Sunday, June 9, 2013

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

"Did you know that the most creative companies have centralized bathrooms? That brainstorming meetings are a terrible idea? That the color blue can help you double your creative output?
From the New York Times best-selling author of How We Decide comes a sparkling and revelatory look at the new science of creativity. Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types,” Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single gift possessed by the lucky few. It’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively.
Lehrer reveals the importance of embracing the rut, thinking like a child, daydreaming productively, and adopting an outsider’s perspective (travel helps). He unveils the optimal mix of old and new partners in any creative collaboration, and explains why criticism is essential to the process. Then he zooms out to show how we can make our neighborhoods more vibrant, our companies more productive, and our schools more effective.
You’ll learn about Bob Dylan’s writing habits and the drug addictions of poets. You’ll meet a Manhattan bartender who thinks like a chemist, and an autistic surfer who invented an entirely new surfing move. You’ll see why Elizabethan England experienced a creative explosion, and how Pixar’s office space is designed to spark the next big leap in animation.
Collapsing the layers separating the neuron from the finished symphony, Imagine reveals the deep inventiveness of the human mind, and its essential role in our increasingly complex world."

So, you may or may not have heard of some of the controversy surrounding this book (long story short, Jonah Lehrer was spotlighted for messing with a Bob Dylan quote or two, reusing a little of his past work, and "oversimplifying" ideas dealing with neurological science). I know all this happened, and it caused a bit of outrage, but I guess I'm either pretty unintelligent  or just not that discerning because I really actually liked the book. It was good. And, I mean, really: if you wanted to, you could have totally skipped over the Bob Dylan chapter. There was so much more in that book. And who am I to care if he used his previous work some--I've never read them. And as for the neurotics, hey. I'm not a neurologist, I'm cool with baby steps. But yeah, this book was really interesting and I learned a lot that I didn't know. And it kept me fascinated. For a nonfiction book being read by a teenager, that's no mean feat. I was really intrigued by so much of what it was talking about, it took me about three days to finish. So, sure. Take this book with a grain of salt, but still, READ IT. I totally recommend it to anyone. Just try it. It's at Kettleson.


  1. In case you had not read the news, Mr Lehrer has resigned form his position as a writer for the Newyorker after admitting he made up quotes used in this book. I do not recommend you read it.

    Zaira Lynn (Cash for Gold)

  2. Yep, I'm aware. That's what I was talking about with the controversy. But, and maybe I'm just an optimist, I think people should make their own decisions about whether to read it. There was a lot more to that book than just the quotes/lyrics, I can tell you that. Yes, the author acted unfavorably. No, his demeaning actions did not greatly affect the central point of the book, nor did they detract from the score of other information in the book. In my opinion.