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Book Review: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear By Elizabeth Gilbert 

Plot:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Gilbert offers 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.

Review:

While not too sure at the beginning, I ended up liking this 3-stars worth.

Many of Gilbert’s approaches and positions about creativity are positive and inspiring, such as letting go of the “tormented artist” idea and keeping the making of art light and playful for the best in productivity and results; the value of persistence; trusting the process; and working with “stubborn gladness” in all cases, through good times and bad. I really liked this phrase “stubborn gladness,” as I’ve been known to be a little stubborn at times (just once in a while) and have to be reminded to focus that trait in a positive way.

I had a little trouble, though, with some of her concepts, especially the notion that creativity and specific ideas are sentient beings that seek us out and react to our actions.

At times she seemed to reject perfectionism with a vengeance that almost seemed to be endorsing mediocrity, although I’m sure that can’t be what she meant. There is certainly merit in recognizing that creativity is not well-served by an obsessive need for perfection, which breeds only procrastination and the above-mentioned “tormented artist” syndrome, and rarely finished work.

I would have preferred a more nuanced discussion of standards. Perfectionism is bad, but one does need to have standards. Deciding when one’s own standards have been adequately met is a little more complicated question than just pointing out that perfectionism is bad, and I never got the sense that I understood her criteria for determining that.

But overall, this was a light, inspiring read. She just needs to accept sometimes people strive for perfection and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

3/5 Stars

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