Jonah Lehrer on Boosting Creativity

IMPORTANT UPDATE

NOTE:  Sadly, in July 2012, Jonah Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker and Wired after accusations of plagiarism and making up quotes.  The book Imagine was pulled from bookstore shelves and thus is not available.

One of my favorite thought leaders is Jonah Lehrer.  He’s a Contributing Editor at Wired, writes frequently for The New Yorker and Radiolab, and I never miss his “Head Case” column in The Wall Street Journal.  His book How We Decide was an instant bestseller.  On a plane the other day, I struck up a conversation with someone engrossed in his first book, Proust Was a Neuroscientist.  My seatmate was sold on getting his newest book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, as soon as he could get his hands on it.

 Recently, Jonah answered a few questions about creativity and innovation.

The Prolific Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley has written more than 34 acclaimed books, including the bestselling mystery series starring Easy Rawlins of Devil in a Blue Dress fame. Throughout his career, he’s also been the recipient of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy, and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His work has been seen on the page, on the big screen, on the theater stage and soon on the small screen (He’s teaming up with Jonathan Demme to co-write a pilot for HBO based on his newest private eye, Leonid McGill). I caught up with Walter when he was visiting Nashville to promote the paperback publication of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.

The Last Handwritten Letter

A Fading Art

The other day I wrote about the power of the handwritten note.  It’s a fading art.  In a growing digital universe, it’s rare to receive a scripted letter any more.  (As a tip for marketers or for anyone who craves differentiation, it’s a great way to stand out.)

Generations from now, what will be left of our writing?  I’m not sure.  I’ve had friends unexpectedly pass away and wished I still had some of the emails that were routinely deleted.  You could argue that today’s technology will ensure the endurance of the written word.  That’s also true.  With the ease of copying files and digital lockers, we won’t likely lose a manuscript to history.  Perhaps the casual email and note, which at the time seems insignificant, is in a different category.  I think much of what appears mundane at the time will be lost.

Books Make a Better Life

Left to Right: Donna M. Johnson, Annia Ciezaldo, Jenny Anderson, Robin Einbinder, Paula Szuchman, Scott Manning, Lee Woodruff, David Sloan Wilson, Skip Prichard, Kathy Chang (for Lee Lipsenthal, M.D.), Ann Patchett, David Kessler

The other evening I had the great pleasure of attending the 16th Annual Books for a Better Life Awards at the TimesCenter in New York City.  The Awards were given to the best self-improvement books of 2011.  Nominated titles fall into ten categories–all designed to inspire and improve our lives.  The proceeds from the event benefit the New York City – Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for research, support services, and educational programs.

I was there as a member of the publishing industry and supporter of the event, but I was also honored to be inducted into the Awards Hall of Fame.  This is a very special recognition for me as it marries two things for which I’m passionate about:  inspirational books and a cause that’s close to my heart because I’ve watched friends suffer with MS.

What It Is To Be A Good American

Alex George’s A Good American is a book you may not have heard of yet.  If not, you undoubtedly will.  It is a spectacularly written novel receiving rave reviews, and it continues to pick up steam.  In recent weeks, the book has been named:

  • #1 Pick for Indie Next List, February 2012.
  • Amazon “Best Books of the Month” List February 2012
  • Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, Spring 2012
  • Barnes & Noble Top Staff Pick for Fiction, February 2012
  • Midwest Connection Pick, February 2012
  • #1 “Title to Pick Up Now” for O Magazine, February 2012