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Jonah Lehrer’s ‘Imagine’ gives tips on developing creativity


The Details

Imagine: How Creativity Works
Four stars
By Jonah Lehrer, $26

Imagine: How Creativity Works seems an uninspired title for an inspired book about inspiration. Young and talented Wired editor Jonah Lehrer argues that creativity isn’t a gift; it’s a skill that can be developed. Want to be more creative? Take a vacation, paint your walls blue, move to a big city and change careers.

Don’t worry, Lehrer has some smaller tips, too. Many of which are counterintuitive. One example: brainstorming, that free-form meeting of minds in which all ideas are encouraged, supported and considered. Ineffective, it turns out. It’s much better to criticize and critique your group’s flawed ideas. Egos might get bruised along the way, but you’ll end up with stronger results—the studies prove it.

Lehrer combines summaries of studies like these with real-world creative success stories, like those of Swiffer, 3M Masking Tape, the bacon-infused old-fashioned cocktail and Penn & Teller. Highly recommended for magicians, musicians, artists, techies, would-be Shark Tank contestants and Malcolm Gladwell readers.


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  • An offhand touch and the plot's peculiar circumstances help lighten the sometimes dark story.

  • The author's new collection is creepy, titillating and impossible to put down.

  • Art history as a continual unfolding of ideas and forms is just one of the author's concerns.

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