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5 Books to Inspire Creativity

aisle-planner-books-to-inspire-creativityThis month, we’re all about honing in on our most creative selves. As planners, we often find creativity on digital platforms. But, while browsing blogs and perusing Pinterest is a great way to spark some creativity in ourselves, I often find I become most creative when I shut everything off.

One of my goals is to never not be reading a book. Now, it may take me four months to get through one book, and I may only have time for a few pages a week, but I am always in the middle of a book at any given point in time. I find books more inspiring than any other platform out there, especially when it comes to channeling creativity. So, today, I wanted to share my five favorite books to inspire creativity. So, bust out those thick-framed specs and let’s get down to business:

Brave Enough, Cheryl Strayed

Reading can be intimidating and/or daunting to those who aren’t born bookworms. So, I’m starting off easy with a book that’s a collection of quotes. By now, you’re probably aware of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, a memoir based on her account of hiking the PCT alone. But, while wandering through my favorite bookstore last month, I was surprised to come across Brave Enough. And I am SO glad I did. A collection of over 100 quotes from her writings, I keep Brave Enough on my desk and turn a new page (and read a new quote) everyday. This tiny little book packs a serious punch. It’s chock-full of wisdom, humor and inspiration.

Favorite words:

“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts.

You have to pay your electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.”

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

This is one of those books that you read and wish you could pass out to every person you pass on the street. It just sort of stays with you. Lamott describes Bird by Bird as “some instructions on writing and life,” which sums it up perfectly. I’d recommend this book to anyone hoping to write more or anyone hoping to live more. I think one of the greatest tragedies of this book is probably that people who aren’t aspiring writers see it as a manual for writing and pass it by. Not true. It’s the perfect book for creatives of all types.

Favorite words:

“Try walking around with child who’s going, ‘Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky!’ And the child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, ‘Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at that scary dark cloud!’ I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world—present and in awe.”

Tenth of December, George Saunders

I wanted to include one book on the list that wasn’t necessarily meant to inspire creativity, but that just does. Amongst all of the creative manuals and nonfiction books on writing I read and re-read, I also read and re-read Tenth of December. A collection of short stories (fiction) that are beautifully written and that explore some serious questions, this is one of those books that will make you think about the world. And, by thinking about the world—just stopping to ponder it—I believe we become more creative people. It also helps that Saunders is a modern-day genius. His writing alone can inspiring some serious awe and creativity. You’ll constantly be thinking, “How did he come up with that?”

Favorite words:

“Why was she dancing? No reason. Just alive, I guess.”

Yes, Please, Amy Poehler

After you read Saunders’ analysis of some pretty heavy themes, you’ll be ready to lighten the load a bit, and there’s no better way to do so than with comedy queen Amy Poehler. Yes, Please is one of those books you can read in a day. More importantly, it’s one of those books you will want to read in a day (because putting it down after you start is seriously hard). Poehler talks about life and comedy and divorce and writing and creating things you love. Her words do this crazy-hard-to-achieve thing of being both hilarious and deeply impactful all at once. If you’re not a big reader, this book will turn you into one. Trust me.

Favorite words:

“It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators. They are the magic people of the world.”

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion

Let me start with this: Joan Didion is the goddess of all goddesses. If you haven’t read any of her writing yet, you’re in for a serious treat. She is one of those insanely wise and insanely talented people that will leave your head spinning (in the best way possible). She inspires creativity by just being so darn creative herself. Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a collection of essays describing her life, mainly in California, in the 1960s. It focuses on everything from counterculture (think: Haight Ashbury) to everyday struggles. You’ll find yourself pondering themes and thinking up new answers to age-old questions all at once.

Favorite words:

“People with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called ‘character,’ a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to the other, more instantly negotiable virtues…. character— the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life— is the source from which self-respect springs.”

What books inspire you? We are always on the hunt for a good read – let us know what we should put on our list in the comments below!

About the Author

Gillian Griffith
Gillian Griffith

As Aisle Planner’s Contributing Editor, Gillian knows there’s nothing as deadly as a woman with good grammar, great nails and a strong backhand (think: tennis). She is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, where she spends the sunny days with her family, her Louisiana Catahoula pup and, her ultimate love, a 1939 typewriter. Follow Gillian on Instagram @gigi_the_girl

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