This year I’ve decided to read 52 books [1 each week] – no use to say that I’m already running late on this goal…but we’ll see at the end of the year what has become of it ! To go with this goal, and as I enjoy reading book reviews, I thought it would be fun to try to review some too. The format of these reviews will surely change as time goes by, as I’m truly just testing it out for the moment. Let’s give this a go !
2017 bookshelf #1: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
This was actually the first book I read this year – and I would definitely consider it one of the books I most enjoyed reading lately, even when I do consider to have read quite a few books I found awesome these past months. [Did I just failed this book-review-writing-thing by giving my opinion of the book in the first paragraph? Might very well have, yeps.]
I really enjoy reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s written pieces she often share on her facebook page, and loved the cinematic rendition of her bestseller ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ but I have to confess I never actually read one of her book before… This had to change ! And when I heard of her new book ‘Big Magic’, of which the tagline is ‘Creative living beyond fear’, I knew I had to read that one [looking forward to read her other books as soon as I have the opportunity to though].
I’d say that this book is quite different from her other books [or what I know of them at least] as even if she includes quite a few different stories throughout the book, they’re mainly there for illustrative purposes.
If you ever dreamt of peeking up inside one of your favorite creative person brain in a quest to understand how they see life, their art, and how they approach the creative process [I know I do] this book is your opportunity to do so.
Elizabeth Gilbert allows us to dive deep into how she views Creativity and Inspiration, and how these forces played into her life.
She shares with us parts of her own creative journey -from working in a dinner and how that gave her access to many narratives to writing a best-seller; passing through all the rejection letters she received, with many hilarious stories sprinkled in-between -but also perspectives and stories from people that inspired her and helped her form her own view of these themes [from a poet finding back inspiration by painting bicycles, to an environmental biology teacher trying to heal her students ‘notions of themselves in the world’ before they can learn how to heal the world].
She tells how she came to view ideas as ‘disembodied, energetic life-form’ that are ‘driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest’, but also her perspectives on some of the most common thoughts that stop people from living a creative life.
She talks about the central paradox of art, that is ultimately ‘absolutely meaningless’ but at the same time ‘deeply meaningful’, and how these two ideas can coexist.
She writes on how she chooses to fall in love with writing and believe that creativity can loves her back because ‘If you’re going to live your life based on delusions (and you are, because we all do), then why not at least select a delusion that is helpful ?’.
And so much more.
Throughout the 6 chapters called ‘Courage’, ‘Enchantment’, ‘Permission’, ‘Persistence’, ‘Trust’ and ‘Divinity, she walks us through these ingredients she believes to be primordial to a creative life – and threat not, the creative life she is talking about is not restricted to any art; in her own words she’s simply ‘talking about a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear’.
Reading this book is akin to a long conversation with a dear friend who’d be sharing her life experiences and thoughts with you, encouraging you to take this leap of faith you’ve been wanting to take.
It challenges you and your perceptions of some themes and pushes you into questionnement, opening yourself to new ideas; or on the contrary, it brings a smile on your face when you read a point of view you too hold, written black on white on the pages as if someone peeked into your own brain -or at least it did for me.
If you feel the creative life calling, or simply want to have a sneak peek into a pretty awesome human being brain, this book is definitely for you .
And at the end, isn’t creativity something that concerns us all, that is hidden inside all of us, even if it expresses itself differently for everyone?
It’s one of these books I know I’ll read again and again.
‘I think the fiercest question of all is this one : What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail ?
What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant ?’ – Elizabeth Gilbert – Big Magic