Book Review- 'Big Magic'

Updated: Nov 1, 2018

'Big Magic', by Elizabeth Gilbert, appeared on my YTT course reading list. It wouldn't have been one I would've usually bought (the cover and the title are a bit gimmicky I think) but I had heard many great things about it before starting it. So I began the book hoping they were right but found myself disappointed. I judge a book by how much I use my highlighter, and in the first chapter my pen was hardly used. In fact, I only used it in desperation, not in there actually being anything important that needed highlighting.

'Big Magic', by Elizabeth Gilbert. You can find it on eBay for about £5.

And then it all got going! My highlighter started twitching left, right and centre, colouring in the pages. The reason it resonated was I have had many of the experiences she talks about. This year alone I had twice contacted people with ideas, for them to say they had just had exactly the same idea at the same time. And the fact I was called to contact the people whom had the same idea. I’d also experienced having ideas, not actioning them and seeing someone else make a success of them (you know the sponge on a glove to wash cars with…I had that idea when I was 4 dammit!).

Gilbert’s notion that ideas/creativity has a consciousness makes perfect sense if you are someone like me and believes all things have a consciousness, yet it is not something I had considered before. This gives us a good reasoning of why occurrences like those above can happen. It also then gives us ways to cultivate creativity etc. using that framework. A lot of what she says I already do without realising it, which is good to see in writing as it brings an awareness to your actions. It also affirms that you are doing the right thing, which we all need from time to time.

'ideas will always try to seek the swiftest and most efficient conduit to the earth.'

One thing that my brain likes is evidence. The book is pretty much solely written on her beliefs and experiences. For many people this would be fine, and for me I accepted this as I had shared similar experiences to hers, as well as having the same belief system. But I would’ve still liked to have seen either more scientific evidence, or her performing experiments to back up her theories. This is just my left brain thinking in play, and I am learning to trust more experiential based knowledge/thoughts, but it would make the book more accessible to the cynically minded.

The book also seemed to end a little abruptly. The section on Divinity was particularly short, and one I would’ve been really interested in reading a lot more on. The conclusion to the entire book was only a page long, which seemed far too little for a book containing so much. It was as if she had hit her word count and then just wrapped things up as quickly as possible.

These are minor niggles and do not stop me thinking that it is an important read for anybody and everybody. Gilbert’s writing style is easily accessible and is if she is just having a chat with you about things. In a book like this with some pretty earth shattering ideas that is highly important, so that you become on board with the author and interested in what she has to say. If I had to score the book it would be 8/10…which is pretty damn high from this harsh critic!

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