Here are some of my favourite and most useful books on the bookshelf in my office. And of course, a link to my own book Be Creative – Now! which covers all of the topics on NewThinking.Tools in one handy place. These are listed roughly in order of readability, easiest ones first.

Storytelling and communication

  • Bobette Buster: Do/Story. Heartfelt advice from a great script-writer.
  • Blake Snyder: Save the Cat. Funny and direct guide to getting the beats of your story straight.
  • George Lois: Damn Good Advice (for people with talent). Unstoppable energy from one of the original Mad Men.
  • Dominic Gettins: How to Write Great Copy. Does exactly what it says on the tin.
  • George Orwell: Politics and the English Language. Don’t be put off by the title, this essay is about writing from the heart and killing off jargon, cliche and bullshit.
  • Lisa Cron: Wired for Story. Why our brains are so receptive to information contained in the form of a story.
  • David Edgar, How Plays Work. Wish I’d read this one ten years ago.
  • Rory Sutherland, Alchemy: the Surprising Power of Ideas that Don’t Make Sense. Insights from the irrational world of advertising, told by a pro.
  • Randy Olson, Don’t Be Such a Scientist. Great starting point for academics who want to reach a wider audience.
  • Angus Fletcher, Wonderworks. How great writers use stories to create emotional states in us, the reader. And why we love it when they do.
  • Carmine Gallo: Talk Like TED. Great advice from a man who has studied thousands of TED talks to discover their secrets.
  • Jonah Berger: Contagious. What makes stories spread online.
  • Jonah Sachs: Winning the Story Wars. Why big corporations are employing storytellers.
  • Shawn Callahan, Putting Stories to Work. Advice on how stories can win over colleagues and customers. And of course, it’s full of great stories.
  • John Yorke, Into the Woods. An experienced writer’s take on the theories about why stories work.
  • Will Storr, The Science of Storytelling. How “character” works in the stories we love.
  • Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way. Part spiritual, part practical guide for anyone who wants to write or create.
  • Sally Holloway, The Serious Guide to Joke Writing. Funny doesn’t just happen, you have to work at it. Funny ha ha or funny peculiar – either way, new ideas happen.
  • John Weich, Storytelling on Steroids. Pumped up tales from the world of advertising and pop culture.
  • Roger Horberry & Gyles Lingwood, Read Me: 10 Lessons for Writing Great Copy. The secrets of people who write stuff for a living.
  • Clare Lynch, Good Copy, Bad Copy. Fantastic blog from an experienced copywriter.
  • Brian Boyd, On the Origin of Stories. Astonishing book, treats storytelling like any other evolved human trait.
  • Walter Fisher: Human Communication as Narration. Why we see the world in terms of stories, not facts.
  • George Marshall. Don’t Even Think About It. How the narratives of climate change discourage people from acting.
  • Christopher Booker, The Seven Basic Plots. From Homer’s Illiad to Homer Simpson, why we keep telling stories about heroes.
  • Jordan Peterson, Maps of Meaning. How our beliefs are structured around a world divided into chaos and order.
  • Steven Pinker, A Sense of Style. Why a good sentence works the way it does. Grammar for non-pedants.
  • George Marshall, Don’t Even Think About It. Why climate scientists fail to convince the sceptics and what this tells us about the stories we do – or don’t – trust.
  • Donald Miller, Building a Storybrand. A step by step guide to building your own simple hero’s journey narrative that customers will connect with.
  • Joseph Carroll et al, Graphing Jane Austen. Brilliant piece of data analysis to create a Darwinian analysis of great Victorian novels, heroes and heroines.
  • Stephen King, On Writing. This guy has sold millions of books. He knows what he’s doing.
  • Dwight Swain, Techniques of the Selling Writer. A brilliant set on insights into what makes commercial fiction tick.
  • Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment. Why kids love fairy tales, and what that tells us about the relationship between stories and our psychological development.
  • Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By. A collection of essays on life, death and religion.

Case studies

Creative theory, philosophy and brain science

  • Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow. Decades of research on cognitive biases and why smart people make stupid mistakes.
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Black Swan. A philosopher/financier’s view of uncertainty, learned on the trading floors of Wall Street and applied to life. See also Antifragile and Fooled by Randomness from the same author.
  • Gray, Brown & Macanufo: Gamestorming. Dozens and dozens of creative techniques, ice-breakers, visualisation tools and more.
  • Roger Firestien: Leading on the Creative Edge. A thorough guide to the creative process.
  • Alex Osborn: Your Creative Power. Brainstorming tips from the father of brainstorming, written back in the 1940s.
  • David Edgerton, The Shock of the Old. Good antidote to neophilia, our obsession with new things. Here’s why we should pay attention to boring old things.
  • Steven D’Souza: Not Knowing. Why good ideas sometimes lurk in the dark of what we don’t understand.
  • Kathryn Schulz, Being Wrong. Such a good book on the complex business of making mistakes.
  • Claire Bridges, In Your Creative Element. An overview of scientific studies of creative thinking.
  • Benjamin Bergen, Louder than Words. We process information by creating an embodied simulation using our visual, aural and motor centres of the brain.
  • Paul Lawrence & Nitin Nohria, Driven. How four basic drives motivate human behaviour: to acquire, defend, bond and learn.
  • The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist. Detailed account of how the left-right split of our brains shapes our perceptions, actions and culture.
  • Dr Iain McGilchrist, The Matter With Things (Vol 1 and 2). More on the left/right split and how it shapes the world.
  • Robert Sapolsky, Behave. How our brain combines split second decision-making with ancient instincts.
  • Jaak Panksepp, Affective Neurobiology. How mammal brains like ours are wired to experience and be guided by emotions.
  • G.K.Chesterton, Orthodoxy. A study of the basic truths inside some of our oldest stories.

And as someone who will never love a glass screen as much as I love actual books, here is one virtual library I would recommend: – a lovingly curated source of information and reviews about all aspects of creativity.