Imagine: How Creativity Works – Book Review

 is an excellent treatise on creativity and the brain. It is filled with fascinating anecdotes, just enough neuroscience to keep it interesting for the layperson, and enough everyday application to make it worth your time. I am the first to admit that I have a weakness for applied psychology books that are heavy on stories, but this is one of the best.
What separates this book from other books on creativity is the carefully examined science behind the creative magic. There are other books that focus on creativity and you can learn more techniques from them, but if you want to learn why they really work then this book is a great place to start. The author is a great writer (he could put most modern fiction writers to shame), but the real value is the story and the science behind the imagination.

Some of my favorites parts of the book include:

* Chapter 1, “Bob Dylan’s Brain” has the story of how Dylan wrote his most celebrated song. Favorite quote from Chapter 1: “It’s often only at this point, after we’ve stopped searching for the answer, that the answer often arrives. (The imagination has a wicked sense of irony.” And when a solution does appear, it doesn’t come in dribs and crabs; the puzzle isn’t solved one piece at a time. Rather, the solution is shocking in its completeness.” (7)

* Chapter 2, “Alpha Waves (Condition Blue)” gives 3M’s creative rules. First, the Flexible Attention Policy. Second, Horizontal Sharing. Great chapter, worth the price of the book if you manage a company of ten or more. Also: find out whether or not its best to edit your work in a blue or red room.

* Chapter 3, “The Unconcealing” explains why you should write when you are sad. (77)

* “Picasso once summarized the paradox this way: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.'” (109)

* Chapter 6, “The Power of Q” has the fascinating story of Pixar and how they make movies. Explains the value of groups versus bringing in new people.

* Learn the science behind why you can think more creatively when you first wake up.

* Learn why an outside perspective is so important, and what inspired the Barbie Doll.

* Learn why Shakespeare was as much a product of his time as he was a genius.

* Pages 227-240 may be my favorite section in the book. The author explains how two different schools foster creativity in students and how we can replicate the results. Important reading for any parent.

This is a great book, and you are bound to learn something no matter what you have already studied on creativity. Highly Recommended.

Note: If you are interested in practical approaches to creative thinking and how to come up with great ideas after reading this, check out 

 and  . Thinkertoys is the best out there on actual technique by a long shot and Mindhacker is both an example of creative problem solving and a great source for practical techniques.