Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert

Published September 2015

01-big-magic-book-reviewI got the book for Christmas from my mother, who deviated away from our usual book presents of fiction, to self-help and self-awareness book presents this year.  (Thanks Mom?)

I think I should start by saying that I am not a huge fan of self-help books.  I think most of them read like fortune cookies, or horoscopes; they are just fillers that anyone can find some deeper meaning to.  They aren’t personalized to you, or your problems, but you can certainly find points in the book where “the author is just speaking to me I know it!”

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

In any other scenario, this probably would have just been shelved away, unread forever, but I honestly didn’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings.  So I started this right after the New Year, and here I am 6 months later, finally finished and writing a review.

“Ideas have no material body, but they do have a consciousness, and they most certainly have a will.  Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.”

The premise of this book was supposed to aid in something I have been struggling with for about three years, or since I graduated from college: how to live creatively and happily. (Now I understand why people buy self help books, I suppose. For the assurance that other people are struggling with the same issues they are.)  While I do think that some parts of this were a bit…hokey, I feel that there was at least little tidbits that I could walk away with. img_1534

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

I read this book with tabs in hand.  I think that is partly why I had a hard time finishing it, because I don’t like books that feel like homework, or a chore.  But I felt that if I wasn’t tabbing certain ‘nuggets of wisdom’, then I would be missing out on tips to unlocking my creative self.

“My creative expression must be the most important thing in the world to me (if I am to live artistically), and it also must not matter at all (if I am to live sanely).”

I really enjoyed some of the little stories that were included in Big Magic.  The setup of the book seemed to flow rather well: little story, then advice and wisdom…repeat 10x.  I think this fact made the book much more interesting than it would have been if it was simply written like an advice book.  The only problem with the stories, which really isn’t that big of a problem, was that it seemed that Elizabeth Gilbert was constantly reminding us at how famous she really is.  All of her friends, and subsequent heroes of her creative stories, are famous, highly successful people that span all sorts of fields.  I understand as a famous person, you are going to have famous friends.  But sometimes it is hard to take away that this could be applicable to me and my life if I am not in that same social circle.

“All work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.”

I don’t want to go on and on about the ins and outs of Big Magic.  It is not a book that you break down the writing style etc.  Gilbert writes this very informally, so the reader is under the impression that she is personally speaking to them.  I think my overall perception of Big Magic boils down to this: I enjoyed the book and I have embraced a tiny amount of creativity inside me because of it.  But honestly if you asked me about anything specific that happens in this book, I wouldn’t be able to recall.  I did, however, decide that I am going to read Gilbert’s other big novels: Eat, Pray, Love and The Significance of All Things, so there’s that.

“Is it possible, then, that creativity is not fucking with us at all, but that we have been fucking with it?”


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