How can science explain the creative mind? What causes a spark or an idea for a new invention? Jonah Lehrer (@jonahlehrer) offers case studies to answer these questions in his new bestselling book Imagine: How Creativity Works. As a writer and creative professional, I’ve often theorized about originality and inventive thinking – “What is a truly original idea?” Through examples like invention of the Post-It Note, the formation of Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline, and how Mattel created the Barbie doll, Lehrer recounts how imagination and innovation function. Much like the style of Malcolm Gladwell, this book offers accessibility for the reader to grab hold of intellectual insights. Lehrer debunks common myths about inventions because “the radical concept was merely a new mixture of old ideas.” After reading this book you may learn to pay attention to your daydreams, where emotions and ideas are already flowing inside your brain.
Now here’s a book I was itching to read the first day it was released – Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky (@scottbelsky). Ever since I met Scott in 2009, I’ve been inspired by his insights on creative thought and execution. Scott Belsky is on a mission to organize the creative world. His book distills years of research and interviews with productive and successful creative professionals to help the rest of us. Making Ideas Happen deconstructs the myths about what it means to be creative, and reveals simple ways to organize, articulate and produce ideas. Read this book if you’re hungry not just for theories, but tactics which you can put into practice.
A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living was a bestseller in France where author Luc Ferry (@ferryluc) – a philophy professor at the University of Paris – is a notable thought leader and lecturer. He poses that philosophy is not an exercise for academic types, but a resource for all man kind to live fuller and freer through our thoughts, convictions and values. Ferry explores the foundation of wisdom from ancient to present day teachings. Many describe this book as accessible and concise, while others find it too dense with syntax to read quickly. Whatever your pace, you will likely find your mind stretched by the end of it, questioning and theorizing meaning in life. And, you’ll feel more knowledgable on the topics of Stocism, Humanism, Nietzche, Heidegger and more.
It’s a bold promise made in the title. This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking, edited by John Brockman (@edge), is a compilation of essays from today’s leading philosophers, scientists, economists, physicists, sociologists and playwrights who each answer the question: “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” As the thought pioneers of their respective fields, they present 151 diverse ideas and perspectives on the human condition. It is, in short, a collection of dizzying fodder to challenge your mind. It may prove to be a mind-bending, vocabularly-enhancing read.
Long-time bestseller Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Fubner (@freakonomics) offers skilled storytelling and contorted insights to tackle topics of social sciences in a new way. This Steven/Stephen duo turns each topic on its head and pokes at hidden truths within our modern world. Well beyond examining how we think, Freakonomics creates a new way of thinking. It’s highly accessible and straight-forward. After reading this book, you’ll have stretched your brain a bit. Better yet, you’ll be well-armed for amusing and engaging conversation at a cocktail party. Since its original release in 2005, its been revised and expanded in additional editions. And in 2010, Freakonomics was adapted into a documentary film.
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