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Read Your Way to Eureka: 7 Books That Boost Breakthroughs

These 7 books on creativity and sparking original thinking can help you tap into your most generative side and give you more great ideas than ever.
by Melissa Kabakci | Jul 15 2016

Eureka isn’t always about science, ancient Greeks named Archimedes, or unpredictable bathtime revelations. Sometimes it’s about you and a little bit of quiet time with a good read.

These 7 books on creativity and sparking original thinking can help you tap into your most generative side. Get a new perspective on evolution and the beginning of the world, learn how leading entrepreneurs happened upon their lightbulb moments, and get to know how the most unconventional minds tackle a complex problem. Eureka might be just a read away.

1. Powers of Two – Joshua Wolf Shenk

The myth of the lone genius is a tantalizing one, but more often than not, it’s little more than that. In fact, behind every creative type there is often a creative partner. Author Joshua Wolf Shenk’s Powers of Two explores the idea of the creative pair, examines the relationship between seemingly fluffy thing called creativity and the brain, and draws heavily on examples of celebrated creative duos, such as The Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Apple’s two Steves, and South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

2.The Creator’s Code – Amy Wilkinson

The Creator’s Code reveals the essential skills needed to take a big idea and turn it into a successful company. Drawn from 200 interviews with dozens of leading entrepreneurs, including the founders of LinkedIn, eBay, Tesla Motors, Airbnb, PayPal, JetBlue and others, this book will help you better see what areas you need to address to turn your passion into tomorrow’s market leader. Author Amy Wilkinson is a strategic adviser, entrepreneur and lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has worked at consultancy McKinsey & Company and investment company J.P. Morgan, and has served as a White House fellow and special assistant to the U.S. Trade Representative.

3. Originals – Adam Grant

Tap into the field of original thinking and where great ideas come from with Adam Grant, consultant to Google, Goldman’s, and Disney Pixar. By following unconventional rules, Grant offers helpful guidelines as to how to foster originality in every facet of life. This book focuses on how anyone can boost their creativity and gives foolproof methods for identifying truly original ideas – and following through with them.

4. 59 Seconds – Richard Wiseman

You don’t have to spend tens of years or thousands of dollars to fix most problems. Thanks to huge advances in psychological research and technology, we’re now able to solve whatever problem we’re dealt in exceedingly simple ways. 59 seconds lays out some handy tips and insights for doing just that, backed by scientific research. Apply them to get a little more creative, a little bit of new perspective, and a little bit closer to your Eureka! Moment. It’s also a fun read—Wiseman’s been described by one of Scientific American’s columnists as “the most interesting and innovative experimental psychologist in the world today.”

5.The Myths of Creativity – David Burkus

The Myths of Creativity debunks common misconceptions of how creativity works. It provides practical insight and valuable advice on how to generate new ideas and let them flourish, and it gives real-world examples from history and recent well-known creatives. Its author, David Burkus, is a professor of management specializing in the fields of creativity and innovation, as well as in entrepreneurship and organizational behavior. He has written for Fast Company and Bloomberg Businessweek and given keynotes for Microsoft and Stryker.

6.Where Good Ideas Come From – Steven Johnson

Where Good Ideas Come From examines and explains what kinds of environments have historically fostered innovation, from the evolution of life on Earth through the history of science. The book highlights many parallels between the two, ranging from carbon atoms forming the very first building blocks of life to cities and the internet, with all its wacky enclaves, opportunities for collaboration, and attendant discoveries. The book is bursting with anecdotes and scientific fact, but Johnson—contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The NYT, and The Financial Times—doesn’t leave out how individual and organizational creativity can be cultivated.

7. Making Ideas Happen – Scott Belsky

The obstacles that lie between your ideas and their implementation can seem enormous, but this book’s here to help. It offers insight into the ways in which successful individuals and creative departments overcome these obstacles, furnishing real-life examples from some of the world’s leading brands and creative minds. Scott Belsky is vice president of community at Adobe, as well as founder and CEO of the product development platform Behance. He’s consulted for Fortune 500 companies and new media giants, and guest lectured at Cornell University, Harvard University and UC Berkeley. Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” list included Scott in 2010.

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