These Dear Things: 10 must-read books for creatives

10 must-read books for creatives Dear Handmade Life

We asked some of our Craftcation friends and Dear Handmade Life staffers to send us their favorite creative inspiration books and they delivered! This list includes some giants that’ll cover everything from conquering your fears to living a life of joy and even helping with your marketing strategy.

Do you have any creative inspiration books that have left a lasting impression on you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

xo, katie mac

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Full disclosure: I had no idea who Elizabeth Gilbert was when I heard about the book Big Magic. Further, I had no idea of the epic shift my life was in for. I read Big Magic in 2016 when I was trying to avoid burnout, fight depression and survive imposter syndrome – all at the same time. I credit this book with helping me not only see, but understand, the big picture: there are some things that aren’t meant to be, “done is better than good” and – most importantly – fear is just a feeling. I also thoroughly enjoyed her theory on ideas being living, breathing entities. It helped me with closure, letting go of some of major FOMO and being ok with moving on to new life chapters.

Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu + Dalai Lama

These two beautiful men, filled with love and gratitude, who personify compassion and forgiveness share their keys to a life filled with pure joy even in times of crap and sadness. It’s just absolutely heartwarming, inspiring and it spoke to me on every single level. My copy was gifted to me by a friend so I decided to start a Book of Joy love train and I bought it for another friend that I thought needed to read it. I encouraged her to do the same to keep the train going. This book isn’t just a book – it’s a spiritual gift – and it’s everything this world needs right now.

Katie MacAvoy – Dear Handmade Life Marketing Maven & Craftcation Conference Alum

Storynomics: Story-Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World by Robert McKee and Thomas Gerace

While I don’t think I’m anywhere near the key demographic that authors Robert McKee and Thomas Gerace had in mind when they wrote this book (the book seems to be geared towards big brands that don’t yet understand the value of storytelling), I found myself underlining passages and taking tons of notes while I read it. Even if you’re an independent business owner like me for whom traditional advertising is not in the budget, and already employs story-driven marketing, the ideas in this book may serve as a springboard to freshen up your next launch. “We exit a beautifully told story a fuller human being than when we entered it.” YES, because after all, in a perfect world our marketing would be an experience that enriches the life of our current or potential customer whether they purchase from us or not.

Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr

Full disclosure, I have not finished this book. I got about 40 pages into it and realized that I needed to stop reading it solo and have it be my next book for the informal self-help book club my friend and I have. BUT, even though I’m only 40 pages in, I highly recommend this book. If you have ever struggled with impostor syndrome, felt like something was holding you back or wished you could give your inner critic a suitcase and send her far far away… this is your book! You don’t even have to know where you’re headed – Tara explains, “It’s playing big according to what playing big truly means to you. And if you don’t know what playing big looks like for you yet, the ideas and tools here will help you discover that.” FYI – I discovered Tara through the Being Boss podcast (plus, you can hear my interview on Being Boss here).

Nicole Stevenson – Dear Handmade Life CEO & Co-Founder, Designer, Writer and Consultant

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

I first read The Big Leap in 2010 and I have since purchased the audiobook version, too. I re-read and listen to this book annually. It covers a myriad of topics that I find extremely helpful, both personally and professionally. If you ever feel like more success would equal more problems, or if your are in the phase of your self-development where you WANT more, but aren’t sure why things aren’t happening the way you’d like, this book may shine some light into your dark corners and help you emerge in a better place. I love the concepts of Zone of Genius (and this inspired a series of paintings I did around 2014) and currently I am experimenting with his concept of “Einstein Time” (where you can control time – it works!) and I especially love his thoughts around people who are afraid to outshine their loved ones (a major struggle for me). His main premise is about Upper Limit Problems, which basically summed up the heart of all of my various internal issues. I find his advice actionable, gentle, and I have experienced real results, both in my career and my relationships. It’s a quick and easy read that has led to a lot of a-ha! moments for me and I hope it does the same for you.

Kari Chapin – Author and mentor & Craftcation Conference Presenter Alum

Rising Strong by Dr. Brené Brown

Rising Strong, by the amazing Dr. Brené Brown, really opened up my eyes to the possibility of rising strong. She talks about recognizing the things in your life that aren’t allowing you to be your true whole-hearted self, rumbling with them for a little bit by determining what is and isn’t working for you, then having a revolution about being free from them and living a whole-hearted life. She is one of my favorite authors, I especially love her TED Talks, and her words on vulnerability really sunk into my brain, ie: when she talks about how we have no creativity without vulnerability!

What’s Your Creative Type by Meta Wagner 

Another book I’ve loved this year is called What’s Your Creative Type by Meta Wagner. She breaks down how there are five different types of creative people, explains each one, and you can read and quiz yourself to see what type of creative you are – A-Lister, Artisan, Game Changer, Sensitive Soul, and Activist. Not any one of those types is better than the other, just a different way to be creative. And you can be more than one at the same time. It really helped me define what type I am and how I want to be more creative in other ways!

Marie LeBaron – Founder and Managing Editor of & Craftcation Conference Presenter Alum

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

I’m not sure why I picked up this book. I’ve never watched any of Rhimes’ shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder, to name just a few!), for no other reason than I just haven’t. Regardless, I picked up this book for my week vacation this summer and boy, am I glad I did. It opened up a whole new journey for me personally. The book opens with Rhimes at her older sister’s house, and a small but powerful conversation takes place with a singular comment mumbled by Rhimes’ sister. This experience changes the trajectory of Rhimes’ life over the course of a year and beyond. Ultimately the book is a foray into how Rhimes lives her life in absolutely no discomfort whatsoever – meaning she says no to anything that is unknown to her: press, speaking engagements, events, and on and on. The reader goes on a journey with Rhimes as she up ends her life and begins to say yes to absolutely everything. I found myself laughing out loud and shaking my head to many of the situations Rhimes shares. Since I’ve finished the book it has projected me onto my own year of yes, and it too has opened me up to a new world. I recommend this book to anyone that is living in their own comfort zone and is just a bit too comfortable. Say YES to this book!

Meighan O’Toole – Business Coach & Craftcation Conference Presenter Alum

Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Résumé by Jason Wachob

I was initially drawn to Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Résumé by the title. A lot of the discussions I have about creating a well-being centered lifestyle, build on the idea that we need to start valuing our health and happiness above material wealth. That, and I always like a clever play on words – the whole argument is conveyed by the title!

“To be truly ‘wellthy’ is to find your personal prescription — to discover what works for you, what feels good, what you love. That process of discovery never ends. Not only do we have to find the approach that works for us; we need to learn how to adapt that approach, or change it entirely, throughout our lives.” -Jason Wachob

Author and founder of MindBodyGreen, Jason takes through his life journey thus far as he shifted from believing in, and aspiring towards, a traditional definition of a ‘successful’ life – one in which money, status and material possessions feature heavily as the rewards of long hours of hard work – towards a more holistic appreciation of living a ‘wellthy’ life – one in which physical and mental health, relationships and a sense of purpose take priority over the accumulation of traditional wealth. I found it serves as a both a reminder and revelation that we need to both refocus our priorities and make the follow up behavioral changes that will help us live a ‘wellthy’ life.

You’re A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

You’re A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero is THE book that helps you become self-aware, figure out what you want in life and then summon the guts to not worry about the how. To kick others’ opinions to the curb and focus your life on the thing that will make you happy. It’s relatable and funny, and it provides the kick in the behind that so many of us need. Jen Sincero comes across as a good friend with the tough love and positive thinking that everyone needs in their life, and her style of writing kept me engaged the whole time. Of all the many “aha” moments throughout this book, Sincero lends the healthy reminder that it doesn’t matter what other people think, and it doesn’t matter if there are doubts. If we truly want something with every fiber of our being, the only way to get it is to go into manifest mode. And, by striving for an active lifestyle, I don’t just mean physically. Sincero brings to light the fact that we need to go for our goals with our emotions, our spirits, our brains, and our bodies in order to reach our highest goals and gain our highest frequency. And we don’t need to commit our whole beings only when we’re “ready;” we need to just do it now. We can read all the self-help books, study all the tactics, or focus on being perfectly prepared for the main event . . . or we can just go for it already.

Sannae Hopson – Founder of Botanical Skincare Company Dame Body & Certified Health Coach & Craftcation Conference Presenter Alum

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