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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 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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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 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 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 5 July 2016
Documenting the daily lives of great people, a huge number of whom are dead, this is a good read although not spellbinding. What it is is something that's good considering the low quality of culture that comes out now.
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on 21 December 2013
Bought this on a recommendation very good and entertaining, however you'll see most of these creative minds killed themselves in the process with intoxicants some good tips and a light read but don't take it to heart :)
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on 6 June 2015
It could have been better organised (such as by Owls and Larks or Workaholics and Inspiration Chasers, for example) so the reader could better appreciate the variety and commonalities between all these great creative minds.
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on 28 January 2014
This was like delving into the secret lives of great people. It's absolutely fascinating.
All the working practices and daily patterns of famous artists, writers and musicians have been brought together and it really is interesting to read about their productivity. It seems drinking and eating were the main priority for the creative mind.
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