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Common Theme 2013-14Global Citizenship in an Evolving World

Books

Except where otherwise noted, book synopses listed below come from editorial reviews listed on Amazon.com.

  • Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
    Based on interviews with 91 internationally recognized creative people-among them Nobel physicist John Bardeen, arts administrator-performer Kitty Carlisle Hart, writer Denise Levertov, jazz musician Oscar Peterson, electronics executive Robert Galvin-this book offers a highly readable anatomy of creativity. As Csikzentmihalyi argues, creativity requires not only unusual individuals, but a culture and field of experts that can foster and validate such work. Most creative people, the author suggests, have dialectic personalities: smart yet naive, both extroverted and introverted, etc. Expanding on his previous book, Csikszentmihalyi suggests that complex and challenging work exemplifies fully engaged "flow." Synthesizing study results, he reports that none of the interviewees was popular during adolescence; while they were not necessarily more brilliant than their college peers, they displayed more "concentrated attention." Later, they kept a consistent focus on future work. The author reminds us that while individuals can make their own opportunities, a supportive society offering resources and rewards can foster creativity.
  • Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh Macleod
    When Hugh MacLeod was a struggling young copywriter living in a YMCA, he started to doodle on the backs of business cards while sitting at a bar. Those cartoons eventually led to a popular blog (www.gapingvoid.com) and a reputation for pithy insight and humor, in both words and pictures. MacLeod has opinions on everything from marketing to the meaning of life, but one of his main subjects is creativity. How do new ideas emerge in a cynical, risk-averse world? Where does inspiration come from? What does it take to make a living as a creative person? Ignore Everybody expands on MacLeod's sharpest insights, wittiest cartoons, and most useful advice.
  • A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink
    "Abundance, Asia, and automation." Try saying that phrase five times quickly, because if you don't take these words into serious consideration, there is a good chance that sooner or later your career will suffer because of one of those forces. Pink, best-selling author of Free Agent Nation (2001) and also former chief speechwriter for former vice-president Al Gore, has crafted a profound read packed with an abundance of references to books, seminars, Web sites, and such to guide your adjustment to expanding your right brain if you plan to survive and prosper in the Western world. According to Pink, the keys to success are in developing and cultivating six senses: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. Pink compares this upcoming "Conceptual Age" to past periods of intense change, such as the Industrial Revolution and the Renaissance, as a way of emphasizing its importance.
  • The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey
    The Inner Game of Music By the best-selling co-author of Inner Tennis, here's a book designed to help musicians overcome obstacles, help improve concentration, and reduce nervousness, allowing them to reach new levels of performing excellence and musical artistry.
  • The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation by Frans Johansson
    Johansson, founder and former CEO of an enterprise software company, argues that innovations occur when people see beyond their expertise and approach situations actively, with an eye toward putting available materials together in new combinations. Because of ions, "the movement of people, the convergence of science, and the leap of computation," a wide range of materials available for new, recontextualized uses is becoming a norm rather than an exception, much as the Medici family of Renaissance Italy's patronage helped develop European arts and culture. Chapters admonish readers to "Randomly Combine Concepts" and "Ignite an Explosion of Ideas." Less focused on innovations within a corporate setting than on individual achievements, and more concerned with self-starting and goal-setting than teamwork, Johansson's book offers a clear enough set of concepts for plugging in the specifics of one's own setting and expertise.
  • Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Ken Robinson
    "It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way and you lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves. To realize our true creative potential – in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities - we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative." - Ken Robinson