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Imagine: How Creativity Worksby Jonah Lehrer
Synopses & Reviews
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. Its 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 outsiders 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.
"Journalist and pop-science phenom Lehrer (How We Decide) muses on the development of 'our most important mental talent: the ability to imagine what has never existed.' Arguing that 'the standard definition of creativity is completely wrong,' he reveals the ways in which innovative thinking is a profusion of processes rather than a singular element of cognition. Stories of groundbreaking artists, ideas, and inventions are interwoven with discoveries from the forefront of modern neuroscience to support the notion that moments of great insight are always preceded by long slogs of hard work. The science offers new ways to understand the various methods humans have used to prepare their minds when confronted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Conditions that we've long understood to enhance creativity (e.g., urban mingling, drug consumption, travel), but whose mechanisms escaped us, are explored in detail, on both the individual and group level. Other seldom-acknowledged elements come into play, too, like possessing an amateur's ignorance, letting go of the fear of failure, or the benefits of a 'drowsy brain.' Along the way Lehrer also debunks the myth of brainstorming, and demonstraties how companies like 3M and Pixar have become so successful. He concludes with a discussion of several 'meta-idea' — such as intellectual property, education, and a willingness to take risks — which Lehrer deems crucial to fostering a culture of imaginative innovation. (Mar. 19)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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 Point 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 were 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." Mother Jones
"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 books strength lies in specific examples — detailed stories about 3M, Pixar, Bob Dylan and Don Lee, the computer programmer who became a master mixer of quirky cocktails. These insightful tales make Imagine well worth the read." Scientific American
"Lehrer writes with verve, creating an informative, readable book that sparkles with ideas." Kirkus
"Imagine is a great introduction for anyone curious about the nature and dynamics of creativity." Booklist
"Illuminating....An engaging guide to the mysteries of the imagination and the science of innovation. With these suggestions, his book implies, you too might be able to maximize your creative output." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Bob Dylan. W.H. Auden. The man who invented Post-it Notes. The people who work at Pixar. If only we all were as creative as those writers and innovators. As it turns out, we are. That's just one of many messages in Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer's terrific study of humans 'ability to imagine what never existed.'" Houston Chronicle
"Jonah Lehrer — who, in my opinion, has done more for the popular understanding of psychology and neuroscience than any other writer working today...what makes Imagine outstanding is that the book itself is an epitome of an increasingly important form of creativity — the ability to pull together perspectives, insights, and bits of information into a mash-up narrative framework that illuminates a subject in an entirely new way." Atlantic.com
"Lehrer has initiated an intriguing and important dialogue on the science of creativity that isn't going to be finished anytime soon, and he gives his readers a solid foothold on the connection between neuroscience and creative expression." Portland Mercury
"In Imagine, journalist Jonah Lehrer lays bare the magic trick. With the help of elegant experiments, mind-aching riddles and unlikely characters, he lets us peer inside our heads and see for ourselves what's going on when our best ideas come to us....Imagine should appeal to everyone, not just because of Lehrer's compelling writing style but also because it puts paid to the idea that creativity is a gift enjoyed only by the lucky few. We can all be more creative, we just need to know how. This book will show you." New Scientist
"Drawing from a wide array of scientific and sociological research — and everything from the poetry of W.H. Auden to the films of Pixar — he makes a convincing case that innovation cannot only be studied and measured, but also nurtured and encouraged....This is an inspiring and engaging book that reveals creativity as less a sign of rare genius than a natural human potential." The Economist
New York Times bestselling author Jonah Lehrer introduces us to musicians, graphic artists, poets, and bartenders to show us how we can use science to be more imaginative and make our cities, our companies, and our culture more creative.
About the Author
Jonah Lehrer is a Contributing Editor at Wired and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. He writes the Head Case column for The Wall Street Journal and regularly appears on WNYCs Radiolab. His writing has also appeared in Nature, The New York Times Magazine, Scientific American and Outside. Hes the author of two previous books, Proust Was A Neuroscientist and How We Decide. He graduated from Columbia University and attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
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