Ten Books To a Playful and Creative Existence from River Road Books

People don’t often pass through our door asking for books on increasing their playfulness and creativity.

But bookstore folks, like bartenders and therapists, can often read a customer’s needs with an unspoken glance or a few short words.   And given the good smack that winter has given us, we’ve found we are all looking for a way to bring more joy and levity to our small, interconnected worlds.  We’ve culled through many books to find the ones we find most inspiring and intelligent and we’re delighted to share them with you.

happiness project






The Happiness Project:  Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun By Gretchen Rubin

Rubin spent twelve months deliberately introducing more joy, play and, well, happiness into her life.  Our customers love it because it’s a message, not oversimplified, but written with self-reflection, grace and a sense of humor.

creative confidence






Creating Confidence:  Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All By Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Once upon a time, we all colored, played and believed we could do most anything.   Kelley and Kelley show us how to harness creativity and work it like a muscle to improve our companies, personal lives and the world around us.

overwhelmed brigid schulte






Overwhelmed:  Work, Love, and Play When No One Has The Time By Brigid Schulte

An interview with this author stopped us in our tracks.  Schulte discusses how intensifying pressure to perform in our daily lives is affecting our health and even our brain size.  She calls this book a “blueprint” for bringing leisure and play into our lives.







How To Be An Explorer of the World By Keri Smith

This “portable life museum” is a brain igniter.  Smith’s funky delivery grabs your attention, encouraging you to head outside, get messy and start collecting.

how to think like sherlock holmes







Mastermind:  How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes By Maria Konnikova

What is the difference between a thinking Watson and a brilliant Holmes?  Observation.  Konnikova’s counter-intuitive mental exercises help unlock our brains capacity for awareness, mindfulness and deduction.  And they work.  We tried them.

back of the napkin






The Back of the Napkin By Dan Roam

Discovering, developing and selling an idea is as easy as drawing a box, an arrow and a stick figure.  Roam’s new creative process for problem solving has received BusinessWeek’s Best Innovation Book of the Year.

show your work







Show Your Work! By Austin Kleon

In a technological time where it seems all is shared by all, Kleon advises how to keep  from turning into “human spam” and how to find a relevant space for yourself and your work.  We were sold as soon as we read Kleon’s suggestion to “…read the obituaries everyday…to take inspiration from the people who muddled through life before you …having the guts to put themselves out there.”







Beautiful Oops! By Barney Salzberg

Misstep becomes ingenious creation in this favorite picture book for all ages. Transforming smudges and crumpled paper into works of art reminds us that to err is to learn.   Kirkus Reviews called Salzberg’s work “a festive invitation to creative liberation.”


how you play the game








It’s How You Play the Game:  The Powerful Sports Moments That Taught Lasting Values to America’s Finest By Brian Kilmeade

A list of favorite books on play had to include a sports choice and here it is.  Athletes have great stories to tell, but so do actors, CEOs and former presidents.  Whether or not we love sports, we’ve most likely witnessed a moment that affects the way we see the world.  Kilmeade shares some of sports best a-ha moments in this bestseller.

power of habit








The Power of Habit:  Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business By Charles Duhigg

And finally, if we’ve committed to a more playful and creative lifestyle then we need help on changing our habits.  One of the best we’ve read, this intelligent, yet highly readable book nails the how-to on making lasting changes.  By sharing the neuroscience behind the way we make decisions, Duhigg shows how to develop habits that will help you improve your life starting now.  It’s a book you need on your nightstand.

Reviews provided by River Road Books a sponsor of TEDxNavesink 2014. For more great books visit them at their store in Fair Haven or on the web. If you would like to become a sponsor of TEDxNavesink visit our site to learn more.

Join us May 10 at Two River Theater in Red Bank at TEDxNavesink 2014: PLAY, where 24 presenters will share the positive power of play every day in technology, education, design and more. Limited tickets are available for this all day event, which includes a catered lunch, networking opportunities, and an evening reception. Click here to get your ticket.

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