The profound mysteries of creative thought have long intimidated the world's finest brains. How do you measure the imagination? How do you quantify an epiphany? These daunting questions led researchers to neglect the subject for hundreds of years. In Jonah Lehrer's ambitious and enthralling new book, we go in search of the epiphany. Shattering the myth of creative 'types', Lehrer shows how new research is deepening our understanding of the human imagination. Creativity is not a 'gift' that only some possess. It's a term for a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively. Some acts of imagination are best done sipping espresso in a crowded cafe, while others require long walks in a quiet park. Lehrer helps us fit our creative strategies to the task at hand. The journey begins with the fluttering of neurons in the prefrontal cortex, before moving out to consider how this new science can also make neighbourhoods more vibrant, companies more productive and schools more effective. We'll learn about Bob Dylan's writing habits and the drug addiction of poets. We'll see why Elizabethan England experienced a creative explosion, and how Pixar designed its office space to get the most out of its talent. Collapsing the layers separating the neuron from the finished symphony, Imagine reveals the deep inventiveness of the human mind and its essential role in our increasingly complex world.
Amazon.com ReviewAmazon Best Books of the Month, March 2012: Combining cutting-edge neurological research with the age-old mystery of how and when inspiration strikes, Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine: How Creativity Works is a fun, engaging study of creativity. Lehrer uses case studies like 3M’s and Pixar’s innovative corporate cultures and Bob Dylan’s songwriting habits to frame scientific findings about the brain and where creativity comes from. You won’t find exercises to help you think more creatively or ways to avoid creative blocks in this book. Instead, you’ll learn how and why creativity is stimulated by certain activities—like looking at the color blue, traveling, or daydreaming productively—and how these activities stimulate creativity in everyone, not just in ‘creative’ people. Lehrer’s focus is as wide and fascinating as his topic itself and there’s something to engage every reader, no matter where you rate yourself on the creativity spectrum. --Malissa Kent
Amazon Exclusive: Jad Abumrad Reviews *Imagine*
Jad Abumrad is host and creator of the public radio hit Radiolab, now in its seventh season and reaching over a million people monthly. Abumrad has won numerous awards, including a National Headliner Award in Radio and an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Journalism Award. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of Imagine:
As a storyteller, I'm in awe of Jonah Lehrer.
It's rare that you read a book where every page has at least one “Aha!” moment, one moment per page that grabs your perspective and gives it a good shake. In other words, while reading this book, I kept experiencing the very phenomenon Jonah is investigating--the sensation of insight. That pleasant brain fever that overtakes you when you suddenly, in a flash, see the world in a new way.
This book is the single best attempt I've ever read (and I've read many) to demystify human creativity. To puncture the age-old mysteries: how do insights happen? How can I make them happen more?
The beauty here is in what Jonah chooses to notice. Bob Dylan, W.H. Auden, the inventor of the Post-It Note, an autistic surf champion . . . they all become gorgeously rendered wormholes into the inner wonders of the human mind. And because of his background in neuroscience, when Jonah does the brain, he delivers the goods.
And finally: though this isn't a self-help book (thank God for that), at the end of it, you're left with a set of ideas and practices that you can actually use.
I do believe this book will set a new standard for science journalism. I for one will be handing it out as a Christmas presents for years to come.
Review'Jonah Lehrer's new book confirms what his fans have known all along — that he knows more about science than a lot of scientists and more about writing than a lot of writers'— Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point