12 Of The Best Books On Creativity

In this post, you’ll find some of the must-read non-fiction books on creativity written over the years. These books have helped me start, grow, and scale my creativity, and they’ll help you too to get more ideas and to learn how to be more creative.

1 – Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow is a concept that explores those moments when you’re entirely immersed in an activity or subject, that you don’t even notice that time has passed. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the co-founder of positive psychology. The author was the first to identify and research the Flow concept.
This excellent book is full of insights and filled with many engaging pictures, on how to generate brilliant ideas, and master the art of creative thinking.

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2 – The Laws Of Simplicity

In his book, John Maeda depicts ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design.

John Maeda is a professor at MIT’s Media Lab and a world-renowned graphic designer. He explains how we can redefine the notion of “improved” so that it doesn’t always mean something more; something added on.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.”

John Maeda

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3 – Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

This book is one of the best books about the creative process that I’ve ever read.
Austin Kleon is a New York Times bestselling author and artist who writes about practical and entertaining ideas you need to implement to improve your creativity and originality. Austin Kleon points out that there have been many creative works in the history that are not 100% original.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin KleonPhoto: Outmane Amahou / Proactive Creative

“Stay Smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring in the everyday world so that you have the space to be wild and daring in your imagination and your work.”

Austin Kleon

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4 – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art is an excellent book by the bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield. The author identifies the inside enemy that every one of us must face. He describes a battle plan to conquer this internal foe. Through this book, Steven Pressfield shows how to achieve the greatest success in creative fields.

Don’t prepare. Begin. Our enemy is not lack of preparation. The enemy is resistance, our chattering brain producing excuses. Start before you are ready.


“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are & become it.” 

Quotes – Steven Pressfield 

The War of Art by Steven PressfieldPhoto: Outmane Amahou / Proactive Creative


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5 – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Artist’s Way is a self-help book by Julia Cameron, who is full of insights on how to cultivate your creativity.

This fantastic book features practical examples and exercises to help people with creative artistic recovery, in gaining self-confidence in their creative talents and skills.

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6 – Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

This original book helps you defy common premises about life and creativity while arming you with the tools to live a successful creative life. You’ll discover how to live on your terms by exploring creative self-improvement. You’ll learn how to nurture your creativity, with practical tips and real-life examples.

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7 – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

In Big Magic, Miss Gilbert shares her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity. The book contains many anecdotes from the author’s personal life that you can relate to it.

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8 – Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

Through this genius book, Adam Grant identifies the challenge of becoming original. Choosing to experiment with novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. Grant gives the tools needed to recognize a good idea and choosing the right time to act, throughout studies and anecdotes.

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9 – How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

Michael J. Gelb has taken one of the most brilliant minds ever to have existed and dissected the rituals, routines, and techniques used by Da Vinci to develop your mind into the limitless tool of creativity. For me, it is one of the best books for aspiring artists.

The author offers a step-by-step guide that helps you become more creative.

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every DayPhoto: Outmane Amahou / Proactive Creative

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10 – The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp is an American artist and author who lives and works in New York City.

In her second book, Tharp intuitively, demystifies the creative process, showing that it’s mostly a matter of discipline, habits, and hard work. She highlights the importance of rituals and routines in the path of being creative. Her advice is convenient and comes with examples and exercises.

“Creativity is not a gift from the gods, bestowed by some divine and mystical spark. It is the product of preparation and effort, and it’s within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it. All it takes is the willingness to make creativity a habit, an integral part of your life: ToIn order to be creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative”

Twyla Tharp

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11 – A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

In an era of human fears concerning a world dominated by artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation. Daniel Pink makes a compelling argument that creativity is the only thing that can’t be outsourced, and offers a guide to growing our creative thinking.

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12 – Design by Nature: Creating Layered, Lived-in Spaces Inspired by the Natural World

This book helps you translate elements of nature, including flora, water, and wood into elements of decor for beautiful design.
Inspired by nature’s colors, textures, and patterns, author Erica Tanov uses her passion for textiles to create beautiful, timeless interiors that connect us to the natural world.

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If anyone has ever told you that you are not creative or if you yourself doubt that you are a creative person, read these books and you will definitely change your opinion!

Photo credit: Cassidy Kelley

Do you know Any other books on creativity? Share with us below how much value did they add to your creative life?!

Thanks for reading!

Photo credit: Josh Felise

(PS: If you’re looking for a simple free guide on how to boost your creative, click here. )

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, Proactive Creative will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Cover photo credit: Susan Q. Yin

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