Select Page

How a good book can spark creativity

When I really get into a book — especially those last hundred pages of a good novel — I can’t be bothered by trifling things like sleeping, interacting with real people, cooking dinner, or completing any tasks on my to-do list. Okay, I might exaggerate a bit here… but only a little (just ask my husband!).

Reading has long been hailed as one of those simple pleasures of life, and I contend that it’s all the more enticing on a chilly winter’s night. When the weather’s warm and the days are long, much of my inspiration comes from the outdoors, but when it’s cold, I like to get cozy, relax my mind, and soak up wisdom and ideas from the comfort of my couch.

Surfing Pinterest by the fireside is a good solution for this, of course. But when I’m feeling a little more “old-fashioned” if you will, and looking for something that will engage my mind a bit more, a good book can be just the thing to spark creativity.

how a good book can spark creativity

7 ways a good novel can spark creativity

1. Doors are opened to worlds previously unimagined. Just take Harry Potter for example. J.K. Rowling created a completely new world– which it turns out has provided the backdrop for a remarkably fun fan fiction series, the James Potter series. I just started it, and it’s super fun to see how another author has taken Rowling’s world and run with it (with her literary agency’s blessing, I might add!).

2. Language — beautifully phrased words, inspiring quotes, new synonyms — is at our fingertips. Literature, in its most basic form, is words strung together in unique ways to convey a story. Those of us that write can always use wordly inspiration, and how sweet it is to read a quote that meets us where we are, or sparks a new idea in us.

3.  Our focus gets off ourselves, our struggles, our issues, and we get a chance to peer into someone else’s psyche and observe how they find solutions to problems. We get a new lens to look at life through. Oh, how I love this aspect of reading.

How a good book can spark creativity []

4. Our minds have the freedom to think thoughts we might not have otherwise. Thinking about things by way of another character by reading fiction opens our minds and helps us to think less rigidly.

5. Books are the fuel to the fire of the lifelong learner. If we want to continue to stretch and grow our minds, reading is more than just pleasant hobby– it’s a tool for unlocking our imaginations. Just consider how a good book forces us to piece together written descriptions to create an image in our mind of what we’re reading about.

6. A good book is something that can be enjoyed and effective in getting our creative juices flowing again and again. C.S. Lewis said, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” When we re-read a book, we get another opportunity to learn from those characters, using our own (new) life experiences to shape how we interpret the themes of the book this time around.

7.  Story is always a powerful part of what we create. Whether we are writing, building, painting, cooking– whatever we do that requires our creativity unfolds out of some story that we are living. Reading others’ stories can fill our minds with more problems that need solutions, beauty that needs sharing, and ideas that long for new expressions.

motherhood and jane austen 250If you’re looking for something interesting and intriguing to read throughout 2014, maybe you’ll continue joining me on the quest to read all of Jane Austen’s novels through the lens of motherhood. You don’t have to be a mom to join us, but we’ll be exploring themes related to the mothers present (and absent) in Jane’s novels and in our lives, all amidst a community of fellow literature lovers.

Are you an avid reader? How does a good book inspire your creativity?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Breanne

    Yes! To all of this. Reading does unlock creativity for me and it refreshes me and gives me new perspective on life. I love reading a well-crafted sentence and will often read it out loud just to hear how the words flow together.
    I read the Harry Potter series for the first time last winter and loved it, maybe this winter I’ll read the James Potter books along with the Austen titles on my list. =)

    • Nicole

      Refreshing! Yes, reading does that for me too. And yes, that’d be fun if you read James Potter this year, too! 🙂

  2. Megan

    Oh, I totally stay up way too late when I really like a book! Some times I’ll save a book I really want to read (hunger games, gone girl) until my parents are visiting, so I can stay up as late as I want (3:00am ) and not have to cook breakfast in the morning!

    I was on an Austen kick a few years ago, even reading Sense and Sensibility while in labor with my son, and look forward to your book club!

    • Nicole

      Oh gosh, you’re smart! I wish I ‘d had help when I was reading The Hunger Games. I definitely didn’t want to do real life for those few days. 🙂
      Love that you read S&S in labor!

  3. Sarah M

    I am definitely an avid reader. I read about a book a week. I already have 20 books on my list for 2014! I read more nonfiction than fiction, though there are many fiction books I want to read, too, I just tend to lean towards memoir, social commentary, and theology.

    You asked how books spark creativity–if I read a quote I really love, I usually chew on it for a few days, before writing about it myself, either in my journal or on my blog. I am adept at gleaning what I want and tossing the rest, and I try to put those new ideas to work in my own life.
    I can’t imagine a life without reading, honestly and I try not to take it personally when people say, “I don’t like to read”. 🙂 I can’t imagine a life without libraries!
    Sarah M

    • Nicole

      “I am adept at gleaning what I want and tossing the rest, and I try to put those new ideas to work in my own life.” <– love this, Sarah!

  4. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    Yes to all of it! Love that Ann Patchett quote. And can’t wait for Motherhood and Jane Austen to get rolling!

    (But you already knew I was going to say exactly that, for all three. 🙂 )

    • Nicole

      It’s so nice to have kindred spirits. 🙂

    • Nicole

      Thanks, Caroline! 🙂

  5. Leigh Kramer

    I am such a book nerd! All of this resonates with me, especially number 3. In fact, I’ve noticed that reading is one of my best coping skills. If I’m not reading regularly (or enough), my stress level goes up. I also read more when I’m highly stressed because it gets my mind off of present circumstances.

    Concerning points 1 and 2, paying attention to how I respond to a novel also showed me that it was time to write my own. And then, bringing it full circle, writing fiction helped me appreciate reading it in a whole new way.

    • Nicole

      “If I’m not reading regularly (or enough), my stress level goes up.” <– Yes, that.

      You wrote a novel?! or is it in progress? I wrote a shabby NaNoWriMo novel and it definitely helped me to appreciate good fiction more and the creativity that goes into crafting a good plot.

    • Moira

      Yes!! It has taken me years to realize how connected my reading is to my stress level. I find that when I am really stressed I turn to books like Harry Potter or something historical where the story is really an escape from every day life!

  6. Lisa

    Ahhhh, books. My first love!

    • Nicole

      Love this comment, Lisa. 🙂

  7. Faigie

    You know Nicole, I have quite a good vocabulary and I definitley know it is because I have always been a very avid reader and as a good mostly of fiction.However, for me it is NOT exaggerating to say that when I am reading a novel I can do nothing else until I finish it. As a result I don’t read fiction anymore, unless its short stories or magazines since I know, I cannot be trusted. 🙂 and life must go on.
    I’m still an avid reader, just not fiction

    • Nicole

      I have to limit myself during some seasons as well. 😉 Sometimes I just can’t resist though.

  8. Tess @ Tips on Life & Love

    There’s nothing better than a good book. Sometimes it’s just what the soul needs. What’s your favorite book?

  9. Naomi

    I wholeheartedly agree with the message of this post! I just finished reading “The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier (a historical novel featuring Quakers, quilting, and the Underground Railroad…), and it did all of these 7 things for me. Sometimes reading a novel feels like a luxury or indulgence, but this helps me see it can be a necessity (for me). Thanks for this post, and the “permission” to keep reading fiction! 🙂

  10. tacy

    Classic works of fiction always nudge me out of my comfort zone. I’m currently reading several books, and you are so right.
    Did you know that in feedly, your feed is still showing up as Simple Mom?

  11. Moira

    This is all so true for me! Number 5 in particular since I left college (many years ago) and I miss totally engrossing myself in a subject for a few months. Now I get my fix by grouping books together about a subject or author a few times a year. Your Jane Austen book club has me gathering all my Jane biographies and fan fiction to get in the Austen mood 🙂 Oh, and thanks for the heads up about the James Potter series-how fun!

  12. Ashley Flores

    I am such a huge reader! I didn’t used to be, but I love to write and when I was in college one of my instructors told me that all good readers started out as obsessed readers. So, I started reading to improve my own writing skills at first and now I am a book hoarder! lol.


  13. Melissa Camara Wilkins

    I so, so agree! Books inspire and enlighten and feed the creative spirit. 🙂

  14. Robyn LaRue

    If I’m not writing, I’m reading. I seem to fill up on good books for a while, write fiction, essays, and shorts, then fill up on good books again. Unfortunately, I do better reading non-fiction while writing or I’d read fiction all the time. 🙂

  15. Johanna

    Really love the Ann Patchett quote and am looking forward to the book club.

Join thousands of readers
& get Tsh’s free weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where she shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)

It's part of Tsh's popular newsletter called Books & Crannies, where she shares thoughts about the intersection of stories & travel, work & play, faith & questions, and more.