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My Favorite Fifty Books on Creativity and Design Thinking #createchat

By June 13, 2015June 5th, 2017No Comments

My Favorite Fifty Books on Creativity and Design Thinking #createchat

My Recommended Reading List on Creativity and Design Thinking

I’m a big a fan of reading — especially in the summertime. Later in the day, when it’s blazingly hot, I usually have a quiet time. We all sprawl out on different chairs or couches and simply read. It’s why Amazon Prime has paid for itself at our house. (You can try the 30-Day Free Trial and see what I mean). During the school year, when I don’t have as much time to read. That’s why I’ve become a fan of Audible.

So, here is a list of my favorite fifty books on creativity. Some of these are more on the pop culture side while others are more academic. Some are books I agree with while others are books that I don’t necessarily agree with but still provoked a lot of thought. I hope you find this list helpful.

Also, if you’re curious about using design thinking in your own classroom, check out my book Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in All Students as a starting point.

Creative Thinking

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
2. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman
3. Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It by Dorie Clark
4. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
5. Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius by Michael Michalko
6. Breakthrough Thinking: A Guide to Creative Thinking and Idea Generation by Thomas Vogel
7. Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
8. A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger
9. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull

Doing Creative Work

10.The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki
11. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
12. Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
13. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative 
Mind  by Jocelyn Glei
14. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky
15. Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh Macleod
16. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
17. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
18. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
19. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
20. How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman
21. Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl

Design Thinking

22. Experiences in Visual Thinking by Robert McKim
23. Design Thinking by Peter G. Row
24The Sciences of the Artificial  by Herbert A. Simon
25. Conceptual Blockbusting: A Guide to Better Ideas by James L. Adams
26. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
27. Frame Innovation: Create New Thinking by Design (Design Thinking, Design Theory) by Kees Dorst
28. Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques  by Michael Michalko
29. The Creative Process Illustrated: How Advertising’s Big Ideas Are Born by W. Glenn Griffin
30. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown
31. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

Engagement, Motivation and Creativity

32. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
33. Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
34. The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler
35. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
36. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
37. How to be an Explorer of This World by Keri Smith
38.  Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
39. Passionate Learners by Pernille Ripp. The book isn’t out yet but it’s one of my favorite education books ever.

Creativity in Education

40. Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager
41. Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level by Don Wettrick
42. Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom: Using 20% Time, Genius Hour, and PBL to Drive Student Success by AJ Juliani
43. Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson (note: although Ken Robinson has been knighted, he has never actually harmed a dragon, much less killed one)
44. The Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich
45. Learning By Choice: 10 Ways Choice and Differentiation Create An Engaged Learning Experience for Every Student by AJ Juliani
46. Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry by Larissa Pahomov and Deborah Siegel
47. Project Based Learning (PBL) Starter Kit: To-the-Point Advice, Tools and Tips for Your First Project in Middle or High School by John Larmer
48. World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students by Yong Zhao
49. The 20Time Project: How educators can launch Google’s formula for future-ready innovation by Kevin Brookhouser
50. Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School by Laura Fleming

Looking for More Resources on Creativity?

If you geek out on creativity, feel free to join the free Beginner’s Guide to Design Thinking course. You can also download the free Creative Classroom Toolkit or join #createchat which is at 7:00 PM Pacific on Wednesday nights. I also give keynotes, sessions, and workshops on creativity, technology and student engagement. Contact me on the form below or email me at [email protected] if you’d like to book me as a speaker.

John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.More about me

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