Looking for books to get lost in and inspire you on your hols? Check out our 7 summer reads for creatives below.
Sure, Mr Grisham has a shiny new book out and everyone’s saying that Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is pretty good. But if you put the fiction down for a minute and take a look at the other side of the bookstore, a world of brain food is yours for the taking.
We’re huge fans of self-help books, business tomes and insightful autobiographies here at Now Go Create. In fact we may be guilty engaging in something the Japanese call “tsundoku.” This is a term for people who have piles of books that built up by accident… and which they haven’t quite got round to reading yet. Ahem.
I’m a book flicker-thorougher – non-fiction only, of course. I rarely read in a linear fashion, searching instead for those nuggets you can use, relate to and apply. On which note – you must have heard about Blinkist, right? It’s where you can find autobiographies and self-help books condensed down to 15 minutes.
The other good thing about flicking through books is that things that seem irrelevant now may become brainfood for a later project. Try it! It’s a great way to stockpile ammo that will help you boost your creativity skills.
And so, with that in mind, here are 7 inspiring summer reads for creatives….
1/ A book to help you think on your feet
Improvise! Use the Secrets of Improv to Achieve Extraordinary Results at Work by Max Dickins
‘Our’ very own Max is a much-treasured member of the Now Go Create team and a master storyteller. He’s also a comedian, radio presenter, actor and writer, and this book of his from 2020 is worth its weight in gold for anyone who freezes when they suddenly have to veer off-script.
Max clearly explains how great improv actors lean on a boatload of easy-to-learn tools in order to stop themselves falling off a cliff when thrown under the bus without any concrete material to fall back on. By learning these tools, we can all change the way we present and interact in a group, and we can also become more confident in everyday life.
And more confidence, of course, is synonymous with creative freedom. When barriers and limiting self-belief fall by the wayside, great ideas fly. It’s just £3.99 right now on Amazon, less than 2 scoops of ice-cream!
2/ A science book that you don’t need a science degree to understand
Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
Ever thought it could be fun to know more about that squidgy grey lump rattling around in your head? It might be a good idea to understand how it works before trying to nudge it into ever more fruitful creative thinking, which is where Feldman Barrett comes in.
In this slender tome designed to be accessible to everyone, she reveals “mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience” (her words) and basically gives you a riveting beginner’s guide to the most important organ in the body.
This blog’s worth a look if you’re interested in the science of creativity.
3/ A book that puts the brakes on ‘meh’ work
Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier
How many times have you submitted a piece of work and had to accept that it’s pretty good… but not great? All too frequently, time constraints and other commitments mean that we simply have to stop before our efforts have achieved their peak potential.
But what if you could supercharge your creative thinking and do a lot more awesome work instead?
Bungay Stanier is an award-winning Canadian coach and business consultant who will direct you to better output via 15 short exercises that will really help you to do more great work.
4/ An awesome book that unravels the mystery of creativity (ha!)
I spent over a decade researching and a year writing this, identifying more than 60 creative ‘elements’ that collectively make up our creative toolkit. I make the case that everything from ‘Fear’, ‘Love’ and ‘Hunch’ go into the ideation process – along with ‘Passion’, ‘Logic’ and a more.
By mixing and matching the right combination for your brief, you can come at things with a totally new mindset – and unlock a swathe of new ideas.
It was shortlisted for the CMI Management Book of the Year, features an exclusive interview with Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm, and doubles up as an emergency sun-shield when your face starts to melt. It’s got 35 five-star reviews on Amazon and a hundred coaching questions you can use for yourself or with your team.
5/ A book that’s a bit of everything
Written by therapist Dr Julie Smith, described by the writer as part journal, part guide, it’s a collection of the most important things this psychologist has learned with a toolkit to tackle challenges from low mood to motivation to grief to fear.
It’s super practical and if you’re taking some time out over the summer, a totally accessible way into some practical coping tips and tools to aid resilience and build confidence in your own abilities. It’s a Sunday Times No 1 bestseller for good reason and a perfect summer read for creatives.
6/ A great introduction to Mindfulness
The world moves fast, but that doesn’t mean we have to. In this guide to mindfulness, Haemin Sunim, a Korean born Buddhist monk offers advice on everything from handling setbacks to dealing with rest and relationships, in a beautiful book combining his teachings with calming full-colour illustrations.
Haemin Sunim’s simple messages speak directly to the anxieties that have become part of modern life and remind us of the strength and joy that come from slowing down.
With insight and compassion drawn from a life full of change, Haemin encourages all of us to notice that when you slow down, the world slows down with you. What better idea is there than that whilst on holiday?
7/ Bonus summer read for creatives: write your own!
You’ve probably heard of Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’, which was a key part of her best-selling 1992 The Artist’s Way.
Fans of her three-pages-of-stream-of-consciousness-writing swear by its ability to get their day off to a great creative start. The trick, though, is not to try too hard. In fact, don’t try at all. Just let it all out in one, long, 15 minute blurt.
You can write about anything – what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, what you’d like to achieve today or next year. There’s no right or wrong – just make sure it’s three sides of A4 paper. Many people find that it’s a good way to bring down anxiety levels, too, which is a nice bonus.
Too much effort? Why not start a diary instead – just one line a day if that’s all you’ve got, and to keep it useful, try jotting down a random creative idea a day, too. Make like a magpie, you never know when those ideas might just have a use, or stimulate your next campaign.
What would you add to your must-have summer reads for creatives?
Don’t miss out next open training webinar – Creative Ninjas on September 20th! It’s like a hundred creativity self-help books rolled into one! Email to book. Places are £85 + VAT, and you can buy a copy of my book too!
I also run Unleash Your Creativity courses for the industry body the PRCA.
Happy holidays 😉