8 Books That Every Creative Should Read

Let’s be real, it’s not like us bookworms need a dedicated holiday to choose our fictional friends over our real ones. But between rando holidays like #NationalBookLoversDay on August 9th and #NationalReadABookDay on September 6th, it’s pretty nice to have a few days that give us an excuse to sit down and read! And when it comes to finding inspiration as an artist, books geared towards creatives can be powerful brainstorming tools. Whether you’re suffering from creative block or just want some good ol’ inspiration from the experts, the right book can get your creative gears turning by shifting your perspective, giving you an inspiring quote, or by verbally kicking you in the right brained butt.

Here are 8 books that every creative should read! And if YOU have any inspiring books to suggest, let’s hear it in the comments!

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“Creative Pep Talk: The Book! Inspiration From 50 Artists” 

By Andy J. Pizza

If you’re looking for some positive inspiration or, perhaps, a creative pep talk, Andy J. Pizza is your guy. The host of the Creative Pep Talk podcast has compiled a book of artists giving their own advice and inspiration to the reader. We think anything created by Andy J. Pizza is certified awesome…but seeing as we had a convo with him on our Creative Resources blog, we may be a bit biased!

“Creativity Inc.” 

By Ed Catmull

Who doesn’t love Pixar? Written by the co-founder of Pixar (and computer scientist) Ed Catmull, Creativity Inc. brings you into the business side of Pixar and is all about breeding creativity and good management in the creative workplace. An interesting read for anyone interested in the inner-workings of the business behind the beloved films, but also a great read for those of us working in the creative world.

“Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives” 

By Adam J. Kurtz

Chances are you found out about Adam J. Kurtz through his adorable and wry pins or his amazing Instagram. And that sense of humor he employs in his art translates to his writing. His newest book, Things Are What You Make of Them  reads with an entertaining, clear, and cheeky voice, while also serving as mad inspiration from one artist speaking to another. The pages are even tear-away so you can take out the most inspiring ones and hang them up!

“Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction” 

By Derek Thompson

We think every creative can learn from creatives in fields outside of their own (in fact, that’s the whole philosophy behind our podcast!) And Hit Makers is a perfect example. In his book, Thompson – who’s also a senior editor at The Atlantic – delves into what makes a hit song…with the power of SCIENCE! But we’re not just talking about why in the world Rihanna’s song “Work” is popular; Hit Makers takes us from French impressionist Claude Monet’s work, to Shakespeare, to the Top 40, and explores one of the art world’s greatest mysteries: the consumer market.

“The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” 

By Steven Pressfield

Need some tough love to kick your creative self in the butt? Pressfield’s got you.As any creative knows, sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. Definitely not to be confused with The Art of War, Pressfield’s The War of Art is a self help book for the creative, teaching you how to boost your success and get over the hurdles that can sometimes block ambition.

“The Creative Tarot: A Modern Day Guide to an Inspired Life” 

By Jessa Crispin

You don’t have to be a believer in “the power of the cards” to get something out of tarot. The Creative Tarot uses card readings to help give the creative process a little juice. Personally, I’ve recently taken a dive headfirst into the world of tarot, but even if you have no intention of ever picking up a deck, this book will give you an inspiration boost by shifting your perspective…not to mention, part of the art of tarot cards is literally the art of the tarot cards – it’s worth checking out just for the illustrations!

“On Writing” 

By Stephen King

For any writers out there, On Writing is a must-read. I’m talking this-was-required-reading-for-my-creative-writing-class-in-high-school level of must-read. The man who needs no introduction takes a break from taking you into the dark crevices of horror and takes you into the creative process and the craft. Super inspiring for writers and for any creative looking for ways to expand their mind when it comes to creating.

“Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again” 

By Andy Warhol

Sometimes the best way to get some artistic inspiration is to dive into the mind of an artist. Andy Warhol’s autobiography Philosophy of Andy Warhol takes you intimately into Warhol’s life. He talks about everything from food to fame to sex to work & success, and of course about his art career. Worth checking out, even just to find out more about the man and the mystery.


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Featured image is “All Booked Up” from David Olenick’s Artist Shop. Post originally published for National Book Lovers Day on August 9th!

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Carlyn Hill

Dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I'm not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.