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Imagine: How Creativity Works Hardcover – 19 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (19 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184767786X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847677860
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.7 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonah Lehrer is a Contributing Editor at Wired and the author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist. He graduated from Columbia University and studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He's written for The New Yorker, Nature, Seed, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. He's also a Contributing Editor at Scientific American Mind and National Public Radio's Radio Lab.

Product Description


'Imagine should appeal to everyone, not just because of Lehrer's compelling writing style but also because it puts paid to the idea that creativity is a gift enjoyed only by the lucky few. We can all be more creative, we just need to know how. This book will show you' --New Scientist

'This is an inspiring and engaging book that reveals creativity as less a sign of rare genius than a natural human potential' -- The Economist

'Jonah Lehrer's new book confirms what his fans have known all along - that he knows more about science than a lot of scientists and more about writing than a lot of writers' -- Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point

'Jonah Lehrer may be the most talented explainer of science that we've got. His engrossing investigation of creativity and its source makes Imagine his best book yet' -- Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein

'Not many writers can make plausible links among musicians Bob Dylan, Yo-Yo Ma and David Byrne, animators at Pixar, neuroscientists at MIT, an amateur bartender in New York, entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Israeli army reservists . . . But Jonah Lehrer is such a writer-reporter, who weaves compelling and surprising connections based on detailed investigation and deep understanding . . . Reading his book exercises the imagination; the rest is up to us' -- Washington Post

'Lehrer is a thrilling multifaceted narrator...what Lehrer achieves in this book is a roaming yet cohesive description of the creative process, applied across disciplines' -- Observer

'An ecumenical hodgepodge of sociology, neuroscience and motivational examples that should be read by anyone with an interest in how human creativity works' -- Kevin Power, Sunday Business Post

'Lehrer unpicks the triggers that bring about bouts of creativity, be it Bob Dylan's writing or an engineer inventing the Post-it note. It could improve your chances of coming up with an idea of your own' -- Esquire Magazine

'The must-read book of the year for chief executives and wannabe entrepreneurs everywhere, a modern business bible for the enlightened boss' --Murad Ahmed, The Times

'This compelling discussion of the creative process speaks to our scientific age' --Stephen Cave, Financial Times

'Imagine moves engagingly between cutting-edge neuroscience and cultural sociology. It offers a double-sided portrait of invention and discovery' -- Boyd Tonkin, Independent

'If all science books were as successful in bridging the divide between art and science as this one is, there would no longer be a divide to bridge' -- Ian Critchley, Sunday Times

'[A] fascinating study of the mind' -- Word Magazine

'A snappy, sassy tour d'horizon of the state of the science of creativity' --New Statesman

About the Author

Jonah Lehrer is editor at large for Seed magazine and the author of The Decisive Moment: How the Brain Makes Up Its Mind. A graduate of Columbia University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Lehrer has worked in the lab of Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. He has written for the New Yorker, Boston Globe, Washington Post, NPR and New Scientist, and writes a highly regarded blog, The Frontal Cortex.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steve Benner TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is a great shame that Jonah Lehrer's latest book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works", has been withdrawn from sale, following an admission that he had fabricated of some of the quotations in it as well as plagiarised work for his magazine articles, together with the author's resignation from the staff of the New Yorker following these revelations. (The plagiarism furore is doubly ironic, given one of the book's conclusions -- that plagiarism is to be encouraged if creativity is to be harnessed to the full.) The author's overly enthusiastic application of his own conclusions notwithstanding, the book remains an interesting and thought-provoking survey of the current state of knowledge about how creativity arises in the human brain, how it is best fostered, and what environments are most conducive to its effectiveness. The author takes a well-structured walk through the subject matter, making a lot of very dry and somewhat opaque academic research come alive in an engaging and easy to follow way.

Many of the discoveries reported in this book are not only counter-intuitive but also cut across much established current business practice making it essential reading for anyone looking to capitalise on creative thinking no matter what their business or field of endeavour. The various success stories recounted in the book, as well as the fundamental and ground-breaking research reported in the later chapters of the book concerning the superlinearity of cities and sublinearity of company structures carry such an important message that the book cannot be too strongly recommended, despite the discredited status and artistic license of its author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Moses VINE VOICE on 27 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a fascinating study into the world of creativity. It is split into two sections, Alone and Together. Subjects covered in the first section include Bob Dylan, 3M, Auden and Yo-Yo Ma. In the second section we learn about Broadway, Pixar, urban living and the circumstances necessary for the creation of many genii. Lehrer explains the brain processes surrounding creativity, but in a way that is accessible to readers who aren't experts.

This scientific approach is complemented by practical advice. You can draw strategies in this book into your life. I was particularly intrigued by the lessons on Broadway, where it is optimal to have a mix of old friends and fresh blood. You get the dual benefits of a shared understanding from the former and innovation from the latter. There is also a lesson to be learned by adopting the position of 'the outsider' which suggests that we are more likely to excel in the arts and science if we are prepared to challenge accepted thinking (whether through courage or ignorance).

Sadly, my enjoyment of this book was tempered when I read about the allegations of fabricated quotes in the chapters dealing with Penn and Teller and Dylan. That these quotes were incorrect does not necessarily negate all the findings of the book, but it does sow a seed of doubt. This is a shame because I found much to enjoy here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By chinhealer VINE VOICE on 5 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I began this book, as I do most non-fiction works, in good faith. I enjoyed the breezy style. I enjoyed Lehrer's way with anecdotes. I enjoyed his (admittedly broad-brush) portraits of some of the personalities and characters he focused on. I enjoyed the fact that the sciencey stuff didn't go beyond my limited cognition capabilities. My major criticism was that the conclusions reached were a bit nebulous. They weren't particularly groundbreaking or, even, overly helpful for somebody trying to tap into their creativity. (Although, I admit, the conclusion that uncritical brainstorming - especially in the corporate world - is a big waste of everybody's time sounds like good advice to follow.)

And then I found out through Wikipedia and a discussion on a New York-based podcast that Lehrer has been massively vilified for made-up quotes (especially in the Bob Dylan chapter) and unacknowledged recycling of some of his own, previous writings. And I paused to wonder whether any of that made much difference to my (middling) appreciation of this book.

I concluded that, actually, even though Lehrer was a bit idiotic for making up quotes from such a well-observed and intimately studied figure as Bob Dylan, his 'crimes' against literature/journalism were of a smaller magnitude than those committed by many journalists and writers the world over. And maybe he should have mentioned the fact that some of what he wrote was rehashed. But self-plagiarism is, again, a lesser evil than plagiarizing others. (Which, he spends some time emphasizing, had a great deal to do with Shakespeare's genius!) So, no, the revelations about his writing integrity didn't negate my enjoyment of his book. Or negate all of the research and insights within its pages. I just found the research and insights a tad forgettable in the first place!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author writes in a relaxed and entertaining style about the way imagination works and uses many real life examples to demonstrate imagination in action. The invention of post-it notes - as a result of glue that wasn't sticky enough for another job; Pixar, the film animation company, encouraging all employees to interact and discuss their work and thus come up with innovative new ideas and Eli Lilly putting their insoluble research and development problems on an internet site and inviting solutions.

The book is split into two sections with the first one concentrating on individual uses of imagination and the second on how imagination and innovation works with groups of people. The first section starts with Bob Dylan and describes how he had to get away from his frenetic life of non-stop touring in order to write some of his best songs. It also uses examples of where the imagination has produced fantastic creative work as a result of drug taking - Coleridge and W H Auden - being famous for work produced under the influence of drugs. There are discussions of how Yo-Yo Ma plays a complex piece of music and how fMRI scans show peoples' brains working on a problem.

The examples the author quotes of how big companies stifle or encourage their employees' innovative ideas are interesting reading. Apparently brain storming doesn't work and far more useful ideas are generated by individuals working on their own and then getting together to discuss their thoughts. Encouraging people to talk about their work can produce a cross fertilisation of ideas which ultimately makes a company successful. Breakthroughs often happen when people who do not normally work in that particular field look at a problem with fresh ideas.
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