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10 books that every creative should own

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While our lives might be online now, and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon, there is still something quite special about a physical book. When the initial wave of Kindle fever kicked off in the early years of the 21st century, I clung to my paperbacks like my life depended on it and to this day I still refuse to read a novel from a tablet.

Call me a luddite if you must, but books still exist for a reason. There’s a tactile nature to a book that sits on your shelf, by your bed or on your coffee table and it’s something that deserves to be cherished.

With that in mind, I thought I’d take a quick peruse over my own coffee table collection and pick out the books I feel all creatives should have on their coffee tables. Or at very least sitting behind their downstairs toilets. These are the kind of books you pick up every once in a while, to nourish your soul and kickstart your creative heart.

The Creativepool Annual

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The Creativepool Annual is a yearly celebration of everything incredible that’s happening within and surrounding the creative industries. As it features the very best work of the year, chosen by a team of industry experts and veterans, it’s the ideal tome to keep handy if you’re in need of some quick inspiration or to see which individuals and agencies are doing the most exciting things right now.

Start Ugly: The Unexpected Path to Creativity by David Duchemin

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Start Ugly is as motivational as a book can get. The premise is exactly what it says on the tin—starting ugly is better than not starting at all. Duchemin uses this thesis to point out the true value in starting. It’s not just so you can finish quicker or get it right the first time (which is basically impossible). Instead, the value is mining your first draft for nuggets of gold and using those nuggets as the basis for subsequent revisions. Equal parts funny, insightful, and inspiring, Duchemin’s book is a must-read for anyone who wants further their creative output but struggles to get going.

Open Manifesto by Kevin Finn

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Founded in 2003 by Kevin Finn, Open Manifesto was a graphic design journal that threw out the conventions of its contemporaries across its 15-year run. Curated by Kevin himself, Open Manifesto: An Anthology contains more than 40 writings from the journal's hallowed pages, with contributions from Michael Bierut, Hina Qureshi, and Rami Elhanan.

Oh Shit, Now What? By Craig Oldham

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So, you've graduated Uni. What now? Where do you live? Can you afford to live? How can you make money doing design? How do you get a job? Who do you want to work for and are you good enough? This book is a comprehensive and insightful guide to anything and everything that is of use to those looking to break into the creative industries, sharing experiences, ideas, advice, criticism, and encouragement. With sections covering education, portfolios, jobs/freelancing, working process, and personal development, this straight-talking, funny, and frequently irreverent guide is a must-read for all creative arts students.

Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon

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The uniqueness and value of each artist’s work make it valuable, but it takes effort and persistence to develop that type of artistry. Find Your Artistic Voice offers practical strategies, inspirational stories, and advice to overcome your fears and insecurities in the creative process. Artists, who want to gain a deeper understanding of their own journey while exploring the influence of creators they admire, will find this book invaluable.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

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This classic is as close as you’re ever going to get to having a bible for your creative craft. Cameron takes you through a 12-week course to recover your creative self and to get rid of the “I’m not good enough” mindset. If you’re ready to rekindle your fire and to show up daily, this book is your answer. It’s something of a cliché to recommend this book at this point but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.

On Writing by Stephen King

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As a writer myself, this part autobiography and part ode to the joys of writing was something of a revelation for me as a teenager. He seamlessly weaves together stories about his college days and a near-death experience with a tactical writer’s tool kit and writing assignments. The advice is obvious but compelling and comes from a place of genuine knowledge and undeniable genius: Read a lot of good stuff. Write every single day. Stick to the point. Tell your stories in a way that allows your readers to envision the movie playing in your mind when you write. And always, always trust your gut. This book is an absolute gem.

The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry

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Henry is a prolific podcaster, writer, speaker and consultant for creative teams. Subtitled How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, this book is full of practical advice for people whose living depends on producing a steady supply of new creative ideas to order. There’s lots about structuring your time so the work gets done but so you also create space to think, explore and draw in fresh inspiration to use later. More practical than inspiring but practicality is sometimes the missing ingredient in a creative slump.

Confessions Of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

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There are few names in advertising as legendary as David Ogilvy so, for anyone in advertising, reading this book is almost like reading the literal words of God. What might surprise you about this book, however, is just how readable it is and how personable Ogilvy comes across. His journey from random jobsworth to the biggest name in advertising is quite inspiring and beautifully written. If David Chase hadn’t read this before starting work on Mad Men, I’d be genuinely shocked.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton

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This exquisitely beautiful book celebrates the provocative and influential fashion designer, Alexander McQueen. The cover of the book features a holographic image of McQueen’s face that dissolves into a molten metal skull. Full-page photographs bring out the craftsmanship of his work and are interspersed with quotations from McQueen.

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