Book Review: The Rise

The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery - Sarah   Lewis

Book: The Rise


Author: Sarah Lewis


Genre: Non-Fiction - Creativity/Failure/Innovation


Summary: It is one of the most enduring enigmas of the human experience: many of our most iconic, creative endeavors - from Nobel Prize-winning discoveries to entrepreneurial inventions and works in the arts - are not achievements but conversions, corrections after failed attempts. The gift of failure is a riddle. Like the number zero, it will always be both a void and the start of infinite possibility. The Rise - a soulful celebration of the determination and courage of the human spirit - makes the case that many of our greatest triumphs come from understanding the importance of this mystery. This exquisite biography of an idea is about the improbable foundations of creative human endeavor. The Rise begins with narratives about figures past and present who range from writers to entrepreneurs; Frederick Douglass, Samuel F.B. Morse, and J.K. Rowling, for example, feature alongside choreographer Paul Taylor, Nobel Prize-winning physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, Arctic explorer Ben Saunders, and psychology professor Angela Duckworth. The Rise explores the inestimable value of often ignored ideas - the power of surrender for fortitude, the criticality of play for innovation, the propulsion of the near win on the road to mastery, and the importance of grit and creative practice. From an uncommonly insightful writer, The Rise is a true masterwork. - Simon & Schuster, 2014.



I got this book at Barnes & Noble when it was graduation season. This book was on the table for graduation and since I consider myself to be a creative-minded individual, I thought I would give the book a shot.


I wasn’t sure what to expect of it. I thought it would be one giant essay on creativity. After my experience with The Invention of Murder, I was concerned that this book would be just like like it; I’d be stuck with a book that’s really just a giant thesis reserved for academia types. I’m still very selective with non-fiction books, so I pushed any reservations to the side and began to read.


For once, the summary flap on the book jacket (I got the hardcover) describes the book exactly. Each chapter is focused on a different viewpoint/lens of failure and the necessary steps one must take to recover from it. Each viewpoint is accompanied by the creative steps the person took in order to recover from his or her failure. The chapters are individual reflections on the man or woman’s experience and the lessons he or she learned from it.


All of these viewpoints are interesting and cross a wide range of topics - science, exploration, art, and sports. They’re all worthwhile reads and crafted to capture your interest whether you are a fan of the topic or not. The lessons learned are universal and all surround the idea the surrender - the ability to let go in order to recapture. It’s a fascinating concept.


The only criticism I have for the book is that there were periods of time where I lost the cohesiveness of the overarching theme (creativity born from failure) and thought I was reading a random assortment of stories. This was especially true when I took a long break from reading the book.


Overall, this book was very good, kept on topic, and it didn’t feel like an academia lecture. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in creativity and recovering from failure.


I give The Rise an A.




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Thanks for reading!