Some books on creativity: I have been actively investigating creativity and related research for well over 40 years and have literally hundreds of books on the topic. Perhaps it is an addiction of sorts. So rather than give you an exhausting bibliography, I have culled this one down to those books I go back to time and again. You will note that many of them are oldies. That may say something about me, or the world of creativity. 🙂
As there are literally tons, and tons of books on creativity, my best suggestion is to go to Amazon’s, or Barnes and Noble’s websites and punch in the descriptors creativity, or creative thinking, or creativity in the classroom, creative problem solving, and then browse. Read the reviews, and then investigate more closely those that seem to speak to you. Indeed the hotlinks below are keyed into AMazon’s data base. As you click on some of these, not the and read some of the other recommended selections in the same category. You may find just the thing you were looking for.
Unfortunately some of the best books are out of print, but believe me when I say they are well worth the search for available editions, or online versions, or seek them out through interlibrary loan, or through used book sources like Alibris. Here are annotations on some of the favorites from my collection.
1. Bagnall, J & Koberg, D. The Universal Traveler : A Soft-Systems Guide to Creativity, Problem-Solving, & the Process of Reaching Goals – There are a number of older editions of this book. All have pretty much the same material. The link takes you to the latest 2003 edition. This gem has been around for years but is still one of the best books for teachers (and parents) and students on creativity. It is loaded with ideas for classroom use (and life usage) and does a nice job of taking many different aspects of creativity and explaining them, simply! It is also inexpensive — a real gem.
2. Dacey, J. Fundamentals of creative thinking – This is one of my first and favorite books on creativity. It is long out of print but there are still copies floating about as indicated on the Amazon link. It is a wonderful text on creativity with tests and discussions of personality characteristics, and gender differences.
3. Ealy, C.D. The woman’s book of creativity – Another older book with some great exercises, as well as thoughtful discussions about the acute differences between traditional male perceptions of creativity and that of females’ perceptions, actions, and reactions. Well worth finding a copy, especially if you are a woman or wanting to encourage women in creative endeavors.
4. Gelb, M.J. How to think like Leonardo da Vinci. A wonderful compilation of stories about the times and life of Leonardo. (The link takes you to the newest edition of Gelb’s work) The author then takes readers into a transitional series of exercises and perspectives designed to help readers think like “the master.” (Well realistically, as the author artfully points out, since Leonardo is one of the world’s greatest minds, the intention here is to help readers begin to think a little bit like the master.) Entertaining, informative, instructive and fun! And there is also a companion workbook.
5. Golden, B. Unlock Your Creative Genius (A guide for exploring creativity at personal levels) If you are looking for something to help you become more creative, this is very helpful.
6. Goleman, Kaufman, and Ray. The Creative Spirit – A popular trade publication spawned by a PBS series of the same name — very This is from 1995 and was a companion from a popular PBS series on many of the aspects of creativity. You can by a used copy for $00.25 and many of the discussion are as relevant today as they were then. It is wonderfully readable and discusses important issues related to all aspects of creativity. Again an oldie but goodie. Even better if you can get your hands on copies of the series.
7. Hennessy and Amabile. Creativity and learning – NEA – A small fastback, a classic by two of the world’s experts on creativity. As this is a limited edition fastback it may be hard to find. However, both of these authors are experts on creativity and its development in children.
8. Kent, C. and Steward, J. Learning by heart – A very gentle book with a series of wonderful visual and introspective exercises guaranteed to make you see the world differently. I used this book as one of my texts in my graduate creativity class. It was out of print for quite sometime, but has recently been re-issued. Sister Corita Kent was a nun and artist and teacher. Her colorful works grace US postage stamps. Grab a copy before it disappears, again!
9. MacKenzie, G. Orbiting the giant hairball – Here MacKenzie offers priceless tips on how to maintain creativity within the overwhelming rules and regulations of governmental and corporate structures. Personally, this is one of my very favorites and I used it in my graduate creativity class. My students loved it — it helped them think outside the box and offered insights into the real world or work. It is also amusing. Yes, another oldie, but goody.
10. Maisel, E. Fearless creating: a step-by-step guide to starting and completing your work of art – This is the “self-help” book of creativity. Some great exercises, many of which can be adapted to the classroom.
11. Marks-Tarlow. Creativity – inside out: learning through multiple intelligences. Another oldie but goody. This book is an outstanding collection of classroom activities, and it combines them with the ever popular concept of MI!
12. Nachmanovitch, S. Free play. This is a classic, and about the inner sources of spontaneous creation and how to tap into them. While it might be seen as especially for those of you who are musically inclined, there is a lot of carryover into creative thinking and living.
13. Piirto, J. Understanding those who create – A comprehensive discussion on creative people and what makes them different– full of valuable information about creative spirits. Another classic, some of the info from this one was combined with the book below. If you want to understand creative people and what makes them tick, get one of Piitro’s books.
14. Piitro, J. Understanding creativity – This is another comprehensive gem from Professor Jane Piitro. If you have to get one book on creativity, start with this one as she gives you some insights on personal characteristics of creative folks. Also Piitro then combines that information in a way that readers can understand the processes involved in creative production.
15. Robinson, K. Out of minds: Learning to be creative. Sir Ken is a gifted speaker and has become popularized by his energizing insightful TED talks. One of the newer popular gurus of creativity, Robinson’s books now must have additions to the “understanding” creativity library.
16. Robinson, K. and Aronica, L. Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education. Sir Ken leaves the lucrative world of business and creativity to attack the major root of a much discussed but rarely acted on problem, how we school and raise our kids! Get his book and then give it to everyone you know with school aged kids — A THEN DISCUSS THE ISSUES!
17. Starko, A.J. Creativity in the classroom: Schools of curious delight – There are numerous editions of this book. The link is to the latest, the 6th. Starko’s book is a sure bet for those of you looking for a text-like approach to aspects of creativity. Many comprehensive suggestions and discussions on related topics, some activities.
18. Sternberg, R.J. & Williams, W.M. How to develop student creativity. A short, inexpensive book from The Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) that is specifically geared toward initiating creativity in the classroom. The book’s framework is based primarily on 25 basic techniques and strategies identified earlier by Sternberg and Lubart (1995). Very inexpensive, but still full of useful ideas and suggestions for understanding and enhancing creativity. Indeed, anything by Sternberg on creativity is well worth checking out.
While many are redundant, additional books on creativity can be found throughout my creativity strand but also on this page Books on Creativity
Books on the “flow” experience
I have added these here as well as on my page about the flow state because while not wholly about creativity, “flow” is certainly involved and an integral part of the creative experience.
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperCollins.
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. The evolving self. New York: Harper Perennial.
- Csikzentmihalyi, M. Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: Harper Perennial.
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. Basic Books