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June 3, 2024 —

Books to nourish your creativity

Brand designer, creative mentor and writer Sarah Robertson shares her top five creative books to nurture your small business and support your creative practice
Books to nurture your creativity - 91 Magazine
Books to nurture your creativity - 91 Magazine
Sarah Robertson
brand designer, creative mentor and writer,


Aiste Saulyte
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One of the things I love most about books is their profound ability to leave a lasting impression. Is it the tactile nature, I wonder – holding something thoughtfully crafted: words, pages, and covers – or the sense of time that seems to drift while lost in good storytelling? Today, I’m sharing five books that have had this effect and inspired me in my creative life and work in myriad ways.

Books have a permanent place in my home, occupying corners and multiplying on side tables, leading to the occasional, though necessary, buying ban.

Thankfully, I have a habit of sharing my favourites with others once I’ve soaked them up, especially if I believe it could positively impact the next reader. Yet, some are so precious to me that I keep them close, knowing I might want to revisit passages or seek inspiration.

My daughter recently asked me how many books there are in the world, and a quick search revealed numbers too vast to imagine! According to ISBN, which collects data from UNESCO, a little over 2 million titles are published year after year. Together with recent statistics, this suggests there could be more than 160 million unique books worldwide by the end of 2024. And yet, this sea of boundless and growing knowledge doesn’t stop us from returning home to the texts we love.

Here are five such reads, each chosen for their remarkable ability to encourage and enlighten. These are more than just reading material; they are companions along the path of artistry, business and creativity. And they can uplift us in our lives as well as our work.Books to nurture your creativity - 91 Magazine

The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair

This fascinating collection of stories explores the history and science of colour and how our favourite shades, hues and dyes came to be. The vivid and often wild accounts behind seventy-five different colours spoke to my curious nature and fuelled the designer in me. From the rich ochre found in ancient cave paintings to the fiery vermilion that signalled both danger and desire through the ages, the pages explores how colour has shaped our landscape culturally and historically. The Secret Lives of Colour paints a broad yet detailed picture of our kaleidoscopic planet and doubles as a helpful resource if you create palettes.

The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

I enjoyed this audiobook, dipping in and out of the chapters on daily walks. It was a lot to take in because the narrative, while practical, almost felt like a meditation on weaving creativity into the fabric of our daily lives. It goes deep and wide on the roots of innovation, demystifying creativity, emphasising that it’s a universal trait, and offering practical advice on fostering a nurturing environment. But challenging our resistance can lead to unexpected outcomes, so I’m glad I persevered with the book, which started life as a straightforward guide to making art before evolving into something practical and reflective, with Rubin sharing insights from his rich background in music production.Books to nurture your creativity - 91 Magazine

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

This tome had long sat untouched on my shelf before I embarked on the 12-week experience after feeling a creative void. Having journaled for years, I was curious to try Morning Pages, and despite them requiring more commitment than my usual routine, I found it insightful. I knew structure was essential, so I made space for the weekly process and diarised reading and writing time. Three years on, the impact remains. It inspired me to embrace imperfection, follow my instincts and develop rituals to support me in my design practice. The Artist’s Way offers a rare path – one that encourages us to ask the question: what could be?

Creative Confidence by Tom & David Kelley

I loved this book, which serves as an invitation from the founders of renowned design firm IDEO to unlock the creative potential within us all. Often, creativity is looked upon as a trait reserved for artists, painters and writers, for what some might describe as creative types. The Kelley brothers debunk that myth and argue that everyone has the capacity to think and work creatively. Through engaging anecdotes and collaborations from their illustrious careers, they offer a glimpse into the methods they use for fuelling our innate creativity, making for a more fulfilling life. It’s about doing meaningful and purposeful work that nurtures us.Books to nurture your creativity - 91 Magazine

Joyful by Ingrid Fettell Lee

Are great moments of joy amplified by the small scenes in our daily lives? Spotting the first bud of spring? Feeling the warmth of a hot drink in our hands? Absorbing the glow at golden hour? In Joyful, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee explores the influence of our surroundings on our feelings of happiness and, in my view, our creativity. She demonstrates how different environments can induce anxiety or competitiveness, while others can foster creativity or inquisitiveness. Crucially, she shows us how to harness the energy of a space to boost our mood and enrich our spirit, encouraging us to look at the world around us with fresh eyes and to find the beauty waiting in the simplest of everyday moments.

Whether you’re developing a small business, refining your craft or seeking more creative stimulation, I hope one or more of these books offers valuable knowledge and wisdom for deepening your creative practice.


Sarah is a brand designer, creative mentor and writer. She collaborates with clients to define their vision, craft beautiful visuals and discover their voice through her studio, These Are The Days. Originally from Edinburgh, Sarah now works from her home nestled in the Scottish Borders alongside her partner, two children and their curious cat. You can learn more about Sarah on Instagram, Pinterest and Substack. She also shares seasonal Inside Story letters with her email community and co-hosts the Gathering Stories club, a monthly co-working session dedicated to content creation.

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