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A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,446 ratings  ·  149 reviews
This is the 25th anniversary edition of the creativity classic by Dr. Roger von Oech.

Over the years, A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD has been praised by business people, educators, scientists, homemakers, artists, youth leaders, and many more. The book has been stimulating creativity in millions of readers, translated into eleven languages, and used in seminars around th
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 5th 2008 by Grand Central Publishing (first published February 1st 1973)
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Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book to always come back to. When I am in a slump and not feeling "it" I turn to Roger Von Oech. A mentor 16 years ago highly recommended this book. It is one of the well worn books on my shelf!
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Tatjana by: No One
I read this book in a couple of hours.
It's an older book that has been on my shelves for an age. Maybe two ages. It's the 1983 version and lacks the slick, over-designed look of today's books. It has comments by people relevant at the time. In fact, it was from a time when our industries were still relevant. Before we started truly believing that Americans are no longer innovative industrialists.
This book made it clear to me what thinking has made it so.
This book also made it clear how I've part
Steven Cole
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this because Mark Rosewater (of Magic the Gathering fame) recommended it in a number of his podcasts.

It's sort of a self-help book for people who want to be more creative. Or a study in the whys and wherefores of creativity. And if you're truly in a position where constantly reinventing your approach to become essentially institutionally (or even industrially) creative, this book has a lot of great approaches.

For the rest of us... It's nice to look back on when we're stumped about stuff,
Melissa Stebbins
This book will change the way you think.
Karen Burton
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the "how to" books I've read, this is the one that really stuck with me. I often think of the simple principles so vividly presented in this book, and employ them at every opportunity. Stuck in a rut? Drive a different way to work, take a different set of stairs, shop the grocery store in the opposite direction of the way you normally go. Most memorable is the exercise in looking at common, every day experiences in a new way. For example, a revolving door as a merry go round. I read this ...more
Nov 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is supposed to be a classic book on creativity, but it seems a bit light for my taste. There are much better books out there about the creative process, and better ways to inspire creativity, than this one. The only bright note is the inclusion of Heraclitus' enigmatic sayings at the end. My favorite is number twenty: "The barley-wine drink falls apart unless it is stirred." Now, that should get you thinking....
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a wonderful book for anyone - teachers, office workers, students, salesmen - anyone can get something helpful out of spending a little time with this book. It gives you methods for looking at problems from outside the box - WAY outside the box in some cases! But it can help you break out of the, "we've always done it this way..." solutions to problems!
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was honestly an awesome book I read after it was given to me from a work colleague. It helps you look at things differently, problem solve differently, etc. I think this would be a great tool for anyone in any field of work- from real estate, to legal work, to being a stay at home mom. It's an easy read and one that can be read quickly-
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended for everyone. If God is the Creator and we're made in His image, then to be creative is to be more like God. This book is a fun and practical guide to awakening and encouraging your creative side.
Eric Maziade
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved that one. I bought a few extra copies and gave to a few of my most creative friends.

This book gives a few tricks to unlock creative potential, as well as guidelines on how and when to use your creativity.
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 100-best
This book was included in my book: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. ...more
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read it every few years. It makes me feel centered and is a wellspring of great ideas.
Rhys Leclair
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creativity
Very approachable in that you can basically open to any chapter and jump right in. Also check out the "Creative Whack Pack" cards, great for brainstorming.
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carl King
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic. I don't know what else to say, but definitely read this if you intend to have a creative career.
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of tips and strategies for jump-starting your students' creativity.
Don Gubler
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: improvement
Lots of good ideas on how to be creative and improve your creative thinking.
Tom Bentley
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a fair amount of posts on LinkedIn, Medium and other sources on productivity and creative thinking (which is probably why I don't get around to being productive). So, when I see that this book, written 35 years ago, espouses the same themes of listening to your unconscious, bending the rules, being willing to be foolish, and so many other axioms of accessing your creative self, I understand that these contemporary scribes have been drawing on the original gangster of innovative thinking, ...more
Helge Reikerås
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this book.

It's packed with great advice, tips and tricks and techniques for how to be more creative.

Some people are naturally creative I suppose and I thought myself to be on the other side of that. However, this book has a "everybody" can be creative feel to it that has persuaded me otherwise which I'm really happy about.

The book itself is structured into 10 "blockers" to creativity 1. The right answer, 2. That's not Logical, 3. Follow the Rules, 4. Be Practical, 5 Play is Fr
I wish I could give this book ten starts.

This is probably one of the best 2020 reading for me, no cap. If I had to define a book as "the criativity guide" or even, in a more pretentious way, as some kind of "criativity Bible" it would be this one.

Thank you Roger van Oech for showing me how society, family and even myself blocked my brain to awesome opportunities and ideas. May I now continue my journey to a more creative life knowing how vast and exciting exploring new paths can be.

🇧🇷 This was
Shhhhh Ahhhhh
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My new primer of choice on the subject of creativity. Excellent advice and great practical examples. I wouldn't go back to this to annotate it but I would recommend it to anyone looking to have more and better ideas. Especially interesting is the unstated (but obvious) cross-section between the 4 creativity archetypes Von Oech lists (warrior, judge, artist, explorer) and the 4 main masculine archetypes from Jung (king, warrior, magician, lover), as well as Von Oech's discussion on using randomne ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though it's a bit dated (references to cassette tapes and record players might be lost on some), any reader can still unstop the dams to their creative juices and get rivers flowing again. Stuck on a problem? The anecdotes will have you thinking about everything differently, from the route you run to the color red. The book is also full of little activities and mind games at the beginning and end of each chapter that I got my spouse and I talking about ways we want to be more creative toget ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4+ Von Oech teaches us to look at things from a different angle. Sometimes it takes a whack — think two by four to the Missouri mule’s head – to shake us loose from predetermined rules or attitudes and stimulate creativity. His idea about simultaneously reading several books in different genres to spark new ideas and create opportunities for cross-discipline sharing is spot on. There is plenty of light hearted humor in the book and surprising relevance: his mention of the Johnny Carson story abo ...more
It's a quick read, and probably a useful refresher. I didn't enjoy it much, mostly because I'm currently experiencing a creative block and reading this book just made me uncomfortable. I think that's good and healthy, hence the three stars, but it just felt like forcing myself to eat my vegetables at the moment. Definitely dogeared a few pages as reminders to myself though, and hopefully I can get out of my rut soon.
Yudhistira Adriansyah
Truly one of a kind from all of the "how to" book i've read so far. The author gives us a chance to play with our mind, that to be more creative you need to become your young-curious-self. To see the problem from a different angle. To seek the answer from an unthinkable place. It was fun. Reading it bring a smile to my face
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Rosewater sent me. It's weird reading advice books from almost 50 years ago. So much of what is in this book has long since made it into corporate culture, but it often lacks the clarity with which it is presented here, so I found this quite stimulating after all - apart from all the stories meant to prove the point, those annoyed me. Also the illustrations will give you nightmares.
Prabhu R.
A nice entertaining book. You get to learn a lot of interesting facts from history that the author has collated to explain the different scenarios in the book. Overall, a good book and a quick read too!
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-adult, own
It took me awhile and many different attempts to get through. There is definitely some good and relevant info in it- for problem solving and becoming more creative. It’s just not my flavor of book. But I can see how others would find it very beneficial.
Henrique Alves
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
An insightful and humorous approach on creativity, even if somewhat repetitive when read in a short amount of time. Not sure about the older editions, but the 25th anniversary one has beautiful illustrations through the whole book.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that will get you thinking about how to start things, how to make them grow and how to be that much sought after creative powerhouse.

It might however not give you a step by step or a series of exercises. It seems that making it work is going to be your creativity's first test
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Roger von Oech is an American speaker, conference organizer, author, and toy-maker whose focus has been on the study of creativity.

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