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Spark: How Creativity Works Hardcover – February 15, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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“This is a book about joy, drive and art, work that we’re all capable of if we’ll only commit.” (Seth Godin, author of Linchpin)
“Through enlightening conversations, these creative individuals demonstrate how they lift raw materials out of familiar contexts and create art that changes how we perceive the world.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Burstein offers enlightening answers from the culture’s heavy hitters, as well as the process by which they stoked these embers into a roaring fire, and how you, yes, you, might too.” (Vanity Fair)
“Spark is an encyclopedia of inspiration plucked from today’s most revered creators, leaving you not with a one-size-fits-all blueprint to creativity but with a petri dish of eclectic insights for you to distill, cross-pollinate and fertilize into a richer understanding of your own creative life.” (Maria Popova, Brain Pickings)
“How better to learn about creativity than to talk with some of the world’s most creative people.” (Detroit Free Press)
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Top Customer Reviews
Still, after shelling out good money for the hardcover, I'm ultimately disappointed by what's here. To me, it feels insubstantial, and I wish I had looked through it carefully in a bookstore before purchasing.
Each of the features here (exploring the creative process of several different writers, artists, musicians, etc.) feels quite brief. Some of the profiles are as short as 2-3 pages and come full of journalistic exposition/background.
This is fine in theory, but when I buy a book that promises "How Creativity Works" in its subtitle, I'm hoping for deeper, richer quotations from the profiled artists and less background filler. Do I really need to read, for example, that "[Kevin] Bacon, who starred in films like Footloose, JFK, and Apollo 13, is also renowned as the central character in the trivia game 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon...'"
(And, no offense, but can Kevin Bacon really help us understand how creativity works? Don't get me wrong--I really like the guy's work, but this just isn't what I hoped for.)
Even the longer pieces still feel thin and full of sound bites, rather than concerted reflection on creativity. You may enjoy it if you're looking for brief, breezy slices of NPR-style interview. But if, like me, you were hoping for some sustained dialogue and thinking from these artists, you may want to save your money.
I'd read -- devoured, actually -- the first three of these titles many years ago, when I received them as rewards for helping organize a university library purchase. Since the 1950's era of their publication I believe another ten or more have been issued, featuring more contemporary authors.
The Hemingway piece in the third (I believe) volume was probably the most interesting overall; many nice insights, and unlike when he responded to Fitzgerald's great characterization of the rich (see below), Papa didn't put his foot in his mouth once -- an embarassment hard to avoid when discussing creativity, it seems. And, he wrapped up with a nifty, Zenny aphorism.
Blaise Cendrars also said some neat things. I think he was the one who was the least attached to his role as an author -- "There are more important things in life than writing books!" was his take on the matter. But many, perhaps most, of the reviewed authors offered insights on the creative process to outshine most of the anecdotal material in the presently reviewed title.
For real insights into the creative process, you'd be well advised to peruse some of the top titles in my 500-volume, decade-in-the-building cognitive science-centered research library (I'm doing a publishable Ph.D. dissertation on deep structures of consciousness and solution system design, at work and in life --for Everyperson, yet!).Read more ›
Who doesn't want to hear the strike of creativity against substance, see the place where many ideas finally ignite a single creative work. That's what "Spark: How Creativity Works" would have been about...if it weren't about the author instead.
Have you ever seen a photograph with the photographer's index finger accidentally in the shot? That's how Spark is. You lose the enchantment of what might have been a lovely shot because all you can see is the author popping in, page after page. There's little space for anything else.
Julie Burstein rightly qualified herself as an expert at the outset, a necessary step. She and her intimate perspective belonged in the intro to the 9/11 piece as she was THERE, a witness. However, Ms. Burstein then continues to insert herself into every intro and into some of the stories as well. She has pride in her work, yeah, but keep it out of my way, as the reader.
The cross section of interviewees was fantastic. Few of the anecdotes inspire. As another reviewer here mentioned, I'd be willing to wager the interviews were more inspirational on the radio than in print.
Visit your local public library. Wait for the paperback, or wait for it to appear at the second-hand bookstore. You might even find it there soon, if you live near me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Spark" is nicely written, and the life stories are interesting, Burstein describes the inspirations for each of her artists. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jay Lubinsky
Not going to tell you how to be more creative... if that's what you're looking for, look elsewhere.
But it has great essays about how artists(of several different... Read more
I enjoyed some of the pieces and found some quite interesting thoughts here and there, but it's a book to browse around in for what insights you can find, not a book of substance. Read morePublished on July 27, 2013 by Amazon Customer
A book that really brings you face to face with the many faces of creativity, and the many vivid ways powerful ideas begin. Read morePublished on November 27, 2012 by ownwords
If you pick up this book thinking it will make you more creative, it may offer some insight as far as other artists, but it isn't a book to really help one be more creative. Read morePublished on July 13, 2012 by Irish
Virtually every essay in this book was interesting. Each describes a particular creator's challenges, approach, techniques and other thoughts about how they go about their business... Read morePublished on April 11, 2012 by bronx book nerd
"Spark" presents several artists' biographies, that reveal methodology and specific "spark" moments that contribute to the creative process. Read morePublished on January 19, 2012 by James
I was hoping that this book would delve a bit deeper into the act of creativity. There are interviews or narratives on many well known and not-so-well-known artist from every... Read morePublished on November 17, 2011 by N. M. Patterson