Book Club – Big Magic

So I’m a couple of months late with my Big Magic review but I think I have a pretty good excuse!!

And of course, before we get into the book discussion, I’ll announce the next book –

the cuckoo's calling

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

We haven’t read a murder mystery yet and the Robert Galbraith series featuring Private Detective Cormoran Strike has been very popular…especially since Robert Galbraith was revealed to be a nom de plume of none other than JK Rowling!

Set in current day London, ex army man Strike is employed by the brother of a supermodel to investigate her apparent suicide three months earlier. Excesses of fame and beauty, family dysfunction, jealousy and addiction are themes woven through the plot of this novel, the first in the Cormoran Strike series.

Buy It Here for Kindle                Buy The Audiobook

I love a good whodunit and I haven’t read one in a while. I suspect I’ll end up reading the whole series!

Review – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

big magic

When I said in my last book club post that this book was of the ‘self help’ genre, many people gave it a huge thumbs down.

Honestly I’ve always avoided books of the ‘self help’ variety because it smacks of Get Rich Quick schemes, late night evangelical TV and bad 1980s talk shows.

But since reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (if you haven’t you should) I’m a convert, but I’d also say that ‘self help’ is the wrong term. Some book shops are starting to call these types of non fiction titles “motivation” which is think is much more appropriate. “Self help” makes the reader feel like there is something wrong with them! Hence why I’ve avoided it for my whole reading life.

So Big Magic itself was an unusual reading experience and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…until my friend Susie said to me “It was like reading a series of blog posts.” Exactly right. The book had a natural flow but was compiled in lots of quick short chapters.

The tagline is “Creative Living Beyond Fear” so that theme wasn’t very necessary for me as I’m already very active as a creative person and I don’t feel fearful about that side of my life. I suspect many of you feel the same. That said, the book was full of interesting anecdotes and stories and had lots of great ideas for fitting creativity into your life.

There was also a few stories that had me rolling my eyes…there is certainly an aspect of the mythical and ‘trusting in the universe’ sort of stuff that can leave me a bit cold at times. Gilbert seems to devote an almost religious fervour to her creative pursuits which is what she calls the “Big Magic”. Different people will have different feelings about that aspect of the book, which is minimal.

She mentions many times some of the challenges that presented in her own creative life, particularly related to Eat Pray Love, her international best seller, and how she deals with the notoriety, the negative reviews, and how she has been able to get back into her writing while feeling the pressure of having to create another book of equal or better success.

I also loved her perspective on the cliche of the tortured artist (we all know someone with those attributes) and I agreed so much of what she wrote in those chapters.

In summary – great book, particularly to get motivated. A book I’d read again if I was in a creative slump. I’ve shipped it over to China so I’m sure I’ll pick it up again sometime this year.

Three and a half stars!

What did you think of it?

Kindle Deals

Everything I read now is on Kindle because it’s hard to find bookshops that stock english language books and of course, I can’t use the library anymore. Waaaahhh! As a result, I’m always checking out the deals! Here are some goodies.

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck$9.27  $1.99

A woman getting married struggles to find the perfect dress…until she finds a vintage beauty in an old trunk. She embarks on a journey to find out the history of the dress and uncovers the stories of brides that came before her. More details  here.

Dear Mr Knightley by Katherine Reay$14.39   $1.99

For all of you who love Jane Austen, the orphaned Samantha is a modern day heroine, inspired by her literary heroes must rebuild her life with the help of a mystery benefactor known only as Mr Knightley. Katherine Reay has written several novels inspired by the works of Austen and this was her debut. Great reviews on Amazon. Get it here.

Upstairs at The White House by J.B. West & Mary Lynn Kotz  $13.97   $2.99

In this election year, this book gives a peek behind the doors of one of the most intriguing addresses in the world – Pennsylvania Avenue. J.B. West was the Chief Usher at the White House and shares the experiences of working for six of America’s First Families. Buy it here.

Happy reading fellow book worms!

7 thoughts on “Book Club – Big Magic

  1. I started Big Magic, but didn’t get far. I wasn’t enjoying it and someone else had reserved it at the library so I took it back.
    I do have a copy of Cuckoos Calling though and haven’t read it yet, so this looks like the time to get reading 🙂

    1. You win some, you lose some! I used to try and read books all the way to the end even if I wasn’t enjoying them, but now I’ve given up doing that – life is too short!!

      I hope you enjoy the Cuckoo’s Calling 🙂

      Thanks for reading along Jodie!

  2. I’m one of those people who initially thought “no thanks” when you suggested this book, but I’m really glad I read it. Like you, Ros, I found myself a bit impatient with her belief in “magic”, but for the most part I liked her theories. I was nodding like crazy when she talked of ideas being entities that you don’t own, that will fly off to someone else if you don’t bring them to fruition. A few years ago I had an idea for a film that everyone I explain it to really wants to see. But I’m not a film maker… and I’m waiting for this idea to fly off and find a Hollywood movie producer!

    I’m not sure the book taught me much about creativity as I am also pretty fearless, but there was one line I read a couple of days after taking my driving test. I passed, but I had made a mistake in the test that I was berated for, and my success was tainted by embarrassment and the fact that I hadn’t passed with flying colours. Then I read this…

    “I’ve learned how to navigate my own disappointment without plummeting too far into death spirals of shame, rage or inertia. That’s because, by this point in my life, I have come to understand what part of me is suffering when I fail: it’s just my ego.”

    I can’t tell you how much that one line helped me out of the foul mood I was in!

    So, a good book that I wouldn’t ordinarily have touched with a barge pole, but I’m very glad I read. I’ve already recommended it to a few other creative people who I think would get something out of it. Thanks for another great suggestion Ros!

    1. I’m so glad you gave it a chance! I agree – there was a number of one liners in the book that really struck a chord and were very quotable. As with your driving test situation, so many ideas from this book can be applied to other areas of life apart from just creativity.

      I hope you enjoy the next one!

  3. I don’t always read the books on your list but I do enjoy reading all the reviews. I couldn’t bring myself to read this one since Eat Pray Love irritated so much.

    I’ll look forward to the reviews on this one as I didn’t enjoy The Casual Vacancy at all ( which was a shame as it was gifted to me twice!!) but I’m all for giving writers a second chance. My reading time is scarce so I am a bit picky about what I sink my time into.

    Glad you are settling into China well!

    1. Hi Hayley! I think lots of people were in the same boat with this Big Magic. I was at my Mum’s over Christmas and she was watching the Eat Pray Love movie so I watched most of it with her and I was like “UGH!” I’ve heard such mixed reports about The Casual Vacancy so I avoided it but I think if you enjoy books in the murder mystery / crime genre then this one is a good one. It’s come recommended to me through a few different channels and I’ve just finished it. I’m really looking forward to following the series now. I hope you get a chance to check it out!

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