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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Bookshop – Creative Thinking Books


A technique for producing ideas, James Webb Young 2003 McGraw Hill
I found this book by checking sales figures - it has been won of the most purchased books on the website here - and I knew nothing about it. So I bought a copy. Don't be fooled by the date. James Webb Young is one of the all time great copywriters - and this is a reissue of a short book he wrote to try to explain to a non advertising person how advertising people generate ideas. It is lucidly written as you would expect from a legend from the golden age of copywriting (before the art directors took over!). The technique is very familiar and is about the generation of creative ideas rather than for more general brainstorming and it presupposes throughout that this is something an individual rather than a group is doing. So if you already work in advertising it is a beautiful summation but it's not going to tell you anything you don't already know. If you don't then this is the most readable explanation to how people come up with advertising ideas. I once went to Spain for training with a lot of other up and coming JWT employees on a James Webb Young Seminar but I left the seminar without a clue as to who the great man was. Now I know - the man can distil and he can write. Like all the great copywriters - Bill Bernbach wrote the foreword which is tribute enough
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Backroom Boys, Francis Spufford 2003 Faber
Fabulous holiday reading. The Brits have always had a special affection for the boffin - who appears to be on planet Zog but then saves the day with an ingenious and lateral invention. Francis Spufford charts the migration of the boffin from the garden sheds of the first half of the 20th century to the startups today. It covers the British rocket programme, Concorde, the building of the mobile network feats of engineering which involved small teams and wide open thinking. My 2 favourite chapters were the one about the development of the space trading game Elite written by a couple of students and the single biggest reason for going out to buy a BBC computer. And the account of the race to sequence the human genome when an American startup was intent on establishing proprietary rights to the code - our gallant boys (and girls) raced them to the finish putting the code into the public domain as they did so - inspiring and moving. It reminded me about my conversation with Nick Park the creator of Wallace and Gromit - I asked him the secret. Obsolete cine cameras he answered - when the UK film industry collapsed anybody could buy a hulking cinecamera for a few hundred pounds - they had the ability to capture images frame by frame. Add plasticine and Nick was in business. 3 oscars later he can get all the budget he wanted but the start was finding something nobody else wanted and creating with it. Oh I nearly forgot - this is a great book, very readable Buy it and get inspired!
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The Big Idea Book, David Owen 2004 Capstone
The book of the site of the month March 2004 and published in February. Here are 500 ideas given away for free. Use them if you wish, have a few of your own. But keep sharing them - don't try to hold onto them! That's the whole point. There's even couple of my ideas in this book. Which is nice.
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101 experiments in the Philosophy of Everydaylife, Roger-Pol Droit 2003 Faber and Faber
A good book for dipping into and I keep getting requests for ideas for brainstorming. This book is very French reflective dry and funny all at the same tim. Invent a fictional self! Tell a stranger she is beautiful! Give without thinking about it. Demonstrate on your own. In other words these aren't just reflections these are practical exercises to get you out of a rut thinking about the downright peculiarity of life as you know it. Definitely worth a look particularly as it's now out in paperback so won't cost a lot.
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Reality Hacking, Nicola Phillips 1997 Capstone
A non linear book to get you thinking out of the box. I am a bit of a linear reader so this book has defeated me several times. But its a good book for dipping into. When you can make sense of it. Supposed to be good for reading in the bath. Which I confess I haven't tried yet.
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Its not how good you are, its how good you want to be, Paul Arden 2003 Phaidon
The best book in the world by Paul Arden former creative supremo at Saatchis. And how nice to see a book by an adman on the best seller list in Borders over Christmas 2003. Which all goes to prove how valuable creativity is and how many people still want a piece of it. This is one of those very enjoyable reads where how it is said is as much part of the pleasure of reading it as what is said. It's full of illustrations and typographical quips. It won't take you more than an hour to read but it IS thought provoking. Easy to read too fast. And it makes constant references to advertising because that's the world Arden knows. So go ahead and buy it - it's a bargain at a fiver and would make a good present. Would I read it again? I ask myself? Well it's not a manual and I can't quote you chapter and verse but it will repay repeated reading - a good piece of work.
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How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Gelb 1998 Harper Collins
This is basically a Creativity how to book based on the ultimate Renaissance man. So its a lot more than right brain thinking and playing Mozart in the background. There is a lot of inspiration here and it doesn't make the mistake of categorizing our Leonardo as an artist or a scientist - it's not at all clear that he would have understood the difference - painting in order to understand how things were put together and inventing things as a creative act. I rather enjoyed it.
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The art of looking sideways, Alan Fletcher 2001 Phaidion
This book is ASTOUNDING! It defies categorisation. Apparently it has 72 chapters though you could have fooled me. It is a kind of scrapbook of images but it runs to 530 pages and the juxtaposition of pictures and quotes is extraordinary. Pick it up and you won't put it down for at least 10 minutes and when you do you'll struggle to find that bit you wanted to tell someone about. I defy anyone stay stuck in a rut after dipping into it. It is stuck on my coffee table and no you can't borrow it. I had to kidnap it back from the last person who did. Amazon describe it as a " virtually indescribable concoction of anecdotes, quotes, images and bizarre facts that offers a wonderfully twisted vision of the chaos of modern life." Alan Fletcher has sunk 20 years of his life into compiling this book and it is in my humble opinion a masterpiece.
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Whatif! How to start a creative revolution at work, Dave Allan Matt Kingdon Kris Murrin Das Rudkin 1999 Capstone
Get more creativity into your office. Buy the book or download the whole thing from here. Yes really!
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The Inner Game of Music, Barry Green with Timothy Gallwey 1986 Pan
You can get this for Skiing or tennis if music isn't your thing. But this book is all about inner confidence, visualisation etc. It is rather more useful than the majority of products from the American positivity industry because it is designed to help you play better music, tennis, falling down snowy hills with style. Whatever. These don't seem to be in print any more but if you want the Inner Game of Work then click here. The book is published in paperback in March.

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