Books open up worlds we never even knew existed. Whether they address creativity directly or not, books are a treasure trove of inspiration just waiting to be tapped.
For recommendations, I turned to bloggers and artists who connect to their creativity every day. Below they share the diverse books that have ignited their imaginations—which I bet will spark yours, too!
“I’m a voracious reader and find most books in any genre inspiring in one way or another,” said Nellie Jacobs, a bestselling author, award-winning artist and creativity consultant. Jacobs enjoys reading for information, style and format.
The books below have helped Jacobs think more creatively.
- Drawing on the Artist Within and Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- The Writing Life by Anne Dillard
- Creativity and Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Jacobs also suggested reading books outside genres you typically pick to help you think differently. (After all, creativity is all about bending and twisting ideas, which happens when we start to think in new, different ways.)
“Learn how to write scripts, or paint watercolors, or take photographs, or create crafts. Study astronomy, science, philosophy, fashion and flora,” Jacobs said. She also suggested reading Roger von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird along with biographies and autobiographies of inspiring people.
Life coach and artist Tiffany Moore agreed that seeing the world in different ways is key to creativity. “Look at things from the point of view of a child and see what kind of magic you might be able to find around you.” That’s why she suggested reading the Harry Potter books and any children’s picture book. For Moore, these other books have played a pivotal part in her creative pursuits:
- The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
- Books by Keri Smith
- Books by Sabrina Ward Harrison
- Finding Your North Star by Martha Beck
Linda Weintraub’s Art on the Edge and Over had a big impact on Brittni Melhoff, founder of papernstitch, a curated exhibition site for artists and makers to showcase their work, and editor of the papernstitch blog. “It changed the way I viewed things as an artist. It’s actually a textbook, and because of that was easily overlooked by students, but it was exactly what I needed to see (and read) at that time.”
Since college, Melhoff has found inspiration in books on everything from logo design to furniture-making. “Seeing how other designers and artists approach things, helps me to approach ventures in a different light as well,” she said. She made the following recommendations for readers:
- Creative, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho
- The Anti 9 to 5 Guide by Michelle Goodman
- Handmade Living by Lotta Jansdotter (“An amazing book for inspiration when you need a pick me up.”)
“Hands down, my favorite and most beneficial read has been The Renaissance Soul [by Margaret Lobenstine],” said Erin Loechner, writer, stylist and author of the art and design blog Design for Mankind. “The author taught me that creativity is a blessing, not a curse, and we can use it to our professional advantage if we learn to follow our passions wholeheartedly.”
What books help ignite your imagination?
Let us know in the comments below, thanks!