Creative Thinking Book List

The following are the books I consider essential for those seeking a better understanding of applied creativity.

Jack’s Notebook: A business novel about creative problem solving– Gregg M. Fraley Yes, I recommend my own book.  I believe it’s the most accessible book on Creative Problem Solving — the CPS process — available.  It’s a business fable, a story, it moves quickly and you can easily absorb the principles of CPS. CPS is also known as the Osborn-Parnes model.  This book is useful for developing your personal or  business oriented creative and innovative capacity.  It is also a good tool for teams, providing a common problem solving language and method.  Some of the reviewers question whether it should be labeled a business book. I would suggest yes because creative thinking is the most fundamental business skill there is.  Okay, maybe call it Personal Innovation.
Innovate Like Edison, the Success System of America’s Greatest Inventor– Michael Gelb and Sarah Miller Caldicott I was under the false impression for many years that Edison was a sort of disorganized genius and that he had people walking around behind him documenting his efforts and finishing his projects.  This is clearly not the case as this excellent book’s authors have analyzed the hundreds of notebooks Edison left behind and culled the specific competencies that Edison was highly methodical about.  Gelb has written other good books, particularly the one about DaVinci, but for innovators this book is destined to become a classic. for an interview with Sarah Caldicott, Edison’s great grand niece, click here.
Think Better, An Innovators Guide to Productive Thinking– Tim Hurson
Tim is a colleague and a friend so this note will be un-objective.  Still, I like his book, Think Better.  How to think more productively is a subject that could be awfully boring, but kudos to Tim for creating something that reads like champagne.  This book bubbles with good anecdotes, examples, and real world tips and ideas on how to be a better creative and innovative thinker.  I highly recommend it.
  Cracking Creativity &ThinkerToys-Michael Michalko Both of Michalko’s books are filled with ideas, anecdotes, tools, puzzles and games regarding creativity. I particularly like the graphics sprinkled through the book. Highly readable as a straight through read, but also easy to find particular tips and such. Michalko has come out with a new edition of Thinker Toys as of 2006.
The Owner’s Manual For The Brain-Pierce J. Howard, Ph.D. A lot of new information is available on how the brain actually works — new research explains things that have been mysteries since the dawn of time. This book is comprehensive and surprisingly readable for a text book. You can read it cover to cover, but you can also just look up, say, the effect of caffeine or exercise on one’s thinking.
The Art of Possibility-Benjamin Zander & Rosamund Stone Zander Creativity is an attitude, and this book is exemplary instructing one how to acquire and retain a creative attitude under all circumstances. It’s as easy to read as it is inspirational. If you are seeking to reclaim your creative spirit, read this at your earliest convenience.
Adaptors and Innovators: Styles of Creativity and Problem-Solving
-Dr. M.J. Kirton
Michael Kirton is the creator of the KAI (Kirton Adaptor Innovator) assessment. The KAI is the most useful tool around in understanding how one is creative. Reading the book, you will understand a great deal about the nature of creativity. Kirton has done the deep research necessary to make a science out of what creativity is.  I’ve studied with Dr. Kirton and am a certified administrator for the KAI.
The Einstein Factor : A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence-Win Wenger Win Wenger may be the guy that 100 years from now everyone will say “he was way ahead of his time”. The good news for us is, he’s here now, and this book provides advanced techniques for using your mind to solve problems and meet challenges. I’ve tried the techniques, they work. Outside of hallucinogenic drugs, this book is the biggest mind bender I’m aware of.
Applied Imagination-Alex Osborn This is the original book on brainstorming and creative thinking. Although written in the early 50’s, this book if published today would still be relevant and helpful. Many have added useful knowledge and tools to the field of deliberate creative thinking and problem solving, but the essentials are all here and they have not changed.
Use Both Sides of Your Brain-Tony Buzan An early disciple of accelerated learning techniques, including Mind Mapping, this book is chockfull of great ideas on how to study and learn. It’s also a great deal of fun, Buzan is a treasure. This is one of his older books, he pops a new one out almost every year, so look at his list of books for the most relevant for you.  He has books on memory and on sales etc, the common thread is holistic and visual thinking. 
The Artists Way– Julia Cameron I’ve met many people who have changed their lives by reading this book and implementing it’s method.  If you have a block in your personal development or creative self-expression, there is nothing you could read that is better than this.  This is her flagship book, and, Julia has written some other wonderful books.  I particularly liked her autobiography, Floor Sample, which is the story of her remarkable and interesting life’s journey.