10 great books for creative entrepreneurs

Jan 23, 2015

You wake up, stretch, and… immediately start thinking about making something, because you’re in the business of making things. And wow, you love what you do, but being creative sure is hard...

Finding motivation a little tough lately? Here are 10 great books for creative entrepreneurs—to boost your creativity, enhance your productivity, and soothe the anxiety that comes with the joy and demands of being a freelancer.

1. Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

I’ve written about flow before, but it remains one of my favorite concepts to keep in mind when I’m working. Csikszentmihalyi is the pioneer of the term, and his book is a great insight into how we work and how we can work better.

**2. Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely **

Dan Ariely researches psychology and behavior economics, and his book Predictably Irrational explains why we make the strange decisions we do. It’s a great read that turns your perspective topsy-turvy—as great reads should.

3. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon’s book is the classic edgy creative’s bible, and for good reason. The slim volume is packed with tips and drawings urging to create, break rules, and steal—like an artist.

4. Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke’s poetry is known for its sensitivity and emotional observation. Here, in this letter collection, Rilke addresses the young poet who finds him or herself too creative, perhaps, or sensitive, for the world. Sound familiar? If you ever need some solace or encouragement, look here.

5. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Ever feel torn between your intuition and reason? There’s a reason for that. Kahneman explores two methods of thinking—fast, emotional, intuitive thinking and slow, logical, reasoned thinking, and where each method might serve you best.

6. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

You probably already have some sense of how important your habits are to your daily quality of life, but do you know how your habits work? And furthermore, do you want to change them? Chances are, you’re curious, so take a look at this classic social psych read and see if you can’t change your life… or at least, your habits.

7. The Wisdom of Insecurity, by Alan Watts

A dear friend gave me this book early on in our friendship, and these notes from Alan Watts have stayed with me ever since. For those skeptical of self-help or nonsensical New Age advice, never fear-- this book is a poetic, reassuring detangling of insecurity, instability, and everything that makes us anxious.

8. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite fiction authors, so perhaps I’m already biased. But this work of nonfiction is an inspiring and intimate read, a memoir of Murakami’s exploration of long distance running and its effects. Key quote: “Pain is necessary. Suffering is optional.”

9. Tribes, by Seth Godin

Find yourself a reluctant leader? Want to lead your business, your colleagues, or maybe just yourself? Read Tribes, another social psychology classic—perhaps you’ll find that it’s easier than you think.

10. Drive, by Daniel Pink

Assessing your motivations and strengths is an important part of doing business. So getting down to the real root of what drives you is a valuable exercise. Pink breaks down why people work, and what really satisfies us: direction, creation, and bettering the world.

And don’t forget…

The Freelancer's Bible, by Sara Horowitz

Everything you need to know about freelancing… for the price of lunch! From the founder of Freelancers Union, The Freelancer’s Bible is a road map and reference for the growing independent workforce.

Freelancers, what are your favorite books to boost your creativity, leadership, and productivity? Let us know in the comments!

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Larissa Pham is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She apologizes for how this blog post might look on your mobile device.