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on 6 July 2014
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. Rather than the author attempting to sum up the wealth of information here, each reader is able to draw their own conclusions. For example, it is hard not to notice the amount of people who smoke and drink—and consider this essential to their creative output—whilst many of the subjects in this book (writers especially) have two clear blocks of work, separated by a walk or exercise.

It is only by reflecting on the wealth of data here that a reader can truly structure their own daily routine. If the author were to have drawn conclusions, this would have made this book a far lesser proposition. As it is, however, it is an incredible resource. It is the sort of book almost no one would want to write, but anyone who is remotely interested in living a creative life will be very thankful someone did.

As such, I am very thankful to the author. Ignore the negative reviews of this text—unless you are seeking instructions—and buy this book without hesitating if you a self-reflective, ambitious human seeking to make the most of your life by conquering the day.
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on 17 February 2014
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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on 25 November 2013
The subject sounded interesting; it gives lots of examples, but would be improved by some longer drawing together of conclusions.
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on 3 January 2014
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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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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on 10 November 2013
Turns out the creative process, while occasionally eccentric, is not that interesting nor that diverse (apparently five more words needed).
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on 26 November 2013
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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on 12 May 2015
A fascinating read. Now I just need to decide which daily rituals I will start myself.
Excellent for reading on the train.
I'm sure the snail smuggler will crop up in a conversation sooner or later.

A book I will be reading more than once.
Thanks

Mark
www.techstuffybooks.com
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on 29 May 2014
This is one of the most original and interesting books I have ever read. The topic is amazing and the way to develop it is amazing. For sure, it is not the kind of book you want to read at once, but a few pages every day make you "find ispiration and get to work".
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on 12 January 2014
I found this book really interesting. Seeing how great individuals lived their lives helps you understand them as ordinary human beings, and appreciate the context in which they worked. It also gives ideas and inspiration for how to organise one's own working day to be optimally productive.

It is also the sort of thing that is very easy to dip into when you have a little spare time...

I'd like to see some revisions in a second edition (e.g. from the description in the book it is not clear how Kant made time for thinking and writing; and the entry for Spinoza is not where the index says it is - I have not finished the book yet so hopefully will come across it).

In sum definitely worth getting.
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