A Bibliophile’s Guide to Creative Reads
Peter Panda

I can get a bit nitpicky about words sometimes. That’s part of what editors do. But I’ve always used the word awesome a bit too liberally.

Stories have always brought me great joy. For some people, going to a church inspires and serves as a place of worship. For me, that feeling comes from being in a library or a bookstore.

You see, libraries and bookstores are full of good — even great — ideas. They are full of impressive thoughts and courageous plans. They offer plenty of options for funny asides and inspiring tales, for sad stories and compassion-inducing insights. Yes, there are some not-so-great ideas (and *gasp* some not-so-great books) around. But for the most part, there are just so many amazing ideas contained inside those walls, ideas that have been brought to fruition by the brave souls who were willing to work with those ideas.

Good ideas take time. They take work. They require love and attention. You won’t always get them right the first time. Sometimes they can be tinkered with, and other times, you might have to start all over again. What’s almost always true is that good ideas need time to grow.

When I’m searching for inspiration, I tend to turn to books. So, true to form, I’m going to suggest some books for you (or the children in your life) to read. Enjoy!


I’m a big believer in the idea that education should involve more than just simply memorizing facts. As part of the learning process, children need to be encouraged to think critically and creatively. As a jumping off point for my kids, I often use books to start discussions and generate project ideas. Here are some of my favorites:


41qt5Bst99LWhat do you do with an idea? by Kobi Yamada

What do you do when you find a little nugget of an idea? You carry it with you, of course. Even if someone might make fun of it, even if it might not work out quite how you thought it would, it’s still worth nurturing the idea. Because you’ll be amazed by what it can eventually turn into.


71yO3tMIVxLBeautiful OOPS! by Barney Salzberg

Instead of cursing and getting angry when things go wrong (because really, you get some funny looks when your toddler does it), Salzberg says you should look at the opportunities the mistake presents. I’m a bit of an obsessive perfectionist, so although this one is geared toward littles, it still speaks to me. The “turn that mistake into a masterpiece” message is presented in such a fun way, everyone will love it.


61LuWqrwbTLIggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty

No need to hide those natural talents! This book is all about not squashing that little impulse inside that drives you toward your joy, even in the face of opposition from those you trust and look up to. This lovely read has charming illustrations, and the message in the author’s other book (Rosie Revere, Engineer) works quite well alongside this one.



Even though I now have children of my own (and I still haven’t graduated to the real grown-ups’ table for family holidays), that doesn’t mean I only have to read books from the children’s section. Here are some of my favorite books to channel your inner child and get those creative juices flowing:

71DyHgJ80MLBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

She’s famous for being inspirational, and her latest ode to joyful curiosity is no different. It’s full of liberating ideas, interesting anecdotes and encouraging perspectives on curiosity. This is a definite must-read title not only for those right-brain creatives but also for the left-brain pragmatists. Because, according to Gilbert, we all have the potential to create something wonderful.


41sp6oWt1DL The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

I love reading Gladwell’s work. He has wonderful insights into the world, and he really gets you excited about the marvels — both big and small — that the world has to offer. If nothing else, he lists some other marvelous ideas that might get you thinking and wondering and, before you know it, coming up with another really great idea. Brilliant.


51B3zEFka3L-1 Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon and The Steal Like an Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs by Austin Kleon

Kleon has a book and journal based on the same name, but I love the journal idea — and not just because it’s fun to say “creative kleptomaniacs”. (I must admit, I haven’t bought the journal yet. I just like the idea of it.) The premise of the short, easy-to-read book is that nothing is original, that every great idea stands on the shoulders of other great ideas. The journal takes that premise and carries it forward while asking you questions to get you thinking. You never know what prompt might jog your brain for your next assignment.

There are opportunities for inspiration all around you, at pretty much any time. That in and of itself is pretty cool. But being in the presence of a really great idea, whether it comes in the form of a book, a movie or an ad? Now that’s truly awesome.

Need another book recommendation? Did I leave your favorite book off the list? I could go on for ages about wonderful books, so feel free to send me a message!

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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