Last Updated on 13 April 2011

Sand for Your Inbox
April 2007

So…you wish you were more creative or a better problem solver? But aren’t sure where to get the information you need to improve?

Today is your lucky day!

The folks at the Idea Sandbox Institute are voracious readers and remove the guesswork out of finding the most helpful books by furnishing this “Guaranteed Great”* reading list.

They have gone deep into the topics of creativity and problem solving… This list truly represents the best of the best.

This first section helps you identify the areas you wish to strengthen. Recommended books are then organized below by category. TIP: Under each book title, click the genre links to find other books of the same/related genre. You will be linked to the Idea SandboxWiki.

Creativity your conundrum?

    Do you not feel that you are very creative? Do you wish you could come up with more ideas?

    These books offer tips and techniques to help you find your creative skills.

Problem Solving got you perplexed?

    Do you wish you had a process to resolve problems and challenges?

    These books take creativity a step further by offering tools to identify a problem and create potential solutions.

Getting Motivated gets you emotional?

    Do you have an idea of what you need to do but are procrastinating? These books help you shift your gear from Neutral to Drive.

Remarkability leaving you speechless?

    Do you want to create ideas that make you or your company radically different than the competition? Want to knock the ball out of the park?

    These are the best books to read if you want to stand out from the crowd. Seth Godin calls this “being remarkable.”


Aha! 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas
by Jordan Ayan – 1996
genre(s): Creativity, Neurobics

This is one of the best books I’ve found to help those who don’t feel they’re creative discover that they truly are. This is a great ‘first book’ on creativity.

?What If!: How to Start A Creative Revolution At Work
by Dave Allan, Matt Kingdon, Kris Murrin, Daz Rudkin – 2002
genre(s): Brainstorming, Creativity, Leadership Secrets, Management, Motivation

This book may also be found with the title: “Sticky Wisdom.” This book features page after page of creative and problem solving ideas. I guarantee you’ll have a few new techniques to use in this book.

The Imagineering Workout : Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles
by The Disney Imagineers – 2005
genre(s): Creativity, Disney

It’s cool to have a behind-the-scenes pass to how the people who build the “happiest place on earth” develop great ideas and solve problems. Great for the Disney and non-Disney fan alike.

Thinkertoys (A Handbook of Business Creativity)
by Michael Michalko – 1991
genre(s): Brainstorming, Creativity, Management, Problem Solving

This is a terrific book. Not just chock full of techniques, but also dives into the how and why of creativity. One of my favorite aspects of this book is how Michael uses optical illusions and short stories to demonstrate how set we are in our ways of thinking or approaching problems. After he proves his point, he then offers steps to avoid problem solving ruts. Highly effective.

Problem Solving

The Creative Problem Solver’s Toolbox: A Complete Course in the Art of Creating Solutions to Problems of Any Kind
by Richard Fobes – 2002
genre(s): Brainstorming, Creativity, Problem Solving

Richard does a thorough job taking you through the key steps of problem solving – ranging from welcoming new ideas, and exploring alternatives thru taking action. He offers loads of examples and exercises to turn concept into practice. Plus, Richard’s got the coolest index of any book I’ve ever read. Not only does he indicate page number for a topic, but also breaks the page down into a 1 to 10 scale allowing you to know exactly on the page where the referenced item is. Brilliant!

101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques:
The Handbook of New Ideas for Business

by James M. Higgins – 1994
genre(s): Brainstorming, Decision Making, Problem Identification,
Problem Solving

This is one of the first books I ever read about creative problem solving. James covers this topic expertly and completely… but in a very approachable way. This is one of the most useful books you could buy. Brainstorming techniques are provided for the individual as well as for groups (i.e. a good book for the workplace). He also offers excellent techniques for narrowing your ideas to the most appropriate solutions.


Change the Way You See Everything: Through Asset-Based Thinking
by Kathryn Cramer and Hank Wasiak – 2006
genre(s): Asset-Based Thinking, Motivation

Kathy and Hank have created a new language for those of us who prefer to manage life from a “what I have” versus “what I’m lacking” perspective. This book meant so much to me, I literally bought a case of them and gave them to friends, colleagues, and clients. A must for any home or office library.

Rules of the Red Rubber Ball: Find and Sustain Your Life’s Work
by Kevin Carroll – 2005
genre Motivation

Ever feel like you’re running hard and fast, but don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere? Rules of the Red Rubber Ball will inspire you to figure out what will help you leap out of bed in the morning and live with a purpose. Kevin is filled with such positive energy, and it comes through in his book. Buy a copy for yourself and one as a gift!

The War Of Art: Break Through Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
by Steven Pressfield – 2003
genre(s): Creativity, Motivation

I carried copies of this book around with me and gave it to folks who said they were procrastinating, or getting to a project. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Steven’s conversational approach helps you to get off your butt and get going. (I’ve never had anyone I’ve recommended this book to do anything but thank me and rave about it).


Free Prize Inside : The Next Big Marketing Idea
by Seth Godin – 2004
genre(s): Marketing Strategy, Remarkability

Seth has a knack of telling us stuff that makes you say, “Geez, that’s so obvious, why haven’t I thought of that before?!” Free Prize offers tips on being remarkable, how to champion a project, and a process called edgecrafting. This is Seth’s technique that pushes ideas further than traditional brainstorming.

Cut To The Chase

If you were to only purchase one or two of these recommendations… with each of the topics equally interesting to you… this is the order we recommend.

  1. Change The Way You See Everything: Through Asset-Based Thinking” — by Katheryn Cramer & Hank Wasiak
  2. The War of Art” — by Steven Pressfield
  3. 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques” — by James M. Higgins
  4. Aha! 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas” — by Jordan Ayan
  5. Free Prize Inside” — by by Seth Godin

*If you buy a book we recommend and it doesn’t live up to the hype, please let me know by sending an e-mail to .

Happy Reading!
Paul's First Name
Paul Williams
book worm
Idea Sandbox

Idea Sandbox • Seattle | Amsterdam