The only thing I enjoy more than devouring a good book is devouring a book that sparks my creativity and provides me a fresh look at the world.  

In an effort to help our readers, I wanted to put together a list of the top 20 books that have helped others live a more creative life.


The Survey

So, I created a one-question survey that asked the question, “What book has helped you be a more creative person?”  I sent it out to our listserve of 50K people from all over the world who are enrolled in our Massive Open Online Course on Igniting Your Everyday Creativity. Then, I posted it throughout social media, specifically targeting various creativity groups.  I had 386 people respond. 


Sorting Through the Nominations

I went through each of the submissions.  Some people listed two or three books and I included all of them.  I removed all children’s books (they will come in a later post), and books that were on my “help you to understand the field of creativity” blog post.  Three people said the Bible was the book that helped them to be a more creative person.  Given the magnitude of the Bible, I felt it was inappropriate to include this on the list of “honorable mentions”.  


What I Uncovered

Honestly, I was amazed at the results. Not with the top 12, but with the number of books that were cited. I realize this was a small sample size,  but it does provide a rich and interesting snapshot.  I am going to share what I uncovered.  


My Recommendation To You

Spend some time going through the list.  If you click on any of the pictures, it will take you to the Amazon page for the book.  Look for books that spark something inside of you, and, don’t be afraid to read something outside of your comfort zone.  If you do not consider yourself an artist, pick a book that focuses on artistic creativity.  Likewise, if you are an artist, you might want to dig deeper into a book that has a focus on innovation. Creativity often happens at the intersection of two disciplines, so you never know what “magic” might occur when you try something new.


Before We Get Started…

In full transparency, I used the affiliate program on Amazon to put this page together, as it provides a very small financial kickback.  I highly recommend you support local bookstores at this time.  AND, if you choose to use Amazon, any funds that are generated from these affiliate links will be used to purchase creativity books for children in the city of Buffalo (where I am from).  

What a Surprise!

Of the 386 respondents, 165 books were nominated only once.  The thing that surprises me the most about this is:

1. There are A LOT of books that can help support your creativity out there!

2. There isn’t a lot of clear consensus on what has worked for people, and different books probably provide people with different perspectives. 

I think the wide range of books reflects the range of perspectives on what we, as individuals, need to be more creative.  I thought about not sharing these books with you, as they are not the “top” books nominated.  However, for those of you who love books to enhance your creativity, this is a playground for your imagination.


There were also 24 books that had 2 or 3 votes each.  There are some incredible books on this list.  Feel free to click on a book to read more about it!

And finally, your top twelve!

Well?  Did you enjoy the list?  I would love to hear your comments below.

And, if your favorite book is missing, please make sure to VOTE with this link, and in November 2021, we will create a new list of books that have helped our readers be more creative.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Cyndi Burnett is a creativity and education specialist who is devoted to developing creative and engaging lessons in education. She spent 20 years as an academic teaching deliberate creative thinking and creative problem-solving at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State. She is currently the Director of an online platform dedicated to helping educators and parents navigate how to bring creativity into their classrooms and homes. 

Her work includes projects such as: working with educators to bring creative thinking into the classroom, a YouTube Station, CreateTUBEity, which features different creative thinking activities, and designing and running a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Everyday Creativity. She is the recipient of the President’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching 2018 by SUNY Buffalo State, was Buffalo Business First, Woman of Influence 2018 for her work in creativity, and was featured in the NY Times article titled, “Creativity Becomes an Academic Discipline.” She is the co-editor of the Big Questions in Creativity book series and co-author of the books Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum, 20 Lessons for Weaving Creativity into your Curriculum (coming in 2021!),  and My Sandwich is a Spaceship: Creative Thinking for Parents and Young Children


  • Marta Ockuly says:

    What a great article!!! It is so interesting to see the wide range of books people find creatively inspiring. I own hundreds of books about creativity and found my top pics in your collection as well. Creativity is personal, so it seems natural many varied perspectives would be shared. I also loved your suggestion to pick a book that ‘feels’ interesting or sparks interest.

  • Clayton Rhodes says:

    An incredible list of amazing books!

  • Marlies says:

    Hi Cyndi
    This is so inspiring and well put together – I love how you slowly unfold the lists and how many I know and don’t know yet!
    Much much more reading to do still.
    So many facets of creative process shine through to meet all needs.

  • Shahinaz El Ramly says:

    I have many of these books, Habit to Charles Duhig, Think fast, slow, alchemist, How to win friends and influence people, etc.

  • Carmel Richmond says:

    Oh brilliant – many thanks! My nomination was an art book – just looking at painting is enough for me!!

  • Rona says:

    Hi Cyndi,
    The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a life changer. Clearly understand why it got the most votes. Thanks so much for the inspiring list of books. Many thanks.