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About the Book

2018-2019 Common Reading

The Runaway Species book cover

The Runaway Species

How Human Creativity Remakes the World

by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt

New York: Catapult, 2017
Paperback edition, April 2018
ISBN: 978-1-948226-03-5
304 pages


New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist David Eagleman teams up with composer Anthony Brandt in this powerful, wide-ranging exploration of human creativity. Together, they incisively explore how individuals, organizations, and educational institutions can benefit from fostering creativity, while celebrating humanity’s unique ability to remake the world.

The Runaway Species is a deep-dive into the creative mind, a celebration of the human spirit, and a vision of how we can improve our future by understanding and embracing our ability to innovate. Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman seek to answer the question: what lies at the heart of humanity’s ability — and drive — to create?

Our ability to remake our world is unique among all living things. But where does our creativity come from, how does it work, and how can we harness it to improve our lives, schools, businesses, and institutions? Brandt and Eagleman examine hundreds of examples of human creativity through dramatic storytelling and stunning images in this beautiful, full-color volume. By drawing out what creative acts have in common and viewing them through the lens of cutting-edge neuroscience, they uncover the essential elements of this critical human ability, and encourage a more creative future for all of us.


"The authors look at art and science together to examine how innovations — from Picasso’s initially offensive paintings to Steve Jobs’s startling iPhone — build on what already exists and rely on three brain operations: bending, breaking and blending. This manifesto of sorts shows how both disciplines foster creativity."
—The Wall Street Journal

"Art and science converge in this beautiful collaboration…. Divided into three parts, this inquiry covers a complicated set of connected topics in an engaging and surprisingly accessible way…. Packed with vivid images, countless examples, and fun facts that will leave readers eager to discuss it with friends, this is a refreshing and thought-provoking book that captures both the wonder of science and the beauty of the human spirit."

"A lively exploration of the software our brains run in search of the mother lode of invention…. The Runaway Species is beautifully produced, illustrated and written. It sweeps the reader through examples from engineering, science, product design, music and the visual arts to trace the roots of creative thinking to three key mental skills: bending, breaking and blending."

"Which inventions have had the most impact — and why? What can they teach us about game-changing innovation? And how will science and technology revolutionize our lives next? The rest of The Runaway Species sheds light on these issues…bolstered by delightful visuals."
—Harvard Business Review

"Readers familiar with David Eagleman’s writing will encounter the clever analogies that typify his style. Co-author Anthony Brandt, a professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, ads rich texture and scope to their speculations. It is not obvious what NASA and Picasso have in common. Nor what flamboyant hairstyles, bicycles, or stadium designs share. But the answers seem obvious once the links are pointed out."
—New York Journal of Books

Text on this page courtesy of Catapult Books.