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Imagine : how creativity works /

"New York Times"-bestselling author Lehrer ("How We Decide") introduces readers to musicians, graphic artists, poets, and bartenders to show how they can use science to be more imaginative and make their cities, their companies, and their culture more creative.

Main Author: Lehrer, Jonah.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
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Review by Choice Review

For those acquainted with Lehrer's two previous books, Proust Was a Neuroscientist (2007) and How We Decide (CH, Aug'09, 46-6789), the format of the present volume will be quite familiar. The subject, in this case the creative process, is broken down into two subcategories--"Alone" and "Together"--each illumined by anecdote, case study, and scientific findings from the field and laboratory. In the course of looking at art, invention, and improvisation, the author has focused on creative works and products ranging from West Side Story, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," and Shakespeare's Henry VI to the personal computer, Post-It notes, and Nike's "Just Do It" slogan. He explores the creative work of individuals--including Steve Jobs, Paul Erdos, Jack Kerouac, and Yo-Yo Ma--and innovative institutions such as 3-M, Google, Second City, Pixar, and Eli Lilly. Lehrer examines both standard approaches to the study of creativity and recent developments in psychology and neuroscience, for example, right-brain functioning, neuronal learning, recursive loops, semantic priming, conceptual blending, and informational entropy. This is a fitting companion to the author's earlier work and an informative introduction to one of the most elusive of human capacities, the creative imagination. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; professionals; general readers. R. M. Davis emeritus, Albion College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Creativity a flash in the pan or 99-percent perspiration? A-list journalist Lehrer (How We Decide, 2009) tackles the question in broad strokes, covering topics as diverse as office layouts, urban planning, drug use, and brain chemistry. It turns out that the question isn't easy to answer, for it seems that a method used by one creative person doesn't translate for another. Lehrer describes the creative activities of such luminaries as David Byrne and the CEO of Pixar, then dissects why each approach works for that individual or group. Some examples are a bit of a stretch. The section on Shakespeare, for instance, is eye-rollingly speculative. But, just as Lehrer points out that explicit instruction is anathema to creative play and discovery, he seems to say in each section, Isn't this neat? and leave the bulk of the work to the reader's imagination. In that sense, Imagine is a great introduction for anyone curious about the nature and dynamics of creativity.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist and pop-science phenom Lehrer (How We Decide) muses on the development of "our most important mental talent: the ability to imagine what has never existed." Arguing that "the standard definition of creativity is completely wrong," he reveals the ways in which innovative thinking is a profusion of processes rather than a singular element of cognition. Stories of groundbreaking artists, ideas, and inventions are interwoven with discoveries from the forefront of modern neuroscience to support the notion that moments of great insight are always preceded by long slogs of hard work. The science offers new ways to understand the various methods humans have used to prepare their minds when confronted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Conditions that we've long understood to enhance creativity (e.g., urban mingling, drug consumption, travel), but whose mechanisms escaped us, are explored in detail, on both the individual and group level. Other seldom-acknowledged elements come into play, too, like possessing an amateur's ignorance, letting go of the fear of failure, or the benefits of a "drowsy brain." Along the way Lehrer also debunks the myth of brainstorming, and demonstraties how companies like 3M and Pixar have become so successful. He concludes with a discussion of several "meta-idea[s]"-such as intellectual property, education, and a willingness to take risks-which Lehrer deems crucial to fostering a culture of imaginative innovation. (Mar. 19) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Review by Library Journal Review

In his new book on creativity, Lehrer (How We Decide) presents captivating case studies of innovative minds, companies, and cities while tying in the latest in scientific research. He recounts the sometimes surprising origins of hugely successful inventions, brands, and ideas (e.g., the Swiffer mop, Barbie doll, Pixar animation) and reveals unexpected commonalities in the creative experiences (e.g., the color blue, distractedness, living abroad). The book combines individual case studies with broader psychology to provide new insights into creativity, much like Sheena Iyengar's The Art of Choosing. Many of Lehrer's insights are based on emerging scientific practices and are thus fresh and especially applicable to modern life. He emphasizes innovative companies and experimental approaches to education and includes historical factoids that reveal the backstories of everyday items. VERDICT Lehrer's findings can be used to inform the design of innovative programs or to structure a productive work environment at home or at the office. This book will appeal to educators, business administrators, and readers interested in applied psychology. [See Prepub Alert, 10/15/11.]-Ryan Nayler, Univ. of Toronto Lib., Ont. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Wired and Wall Street Journal contributor Lehrer (How We Decide, 2009, etc.) explores creativity from the inside out, looking at the mechanics of the brain and the effects of mental states from sadness to depression to dementia. He takes readers to laboratories where neuroscientists and psychologists are conducting controlled experiments on creativity, and he gets inside the talented minds of songwriter Bob Dylan, graphic artist Milton Glaser, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and engineer/inventor Arthur Fry. Lehrer examines how social interaction and collaboration promote creativity within a company, using Pixar studios as an example, and how these factors operate in communities, citing Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv as places that foster innovation by enabling people to interact, converse with strangers as well as colleagues and encounter new ideas. Shakespeare's London was just such a place, and the author presents factors that made it so, such as a critical density of population and an explosion of literacy. Lehrer also explores what he calls the outsider factor, showing how newcomers to a field or people working in tangential areas generate new approaches to old problems. America, he writes, can increase its collective creativity if it so chooses. The author points out that our schools already do so with athletes, encouraging and rewarding them from a young age, and the same steps can be taken to nourish our brightest, most imaginative children, as demonstrated by the success of schools like the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and San Diego's High Tech High. Further, Lehrer argues for policy changes to enhance our nation's creativity: immigration reform because immigrants account for a disproportionate number of patent applications in the United States, and patent reform, in order to reward and thereby promote innovation. Lehrer writes with verve, creating an informative, readable book that sparkles with ideas.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.