4 Books About Creativity and 1 From Our Supply of Very Old, Silly Books

I’m trying something new this week, since so many juicy books about creativity have come across my path that my pile of must-reads is in danger of toppling over. Be aware: I’m recommending a bunch of books I haven’t read yet, as well as one I have. But I think you’ll agree they look intriguing. After we’ve both read them, I’d love to compare notes.

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It all started with The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type by Lauren Sapala. I can’t reconstruct the search thread that lead me to it, but when I found it I was thunderstruck. A, that someone could specialize that precisely made the geek in me instantly sit up and take notice. B, that I am an INFJ writer and that is a thing. I went to Ms. Sapala’s web site, and, indeed, she is a writing coach for INFJs. Reading just a little of her info opened my eyes to the idea that the process of creating that is normal to me that I thought was universal, is not.

You ESTPs out there: Is there a creativity book for you, too? Or are a preponderance of writers and creatives INFJs and ENFJs?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I found another, an also-read on Amazon, Blessed Are the Weird: A Manifesto for Creatives, by Jacob Nordby.

The Amazon write-up begins, “The world wants its soul back…” and continues, “This book is for highly sensitive people who have felt out of place in the modern world. It provides a narrative that describes how they fit into a lineage of creatives throughout history, and how their gifts are needed during this precise era of “new renaissance” on Earth.”

With 27,909 followers of Facebook, I think Mr. Nordby might be onto something. Seems I’m a latecomer to the party, but, dang, what a good party! (They talk about embracing your weirdness.) As I often couple the word “soul” with anything about creativity I find myself thinking about, I’ve probably found a kindred spirit here. It’s queued up on my Kindle.

Slight sidetrack: On the theme of personality type, a friend, astrologer Jennie Sheldon White posted this excellent article, which lead me to take an online personality test, which lead to my finding Personality Hacker, and I’m a happy camper with their Car Model. Check it out if you’re interested in personality typing that has a personal growth edge. I’m truly tempted by their INFJ Starter Kit. Why??

Earlier in the summer I attended a talk by poet and novelist Eileen Myles. I fell in love with her diaristic, impressionistic, blunt and bold style. (It helps me to know she’s a Sagittarius to understand her unique and pointed expression. Also her abrupt about-faces in life and in love.) When I was given a copy of Cool For You as a gift from my nearly psychic niece, Mariel Capanna, herself a remarkable artist, I dove in and haven’t quite surfaced. Having heard Myles read her work in that inimitable Cambridge/Boston accent that disarmed me from the moment I arrived as a college freshman, I can hear her voice as I read. I love her sensibility. She is a living creative whose process becomes her art, and it’s fascinating to watch.

Myles’ new book, Afterglow, a Dog Memoir, which chronicles the long decline and death of her beloved dog, will be out in September.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne, is on my list because of some great quotes I got from the book via Goodreads, when I was putting together my Happily Creative webinar. Most of the reviews reference his emphasis on dealing with resistance as a sort of daemon, but the quote I ended up using was about daily practice: “This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings.”

Lastly, I want to mention that in our house there’s an overgrowth of very old books, some of which get read out of curiosity to find out whether they’re worth putting on a bookshelf in one of our antique cottages that we rent out to summer vacationers. By far the star of greatest dubiousness this summer has been The Radio Boys on the Mexican Border by Gerald Breckenridge. Notwithstanding the bizarre echoes of current day memes, such as derogatory cultural stereotypes about Latin Americans, this was a groaner of a read for many other reasons. A group of privileged white boys, passive voice throughout, recapping the plot just about every chapter, and not a surprise to be had.

Written in 1922 when radio telephony was a new and exciting technology, The Radio Boys on the Mesican Border is one of a series of poorly written books about privileged white boys. Yippee! The good news is, when something’s so bad that it gets the two of us giggling at our own unison groans and singing out the word “chum!” each time it appears in the text, it’s worth the time spent on it. There is no link to this one; if you want our copy, it’s yours.