Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Imagine: How Creativity Works Hardcover – International Edition, March 20, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
"Jonah Lehrer may be the most talented explainer of science that we've got. His engrossing investigation of creativity and its sources makes "Imagine" his best book yet."
--Joshua Foer, author of "Moonwalking with Einstein" "Jonah Lehrer's new book confirms what his fans have known all along - that he knows more about science than a lot of scientists and more about writing than a lot of writers."
--Malcolm Gladwell, author of "The Tipping Poin""t" and "Outliers" "Who wouldn't love a book that validates what cubicle workers already know: Brainstorming meetings are a waste of time."
"--USA Today" "Flummoxed by an intractable problem? You probably just need to work harder, right? Actually, try taking a walk instead. Thanks to how we're hardwired, insight tends to strike suddenly--after we've stopped looking. In this entertaining Gladwell-esque plunge into the science of creativity, Jonah Lehrer mingles with a wide cast of characters--inventors, educators, scientists, a Pixar cofounder, an autistic surfing savant--to deconstruct how we accomplish our great feats of imagination. Notable themes emerge: Failure is necessary. The more people you casually rub shoulders with--on and off the job--the more good ideas you'll have. And societies that unduly restrict citizens' ability to borrow from the ideas of others--see our broken patent system--do so at their peril.""
"The author of "Proust Was a Neuroscientist" argues his case using examples ranging from the songs of Bob Dylan to the invention of the Swiffer, adding practical tips (the color blue stimulates imagination; brainstorming meetings don't work) for better right-brain thinking."
"--Details" ""Imagine" argues that modern science allows us to identify and harness the many different thought processes from which creativity emerges . . . The book's strength lies in specific examples--detailed stories about 3M, Pixar, Bob Dylan and Don Lee, the computer programmer who became a master mixe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
"New York Times" best-selling author Jonah Lehrer shows us how we can all learn to be more creative.
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 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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
* Look to someone outside your field for a new perspective.
* Use your drowsy moments when first waking up.
* Don't focus. Daydream instead.
* Embrace sadness.
* Repress your inhibitions.
* Pretend you're a child.
* Change locations, maybe by going abroad to immerse yourself in a different culture.
* Wait until you've had enough distance to forget, and then try again.
* In groups, use different combinations of people so that they aren't too comfortable with each other.
* In companies, have people who interact more, through IM or chance encounters.
* Don't brainstorm. Instead encourage criticism through "plussing," where the criticism needs to come along with a new idea.
* Cultivate weak ties and unexpected friendships.
* For kids, encourage them to play because "kids are most focused when they're having fun."
* Teachers should encourage kids to explore, instead of giving them explicit instructions.
* Take risks.
Lehrer separates the book into three sections: one on individual creativity, one on group creativity, and one on the features of cities and culture that encourage innovation. All of them are extremely readable and worthwhile.
Lehrer does not cite the scientific literature well - there is no list of sources in the back and many claims have no clear references at all. He seems a little gullible (or sensational) in regard to some other studies. One showed that red backgrounds increase test-takers' accuracy and attention to detail, while blue backgrounds double their creativity. Were it so easy. And a neurologist can anticipate a puzzle solver's breakthrough 8 seconds in advance. And, he tells us that all the easy problems of the world have been solved, and that cultivation of athletes in the Unites States should be used as a model for cultivating creativity. Here's my favorite, from a footnote: "Urban areas and the human cortex rely on extremely similar structural patterns to maximize the flow of information and traffic through the system." (p183) There was no reference.
But my main criticism is that the book relies almost exclusively on anecdote. He trots out case after case of well-known successes (masking tape, Bob Dylan, 3M, Pixar, etc.), and some unknown ones (a surfer, a bartender) --always in retrospect -- and draws out what he presents as yet another insight into creativity. But many of these are contradictory. For example, does creativity come out of isolation (p 19) or from teamwork (p120); from breaking convention (p 20) or submitting to its constraints (p 23)? Does it help to be in a positive mood (p32) or a depressed one (p76) or an angry state (161) or a relaxed one (50); does caffeine and other stimulants make the epiphanies less likely (33) or more likely (57)? Should stealing others' ideas should be encouraged (247) or discouraged (244)? Does broadening one's set of skills and interests increase creativity (41) or should one concentrate on a single goal (95)? Does relaxation stimulate creativity (p 45) or does difficulty do it better (54)? Does creativity drive toward perfection (p 63) or is it a celebration of errors? (87). Does insight come in a flash (p 17) or is it revealed slowly, after great effort (56)? Must a good poem be "pulled out of us, like a splinter," (p 56) or is it best "vomited." (19)
All of these, apparently.
The book boils down in the end to four vague conclusions which he calls "meta-ideas."
1. Education is necessary
2. Human mixing stimulates creativity
3. Creativity requires willingness to take risks
4. Society must manage the rewards of innovation
For me, the best revelation is on p 159: Brainstorming sessions, in which "there are no bad ideas" do not often result in good ideas, because criticism is essential. This is the key to the growth of knowledge, good government, and much more -- and a theme that is developed thoroughly in David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity. That's a much more stimulating and challenging read, which explains creativity (and much else) far better than this one does.
Various aspects of this book are definitely inspiring. I highly enjoyed the stories about how others have gotten creative and come up with new ideas, new products, enhanced their creative en devours, etc. Not surprising was the fact that a lot of the stories seemed to involve luck. Being creative and having an idea that is innovative and fresh involves a lot of tiny factors that mesh into one, and if you're lucky, you have that "a ha!" moment thanks to them. But the information about how hard work, dedication, various forms of collaboration, taking care of (or not) your body to enhance your mind, while not necessarily world shatteringly new, was definitely a large part of why this book is inspiring. The biggest take away idea found in Imagine is that even if you haven't been a creative person your entire life, if you put yourself into the right situation, at the right time, or keep trying until you do, work with the right people, and work hard enough, you can be creative.
Imagine is disappointingly short though. The book felt more like a broad overview. I would have enjoyed more of a focus on certain aspects of creativity - though maybe a part of the problem is the lack of in-depth research to then write in-depthly about. I also would have enjoyed reading a lot more of the creative anecdotes, but that's because I'm a learn by example type and hearing stories like that is immensely inspiring to me. Certain sections of the book were definitely geared toward corporate creativity. For those of us peons in a boring 9 to 5, with little to no control over our corporate destiny, those sections could wind up leaving you feeling frustrated. After mulling it over though I actually feel it may have inspired me to find a place, corporate or otherwise, more in tune with being creative - as opposed to just being "productive". The business focused sections were more of a commentary on how typical corporate structures don't work due to their stifling of creativity. However, they still felt a bit misplaced in this book. I picked up Imagine wanting to learn more about how myself, as an individual, can hone and develop my creativity. How the human creative process on an individual level works. Reading how Pixar has improved its bottom line by having bathrooms in the middle of the office, while interesting, didn't really aid in what I considered the ultimate goal of the book.
The brain science of how humans are creative seems to be in its infancy. I would be curious to see how this book might get updated in 5, 10, or 20 years, as the technology to map out the human brain improves.
Most recent customer reviews
So much inspiration can be gained from this book.
If you're looking to create and need a little motivation, read this book