Modern inventor Paul Kirby works at his desk

Inventor Paul Kirby’s Recommended Reading

Posted on May 17, 2023 in Inspiration

Are you looking for inspiration to fuel your creative fusions and groundbreaking ideas? Look no further than the recommended book list from modern innovator Paul Kirby. As an accomplished artist, inventor, and robot designer, Paul has spent years exploring the STEM and art worlds learning how to inspire himself and others to live their passions. 

Now, Paul’s sharing his favorite books with the fusioneering community in the hopes of sparking the imaginations of a new generation of creators and innovators. With works ranging from psychology to philosophy, mathematics to narrative fiction, Kirby’s list covers a wide range of topics and offers something for everyone. What are you waiting for? Grab a cup of coffee, find a cozy reading corner, and get ready to be rejuvenated in the pages of great texts and great ideas.

Let’s get reading!

Books on Being More Creative

Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Take a scientific look at creativity! This book offers a fascinating exploration of the creative process and what motivates people to innovate. Csikszentmihalyi draws on interviews with over 90 creative individuals to offer insights into how creativity can be fostered and nurtured. With its extensive research, Paul considers this to be perhaps the most authoritative and best book ever written on the subject of being creative. 

The whole book is a gem, but if you only read part of it, Paul recommends chapter 14, “Enhancing Personal Creativity.” This section of the book provides steps & directives on how to personally be more creative

The Innovator’s Handbook: A Short Guide to Unleashing Your Creative Mindset by Hussain Almossawi

This practical guide by award-winning designer and author Hussain Almossawi offers tips and tools for unlocking your creative potential and developing innovative ideas. Almossawi draws on his experience as an entrepreneur and product designer to offer strategies for reframing complex problems and taking your ability to innovate to a whole new level. Take your head-scratching conundrums back to first principles and brainstorm incredible solutions for lateral problem-solving. 

Paul returns to the concepts of first principles when he needs to break down and solve high-level problems in or out of his workshop.

How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method by George Pólya

A short, classic text on problem solving by renowned mathematician and writer George Pólya. Pólya presents a four-step approach for tackling even the most challenging problems: 1) understand the problem, 2) make a plan, 3) carry out the plan, and 4) look back on your work. Paul considers the first part of the book – about how to structure and think about solving problems – to be invaluable. While Pólya was a mathematician, only logic and rational thinking are required to appreciate and benefit from this book. 

Paul now naturally uses the sequence of problem solving steps  presented in How to Solve It whenever he’s struggling with debugging higher-level, complex code. He might add notation alongside his code as he works through the steps for solving bugs or coding design problems.  

Books on Finding Your Fusioneering Path

The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope

Paul says this is “the most important book I’ve read as an adult.” Looking to find (or re-find) your path in life? Crack open The Great Work of Your Life. Drawing on the teachings of the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, Cope offers a guide for discovering your true calling and living a purposeful existence. The book argues that each person has a unique dharma or life purpose, and provides examples from the lives of famous figures, such as Jane Goodall and Harriet Tubman, to illustrate how one can discover and fulfill their own dharma. 

The Ikigai Journey, A Practical Guide to Finding Happiness and Purpose the Japanese Way by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Ikigai, literally meaning “your reason for being,”  is a Japanese concept that refers to the intersection of one’s passions, talents, and values – similar to fusioneering. In this practical guide, Garcia and Miralles offer a step-by-step process for discovering your own ikigai and living a more fulfilling life. With this book, you can take your life to a higher level of meaning and vision, and allow yourself to live fully with a sense of great purpose and meaning.  

Combining Both: A Book for Pursuing Your Creative Path in Life

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Paul calls this – the only work of narrative fiction on his list – the most important book he read as a young man. The 1943 novel by Russian-American author Ayn Rand tells the story of Howard Roark, an individualistic architect who refuses to compromise his vision or bow to societal expectations. The book explores themes of individualism, creativity, drive, and the conflict between the individual and society. The Fountainhead typifies the objectivist philosophy conceived by Rand and also displays fusioneering at work in the architectural space. Paul calls this a great story of not settling for less and of pushing forward with your own unique creative vision. 

A Book on Leadership and Responsibility

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin 

In this bestselling leadership guide, Willink and Babin draw on their experience as elite Navy SEALs to offer insights into how to take ownership of your actions and lead with confidence. The book emphasizes the importance of teamwork, communication, and discipline in achieving success. The biggest lesson? There are no bad teams, just bad leaders. The book explores through real-world examples – both in training and actual combat engagements – how leaders have to take responsibility for their crew and make them the best they can be. It’s a mistake to think of this as just a military book; today the authors advise large corporations with their lessons, and everyone can find something applicable in the text. The book is useful for everything from daily planning and hurdles to managing large scale programs.

Paul says that without fail, he uses lessons from the book every day. He’s passed the novel on to a number of people on his team who have found it just as useful. If you’re looking to check it out yourself, Paul recommends the audio version so that you can hear actual voices of these brave men as they recount vivid stories and examples of lessons learned.

Stay Constantly Inspired

We hope that this list has piqued your interest and inspired you to delve deeper into the world of fusioneering, innovation, and creativity. Remember, the greatest innovators of our time were often voracious readers and lifelong learners. By taking inspiration from the works on Paul Kirby’s list and cultivating a love of learning and exploration, you too can unlock your full potential and make your mark on the world.

If you check out any of Paul’s recommendations and have thoughts about how they helped you, we’d love to hear about it! Have a book recommendation of your own? Let’s get inspired together! Get involved in the fusioneering conversation on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, and don’t forget to join our mailing list for inspiring bimonthly updates! 

To see Paul and robot painter Dulcinea in action, check out the short documentary film, Brushstroke.

Are you interested in hearing the complete story of Paul and Dulcinea? Watch the video (nominated for Best Short Film at the 2021 Vail and Portland Film Festivals) for more info.

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