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Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work Hardcover – 24 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (24 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330512498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330512497
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

a trove of entertaining anecdote and thought-provoking comparison (Toby Lichtig Telegraph)

a chance to see what great lives look like when the triumphs, dramas, disruptions and divorces have been all but boiled away. It will fascinate anyone who wonders how a day might best be spent, especially those who have wondered of their artistic heroes, as a baffled Colette once did of George Sand: how the devil did they manage? (Guardian)

From the Back Cover

'A trove of entertaining anecdote' Daily Telegraph

'It will fascinate anyone who has ever wondered of their artistic heroes: how the devil did they manage?' Guardian

How is a novel written? A masterpiece painted? A symphony composed?

Benjamin Franklin took daily naked air baths and Toulouse-Lautrec painted in brothels. Edith Sitwell worked in bed, and George Gershwin composed at the piano in pyjamas. Freud worked sixteen hours a day, but Gertrude Stein could never write for more than thirty minutes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in gin-fuelled bursts - he believed alcohol was essential to his creative process.

Here are the working routines of more than a hundred and sixty of the greatest philosophers, writers, composers and artists ever to have lived, who, whether by amphetamines or alcohol, headstands or boxing, made time and got to work.

'A fascinating little book' Financial Times

'A delightful book, full of quirks and oddities' Literary Review

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Labern on 6 July 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book needs defending.

This book does precisely what one would expect (especially if one has spent time searching for the daily rituals of important artists before, and has found the widely circulated image based on this book): it very clearly and methodically lists a huge variety of great minds (from Mozart to Woody Allen to Tolstoy) and their daily routines.

In this sense, it is invaluable: it is the sort of book that one can quite easily dip into (each subject is given a concise page or two), but it is also wildly addictive. I will address the reasons for this shortly.

For those who have asked for more 'analysis' and 'conclusions' to be drawn, I believe they misunderstand the very notion of what makes a great mind great. Echoing the author's introduction, the obvious principle that is drawn from a work such as this is that there is no one daily routine which works: it relies solely on the individual.

The idea that conclusions could be drawn is a naive one, and would detract from the power of this book. Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the book is the author's refusal to be drawn into moral commentary. The catalogue of drug use, sexual perversions and domestic oddities are covered matter-of-factly, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. After all, the reader may well require some of these things in order to maximise their productivity. This book is wonderful: it stimulates the mind. It does not preach.

As I hinted above, the concise nature of this book makes it very easy to pick up: you can scan for your favourite artist and see their daily routine. However, the more involved way to read this book is to read it completely.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ian Caldwell on 25 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The subject sounded interesting; it gives lots of examples, but would be improved by some longer drawing together of conclusions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By presque_vu on 17 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, I'll admit it. Over Christmas/New Year's just gone, I read a post by Sam Harris, who described this book as good for anyone looking to become more productive in the new year. I don't buy everything he recommends, but somehow the moment was right.

The book was certainly entertaining, but motivational? I wonder. As the pages go by and the habits of all the great artists, philosophers, writers and musicians register in the mind, the dots connect, and absolutely no pattern emerges. The great writers wrote, the thinkers thought, the artists created art. All the in-between drinks, meals, chats, walks and afternoon snoozes were as commonplace as nasal hair. My advice: leave it lying around, pick it up when you've got a moment, and don't look for anything in particular. The particulars are not, very.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Willie Taylor on 3 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before purchasing this book I was expecting it to be a critical look at the daily routine of a group of talented people. I was expecting analysis and conclusions. In reality this book is more like a whimsical anthology. A bit like reading diary entries.

I wouldn't recommend it for the serious student of time management but it was fun nonetheless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Sam-La Rose on 6 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's an inspiring read. As a writer myself, I've experimented with a range of different schedules and routines to best support my productive output while managing the other demands of life: domestics, relationships and of course, all the other work that surrounds or supports the writing. It's been a joy to read about the schedules of other creative thinkers, and while some of those routines are less than desirable, or enabled by others in almost exploitative ways, the big takeaway for me is that each writer/artist/musician/thinker came to know what he or she needed in order to pursue his or her craft, however outlandish those needs might be.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
This small format book (about 4 inches by 6 inches) contains about 160 daily routines of creative thinkers, such as Woody Allen, Benjamin Franklin, David Lynch, Igor Stravinsky, Andy Warhol, Charles Schulz, P.G. Wodehouse, Pablo Picasso. The routines are short, from a single paragraph to as much as two pages, with photos throughout.

It's fun to read about the habits of your favorite artists, and I even found it strangely interesting to read about the routines of people I had never even heard of. But most intriguing for me were the unexpected connections. Sure, many of the artists were big drinkers, but I didn't realize how many routinely took amphetamines, popping them like so many caffeine pills.

This is a fun book to read all in one marathon sitting or in little bits before bed. This would be an especially good Kindle book, since it's the sort of book you can read on your iPhone while waiting in line for a minute or two.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John King on 10 Nov. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Turns out the creative process, while occasionally eccentric, is not that interesting nor that diverse (apparently five more words needed).
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Majid Alimadadi on 26 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to understand whether the "Great Minds" drink coffee or tea, Vodka or Whiskey sleep late or soon etc, read this book. But if you are looking for something that really inspires yourself, this is not the right choice.
Moreover, the author's assumption is that the reader knows every "Great Mind" who is mentioned in the book, which is not a true assumption at least about me. This brings a sense of confusion: who is this person, what is especial about her/him?
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