Claudia Kalb’s ‘Spark’ is the Catalyst We All Need Right Now [REVIEW]

Shirley Temple, Bill Gates, Maya Angelou, and Yo-Yo Ma are only a few of the geniuses you'll meet in Claudia Kalb's Spark. (Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Shirley Temple, Bill Gates, Maya Angelou, and Yo-Yo Ma are only a few of the geniuses you’ll meet in Claudia Kalb’s Spark. (Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

There are individuals who entertain us with their talent while others revolutionize the way we work. Some inspire us with their words, yet others move us with their music. But where does that creativity come from? When does it begin? Are they born with these rare gifts or are theirs gifts born of life experience? Discover the fascinating stories behind some of the most recognized and revered individuals ever to walk the planet in Spark, the new book from journalist Claudia Kalb and National Geographic. Inside its pages, you’ll learn just how genius ignites.

Claudia Kalb's SPARK
National Geographic

Kalb has spent years exploring where and when that lightning bolt strikes by digging deep into the fabled lives of 13 star achievers from different fields, from centuries-old legends to present day superstars. She touches on the lives of people like Isaac Newton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Yo-Yo Ma and Sara Blakely.

Don’t think that this is just a collection of biographies, however. After all, National Geographic published this book, so you know right away that there is going to be some science involved too. But Kalb masterfully combines the legacies with scientific facts and psychological research to create an immersive storytelling experience that will have you ripping through the pages, eager to soak up all the riveting details you likely never knew before.

Most of us know Shirley Temple’s work, having watched the unforgettable movies she filmed when she was a young girl. Yet some of the people presented here are lesser known, at least when it comes to their personal lives. For example, did you know the man who discovered penicillin, Alexander Fleming, was 47 when he changed medicine forever? And you have likely used a thesaurus countless times during your lifetime, but did you realize the man who created it, Peter Mark Roget, was in his 70s when he compiled that time-saving reference guide?

Having grown up in Arkansas less than an hour away from where Maya Angelou lived as a child, I quickly learned about her in school, and her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was mandatory reading for most of us. Yet as much as her words have made a difference in my own life, I never knew the story behind her spectacular publishing career until now. Kalb lays that out here too, and it makes Angelou’s success all that more extraordinary today.

The stories presented in Spark will not only fascinate you, but they will compel you to keep the faith, to never give up hope, and to always keep your heart open to your life’s purpose. When I finished reading this book, I felt utterly inspired, because it reminds us that we never know where or when our own spark will flash to dazzling life. I highly recommend this volume to everyone, particularly anyone who has ever dared to dream that they were meant for something more. Spark is a fusion of good vibes and brilliant storytelling that you’ll cherish for years to come. If you need a pick-me-up, or even a kick start, add this book to your to-be-read pile today!

Claudia Kalb
Claudia Kalb
(Photo by Hilmar Meyer-Bosse)


Claudia Kalb is an award-winning author and journalist who reports on health, science, and human behavior.

She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Mind of History’s Greatest Personalities as well as a series of cover stories for National Geographic on the origins of genius.

A former senior writer at Newsweek who has also contributed to Smithsonian and Scientific American, Kalb has penned hundreds of features over three decades on topics ranging from mental health and genetic testing to memory and creativity.

She lives with her family in Alexandria, Virginia. For more information, visit her home on the Web at, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

By Claudia Kalb
368 pp. National Geographic. $27.

Purchase Spark direct from Jathan & Heather Books, or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, or Walmart.

Spark is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Claudia Kalb’s ‘Spark’ is the Catalyst We All Need Right Now [REVIEW]

  1. Sara Strand says:

    Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  2. Pingback: Claudia Kalb, author of Spark: How Genius Ignites, From Child Prodigies to Late Bloomers, on tour April/May 2021 | TLC Book Tours

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