Books that were shaping me this year

Flow, Creativity, Inspiration, Storytelling

I would not be where I am now if not for reading. It is shaping my personality, gives knowledge, helps to organize thoughts and inspire for action. The past year I was trying to hack my brain to get more out life. Brain and our mind is just a machine oiled with hormones, understanding the mechanism and learning the triggers open endless possibilities to manipulate how we feel and perform. Grasping creativity is another topic of the year; after all, it is essential for me as a designer. I hope you enjoy and find something interesting for you! I will be happy to hear your thoughts and recommendations.

By the way, my secret to finding time to read books — I listen to them in audio format, typically while doing routine sports, like during long bike rides (on nature, not in a city), running or walking. I know listening is not for everyone, but it works great for me. If I like the book, I often read parts in an e-book or get a paper one.

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

by Steven Kotler, Jamie Wheal

I have read that book four times. That was my introduction to the theory of Flow and altered states of mind. It changed my ideas about happiness and life satisfaction. What is in common between psychedelics and meditation, running and video games, sky diving and BDSM? Modern life examples, many from Silicon Valley, illustrate the application of the theory brilliantly. We all crave to get to the altered states, but why are they are so desirable and if they are beneficial were a mystery, now it is science. Attention, the book contains materials about religion, drugs, sexuality that might conflict with traditional beliefs.

Get Stealing Fire on Amazon

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi is the foundational father of the Flow theory. He named the Flow as a state of complete immersion in an activity, where we both feel our best and perform our best. What are the benefits of it and how to get there? It’s a must-read to comprehend the theory fully.

Get Flow on Amazon

Spark: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain

by Dr John J. Ratey, Eric Hagerman, John Ratey

After reading it myself, I immediately ordered a copy for my parents. Mind and body are highly interconnected, even ancient Romans were saying “a healthy mind in a healthy body”, now it is a scientific fact. Our brain can only work on an optimal level when we regularly move and exhaust our bodies, our intellectual performance, mood, hormonal disorders, ageing and even will power can be manipulated by physical activity — find out how. This book explains my craving for tiring high-intensity sports as a remedy for depression and a tragic mental disorder that befell my beloved grandma when she lost the ability to walk. I promise you — this book will change your lifestyle.

Get Spark on Amazon

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar — Your Brain’s Silent Killers

by David Perlmutter MD, Kristin Loberg

Since I started talking about mind hacking, here is another one — this time impact of food, carbs and gluten to be precise. We all already kind of learned that carbs, sugar and gluten are not good for our bodies, but their direct impact on our brain and mental states did not sink in yet. I optimized my diet, and it made me feel more balanced, so it worth considering for a read.

Get Grain Brain on Amazon

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

by Elizabeth Gilbert

That is a very positive and inspiring book about embracing creative living. It helped me to overcome the professional crisis and find the motivation to keep doing what I am doing despite failures. Elizabeth Gilbert shifts the focus from the outcomes to the creative process itself, so it becomes immune to criticism and setbacks. This book encourages to live an exciting and joyful life, get curious and find satisfaction in expressing yourself, despite others validation.

Get Big Magic on Amazon

Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling

by Matthew Dicks, Dan Kennedy

The power of storytelling is on the tip of a tongue nowadays — brands try to humanize their stories, business leaders are training their inspiring speeches; everyone wants their personality to stand out. It is a cookbook for crafting captivating stories written by an award-winning storyteller. It teaches how to find story-worthy events in every-day life, which automatically makes life more interesting in the first place— ordinary moments become row material for emotional and intriguing stories. He includes his own stories as examples, which makes it not only educational but also an entertaining read. I have started practising my storytelling skills; luckily I have more than enough to tell. Follow me on Facebook or Instagram before I find a more sustainable home for my stories (https://www.facebook.com/aarteeva, https://www.instagram.com/arteevaanna)

Get Storyworthy Amazon

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

by Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace

It’s a fascinating story of Pixar and their practices to build a nourishing creative workplace. Every Pixar movie is a masterpiece; their stories are spectacular, graphics are beautifully crafted, both kids and adults love them. A bar is rarely kept high for such a long period in growing organizations and highly competitive market. I believe it must be read by all leaders who value quality, creativity and innovation in their teams, but also creative professionals.

Get Creativity, Inc on Amazon

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk is my personal hero and a true living legend. A way to success was always an interesting read — and Elon had an extraordinary one. By the way, he was a real book worm from early childhood, who knows if he came up with those crazy ideas if not for sci-fi!

Get Elon Musk’s biography on Amazon

Leading Product Design team at Payoneer Germany http://annaarteeva.com/