Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big magic book

Dear Fellow Readers,

Elizabeth Gilbert’s name is widely known due to her best-selling book Eat Pray Love. The book was a phenomenal success and was made into a movie with Julia Roberts. Ms. Gilbert has followed that success with another memoir entitled Committed and then a work of fiction, The Signature of All Things. Prior to her success with Eat Pray Love, she had authored 4 other books and many magazine articles.

She has presented two TED talks. One is “Your Elusive Creative Genius”  and the other “Success, failure and the drive to keep creating”.

Those who have watched those talks will find the material from those talks a part of her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. The 288 page book is broken into six sections – Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. Throughout the book, there are examples from people to illustrate various points.

“Q:  What is creativity?

A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.”

 The book is written to urge the reader to find and acknowledge their personal creativity and foster that creativity in their lives. The tone of the book is conversational and the author is free with her personal opinions on the concept of the tortured artist and the cost/benefit of higher education for creativity and more. She does talk about fear and rejection – two top issues of creatives.

“I happen to believe we are walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels – that’s creative living. The courage to go on the hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. The often surprising results of that hunt – that’s what I call Big Magic.”

My opinion –

If you watch the Ted talks and like what she says in her talks, you will like this book. I happen to really like her talk on “Your Elusive Creative Genius” and that theme is expanded in this book. I think she makes excellent points about how one the best teacher is practice and observation. While I have seen that others do not find her suggestion for dealing with fear realistic, I don’t have any problem with it. (Make it a companion on your journey, just make sure it is not in charge. You might as well acknowledge its existence because it won’t just go away.) (Seriously, if you can talk to your socks -via Marie Kondo- then talking to your fear is easy…)

But I understand that not everyone will be willing to accept her views on creativity. Since we are not talking about a hard and fast concept, there will be differing views.

Elizabeth Gilbert speaking at TED Conference

Elizabeth Gilbert speaking at TED Conference

I personally like the concept of inspiration being a visitor and that you invite the visitor or at least be open to a visit. From what I have read from other authors,  many subscribe to that theory and I believe it. I believe that sometimes you can sit down to write and the story will just grow without the author having any idea what will happen. But as Ms. Gilbert and others will state without hesitation, you have to show up and do the work. It is the day in and day out work that invites inspirations visits.

Because I read this book from the perspective of a writer, I am not sure how the book sounds if you are not a writer. We all read (and watch) with our own particular slant and so I cannot tell you if you are a painter that you will  get as much out of the book. I think you might but many of the examples are about writing.

Did I like the book? Yes, I did. It is one of those books that I wish I had bought the physical book rather than the eBook so that I can easily mark it up to go back to passages.

The bigger question for you is will you like the book? I think that if you like her 19 minute TED talk on creative genius, this is the book for you. If you listen to the talk and are not impressed, then you might want to check out the library copy or pass on it all together.

Thanks for reading!


About Carol Early Cooney

I love to read. I love to share my thoughts on books and hope to hear what you think also. Looking to see what books I read beyond those I write about? Check out my Goodreads!
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3 Responses to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

  1. Julia Tomiak says:

    Thanks Carol! I like your advice to try the TED Talk first… I’ll do that and then see what I want to do. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Gail Kushner says:

    Hi Carol. I found this blog through the Platform Challenge. I didn’t realize you wrote a blog about reading and writing.

    I liked Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” but wasn’t a fan of her book on marriage. I’ll have to try her new one. Thanks for the review!

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