Wreck This Journal
One reason we hesitate to play and explore creativity as adults is the fear of making a mistake. We learn to avoid mistakes, but all creative experiences require them. That’s why Wreck This Journal is so good for your inner child: the prompts are subversive, asking readers to make a mess between the pages of the book. Illustrator Keri Smith wants people to engage in “destructive” creative acts, poking holes through the pages, defacing photos, and making artwork with coffee.
This is a more analytical book for adults who want to play creatively but aren’t comfortable with children’s literature or coloring books. Michalko’s innovative tools, techniques, and prompts will help you see the world differently.
Anyone who is just starting to learn to play again needs a supportive teacher. Elizabeth Gilbert is that teacher who will help you to bravely explore your own creativity. Her book gives concrete advice on the approaches and habits you need to accomplish a creative project, and the attitudes that will help you sustain a passionate life.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Remember playground days when you giggled uncontrollably? Get back to those days and let yourself laugh a little. Mindy Kaling’s first memoir is laugh-out-loud funny and inspiring at the same time. She shares openly about her childhood, her observations on romance, and her journey as a comedy writer and actress. Or, if you’ve already read Mindy’s first and second books, pick up any title by your favorite funny writer and enjoy.
Tiny Beautiful Things
Sometimes tapping into your inner child means you just need to be mothered. So read the book by everyone’s mother: Sugar, otherwise known as Cheryl Strayed, the once-anonymous advice columnist at The Rumpus. Her empathetic advice on love and life will soothe you and give you the courage to try something new.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The perennial children’s classic has always been popular with adults, too, given its sophisticated games of logic. Read it to play with nonsense in an unparalleled world of fantasy. The tale will make you feel nostalgic and inspire you to stretch your own imagination.
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris
Some of the best books from childhood were Choose Your Own Adventures—the freedom to jump around the pages and decide your fate is irresistible. Neil Patrick Harris takes the convention and turns it on its head by writing his autobiography in the same style. Read it front to back or skip around through his child-actor days as Doogie Howser, his stint as Barney Stintson, and his present-day life with husband David Burtka and kids Gideon and Harper. A fun read that will have you grinning like a kid.
In response to our increasingly stressful culture, adults everywhere are finding fun ways to escape 21st-century busyness and reconnect with creativity. Folks are trying everything from laughter yoga to finger-painting. It sounds silly, but it’s not: play can improve brain function, inspire creativity, and relieve stress. If you’re trying to reconnect with your sense of play, start with the following books.
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