You know those books. The ones that over-promise and under-fulfill. “Learn Chinese in 3 days”, “Become rich by working 2 hours a days”. I gave up on those books a long time ago, and with time I developed a keen radar for books that sell bullshit and prey on desperate people.
But every now and then you run into a book that stands out from the crowd. A book that is so well researched, so well written that you’d feel bad not recommending it to your friends. “Imagine, How Creativity Works”, by Jonah Lehrer is exactly such a book.
I had read a previous work by Jonah Lehrar (“How we decide”), and I was very impressed with his way of meshing theory, story telling, modern brain science, Lab experiments and great writing into an exciting whole. “Imagine” built up on that tradition and took it a step further. It investigates the nature of creativity and genius by talking about Bob Dylan, about scotch tape, about pixar, about poets and mathematicians, and his findings are a complete surprise.
Creativity, it turns out, is not some rare gift that people either have or don’t. It can be planned, worked on and nurtured. Some of the world’s most creative companies (3M and Google) actually have methods designed to improve one’s creativity and put in place to increase the workers’ innovation.
It’s an engrossing and entertaining read. If you ever asked yourself why people get more insights when taking a hot shower than while actually working, this is the kind of book that answers such questions. Highly recommended.