12 Best Creativity Books for Your Library

With the best creativity books in hand, you can inspire your creativity and learn to live the creative lifestyle to the fullest.

Are you a creative person? Many aspiring writers and artists feel they don’t have what it takes to express themselves. I felt the same way for years. The funny thing is that all creatives have felt this at some point during their careers. It’s a common theme found in many of the best books about creativity. Other themes include procrastination, fear of failure, and even a fear of success!

I’ve read dozens of creativity books over the years. This guide profiles the best creativity books for the modern writers and artists, so you can start writing, creating and publishing your best works. You may also be interested in learning about the different types of creativity.

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Best creativity books for your library

1. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

Published in 2012 as part of a three-part series, in Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon explores the idea that no artistic work is an original idea. Creative people understand that art is everywhere, and the key to creating it is taking ideas from multiple sources, combining them, and adding your own voice. This book touches on the impact of the digital age on creativity. 

Steal Like an Artist is a quick read with fun visual illustrations for developing a creative mindset. Kleon is an illustrator, after all! You can read this book in one sitting too.

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”

Austin Kleon

2. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Published in 2002, in The War of Art, Pressfield explores how aspiring and even professional artists, creatives, and writers face demons like procrastination and self-doubt. Pressfield recounts his own creative struggles and explores how creatives can find their muse more easily. If you find it hard to get your creative ideas out and onto paper or canvas, this book will teach you how to express yourself.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

Steven Pressfield

3. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Published in 2014, Creativity, Inc. is by Ed Catmull, co-founder of the Pixar Animation Studio. This creative genius shows what it takes to transform a team of creative talents into a working culture that inspires greatness. This book explores creative thinking and how to capitalize on it in a group and build a successful business.

It’s a good read because it combines creativity with entrepreneurship and business. Catmull recounts how his team built Pixar and created many of its hit films. It’s also a revealing insight into how Pixar and its creative teams write and work together.

“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”

Ed Catmull

4. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Published in 1992, novelist and playwright Julia Cameron explores what makes an artist in The Artist’s Way. It outlines what living the artist’s life looks like and is a must-read for the creative person.

Cameron’s book is perhaps most famous for its concept of the morning pages. She encourages a daily writing practice whereby creatives free write about whatever is on their mind first thing. Cameron also proposes the concept of artist dates: taking a day or an afternoon to visit a museum, gallery or see a show by someone you admire. 

“Leap, and the net will appear.”

Julia Cameron

5. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Published in 2003, The Creative Habit by noted American choreographer Twyla Tharp is part autobiographical and part self-help. Tharp writes about how she finds inspiration for her hit shows and also the habits and routines she and other creatives rely on. 

She believes people aren’t born “creatives.” Instead, you can develop creativity with the right education and habits. If you feel that you just “aren’t creative,” this book is a good primer. It may challenge your thinking and show you that there is potential inside everyone.

“I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

Twyla Tharp

6. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

For most people, fear is a big thing that holds them back from being creative. Big Magic teaches readers how to tackle their fears and rise above them. Author Elizabeth Gilbert believes this is where creativity’s “big magic” takes place. 

Published in 2015, this book is so effective at teaching you how to become creative that it instantly jumped to the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

7. Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Published in 1990, this book explores the psychological idea of flow, a state of optimal experience that inspires the best creative potential in an individual. Csikszentmihalyi believes this state is something an individual can control.

This book will teach you what flow is and how you can reach and sustain that state. This will help you build your own creative process more effectively by keeping you in the right psychological state to get creative work done. I used this book to develop triggers that help me get into a state of creative flow much faster and more easily. Learn how to get into flow state

“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

8. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

Grab this book if you believe creativity is a set state and something you are born with. Paul Arden believes everyone has the potential to be more creative and better at their work.

He explores problem-solving strategies in this book that can help you achieve greater things. This book is an easy read because it is funny and short. You will finish it inspired to be better, inspiring more creativity.

“If you can’t solve a problem, it’s because you’re playing by the rules”

Paul Arden
It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be: The world's best-selling book by Paul Arden
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Arden, Paul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 06/01/2003 (Publication Date) - Phaidon Press (Publisher)

9. Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step by Edward De Bono

Most people learn how to solve problems by facing them head-on. This is vertical thinking, according to De Bono. He uses Lateral Thinking to teach a more creative approach to problem-solving First published in 1967, it’s considered one of DeBono’s best works and a creativity classic. 

This book explores the idea of lateral thinking instead of vertical thinking and takes the reader step-by-step through learning to think outside the box.

“A problem is simply the difference between what one has and what one wants.”

Edward De Bono
Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step
  • De Bono, Edward (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 300 Pages - 02/24/2015 (Publication Date) - Harper Colophon (Publisher)

10. Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

Being creative is great, but if you want to earn money from your creative works, you need people to find you. Show Your Work! gives 10 practical ways to get your creative work seen by others. Published in 2014, this book explores everything from the balance between sharing and oversharing to getting over the fear of putting yourself out there.

Show Your Work! is particularly valuable today because it discusses the digital age and the Internet and how you can find an audience for your work.

“Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.”

Austin Kleon
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered (Austin Kleon)
  • Binding: paperback
  • Workman publishing
  • Language: english
  • Kleon, Austin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

11. The Power of Creativity By Bryan Collins

Struggling to come up with your next great idea? Or do you find it impossible to get your creative juices flowing? Or perhaps you don’t think your creative talent will ever be strong enough to succeed? Desperate to make your next idea your big break?

Published in 2015, award-winning author, copywriter, and blogger Bryan Collins has had a lifelong fascination with creativity and the genesis of amazing ideas. After learning how to unleash his creative dreams, Collins is now ready to share his hidden secrets with you.

“You are more creative than you can imagine.”

Bryan Collins
The Power of Creativity: A Three-Part Series for Writers, Artists, Musicians and Anyone In Search of Great Ideas
  • Collins, Bryan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 338 Pages - 05/23/2018 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

12. The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin differs from most other music producers who have a trend-based sound. He creates a supportive environment where artists can express their true selves and unleash their full potential and has worked with everyone from U2 to Johnny Cash to the Red Hot Chill Peppers.

Published in 2023, in this book, Rubin recounts how being an artist is not solely about output but rather a deep connection with the world. He believes creativity is a vital aspect of life that can be nurtured and expanded by all. It’s an enlightening guide that showcases the journey of an artist and musician.

“If you have an idea you’re excited about and you don’t bring it to life, it’s not uncommon for the idea to find its voice through another maker. This isn’t because the other artist stole your idea, but because the idea’s time has come.”

Rick Rubin

A Final Word On The Best Creativity Books

The best creativity books help you get past a hurdle like procrastination and are inspiring. Keep these choices in mind as you build a library of inspirational books. Each one will bring something to the table to help you become just a little more creative.

If you are in a creative rut, having a library on hand will help you break past that rut and start creating again. However, to do so, you must have the books on hand, so start building that creativity library today. If you want more information on this topic, check out our list of essays about creativity.

FAQs on the Best Creativity Books

What are the best creativity books for writers?

The best creativity books for writers are those that help them get past writer’s block and their own fears about writing to continue creating beautiful works. Some that should be on your shelf include:
1. The Artist’s Way
2. The Creative Habit
3. Steal Like an Artist

What are the best creative thinking books?

The best books to learn more about creative thinking include:
1. Lateral Thinking
2. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
3. Creativity, Inc.

Want more? Check out our book recommendations.

Further Reading

Our Always Up-to-Date List of Great Books to Read

Best Productivity and Time Management Books

Best Self-help Books

The Best Writing Books

Best Leadership Books

Best Grammar Books

Best Sci-Fi Books

Best Dystopian Novels

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.