since i’m just beginning to listen to one of these and have the other one on hold at the public library, i can’t give you a review yet of either of them. but both of these books have been the subject of numerous podcasts recently that i listen to, and seem right up my alley so i thought many of you might be interested in them too. i just wanted to share my excitement about them both. i’ll probably end up buying them as hardcovers eventually but i think i will listen to them first.
the first is your brain on art: how the arts transform us by susan magsamen and ivy ross. (buy on amazon or bookshop.org. or do what i did and read or listen to it from your library. if they don’t have it, suggest it to them!)
i first heard about it on nicholas wilton’s art2life podcast where he interviewed both co-writers of the book and discussed how the book came about and the concepts of neuroaesthetics or neuroarts. as someone who has had brain surgery, which is a traumatic brain injury (tbi) in and of itself, and had to go through a long recuperation which involved re-learning to use my vocal chords (well, one was/maybe still is paralyzed) and how to swallow, dealing with double vision and droopy eyelids, as well as a host of other fun body issues, i’ve been acutely interested in learning more about how the brain operates and how i can continue to help it heal post-surgery. i am also getting older and want to understand how to keep my brain nimble as i age. and, well, as an artist, i’m always interested in creativity and the process of art-making and how that impacts or is impacted by your brain. so this book seemed like a – pardon the pun – no-brainer.
i’m only on the first chapter but already i’m very intrigued and want to do the exercises they recommend. it’s hard to participate in them while listening to the book driving around or while walking a dog, so i’ll have to go back and re-listen when i’m at home and can grab a pen and a notebook or journal to play along. but the concept of neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury – is super fascinating, and i’ve seen it in action in myself with my own brain. so i want to learn more, particularly the role creativity or art-making can play. i’ll try to remember to post a review after i’ve finished listening to it or have had some time to digest it.
the second book has a bit more popular appeal due to its author, rick rubin, who is a famous hip hop (and other musical styles) producer. the creative act: a way of being (buy on amazon or bookshop.org) has gotten a lot of media attention and rubin has been interviewed on a host of radio shows/podcasts. i think i first heard about it on debbie millman’s design matters podcast – she did a great interview with rubin.
it’s not a memoir but rather a rumination on the act of creativity and what it is to be an artist. it does draw on rubin’s lifetime of working with all kinds of artists, in helping them express themselves and tap into their unique creative voice. i was honestly surprised when this book came out, seeing all the rave reviews and the very philosophical slant of it; i didn’t expect that from the founder of def jam records. but when i thought about it, it makes total sense, as rubin has worked with so many musicians over his career and his job as a producer is to get the best out of artists, help them be true to themselves. i’m very much looking forward to reading this one.
are there other new/recent books about creativity and/or art that you are reading? if so, please share them in the comments!
(i just signed up as an affiliate for bookshop.org and started my own art/creativity list that i will keep adding to as i think of titles. i’ve read some of these books and others are on my wishlist to get to eventually. i’m working on a similar list for amazon and will post the link when i have it. if you make purchases from my links, i’ll get a little kickback that will help defray the cost of this blog and/or art supplies or whatever. it takes time to write all these posts and i’m just looking for easy ways to monetize that don’t involve advertising.)