in a letter to Locus Magazine (a science fiction and fantasy publication). “The doctors are dead now, and … Isaac’s daughter and I agreed to go public [about] the HIV.”
In 1977, Asimov had a heart attack. Six years later, in December 1983, he had a triple bypass surgery, during which he received a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to doctors, the blood they gave him was infected with HIV. Asimov contracted the virus, and it developed fully into AIDS. He died of heart and kidney failure, caused by AIDS, on April 6, 1992.
Below is our very own Asimov Collection.
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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seus