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The ultimate book list on creativity and innovation for builders of products and brands

Bora Celik
Bora Celik
7 min read
The ultimate book list on creativity and innovation for builders of products and brands
Books on creativity and innovation

As builders, makers, and creators, we must innovate. Innovation requires us to generate original ideas that are both surprising and valuable. These ideas will emerge from the unique insights we gain, ultimately leading to our next creation.

As I wrote in my Startup as artist essay, "The startup of the future needs to think and create like an artist. More human in every way. More creative. Infused with interesting ideas at every turn."

To do that, we need to live creative lives. Easier said than done, there is a lot to learn to achieve this.

The books below are the ones I've read on creativity and innovation, and they have been helpful. I hope they can help you too.

Please let me know in the comments of my LinkedIn post if I've missed anything.

Must Reads

  1. The Art of Thought by Graham Wallas - Pioneering work on the four stages of creative thinking that still resonates today.
  2. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - Dive into the psychology of creativity and learn how to achieve flow states.
  3. Deep Work by Cal Newport - Master the art of distraction-free, high-concentration work to produce at your peak.
  4. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron - A transformative classic to unblock your creativity and rediscover your artistic self.
  5. The 5AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life. by Robin Sharma - Transform your life by mastering your mornings with this bestselling author's unconventional productivity secrets.
  6. Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp - A legendary choreographer's insights on making creativity a consistent part of your life.
  7. Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang - Deliberate rest can make you more productive and creative. Counterintuitive, but it works. (check my podcast with Alex here)
  8. Ideaflow: The Only Business Metric That Matters by Jeremy Utley, Perry Klebahn, and David Kelley - Why generating a constant stream of ideas is crucial for business success, and how to do it.
  9. Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention--and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari - Reclaim your ability to focus deeply in a world of constant distractions.
  10. Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making by Tony Fadell - Insider tips from the iPod inventor on building products people love.
  11. Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity by Josh Linkner - A systematic approach to generating and implementing innovative ideas in any organization.
  12. Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout by Cal Newport - Rethink your approach to work for more meaningful accomplishments and less burnout.
  13. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger - Uncover the science behind why certain ideas and products go viral.

Further Exploration

  1. The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI by Marcus Du Sautoy - How AI might be your next creative partner or competitor in the innovation game.
  2. The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler - An exploration of the creative process, linking humor, scientific discovery, and artistic inspiration in a groundbreaking theory of human creativity.
  3. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity by James C. Kaufman and Robert J. Sternberg - Your creativity encyclopedia, packed with research-backed ideas to build a culture of innovation.
  4. Anatomy of a Breakthrough: How to Get Unstuck When It Matters Most by Adam Alter - Strategies for overcoming obstacles and achieving breakthroughs in your work and life.
  5. The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin - Legendary producer's wisdom on cultivating creativity as a lifestyle, not just a skill.
  6. Awaken Your Genius: Escape Conformity, Ignite Creativity, and Become Extraordinary by Ozan Varol - Break free from conventional thinking and unleash your extraordinary potential.
  7. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson - A goldmine for understanding how breakthrough ideas happen. It'll help you set up your startup to be an idea factory.
  8. Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire - Breaks down what makes creative people tick, helping you tap into your inner creative genius.
  9. Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity by Keith Sawyer - Practical techniques to help you come up with fresh ideas when you're stuck on a problem.
  10. A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative by Roger VonOech - Fun, unconventional techniques to break out of your mental ruts and boost creativity.
  11. The Art Of Scientific Investigation by W.I.B. Beveridge - A timeless guide unveiling the creative aspects of scientific discovery, blending practical advice with insights into the scientist's mindset.
  12. Beyond Eureka!: The Rocky Roads to Innovating by Marylene Delbourg-Delphis - Real-world insights on navigating the bumpy road from idea to successful innovation. (check my podcast with Marylene here)
  13. The Emergence of Insight by Carola Salvi, Jennifer Wiley, Steven Smith - Explore the neuroscience behind moments of breakthrough and discovery.
  14. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker - Understand the crucial role of sleep in creativity, productivity, and overall well-being.
  15. Two Beats Ahead: What Musical Minds Teach Us About Innovation by Panos A. Panay and R. Michael Hendrix - How musical thinking can drive innovation and success in any industry.
  16. Creative Quest by Questlove - Questlove's personal journey and practical advice for finding your creative voice.
  17. The Human Side of Innovation: The Power of People in Love with People by Mauro Porcini - How empathy and human-centered design drive groundbreaking innovation.
  18. See, Solve, Scale: How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem into a Breakthrough Success by Danny Warshay - A step-by-step guide to identifying opportunities and turning them into successful ventures.
  19. Mastery by Robert Greene - Learn the timeless principles behind achieving greatness in any field.
  20. Make Possibilities Happen: How to Transform Ideas into Reality by Grace Hawthorne - Stanford's guide to transforming your wildest ideas into tangible realities.
  21. The Eye Test: A Case for Human Creativity in the Age of Analytics by Chris Jones - Balancing data-driven decisions with human intuition and creativity in the modern world.
  22. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley - IDEO founders' toolkit for unlocking your innate creativity and applying it to any challenge.
  23. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman - A refreshing take on making the most of your limited time without burning out.
  24. The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice by Todd Henry - Strategies for consistently producing great work under pressure and tight deadlines.
  25. The Laws of Creativity: Unlock Your Originality and Awaken Your Creative Genius by Joey Cofone - Practical principles to tap into your unique creative potential and stand out.
  26. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - Understand and harness the state of optimal experience for peak performance and satisfaction.
  27. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert - Embrace curiosity, overcome fear, and live a more creatively fulfilling life.
  28. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland - How irrational thinking can lead to revolutionary ideas in marketing and beyond.
  29. The Work of Art - How Something Comes From Nothing by Adam Moss - Insights from a legendary editor on crafting compelling narratives and ideas.
  30. The Grace of Great Things: Creativity and Innovation by Robert Grudin - A philosophical and poetic exploration of creativity as a fundamental human trait, linking it to freedom, education, and social progress.
  31. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky - Practical strategies to bridge the gap between having great ideas and bringing them to life.
  32. Radical Curiosity: Questioning Commonly Held Beliefs to Imagine Flourishing Futures by Seth Goldenberg - Harness the power of asking bold questions to drive innovation and change.
  33. Learning to Build: The 5 Bedrock Skills of Innovators and Entrepreneurs by Bob Moesta - Master the fundamental skills that drive successful innovation and entrepreneurship.
  34. Creative Acts For Curious People by Stein Greenberg - Stanford's playbook of exercises to boost your creative problem-solving skills.
  35. Your Brain On Art by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross - Explore how engaging with art can enhance your creativity, well-being, and cognitive function.
  36. The Neuroscience of Creativity by Anna Abraham - Dive into the brain science behind creative thinking and how to nurture it.
  37. Create The Future + Innovation Handbook by Jeremy Gutsche - A toolkit for spotting trends and opportunities to innovate in rapidly changing markets.
  38. Daily Creative: Find Your Inspiration to Spark Creative Energy and Fight Burnout by Todd Henry - Practical habits and exercises to consistently tap into your creative potential every day.
  39. The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday by Rob Walker - Sharpen your observational skills to spark creativity and enrich your daily life.
  40. Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond Productivity Culture by Jenny Odell - Rethink your relationship with time for a more meaningful and less rushed existence.
  41. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell - A guide to resisting the attention economy and reclaiming your ability to truly focus.
  42. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon - Learn how to share your creative process to gain an audience and opportunities.
  43. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon - Practical advice for staying creative, motivated, and sane in good times and bad.
  44. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon - Embrace influence and remix others' ideas to develop your own unique creative voice.
  45. Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!): How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by America's Master Communicator by George Lois - No-nonsense wisdom from an advertising legend to ignite your creative spark.
  46. Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch - Surrealist filmmaker's insights on meditation and tapping into your creative depths.
  47. Do Build: How to make and lead a business the world needs by Alan Moore - A guide to building purpose-driven, human-centered businesses in the modern world.
  48. Do Design: Why beauty is key to everything by Alan Moore - A thought-provoking exploration of how beauty and purpose can transform your work, products, and life for the better.
  49. A Technique For Producing Ideas by James Webb Young - A classic, concise guide revealing a simple yet powerful five-step method for generating innovative ideas.
  50. It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden - An advertising legend's punchy, provocative advice on unleashing your potential and achieving success in creative fields.
  51. Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky - Practical tactics to take control of your day and focus on what truly matters.
  52. Big Little Breakthroughs by Josh Linkner - How small, everyday innovations can lead to game-changing results.
  53. Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation by Bob Roth - Harness the power of Transcendental Meditation to reduce stress and boost creativity.
  54. Science and Method by Henri Poincaré - A mathematician's classic exploration of the creative process in scientific discovery.
  55. Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work by Mason Currey - Peek into the routines and habits of history's most creative minds.
  56. Creative Doing: 75 Practical Exercises to Unblock Your Creative Potential in Your Work, Hobby, or Next Career by Herbert Lui - A hands-on guide packed with actionable exercises to kickstart your creativity across various aspects of life.
  57. How Creativity Rules the World: The Art and Business of Turning Your Ideas into Gold by Maria Brito - Insights on how to harness creativity as a force for success in any field.

Bora Celik

Lifelong student of bringing original ideas to life. Surf nut. Founder @ / Subkit.

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