Jonah Lehrer

Inspiring Pick-me-ups: Two Awesome Websites

I mentioned in an earlier post that my husband always has great advice, and I have him to thank for letting me know about the following two awesome websites.


If you ever want your mind blown by awesomeness, head to the TEDTalks website. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and started out as a conference bringing together people from those three industries. TED’s motto is "ideas worth spreading" and the talks are definitely ideas worth hearing.

Two of my favourite talks are below. The first is a fascinating and hilarious talk about nurturing creativity by Ken Robsinson, the author of a fantastic book called The Element featured in a previous post. The second is a captivating talk about a new way to think of “genius” by the author of one of my favourite books, Eat Pray Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert.

The 99%

According to their website, “The 99% provides insights on productivity, organization, and leadership – all designed to help creative people take action and push their ideas forward.” I’ve only read a few articles so far but they’ve all been great and it’s definitely a resource that I’ll go back to for inspiration.

I referenced an article from this website the week before last when I listed author Jonah Lehrer’s new book How We Decide as one I’m eagerly waiting to read. Here’s the beginning of that article, called Developing Your Creative Practice, in which Lehrer and composer, musician, and producer Brian Eno appear:

Current neuroscience research confirms what creatives intuitively know about being innovative: that it usually happens in the shower. After focusing intently on a project or problem, the brain needs to fully disengage and relax in order for a “Eureka!” moment to arise. It’s often the mundane activities like taking a shower, driving, or taking a walk that lure great ideas to the surface. Composer Steve Reich, for instance, would ride the subway around New York when he was stuck.

Science journalist Jonah Lehrer, referencing a landmark neuroscience study on brain activity during innovation, writes:

“The relaxation phase is crucial. That’s why so many insights happen during warm showers. … One of the surprising lessons of this research is that trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight.”

The ebb and flow of concentrated focus and total disengagement has been a subject of particular interest to the composer, musician, and producer Brian Eno (U2, Talking Heads, Roxy Music). Drawing on interviews from throughout Eno’s career, Eric Tamm’s book, Brian Eno: His Music and The Vertical Sound of Color, delves deeply into Eno’s “creative process.”

Read the rest of the article at

Another 99% article, called 10 Awesome Videos On Idea Execution & The Creative Process, lists some great, inspiring videos. Among them, the previously mentioned TEDTalk from Elizabeth Gilbert, J.K. Rowling’s commencement speech to Harvard’s 2008 graduating class, and a truly moving address from from Apple and Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs to Stanford University’s 2005 graduating class (see below).


Eagerly Awaited Books

Tina Fey talks to Google's Eric Schmidt about her new book, Bossypants.

I generally never buy a book without first test driving it through the public library. I adore the library so much, I want to write it a love song. Can you believe that you can read nearly any book for free? I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over that exciting fact, or the fact that with a little, or sometimes a lot, of patience you can get your hands on nearly any new book, and it arrives for pick-up on a special shelf and has your name on it. It gives me warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Following are a few books that I have on hold and am eagerly waiting to read.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

The cover alone is enough to make me want to read this book. Currently at position 163 in the Vancouver Public Library hold queue, I’m not alone in wanting to read Tina Fey’s allegedly hilarious new memoir. Click here to read an interview with Tina Fey that appeared in the Vancouver Sun and includes a clip from her appearance on Oprah promoting the book.

My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness by Gwyneth Paltrow

This quote from a Vancouver Sun article by Randy Shore nicely sums up how I initially felt about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook: “I was fully prepared to hate Gwyneth Paltrow's cook book, My Father's Daughter. But I can't. It's really quite good.” I’ve only flipped through it at the bookstore and heard reviews from friends but it looks beautiful and sounds good so I’m really looking forward to reading it and trying out some of her recipes. See below for a funny video of Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld talking to Paltrow about the book for Jessica’s website, Do It Delicious.

From This Moment On by Shania Twain

How do you get through finding out that your best friend and husband are having an affair? I have no idea, but Shania Twain shares her experience with such a scenario in her new memoir – which I know ends with marrying her best friend’s hunky husband, having her own TV show, and coming out with her first new song since releasing her 2002 album Up. See the video for Today Is Your Day below. I love this song. Go Shania!

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Vegetarianism has been on my radar a lot lately. From my brother’s new adventures in veganism to my interview with vegan athlete and author Brendan Brazier, and the amount of information I’m learning about the environmental impact of animal-based food production, I am trying to make small changes towards a more plant-based diet. After reading a Globe and Mail article about this new cookbook, which calls it “one of the greatest vegetarian cookbooks of all time”, I am keen to read it and try out some of the recipes for the food blog that I contribute to at See below for a video of the author making the recipe that appears on the cover, Aubergine with Buttermilk Sauce. Yum.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

When you hear about someone twice in one day from different sources it’s enough to pique your interest. So when my husband sent me an article called Developing Your Creative Practice that mentions Lehrer, and a newsletter from Publication Coach Daphne Gray-Grant called Putting a Dollar Figure to Stories, which also mentions Lehrer, appeared in my inbox I was curious to learn more about this young neuroscientist and his new book which, according to the publisher, seeks "to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?" See below for a CBS interview with Lehrer about this book.