Brain Pickings

The Innovator’s Cookbook: Great Minds on the Power of Serendipity

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How to win the future, or what 3D printing has to do with Twitter, Brian Eno and Obama.

Steven Johnson is easily my favorite non-fiction author working today, his writing pure mesmerism and his thinking an epitome of the cross-disciplinary curiosity I so firmly believe is central to creative and intellectual growth. On the heels of his excellent Where Good Ideas Come From comes The Innovator’s Cookbook: Essentials for Inventing What Is Next — a formidable compendium of essays, interviews, and insights on innovation by big thinkers like Richard Florida, John Seely Brown, Peter Drucker and many more, alongside Johnson’s own ever-enchanting writing and new material by tech darlings like Google’s Marissa Mayer and Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey, dethroning innovation from its status of buzzword royalty and approaching it instead with a lucid, thoughtful, cross-disciplinary lens refracting across education, art, science, economics, urban design, and more.

Underpinning the anthology is a message about the essential role serendipity plays in innovation — or, as Johnson puts it, “the importance of getting lost.”

But as a lover of fine book trailers, I was particularly taken with this stop-motion gem on the making of the book’s cover, 3D-printed by MakerBot, one of these 7 open-source platforms changing the future of manufacturing.

It may not be possible to ‘win the future,’ in President Obama’s words, but if we’re going to encourage more innovation, it’s not enough for us to just dig in and work harder. We also need to encourage surprise and serendipity. We need to play each other’s instruments.” ~ Steven Johnson

The Innovator’s Cookbook is part Follow for Now, part Culture, part An Optimist’s Tour of the Future — but, mostly, something entirely original and wholly potent, the way only Johnson can deliver.

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MetaMaus: Inside the Making of the Comic that Made History

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Why comics? Why mice? Why the Holocaust?

Twenty-five years ago, beloved comic artist and editor Art Spiegelman published Maus: A Survivor’s Tale — his cult-classic comic book about the Holocaust based on the biography of Spiegelman’s father, which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and paved the way for comics as a medium for nonfiction.

Today, Spiegelman releases the highly anticipated MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus — a fascinating look at the thinking, tinkering, and creative process behind the making of the iconic comic.

The book seems to loom over me like my father once did, and journalists and students still want answers to the same few questions: Why comics? Why mice? Why the Holocaust?”

The book comes with a digitized reference copy of The Complete Maus in the form of a bonus DVD, linked to a deep archive of audio interviews with his survivor father, historical documents, and a wealth of Spiegelman’s private notebooks and sketches. (A fine addition to our favorite voyeuristic peeks inside the sketchbooks of great creators.)

MetaMaus offers a rare glimpse inside the mind of a genius storyteller, using Spiegelman’s celebrated visual eloquence to illuminate the deeper psychological and sociocultural elements that underpin his thoughtful, provocative, masterful classic.

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They Draw & Cook: Recipes Illustrated by Global Artists

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What starving artists have to do with toads, infatuated chickens, and the universal language of the cookie.

For the past 18 months, brother-and-sister duo Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell have been delighting us with their beautifully illustrated visual recipes from around the world. They Draw and Cook: 107 Recipes Illustrated by Artists from Around the World collects the best 107 of these lovely and delicious treats, joining the ranks of our favorite quirky cookbooks with an absolute gem of visual and culinary allure. From the playful and facetious to the elegant and sleek, these illustrated treasures offer everything from Chocolate Haystacks to Starving Artist Goo-lash and, of course, Cooooooookies for good measure.

We hope this book inspires you to cook up something new or maybe even pick up a pencil and doodle out your own favorite recipe and play along by visiting our website.” ~ Nate Padavick & Salli Swindell

Marmalade Flapjacks by Matt Dawson

Beetrooty-Yogurty-Thingummyjig by Corrina Rothwell

Chicken in Love by Irena Inumaru

Toad-in-the-Hole by Admira Pustika

Turn That Frown Upside Down Cake by Claire Murray

COOOOOOOOKIES! by Pietro Duchi

A feast for eyes and mouth, They Draw and Cook is bound to make you smile and drool — quite likely at the same time. And if the muse strikes, you can even submit your own illustrated recipe to the online project, adding your pin to this impressive world map of contributions.

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