In honor of Creative Reading Month (just kidding–I made that up,) I’ve put together a list of some of the most inspiring books on creativity that have ever graced bookshelves. From psychology to saga, biography to how-to, these ten books are guaranteed to inspire you to take your creative journey to the next level.

1. Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

Written by the head of Pixar Animation Studios, Creativity Inc. is essential reading for creatives and business leaders alike. Ed Catmull takes readers on a journey into Pixar’s Academy Award-winning studio and reveals how teams can achieve innovation by harnessing a culture based around solving hard problems, removing creative blockers and taking risks.

2.The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on how to allow yourself to live a life filled with artistic expression, The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program you’ll actually have fun committing to. Julia Cameron encourages readers to fight off those “censors” that tell you you’re never good enough and helps you find newfound joy in spending time alone with inspirational “artist’s dates.” This book is perfect for those of you who still feel weird calling yourself “an artist.”

3. The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler

Originally written in 1965, Arthur Koestler’s The Act of Creation is still one of the most relevant dives into the creative process today. Koestler examines creativity from a more existentialist perspective and shares the basic psychological principles that guide creativity in many different forms and how we can use these patterns to become better creators.

 4. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

While the words “creative” and “habit” don’t always seem to go together, this meditative book on building creative habits marries the two harmoniously. So much of artistic expression can seem chaotic and unplanned, but when you set up the right recipe for allowing yourself to accept creativity in all of its forms, you will find that it’s a beautifully choreographed dance of the right habits.


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 5. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Those who have read Eat Pray Love know that writer Elizabeth Gilbert isn’t afraid to take giant leaps to find happiness. With Big Magic, she instructs readers how they too can overcome obstacles to live their most passionate and creative lives. Whether you’re undertaking a huge project or simply looking to add a little bit more appreciation and curiosity into your everyday life, Big Magic is filled with wisdom from someone who has experienced the highs and lows that a life of inspiration might have in store for us.

6. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom and David Kelley

Every one of us is a brilliant creator–just ask David and Tom Kelley of world-renowned design company, IDEO. Drawing from personal experiences leading innovation at IDEO, the two brothers encourage readers to stop viewing creativity as being limited to a certain type of person and instead embrace that most of what we do–from building websites to business plans–is exactly where creativity lies. In Creative Confidence, the Kelley brothers instruct us how we can tap into that creativity to become more successful in whatever endeavor we are pursuing.

7. How Music Works by David Byrne

Whether you create music yourself or think a musical scale is something you weigh your CD collection with, David Byrne’s observations and experiences shared in How Music Works will make any creator sing for joy. Byrne not only takes you on a journey through his career and lessons learned as a musician, but offers invaluable advice for any creator unsure of how to find success and community.

 8. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Being a creator doesn’t always mean creating something new; every day, we find inspiration from various sources and recreate their work in our own special way. Writer and illustrator Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist is a fun guide that illustrates how modern-day creators can use the abundance of creative stimuli to achieve their most authentic creative selves.

9. The Innovators by Walter Issacson

Some of the greatest works of art of our time are not hanging in galleries but are the tools and resources we use daily. The Innovators takes readers on a journey through the collaborative process of creating ten of these innovations that have become central to most new ideas and inventions today. Author Walter Issacson not only manages to retell the history of computers and the internet, but is able to attribute each step of the process to the visionaries who helped guide us to where we are today.

 10. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

It is said that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts per day.  With this much distraction happening inside our heads each day, it’s no wonder that we often have a hard time taking ideas and turning them  into actual tangible creations. In Making Ideas Happen, productivity expert and founder of Behance, Scott Belsky, breaks down the necessary systematic and organizational techniques a creator must take in order to expertly execute an idea without getting bogged down in the details.


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About The Author

Ellie MacBride

Community at Patreon, whiskey drinker and lover of all things cinematic.

  • Johnn Four

    This is a great list Ellie, thanks.

    I really enjoyed Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz.
    http://www.amazon.com/Path-Least-Resistance-Learning-Creative/dp/0449903370/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1454644783&sr=1-1

    He’s process oriented, which I thrive on. 🙂

    • Ellie MacBride

      Thanks so much for sharing, Johnn! Just ordered it to check out. LOVE process as well. 🙂

  • Jacob Golden

    Great post. I read everything by Austin Kleon. I’d also totally recommend The War of Art as well as Turning Pro – both by Steven Pressfield. essential reading for creatives

    • Ellie MacBride

      Thanks, Jacob! Glad you enjoyed. Will have to check those out.

  • Liz Widner

    Great list! Thank you so much! I will definitely check these books out! 🙂

    • Ellie MacBride

      Awesome! I hope you enjoy these, Liz. 🙂

  • OtanVargas

    Awesome list! May I suggest The Mission of Art by Alex Grey 🙂

  • William

    Nearly anything by Seth Godin is inspiring. I got the most from his Purple Cow book

  • +1 for Steven Pressfield’s books. Thanks for the list Ellie.

  • Sarah Weldon

    Now I have a Christmas list! I just ordered Amanda Palmer’s book after reading another of the Patreon blog posts!!!!

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