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January: International Creativity Month Booklist

Gabbi Cisneros

January 03, 2023


I have no doubt there’s a book out there to inspire creativity in any area of your life, whether you’re a freelance artist, nine-to-fiver, daydreamer, or anything in between.

I’ve judged the Innovation and Creativity category for the annual Porchlight Business Book Awards for four years now, and I’m excited about how inclusive the word “creative” has become. It doesn’t just refer to artistic talent. It’s a skill that humankind depends on to survive. As Matt Richtel writes in Inspired, the winner of the Innovation and Creativity category this year: 

“[C]reativity defines our world and claims the most extraordinary of niches: It is the place where individual expression and satisfaction meet societal meaning and advancement. It holds keys to both personal and collective salvation. Many pursuits in this world ask a person to choose between the selfish end and societal advancement. Creativity, though, allows us to nurture our individual spark while also potentially changing the world.”  

I have no doubt there’s a book out there to inspire creativity in any area of your life, whether you’re a freelance artist, nine-to-fiver, daydreamer, and everything in between. Maybe one of these books will speak to you and your individual creative journey. —GMC 



Inspired.jpegEXCERPT | Inspired: Understanding Creativity: A Journey Through Art, Science, and the Soul by Matt Richtel, Mariner Books 
Named the best Innovation and Creativity book of 2022 by Porchlight Book Company 

As Porchlight's Creative Director Gabbi Cisneros recently wrote:

Matt Richtel looks realistically at how creativity evolves across industries and across time, and how it is tied to our humanity. What he clearly shows is that creativity cannot exist in a vacuum. Creative ideas and humans are built on the shoulders of the generations that have come before them, and their characteristics depend on adapting to the conditions of their environment.

The following excerpt comes from Book I: From Crade to Muse, “Wherein a visit to Jerusalem and a chance meeting with the Kangaroo Man provides a profile of a creator but reveals creativity’s mortal foe, doubt.” 

Read the excerpt. 


TaniaKatan.jpegINTERVIEW | Tania Katan in conversation with Gabriella Cisneros 

Tania Katan’s book Creative Trespassing: How to Put the Spark and Joy Back Into Your Work and Life was chosen by Porchlight as the best Innovation and Creativity book of 2019. In 2022, Creative Director Gabriella Cisneros got to interview Tania to further understand how and why to bring more creativity into less overtly creative jobs, spaces, and processes. 

Watch the interview. 




CHANGE THIS | “People Matter” by Olatunde Sobomehin and sam seidel 

The following story shares how one creative hustler, Bryant Terry, exemplifies the power of knowing and engaging the people around you. He demonstrates how relationships are essential to maximizing your creative hustle. 

Read the ChangeThis manifesto. 


FilmmakersOnFilm.jpegSTAFF PICK | Filmmakers on Film: How They Create, Craft and Communicate by David Jenkins, Laurence King Publishing 
Recommended by Gabriella Cisneros 

Through a curated selection of quotations, images and interviews, Filmmakers on Film reveals what matters most to the masters. Discover how the giants of filmmaking – from Sofia Coppola to Agnès Varda – developed their distinctive visual styles, the core ideas that underpin their practice and, most importantly, what their films mean to you. 


ExtremeMusic.jpegSTAFF PICK | Extreme Music: From Silence to Noise and Everything In between by Michael Tau, Feral House 
Recommended by Mike Schauwitzer  

Michael Tau had spent years obsessed by the extremes of musical expression. Extreme Music: Silence to Noise and Everything In Between is the culmination of decades of research into the sounds (and silences) that comprise the outer limits and conceptual expressions that stretch the definition of music. Tau defines and categorizes these recorded sounds into sections that allow fans and newcomers to explore the fascinating world of musicians who defy convention. He explores a wide range of extremes including volume, speed, and vulgarity to packaging, recording methods, unplayable media, outdated technologies, and digital pioneers. He asks and answers the questions: Are all sounds music? Is silence music? Is a plate of rotting food once cataloged, packaged and sold by a distributor qualify as music? 

Extreme Music includes over 100 interviews with makers and musicians as Tau uses his background in psychiatry to help readers understand what motivates people to create and listen to non-mainstream music. As a fan of multiple avant-garde musical genres, Tau uncovers the pleasures (and sometimes pain and frustration) found at the outré fringes of music. Extreme Music is the ideal guide for curious seekers, die-hard fans, and cultural investigators. Features images and curated links to samples of music. 


BlackWomenWritersAtWork.jpegNEW RELEASE | Black Women Writers at Work edited by Claudia Tate, Haymarket Books 

A critical collection of conversations with Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Gayl Jones and other Black women writers that changed the scope of Black literature in the 20th century and beyond. 

“Black women writers and critics are acting on the old adage that one must speak for oneself if one wishes to be heard.” —Claudia Tate, from the introduction 
Long out of print, Black Women Writers at Work is a vital contribution to Black literature in the 20th century.  

Through candid interviews with Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alexis De Veaux, Nikki Giovanni, Kristin Hunter, Gayl Jones, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Margret Walker, and Sherley Anne Williams, the book highlights the practices and critical linkages between the work and lived experiences of Black women writers whose work laid the foundation for many who have come after. 

Responding to questions about why and for whom they write, and how they perceive their responsibility to their work, to others, and to society, the featured playwrights, poets, novelists, and essayists provide a window into the connections between their lives and their art. 

Finally available for a new generation, this classic work has an urgent message for readers and writers today. 

CreativeAct.jpegNEW RELEASE | The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin, Penguin Press 

From the legendary music producer, a master at helping people connect with the wellsprings of their creativity, comes a beautifully crafted book many years in the making that offers that same deep wisdom to all of us.
I set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be.” —Rick Rubin 
Many famed music producers are known for a particular sound that has its day. Rick Rubin is known for something else: creating a space where artists of all different genres and traditions can home in on who they really are and what they really offer. He has made a practice of helping people transcend their self-imposed expectations in order to reconnect with a state of innocence from which the surprising becomes inevitable. Over the years, as he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, he has learned that being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. In fact, there are few more important responsibilities. 
The Creative Act is a beautiful and generous course of study that illuminates the path of the artist as a road we all can follow. It distills the wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s work into a luminous reading experience that puts the power to create moments—and lifetimes—of exhilaration and transcendence within closer reach for all of us. 


About Gabbi Cisneros

Gabriella Cisneros is a moderately bilingual artist whose passion for storytelling extends from reading to filmmaking, video editing, writing, photography, and social media. Working at Porchlight is kind of a dream job for someone who has a 55 page, indexed document of interesting words she’s found in books. Gabbi regularly makes time for taking photos, traveling, attending concerts, trying new restaurants, blogging, fitness, and—of course—reading.

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