Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Genre: Self-help, non-fiction, how-to
I haven’t read any of Elizabeth Gilbert’s books, including her famous, famous, famous Eat, Pray, Love. I just couldn’t go beyond a couple of short chapters in that book. But then, when I heard a whole lot of people saying very good things about her latest non-fiction book, Big Magic, I was enticed to go and pick it up. I have been trying to get more creative lately, and this book was all about creativity and how to unleash it to the max. It’ll only add to my knowledge, I thought, as I bought the book, and that the lady’s non-fiction might be way better than her memoirs. I ended up disappointed by the book, though. It just didn’t do anything for me.
In Big Magic, the author hasn’t really said anything out of the extraordinary. There are no special tips or exercises that will help you squish the demons inside you, let go, and create your best. Most of the things she says in the book are things that we already know. For instance, there’s a part on how to grab ideas when they strike you, how to make use of inspiration the minute it strikes you. We all know that, right? Only, the author puts it in words like ‘Ideas are like horses.. Grab them by the tail and pull them onto paper’ or something to that effect. She also speaks about other common ideas to let creativity bloom – taking a backseat from your work for a while and indulging in other activities, so that you get into the groove again.
I also felt the author was droning on and on and on in some parts of the book. She did sound highly self-indulgent, I have to say. I would rather have had a highly condensed manual of pointers to follow when you are down with a creative slump or, maybe, a set of well thought-out cognitive exercises to help with the same. That this book was definitely not.
Also, I couldn’t agree with everything the author says in the book. For instance, she says, in the bigger scheme of things, arts doesn’t really matter, so the artist needs to lighten up. Even the sex worker has a significant role in the society, but the artist doesn’t really, she says. Whaaaaattttttt? I just couldn’t find anything in the book palatable after she said that! There are a few other instances where I didn’t agree with her ideas as well.
This wasn’t the creativity manual I was expecting it to be. It didn’t spark my creativity at all. In fact, I have been prone to more spurts of creativity after reading some wonderful blog articles or just going on little art-y excursions of my own. So, this book definitely isn’t something that I would recommend.
Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie’s Adventures In Love, Loss, And The Lotus Position by Lisa Grunberger
Genre: Contemporary fiction
I picked this book up on a whim from a used-books store, without knowing anything about it or the author. Something told me I might enjoy the book. And, yes, I did enjoy the book.
Yiddish Yoga is the story of Ruthie, an elderly woman who has been recently widowed. To help her get over the grief of losing her wonderful husband, Ruthie’s granddaughter Stephanie gifts her a year of yoga lessons. The book is all about Ruthie’s experiments with yoga, her observations during yoga class, and the transformations she witnesses in and around herself post getting into yoga. The book might sound like a new-age, preachy monologue on yoga, or a collection of very sappy-sweet ‘I LOVE Yoga’ essays, but I can assure you that it is neither.
I loved everything about this little book. The fact that it is so short and can be read in the course of a day. The way it makes for a light, breezy read, yet inspiring you to pause and think in parts. The beautiful cartoons depicting Ruthie’s trysts with yoga. The insight into Yiddish culture (Ruthie is a Jew). The way the book resonated with me, as I am sure it would with anyone who has had even a fleeting association with yoga. The way parts of the book tickled my funny bones. The way some of the book made me want to cry. The subtle romance in the book. The warm feeling of reading it. I loved all of it, and couldn’t find anything negative at all about the book.
This is definitely not great literature or anything, but surely a book that you must read, if only for the way it will make you feel and think. Give it a go, will you? It’s different, as they used to say in the famous tomato ketchup ad. I say it is worth a read.
Have you read any of these books? Your thoughts about them?
What are you reading at the moment?