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Not a Normal Bibliography


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > Not a Normal Bibliography

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Bibliographies are usually just a boring list of books and papers which have more to do with saying how well-read the author is than helping the reader find more useful detail. There is no way that we could put everything about inventing into a single book (although we have had a good go at it!) so we have tried to make this bibliography more useful than the usual list. You will thus find below:

  • Grouping by broad subject area rather than alphabetic listing.
  • Not all of the books that we have read (this would be hundreds or even thousands), but the ones that we have found particularly stimulating or which we think you might find useful in some way.
  • A brief description of the book to help you decide whether it is worth following up.
  • Websites that we know about. As the web is a pretty dynamic place, we cannot guarantee that these will stay as they are, but we thought that it was still worth giving them here.

Inventing, innovating and general creativity is a journey without end. These resources are here to help you keep travelling. Bon voyage.

Analytic invention

M. Neil Browne, Stuart M. Keeley, Asking the Right Questions : A Guide to Critical Thinking, Prentice Hall, 1997
A stimulating book about critical thinking and especially, as the title says, asking questions.

David Levy, Tools of Critical Thinking: Metathoughts for Psychology, Prentice Hall, 1997
Do not be put off by the title. This is an entertainingly written and useful book on critical thinking.

Some analytic websites
San Jose State’s excellent site on critical thinking.
A good site for educators from Sonama State university.
A big section in Dave's site on logical thinking and fallacies.
A good collection of tools and techniques in this ‘Mind Tools’ site.


Richard Feynman, Six Easy Pieces, Penguin, London, 1998
Feynman is one of the geniuses of the 20th Century and a great writer. How easy you fins his pieces depends on how you think but fun to read anyway.

Richard Feynman, The Meaning of it all, Penguin, London, 1998
Some philosophy things about science and things–a book we just like!

J. E. Gordon, The New Science of Strong Materials (or why you don’t fall through the floor), Penguin 1991
Although quite old in that it came out originally in 1968 it really is a book to help you think about what molecules are doing in simple engineering situations.

J. E. Gordon, Structures (or why things don’t fall down), Penguin, 1991
A man whose simple approach seems to be coming back into fashion!

Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back, Fourth Estate, 1996
Some great stories to entertain you but also to remind you that what you have invented may, unless you get it really right, not have the outcomes you thought.

Steven Vogel, Cats Paws and Catapults, Penguin Books, London, 1999
Is nature the greatest inventor? Steven Vogel says ‘no’ while showing how it invents mightily whilst coping with the limitations of growth and biological materials.

Some science websites:
Some splendid explanations of how conventional thinking is not always true.
More incorrect science as taught in schools.
The inventor’s hall of fame, including details on many inventors.


John Terninko, Alla Zusman and Boris Zlotin, Systematic Innovation, St. Lucie Press, Boston, 1998
TRIZ in excellent detail by probably the foremost experts in TRIZ in the Western world.

Genrich Altshuller, 40 Principles–TRIZ keys to Technical Innovation, Technical Innovation Centre, Worcester, MA
Great cartoons to help you understand the 40 principles of TRIZ from the originator of TRIZ.

Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm, Technical Innovation Centre, Worcester, MA
A number of TRIZ stories to help you understand the thinking of this great man

Genrich Altshuller, And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared (TRIZ, the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving), Technical Innovation Centre, Worcester, MA, 1996
A simple guide to TRIZ using examples of problems

Darryl Mann, Hands-on Systematic Innovation, Creax, 2002
Perhaps the best TRIZ expert in the world, this book is the 'systematic' one for those who like systems approaches. Darrel has several other great books on TRIZ too.

Some TRIZ websites:
Software for TRIZ and knowledge recovery and management
Software for learning and using all the extended TRIZ tools that Ideation have developed - a members section allows you to log on to chat with other TRIZZERS!
A club where you can join in the fun!
A great source of articles on TRIZ to which you could contribute! The standard ‘go to’ site for those thinking of connecting to TRIZ but use others as well!
A great TRIZ company and website.
This is Graham’s site, so of course it's worth visiting.


Calvin, W.H., The Six Essentials: Minimal Requirements for the Darwinian Bootstrapping of Quality. Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission, 1. 1997
Contains the basics of Darwinian thought.

Guy Claxton, Hare, Brain, Tortoise Mind, Fourth Estate, London, 1997
A thorough but readable review of research into the mind and creative thinking. If you want proof that managing the mind can change creativity then read this.
John S. Dacey and Kathleen H. Lennon, Understanding Creativity, Jossey Bass, San Francisco, 1999
A good summary of the latest academic research on the inner reaches of creativity.

Daniel C. Dennett, Kinds of Minds - towards an evolution of consciousness, Harper Collins, New York, 1996
A thought provoking book linking evolution and processes for thinking.
Lone Frank, Mindfield, Oneworld, 2007
Some pretty startling findings about brains and thinking.

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Penguin, 2005

Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths, Bloomsbury, London, 1997
Something on why we think like we do and how we trick ourselves.

Morgan D. Jones, The Thinker's Toolkit, 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving, Three Rivers Press, 1998
The title says it all, though we might not agree with everything he says!

Jonathan Leherer, How We Decide, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
This really shows up some myths we all carry around about our thinking.

V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakesee, Phantoms in the Brain, Fourth Estate, 1998
"If you are at all interested in how your brain works, this is the book
you must read" - this is the cover quote from Francis Crick of DNA fame

Kathryn Schultz, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, Harper Collins, 2010
Some basic things about why we get things wrong, things everyone should know.

Some psychology websites
A good list of articles on NLP techniques, including Disney’s creativity strategy.
A huge list of links to many sites on psychology, with a bias to those which discuss how we interact with others.
Another good set of articles and links to useful sites.
Includes details of the key themes of many famous psychologists and psychiatrists as well as some more alternative approaches.
This is Dave's site of around 5000 pages on how the mind works and how to change it.


Paul Birch and Brian Clegg, Imagination Engineering, Pitman, 1996
A simple, practical and well written book including well-categorized techniques.

Jonne Ceserani and Peter Greatwood, Innovation and Creativity, Kogan Page, 1996
An easy guide to creativity and innovation written by Synectics consultants.

Edward DeBono, Serious Creativity, HarperCollins, London, 1993
A condensation of many of the ideas of this famous originator of lateral thinking.

Robert B. Dilts with Gino Bonissone, Skills for the Future, Meta Publications, Capitola, CA, 1993
NLP and creativity in detail from the man who modelled many geniuses.

Helen Graham, Visualisation, Judy Piatkus, London, 1996
Techniques to develop images for creativity.

Michael Michalko, Thinkertoys, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 1991
A well-written and wide-ranging on creativity for business.

Sidney Parnes (ed), Sourcebook for Creative Problem Solving, Creative Education Foundation Press, Buffalo, NY, 1992
A compilation of some of the best papers on creativity over 50 years, stretching out from Osborn’s original 1943 paper on Brainstorming.

David Straker, Rapid Problem Solving with Post-it Notes, Fisher Books, 1998 (Gower in UK)
A simple and easy to use guide using Post-it Notes to structure qualitative problems.

David Straker, A Toolbook for Quality Improvement and Problem Solving, Prentice Hall, Hemel Hempstead, UK, 1995
A comprehensive book of around 100 tools for problem solving. (now free and online)

Some creativity websites
Paul Plsek’s site with a generous range of original tools available.
Many ideas for the dreamer’s end of the creativity spectrum.
The ‘Hot Rod Your Head’ site of creativity guru Win Wenger.
This is Dave's site containing many tools, articles and quotes on creativity.

Some other useful invention websites:
Inventor’s resources. All sorts of information for inventors.
Very professional site offering much information for inventors.
The National Congress of Inventor Organisations. Online resources for inventors.’s excellent set of links for inventors.
Many collected ideas about many areas, in particular around social situations.
IBM’s patent server. Look up US patents here.
The US Patents and Trademarks Office. Find patents from the horse’s mouth.
The UK Patents Office.
The European Patent Office’s page containing many links to online patent information.

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